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    I pity the junior who listens to my jaded and cynical view of software development. They’d probably get depressed and leave the field.

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      Maybe make an effort not to discourage :) there are ways to convey pros and cons without being too doom and gloom!

      With all the internal secrecy at Apple, this was a fantastic way to learn about at least what people could tell me about what they do.

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        I think this won’t be a problem. Such people probably won’t agree to go for the coffee.

        The “you don’t know” bit is important because if you pick someone you work with, you are likely to be biased by that person’s superficial character.

        By picking someone based on, for example what they’ve blogged, or their open source code or challenges you know they’ve done then you are more likely to get a genuinely great person.

        Also “coffee” is interesting. The implication is to meet in a cafe, to have a non-alcoholic drink. Can be water / tea as well. Very professional setting. Better than “go for a beer”. I also like “go for a power walk” if you know the other person is in to that. Might be worth researching what they’d like first.

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        This does sound like a good strategy, and if someone reached out to me this way I’d definitely be happy to schedule some time. I enjoy talking shop with interesting people.

        I would like it if this was done with less focus on career advancement, though, and more about learning from people for the sake of learning. At least personally, a career is a nice way to put food on the table, but the learning and tinkering is what really interests me.

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          I also believe shifting the emphasis from career to discussing interesting things and making friends or meeting peers would improve this post. As it stands, it reads as if the primary reason a person has for reaching out to people is transactional: I’ll buy you this coffee so you can help me develop my professional chops.

          That’s fine as far as it goes, I guess, but I personally am more likely to respond to someone who is merely interested in a topic than someone who is interested in learning enough about it to climb the ladder.

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          I never thought about that hack but it seems to be solid advice. I will definitely give it a try.

          I suspect the method can work with people from other domains as well, who are not necessarily engineers.