Hey, I'm Miguel

Don't Burn Your Bridges as a Developer

Cover Image for Don't Burn Your Bridges as a Developer
June 3, 2022

We’ve all been there… we are at the edge of blowing up in front of someone at work for some reason. We bite our tongues because we know it’s just the stress of work and that feeling will pass. Maybe they’re under pressure from the higher-ups, don’t know that your project is a higher priority, or they just don’t like you and this person has not taken a hint or doesn’t care that you’re pissed off.

The Sh*t Just Hit The Fan

Boom!!! You blow up in front of a crowd and yell at them, berate them and their skills, and talk about why you’re so much better than them, or you send it all in an email to the whole company. You call out everyone that’s not pulling their own weight, developers that need to go back to school, managers that need to be demoted because they're incompetent or you know more than them, and all of the office secrets.

I was 22 years old when I left the military and started working 2 jobs; Office Max and J.C. Penney. I was working to pay for rent, food, gas, and supplement the G.I. Bill for school, so I was constantly on edge. At J.C. Penny I was squared away, did everything I was supposed to and more, and I was still getting yelled at and shit on by one of the floor managers. I had quit working at Office Max because I felt like I was the only one working and the shift manager wouldn’t address anyone else not putting in the effort. I was ready to go back to the Corps that day and decided to quit in the middle of my shift and yell at the manager in front of co-workers and customers. Two jobs in one day because I felt like I was doing everything.

During my first programming job, I was tasked to build a staffing system based on a Microsoft Access database. I built the UI, made the application a bit scalable, and set up custom reports. The stakeholder berated my skills as a developer because her reports were not accurate, so we had a meeting with the Director of Software Development and my manager. I blew up at the stakeholder because she couldn’t provide me with accurate requirements for the reports; I almost lost my job right then and there. Both the Director and my manager took over and saw the same thing I was experiencing… I got to keep my job but I was spoken to about my temper. I left on good terms after 5 years.

Why Be The Nice Guy?

I’ve been a developer now for 22 years and I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot since then. I have since had bad experiences with some companies, but I’ve been able to leave on good terms with most of them. Because I am passionate about what I do, it shows. I get pissed off, I bang my hand on my desk, and I curse… a lot.

There were a couple of times when I had a bad experience with a company and left, I would reach out to some of the developers I know to see if their companies were hiring. This has served me well as I maintain a good relationship with these people and they can speak well of my skills and my dedication to the work. I have even reached out to some of them to get them hired where I was working at the time.

In your career as a developer, you will encounter crappy co-workers, bad managers, and incompetent stakeholders. You may be working with these people later on in your career, so it’s your job to:

  1. Not take it personally
  2. Teach and guide them so that they can do a better job
  3. Go home and beat the shit out of the punching bag in your garage and have a beer afterward

I would rather have a private conversation with the person that is pissing me off than call them out in a public setting. This will lead to resolving whatever issues the two of you have and leaving as friends or agreeing that each other is an asshole and that you both have to suck it up and just work together. Who knows, they may not like you; but, they respect your skills enough to work with you again later on.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

In the end, you’re gonna want to maintain some kind of relationship with the people you work with. You don’t know if you’ll be looking for a new job, a reference, or someone to fill a position your company is hiring for. You’ll know the developers and QA testers that work well and that you are happy to work with or just tolerate.