I visited the campus of Penn State this week to visit a job fair. We are currently looking to add to our team at Ritter Insurance Marketing and thought it would be a great chance to talk to collegiate level developers. As the event proceeded throughout the day I had several epiphanies.
Experience is generally a good thing, but it also has its issues. One one hand, I have over a decade in the software development industry and that makes me competent and knowledgable. On the other, I am scared by my experiences and perceive problems and solutions through a potentially jaded outlook. Talking to college students made me realized that they are still clean slates for a long career ahead of them, to be shaped by their first experience in a professional setting.
2. Enthusiasm Is Infectious
Having back and forths with prospects made me realize how much more energy they had than I did. Maybe I'm feeling a little burned out, or from my experience, I understand when to expend energy. After certain interactions, I would find myself thinking "I want their energy on the team."The idea of passing knowledge on, and learning next to individuals who have long careers ahead of them may help reenergize a team that may be starting to get comfortable.
3. Diversity Matters
The job fair had great diversity with students from Central Pennsylvania, China, India, and other parts of the world. Each person I spoke with had a different story and a different perspective and that matters. Being a first generation immigrant myself, I know my world view is shaped by my story so far and its helped make me a better person and given me a unique point of view to the team I collaborate with.
4. Technology Is Fickle
A lot of the students I spoke with had degrees in Data Science. While my degree in Computer Science may still be relevant today, it is not what will shape our future; the ability to analyze and predict using data will. Much of the technology I have learned in that time has become a novelty and antiquated. At best, the majority of the knowledge I have acquired is useless trivia or nostalgic small-talk fodder for parties. "Remember, WebForms and Workflow Foundation? No? Ok, I'll be leaving now." The difference between a professional and a student is that I, as a professional, have had many opportunities to apply technologies and fail or succeed at doing so. The people I spoke to are hungry to take theory and knowledge and apply it professionally.
The overall experience was positive. I want to see every person I spoke with have an exciting, fulfilling, and impactful career in our industry. For that to happen, they need a chance. I am excited to give folks the first experience in their professional software development career, especially knowing what our team building is special, and I'm not just talking about software.