I am a REAL bad software developer and this is my life (response to Reddit post of similar name)
- This post is in response to the previous Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/11756hp/i_am_a_bad_software_developer_and_this_is_my_life/
- I think some people don't understand what a truly bad software developer is, so I am going to tell my story. I was always good at standardized exams that I studied for. The first time I took the SAT college entrance exam in the US, I scored a perfect 800 on the math and a 720 on the critical reading, for an SAT score of 1520 out of 1600 - a Harvard admissions level SAT score (note I think my writing was 660, which is good but not great, but colleges didn't look at the writing score as much and the essay section isn't even on the SAT anymore). Anyway, I graduated with a bachelor's in computer science from the best public university in my state and was able to pass the coding interviews after studying the book "Cracking The Coding Interview" and practicing LeetCode problems, but despite having done well at interviews, I was always a worthless programmer. My first real job in 2016 was an entry level software engineering position at Amazon on the East coast of the US, and despite it being entry/junior level, I started out with a 130k base, 20k bonus issued in monthly installments, and some vesting stock (I had multiple competing offers and negotiated up).
- During my two years at Amazon, almost every task followed the same pattern. I would let my manager or senior engineer pick out an "easy" task for me in the queue. I would ask my senior engineer where in the codebase the change needed to be made (because I could never learn my way around a codebase I didn't write). I used "git blame" to find who wrote or worked on that code before me (all code at Amazon was code reviewed and the name of the Jira issue was in the commit so if I couldn't ask the person who wrote the code I could ask the person who reviewed it) and I would go to their desk or message them asking them questions about the code because I could not learn a codebase or read code written by other people for the life of me (I was also unable to read long SQL statements with multiple different joins in it and had other particular cognitive troubles). Then I would put print statements in between every single line of code (because I couldn't figure out how to hook up the debugger to the running Java server) and I would run the code over and over, asking my senior engineer for help when I got stuck or didn't know what to do, which was frequent. I would try to ask questions of people other than that senior engineer guy so that all the questions weren't focused on just one person, and I would sort of do a rotation of people to spread out the load of helping me. I had a good relationship with my whole team - we all played board games together every day during lunch so they were generally helpful. Eventually I managed to finish the task, but in the process I took up so much of other, more experienced people's time that they could have just completed my task in about the time I spent receiving help.
- I never became able to complete any work independently (even with the regular use of StackOverflow and Google). I never even was able to contribute to any open source project that I wasn't the sole author of despite having tried to get into various different open source projects multiple times. Despite that, I failed up, going from a job at Amazon that paid me $150,000 to another job that paid $86 an hour on W2 in a small city where my rent was $1,350 a month walking distance from work. I did not complete a single task in my three months of time there before I was fired for schizoaffective/bipolar manic psychosis. I tried one more tech work attempt but had the same problems as I did at Amazon (this codebase was in Scala, a programming language I like more than Java, which was used at Amazon, but the Scala code was even harder for me to read than the Java code so I didn't do any better) and my mental health had issues so I basically gave up on programming work entirely. After that I tried to get minimum wage work in places like food service but they didn't want to hire me with my history, and also I eventually developed some neurological symptoms that made very basic things like walking very hard for me and sometimes impossible.
- Eventually (like at the age of 25, after less than 3 years of work) I ended up receiving government disability benefits due to psychiatric/neurological brain issues. I now live with my parents and collect $2900 a month in SSDI from the government, which I intend to keep doing for the rest of my life (assuming I don't get kicked off benefits during a Continuing Disability Review which the government is supposed to conduct regularly).
- Perhaps the brain issues contributed to me being a sucky programming employee. Despite my cognitive issues (I have very specific cognitive issues like being unable to navigate at all without Google Maps), I did well on the coding tests and could write an impressive sounding resume and exaggerate/lie my way through behavioral questions, which is what I was judged on. I am a real bad software developer. If you're having a hard time getting a job but you're regularly making contributions to open source projects and independently contributing to the codebase at work, you're probably not a bad programmer - you're probably just not as good at coding problems and convincingly exaggerating/lying on the behavioral section.