I do not know if this topic is covered in the book – I need to keep reading – but today one of our student hires asked me if it was possible for him to transfer to my area because he had not done any Java programming the entire summer, and he felt his skills were being wasted. His manager wants him to also learn COBOL and he has a negative view of that: he is afraid he will lose his Java skills, and waste a lot of time on COBOL programming.
I told the young man that we have a huge base of COBOL code and knowing COBOL was important if you want to port it to Java. We had quite a long discussion on this. The gist of it is, he did not want to throw away his summer on learning COBOL. He wants to do pure Java. I responded in part that we are going to have a long transition period of porting legacy code written in either z/OS assembler or COBOL to Java, and learning COBOL would be a golden opportunity for him. I didn’t use those exact words, but that summarizes what I said. I also stressed that he needs to sit down with his manager and explain that he wants more Java-centric opportunities. We are a very large organization and there should be something for the young man – however he will still be faced with a lengthy period of learning the applications and how the code works no matter which area he works in.
This is good subject material for the book. The entire topic of I-am-wasting-my-skills-on-language-x-when-I-want-to-code-language-y is worth a chapter and it ought to be explored in great detail, because it is almost certainly going to be a major issue for a lot of new programmers. They need to see the different possibilities explored and dissected away from their jobs. And this is a good case study of a young new programmer communicating to his or her manager on a high-stress issue.