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October 02, 2018

Creating Blue Chips

4 mins read

Part Two in the Series: Increase your stock by investing in your future

Blue-chip stocks have a reputation for being proven, experienced, well-known and dependable. Penny stocks also have a reputation, characterized as speculative, risky and cheap.

If you want a stable financial future, it’s obvious that you would purchase as many blue-chip stocks as possible. Simple, right? Unfortunately, blue-chip stocks are expensive and not plentiful; they are the best of the best. How can you maximize your financial well-being if you can’t seem to find affordable blue-chip stocks, and can’t trust penny stocks?

The technology industry, and the firms within, have a similar predicament with experienced vs. junior talent. Many tech firms forget that penny stocks (junior talent) exist and spend all of their time and resources trying to find the right blue-chip stock (experienced talent). Whether looking for the best stocks – or technical talent – many firms will go as far as hiring someone to scout the perfect blue chip for them. After a while they come to the realization that you can’t always find that perfect blue chip, thus leaving them to settle for a few penny stocks and hope for the best.

Hoping for the Best is NOT a Strategy

Hope for the best. That’s not exactly what most people want to do about the future of their finances or their company. The technology industry should not be settling for a “hope for the best” strategy either.

If we in the tech industry want to solve the shortage of blue chips, then we must invest in pennies with experiential learning and mentoring programs. The influx of blue-chip developers will not just appear one day; the movement must be built, and we are the ones that must build it.

No Magic Bullet

In order for a junior developer to be dependable, they need opportunities to show that they can be depended upon. Opportunities alone, however, are not enough to create blue-chip developers. Some companies may subscribe to what is called the “10,000-hour rule”, which states anyone can master a concept after practicing it for 10,000 hours. Furthermore, many tech companies practice this philosophy without even realizing it. The rule proposes that, by exposing junior developers into project after project, they will increase their skills by doing the same thing routinely. If a developer works eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take them well over four-and-a-half years to reach that magic 10,000-hour mark.

Technology experience doesn’t just include the length of your career, or the hours that you have spent writing code, but rather the content that fills those hours. Being strategic with a junior developer’s career growth is crucial for quickly turning them into experienced developers.

Seek Out Opportunities to Grow Your Investment

Experts should always be looking for opportunities to teach. Though some will say they just don’t have the patience to teach, those same folks need to realize that their impatience might not be due to the failure of the student, but rather their own inability to properly communicate the concept. Some have said that the only way to know if you truly understand a concept is through teaching it to someone else. Teaching is a skill not often discussed in software development, and not many developers include it on a resume, but I would argue it is one of the most needed skills for senior developers. Naming design patterns is great, but being able to properly communicate what they do and when they should be applied is really what matters.

Deliberate practice with junior developers can happen in many forms and there is a lot of free material available to help. Code katas like The Coding Dojo are great for coding practice. Katas teach core concepts of software development and are very easy to repeat.

Everyday development tasks also fall under the concept of deliberate practice. Bug fixes are great for pairing sessions between juniors and experts. The expert can shine a light on why the bug was introduced and add some key takeaways for avoiding similar bugs in the future.

Don’t be a company that just hopes for the best; be a company that strategically invests in junior developers. Take the time to fill every hour of their development with impactful experiences. Imagine how fast the next generation of developers will level up if they learn from the mistakes that we have made over the years. We can see developers writing dependable and maintainable code well before 10,000 hours; we can turn penny stocks into blue chips.

Read More

This blog post is part of our “Increase Your Stock by Investing in Your Future” series. Here, consultants at Excella’s Extension Center (XC) at Virginia Tech share their experiences developing an award-winning internship program, lessons learned, and tips you can apply when building your own program!

  • Finding Job Satisfaction: One Mentor’s Story (Matt McHugh)
  • Creating Blue Chips (Kevin Poston)
  • Invest now, not later – Growing Junior Developers (Kevin Ellis)
  • How to: Mentor the next generation of Tech Talent (Allen Tuggle)
  • Leveraging Learning Styles in Your Mentoring Relationships (Matt McHugh)
  • The Successes and Struggles of Mentoring Future Consultants (Matt Ratliff)
  • Experience + Interpersonal Skills X Patience = A Great Workforce  (Alex Griffith)
  • What You’ll Learn as a Mentor (Andrew Lindberg)
  • This is No Babysitting Job (Margaret Archer)

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