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Orphans Preferred

I recently stumbled across a great Steve McConnell essay on the personalities of programmers.  The opening quote alone is worth taking a look at the article... I'm still periodically breaking out laughing.  Apparently this essay is from "After the Gold Rush, 2nd Edition".  I think it's a great essay for explaining to friends what makes programming a unique profession, in a way that non-technical people can understand.  It does a great job of detailing the unique career hazards a programmer faces, partially due to their personalities, and partially due to the software development culture at many companies.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

It's interesting that ISTJ is the most common personality type among computer programmers, considering that I'm doing just fine as an INFP.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

McConnell is so full of himself. What a puff piece for himself that article is. And he doesn't even understand the Myers-Briggs.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Wow Dennis, you're so full of yourself.  You don't even understand McConnell.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

What struck me most forcefully were the discrepancies between this article (late 2002) and a couple of frequent themes on this forum:

1) There are more jobs created than people to fill them (but there are often discussions about how difficult work is to come by);

2) The average age of the programming workforce is rising inexorably (but there are often discussions about how it's impossible to get a job if you're out of diapers).

Is McConnell living in a parallel universe?

Or are these discussions merely proof that people who feel hard done by are always the loudest?

Hey, I don't know.  I'm asking your opinions.

Mathematical Dunce
Thursday, March 20, 2003

That's odd: most of the programmers I've known well enough to get a M/B out of them have been INTP, myself included.

Chris Winters
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Mathematical Dunce:  From what I can tell from this article, McConnell's presenting a long-term view on available jobs.  He freely admits that there will be cyclical ups and downs in the job market.  Right now, there's a job crunch, but it's "only" been around for a couple of years.  McConnell's data starts in 1960 and projects out through .

Regarding age:  I've never witnessed a pervasive age problem.  Every company I've worked for has hired developers of all ages for all kinds of work.

Dennis, I can't believe you can dive into McConnell's mind to know that he's full of himself.

Brent P. Newhall
Thursday, March 20, 2003

The article's conclusion seems overly optimistic, considering the stories we've heard (or in some cases, lived) the last two or three years.

Thursday, March 20, 2003


Since you made a comment about the age discrimination problem, I'd like to ask for a little more detail on your statement that you have seen developers of all ages hired.

At the companies you referred to, how many developers did they hire who were over age 60, 70, and 80 at the time they were hired?

It would be interesting to know both absolute numbers and fraction of developers.  I wouldn't expect you to know this in detail, but if you have some general idea it would be interesting to know.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

How many 60, 70 and 80 year old people have you seen looking for work as a developer? The question doesn't make any sense if you're talking quantity, it only makes sense if you talk percentages.

I haven't seen too many people in this range looking for developer jobs - I can only remember 3 in my 15 year career. Of those 3, 2 were hired for the position they wanted. That's not a bad percentage (heck, it's better then younger workers).

Thursday, March 20, 2003

You are right that there aren't a lot of over 60 developers looking for work.  Software development hasn't been around very long and it has been expanding, so the number of older workers is going to be relatively small.

My main interest in posting the question was to confirm that Brent had really seen a wide range of ages among developers and not just one or two rare instances of older developers.

The fact that you have seen a couple of them and they got hired is an encouraging sign, but the sample size isn't large enough to consider it significant.  Thanks for the response.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Developers at my current employer, roughly speaking:

1 in his 50's
2 in their 40's
3 in their 30's
6 in their 20's

My last employer was a startup, where I think that all the developers were in their 20's.

At the employer before that:

1 in his 50's
2 in their 40's
2 in their 30's
3 in their 20's

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, March 21, 2003

At last employer,

2 in their late 40s.
3 in their 30s.
1  in 20s.

Ed the Millwright
Friday, March 21, 2003

ENTJ here, and striking fear in the hearts of co-workers for more than a decade! Muahahahahaha! :-p

Brad (
Saturday, March 22, 2003

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