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Making it Big in Software: Get the Job. Work the Org. Become Great.

06.07.2010
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Published by: Prentice Hall
ISBN: 0137059671

Reviewer Ratings

Relevance:
4

Readability:
4

Overall:
4

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One Minute Bottom Line

This book is a good read, particularly if you're new to the industry, but I would say that even for those further along in their careers there might be useful information in this book. You should read this book if you have any inkling that you aren't doing everything you can do to move up the corporate ladder - but don't be surprised if you get to the end of it and realize that you are already doing everything you can to advance yourself.

Review

'Making it Big in Software' is an interesting and useful read, but you really have to spend the time to consider the advice and wisdom this book has to offer - otherwise it is very easy to miss valuable hints. In other words, and rather obviously, don't passively read this book by flicking through the pages without considering the words on the page. You'll end up disappointed with this book if you do, because the advice is not always easily digestable without fully considering it, and meantally applying it to your situation.

Having been a software geek for all of my life, I have always had an interest in both the technology and the business of technology. I went to university and spent five years studying as both an undergrad and a postgrad and have now worked in the industry for a few years. From my perspective, this book is lacking any advice that I haven't already gleaned for myself. However, that is not to say that this book won't help you - it's more likely that I didn't really let my thoughts wander as I encountered the advice being given.

In 465 pages, this book works through topics for students, new hires, mid-level software professionals and those interested in starting their own company. Having been a student and a new hire already, these sections felt accurate, but not overly helpful for me. For myself, I found the sections about moving up the software hierarchy to be most valuable, given my current stage in my software career, and found these sections to be rather useful (to reaffirm that I'm not forgetting things that I should be doing, for the most part). It's not hard to argue that the value of this book is directly related to where you are in your software career - the earlier you are into it the more valuable this book becomes. Because of this, I get the feeling that repeated readings of this book throughout my career will yield different nuggets of wisdom that I may have missed my first time around.

Interspersed with the various topics of this book is interviews with a number of big names in the software industry. I'm a fan of books which interview the 'big names', having enjoyed 'Coders at Work' very much. Unfortunately, the questions in this book are nearly exactly the same for each person, and really don't dig deep enough in many cases. I get the impression the interview questions were emailed to each relevant person, and they were left to answer, as there was very little follow-up and drilling down on the points raised. Regardless, the people interviewed were the following:

Steve Wozniak, Inventor, Apple computer
John Schwarz, CEO, Business Objects
James Gosling, Inventor, Java programming language
Marissa Mayer, Google VP, Search Products and User Experience
Jon Bentley, Author, Programming Pearls
Marc Benioff, CEO and founder, [...]
Grady Booch, IBM Fellow and co-founder Rational Software
Bjarne Stroustrup, Inventor, C++ programming language
David Vaskevitch, Microsoft CTO
Linus Torvalds, Creator, Linux operating system kernel
Richard Stallman, Founder, Free software movement
Peter Norvig, Google's Director of Research
Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Fellow and Windows Architect
Tom Malloy, Adobe Chief Software Architect
Diane Greene, Co-founder and past CEO of VMware
Robert Kahn, Co-inventor, the Internet
Ray Tomlinson, Inventor, email 

This book has a number of valuable points that it repeatedly makes. For example, it covers that success does not need to be bound to salary, the importance of liking what you do and soft skills. Much of the advice was obvious but useful (e.g. the 4 quadrants of time management) and some was software focused (patents, publishing, public speaking). Depending on where you are in your career this book also drills in other important messages. For example, if you are a student it discusses the difference between what you do in school versus what happens in the 'real world', and how to go about getting a first job. For new hires, it talks about time management and mentoring skills, and for those further up the hierarchy, the book talks about leadership, career planning, and routes to success.

In summary, this book is a good read, particularly if you're new to the industry, but I would say that even for those further along in their careers there might be useful information in this book. You should read this book if you have any inkling that you aren't doing everything you can do to move up the corporate ladder - but don't be surprised if you get to the end of it and realise that you are already doing everything you can to advance yourself.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jonathan Giles.

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