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How To Behave At a Software Company?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the answer-may-vary-with-stock-ticker dept.

Businesses 842

dawilcox writes "I'm a recent grad and am going to begin work at a software company. I want to make a good impression on my boss and coworkers. I know that performance is usually tracked, but there are also innate personality traits of good software developers that bosses just want to have around. What are those personality traits? What should I be trying to do in order to make a good impression on the people at my work?" (Appropriate side question: What behavior traits would you like your co-workers to exhibit?)

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Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143742)

Good hygiene and refraining from acting like a know-it-all are my two best pieces of advice. Nerd types are often (myself included) poor at those two things.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143760)

and i would like to add - don't make weird noises. if you do, keep them to a minimum. don't clear your throat every 30 seconds. don't clip your fingernails at your desk. little things like this go a long way.

http://www.kogoin.com (-1, Offtopic)

qiqihh (1807498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143898)

Good hygiene and refraining from acting like a know-it-all are my two best pieces of advice. Nerd types are often (myself included) poor at those two things.

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Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (-1, Troll)

Webz (210489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143900)

It's an absolute travesty that you need to point out things like "have good hygiene". Everyone should have good hygiene. If you don't, you should probably kill yourself.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143968)

It's an absolute travesty that you need to point out things like "have good hygiene". Everyone should have good hygiene. If you don't, you should probably kill yourself.

That's going a bit overboard, and won't work anyway; dead bodies are quite unhygienic. WASHING yourself (i.e. showering -- use soap and shampoo) and brushing your teeth (toothpaste: tastes bad, works good) are the two most important things you can do. Put on clean clothes after showering; this generally means doing laundry now and again, but it's worth it.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144014)

I think the OP meant killing yourself by jumping into a crematorium furnace.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144056)

My god... Even that smells horrendous! If you ever lived in a small town you'd know. Getting launched into the sun might be a better alternative.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (0, Troll)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144096)

My god... Even that smells horrendous! If you ever lived in a small town you'd know. Getting launched into the sun might be a better alternative.

Or choosing to fly Qantas?

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144028)

Toothpaste tastes bad?

You must be buying the wrong brand or flavor. Try a different one. It'll work just as good.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144006)

I've worked at a handful of software shops in 8 states and 3 countries, so I've got the ritual down. I find it works best to get together after work for a happy hour, that's the best way to get the lowdown. Some nice cold ones away from the office and you'll learn a lot about your coworkers, managers, the company in general. Then I like to have a circle jerk. Nothing like watching your coworkers masturbating to bond the team together. You can even try jacking each other off, if they're into it. Butt fucking and rimming each other sounds like fun (and it is!), but some people find it a little awkward, so better to keep it one-on-one rather than trying to do a group thing.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know it all. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144032)

Good hygiene and refraining from acting like a know-it-all are my two best pieces of advice. Nerd types are often (myself included) poor at those two things.

It's good to follow the dress code as well. I try to stick to an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, sun glasses and a beer hat. On days when there are no meetings scheduled I dress more casually.

easy. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144050)

innate personality traits of good software developers that bosses just want to have around.

Have a positive can-do attitude, especially whenever the boss asks you to work evenings and weekends. What bosses love to have around are smart people who get things done and don't mind working 60 hour weeks standard (up from there whenever anything surprising happens or is badly panned) for a 40-hour salary.

Appropriate side question: What behavior traits would you like your co-workers to exhibit?

A little self-respect, and enough spine to refuse to be exploited into giving up your personal life to further your bosses ends. Every time you work long hours, you create expectations that your co-workers should work long hours too, and they will despise you for it.

Lunch (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143748)

Do not bring any food containers that smell like something died inside to work and eat it at your desk.

Re:Lunch (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143780)

Eat whatever shit your boss gives you and say it tastes like ice cream.

Re:Lunch (5, Funny)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144024)

Also, though this may be a catch-22, don't bring live things into work to eat either.

Re:Lunch (5, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144064)

Do not bring any food containers that smell like something died inside ...

But, but ... Almost all my food consists of something that died.

Yeah, there are exception, like the lettuce, tomato, etc., that are technically still alive. But, for example, the bread was made from a pile of baby wheat plants that were ground up (while still alive), then mixed with live yeast and a few other ingredients, then baked at a temperature guaranteed to kill everything in the loaf. Then we slice that up, fill it with slices of dead animals and other things. Only the lettuce leaves and the seeds inside the tomato slices are still alive; the rest is quite dead.

I've found that people tend to think that such food is very "fresh", whatever that might mean, but they're clearly wrong. It's mostly made up of things that have died in the recent past. Some of them, like the baby wheat plants, died a rather awful death by being tossed live into a grinder. Others, like the yeast in the bread, died a horrible death in a bath of steam slowly getting hotter.

First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143754)

YES! I know I'm trolling, but i had to.

Re:First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143954)


Advice, Dawg (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143756)

disclaimer: the following is common sense

I'm an electronics tech and not a programmer, but generally people adapt to the subtleties of their employers' corporate culture. First, read Dilbert and The Art of War if you haven't already.

Second, most importantly, do not participate in gossip and compartmentalize your work and play behavior. If somebody says, "man, person x is a dumbass," just respond with a disinterested neurtral "hmm." and keep an element of mystery to yourself. It will have a snowball effect -- people will see that you aren't a loudmouth, and so they share increasingly damning information about your coworkers and the company in general. They will respect you because you know how to keep your mouth shut, and you will know more than anybody else because you are the only neutral person on the floor. Bosses will also see that you are at work to work, not jabber, and they like that. Eat lunch by yourself so that you won't be obligated to reveal personal information.

To quote the Grand Nagus from DS9, "You don't grab power, you accumulate it." Inevitably, you'll run across a player-hater. Wait for them to make a mistake and then show the boss what you did to fix their mistake. An example(I've described before) from my last job was a fellow turd of a technician who tried to boss the rest of us around while talking on the phone and doing little work himself. After he sent 2 units out the door with the same serial number, I wrote a program to throw a warning if duplicate serial numbers were entered(easy reading keystrokes using the Java robot and since all serial numbers followed a certain format). I don't like passive-aggressiveness in my personal life, but that tact is a necessity at work.

One more thing - it's helpful to mention during the interview that you're there to work, not talk. It looks good and your boss won't think you're a dick. Being unsociable may cause others to think you're a dick, so offset that by helping anybody who asks -- just watch out for the malingerers - they'll feign ignorance and ask your for help as a way to weasel you into doing their work for them.

Re:Advice, Dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143822)

Don't listen to this guy.

I've tried everything he's saying. Be quiet and talk to no-one and you'll be the just the quiet guy, the weird guy, the oddball. Say nothing at all when someone confides in you their opinion of someone else, and they may think you're just waiting to rat them out on it when it's convenient to you - especially if you never say anything bad about anyone. And you'll be passed up for every good opportunity, because you're not a team player.

Be quiet and helpful, and they'll respect you even less, because they'll abuse your knowledge for as long as you comply.

tl;dr The golden rule is just don't be a dick. You don't have to be stone-cold silent to achive that. And if you can't pull it off anyway, then you're just a dick, period.

Re:Advice, Dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143882)

Oh, and most important, don't point out anybody's incompetence, bad as it may be, unless you can play it off as a "there was no way I could avoid talking about it" situation.

Re:Advice, Dawg (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143840)

Eat lunch by yourself so that you won't be obligated to reveal personal information.

Quickest way to alienate yourself and become first on the chopping block. If everyone eats lunch in, bring your lunch too. If everyone eats lunch out, go with them. If you can't afford to eat out, make an effort; suggest Taco Bell, letting the gang know you're strapped for cash but trying to be part of the group. You're not obligated to reveal personal information at lunch, but in my experience, people who ignore any and all lunches with coworkers are viewed as snobbish loners, and their work ethic seems to be the same (they are the people that ignore meetings, ignore policies, etc).

Re:Advice, Dawg (3, Insightful)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143886)

If you suggest Taco Bell, you're alienating yourself.

Re:Advice, Dawg (5, Funny)

MoeDrippins (769977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143912)

Suggesting Taco Bell is ok... it's the aftermath that can be alienating.

Re:Advice, Dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143992)

Heh. That made my day.

Re:Advice, Dawg (4, Insightful)

CyberSnyder (8122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143990)

Good way to network. Learn to network, it's as important of a skill as your technical expertise.

Re:Advice, Dawg (5, Insightful)

edivad (1186799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144084)

If you are a software engineer, and you can't afford going out for lunch, you might consider the chance of having been screwed during the salary negotiation.

Re:Advice, Dawg (1)

Aluvus (691449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143868)

Your workplace sounds incredibly unpleasant.

Re:Advice, Dawg (1)

The Dancing Panda (1321121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143876)

This is all pretty damn good advice, and is how I act at work. I even go to lunch by myself. Something I would change is don't be anti-social. Be quiet, but not anti-social. If people talk to you, you can talk back. Let your personality out, without letting your personal life out. If people ask you to go out to lunch, go. If they ask you out to drinks after work, go. Don't get out of control, and you don't have to talk much, just be friendly.

Woah (4, Insightful)

Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143880)

Am I glad that I don't work with you! "I'm here to work, not talk". Ever hear of the concept of colaboration? You know, working together as a team to achieve a common goal? Normally involves this thing I like to call "communication", you do it with your mouth. The advise on avoiding gossip is good, but the rest of your post smacks of some severe personality problems. Many of my co-workers are now friends, and this is a good thing! Lifes too short to be the "lone wolf". As another counter-point, you will never get anywhere if you don't socialize. It's half gaining peoples respect for your technical ability, and half gaining their trust because they know you. Get your head out of your arse, and join in!

Re:Woah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143980)

If the "talk" is about work the "talk" is work. If the "talk" is about bullshit the "talk" is talk.

"Lifes too short to be the "lone wolf"."

Lifes too short to listen to bullshit.

Re:Woah (5, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144076)

Completely right. You can socialize with your coworkers without engaging in gossip and other destructive stuff.

The concept of keeping your work separate from your life is BS. Your work is a big part of your life. You spend more time with your coworkers than with your family and significant others so you're just setting yourself up to hate your job if you avoid building relationships. I've had some annoying coworkers and I've had some great coworkers that have become good friends both inside and outside of the office. If you're office discourages you from having some fun during the day with your coworkers then I'd look for another place to work before you burn out.

The important thing is that while you can control who you hang out with after work, you don't get to control who you work with. Show the annoying guys in the office the same respect you give the coworkers who you are good friends with.

Re:Advice, Dawg (4, Interesting)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143894)

Eat lunch by yourself so that you won't be obligated to reveal personal information.

As a branch manager in an IT company this is bad news to me, it tells me employee in question is not a team player shown by their inability to communicate well with others. IT is about the flow of information and team work not about building walls. The best advice I can give anyone just starting a job is to not to form opinions and listen.. Also do not try and show off as this may mark you as being insecure. So on your first day take a note book and use it as this will tell your employer that you are serious about your job. Last but not least "be yourself"

Re:Advice, Dawg (1)

Nitrodist (1791378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144004)

So on your first day take a note book and use it as this will tell your employer that you are serious about your job. Last but not least "be yourself"

Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely use it on my upcoming 'first day'.

Re:Advice, Dawg (5, Interesting)

g33korama (1671286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143920)

Uh, last software company I worked for and ate by myself... they thought I was anti-social and booted me. I'm like you though, I hate office drama so I avoid it like the plague, unfortunately... in an ironic turn, by not socializing to stay away from drama, you unfortunately can create it and draw attention to yourself.

Re:Advice, Dawg (3, Insightful)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143960)

Places of work are also social havens. People who can talk and find common ground often work well together. When I and others interview people to join our team we also interview their social skills to see if they will fit. If someone walked in the door with your attitude it would be a very short interview!

Re:Advice, Dawg (2, Insightful)

cenobyte40k (831687) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143986)

I really think the above is normally pretty bad advice. Being friendly, talking to people in the hall for a minute, eating lunch with your team are all good things that most people will enjoy and like about you. Being cold and distant only erodes moral and espree de corps which does not look good to your boss and will look even less good when your team reviews at the end of the year say "Not a team player", "Unfriendly", "Cold and Unapproachable". Just be clean, be nice, and get your work done and you will do fine. There are a thousand other things to remember, Don't gossip negativity about others, but feel free to gossip positively about people, Help those in trouble, be quick to forgive a mistake, always try to avoid getting anyone in trouble, Volunteer for the work no one else wants to do if you can. Etc etc etc, but mostly it boils down to be clean, be nice and get your work done.

Re:Advice, Dawg (4, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143996)

As far as I've seen that kind of behavior will only get you so far. At some point you have to be able to voice an opinion, publicly, and then follow through on it. Otherwise you're going to top out at some point. Even if you limit that advice to just the social stuff, workers who act as a social nexus for a team are valuable in a completely different sense than skilled engineers. I don't know why you'd intentionally go out of your way to avoid all aspects of that role.

The best advice I can give is, ask questions. Ask everything you can think of. It doesn't matter if it's something you need to understand to do your work for the next two weeks, if somebody who's been around longer than you is willing to explain something to you, take as much of their time as they're willing to give. Some people avoid asking questions because they think it makes them look weak. It doesn't. It just makes you look stubborn, and you're going to get passed right and left by people who aren't afraid to admit they don't know things.

Once you understand enough start proposing fixes, and follow through on them. Don't be an ass about it, but make sure you keep the work you're doing as an active part of the conversation from day to day. It helps you because people will notice the things you fix, and it's a good way to get other people to chip in on parts of the fixes as well. If you can demonstrate that you're able to help steer the group in a positive direction, even in just one aspect of many, it'll go a long way. Remember you're here to build stuff, and that includes the team and the process, not just sitting in a corner turning out your coding assignments on time.

Re:Advice, Dawg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144068)

And while we're recommending the classics, let's not forget "The Prince", by Machiavelli. (Most of it is just practical politics rather than truly "Machiavellian".)

Attitude (5, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143758)

Be confident without being overconfident.
Know how to communicate and also when to leave other people alone.
Don't be too pessimistic or too optimistic when setting goals.
Don't be a pushover, but don't be a dick, either.
Be productive, positive, and competent.
Always work to improve yourself.

Re:Attitude (1)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143806)

This 100X. Wish I had mod points for you.

Re:Attitude (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143808)

Just be the awesomest person ever. It's worked for me.

People will judge you by what you _do_, so do awesome things.

Re:Attitude (5, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143950)

Now we see why they say, "Go not to Slashdot for counsel, for they will say both yes and no."

advice from the onion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143770)

May not work for everyone


dont be a douche (2, Insightful)

PopeScott (1343031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143774)

Its the same as everywhere else in the world. Dont act like (or be) a douchebag. Socialization isn't some BlackArt.

How about being yourself? (3, Insightful)

DragonIV (697809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143776)

It's easy, and requires no reconfiguration of your brain. Bonus: your current configuration drew you into studying this in school. Chances are, the same configuration is desired by software development managers.

A Software Development Manager

Re:How about being yourself? (2, Insightful)

Webz (210489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143862)

This can't work for everyone. Some developers are horrible, horrible people. Take a stereotypical nerd for example. Poor hygiene, poor social skills, completely out of touch with reality.

If this describes you, consider not being yourself. Although typically people that are described like this probably aren't self-aware of such things.

Re:How about being yourself? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143904)

How about being yourself? It's easy, and requires no reconfiguration of your brain.

Noooooooo! If was myself I'd be kicked out on day one. I LOVE debating. It's not that I am "argumentative", it's just that debating releases endorphins in me. I must suppress it, consuming vast amounts of will to do it, otherwise people will avoid me.

Re:How about being yourself? (1)

Hooya (518216) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143906)

And the best part is, if you are yourself and it doesn't work out, you probably wouldn't have been happy there anyhow. The depressing job market may make you feel like getting a job is the greatest thing ever - keeping a job you're happy at is probably a better thing in the long run. And you won't be happy unless you can be yourself.

Another Software Development Manager.

Re:How about being yourself? (1)

Arzmir (1051516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143908)

This is the best answer yet. I presume that you didn't lie on your interview or resumé and that the boss had some interest in hiring you in the first place, that (in most cases) shows that you, both as a person and as a resource, are probably already valued as a co-worker.

Some traits I would've put some weight on if I was hiring:

- Showing interest in what you do, outside of wage alone.
- Have enough integrity to admit mistakes and improving from it.
- Being sociable, able to keep a conversation going.
- Knowing oneself in terms of what one can and cannot do. Including what one think one can learn how to do.
- Some ambition! Not necessarily work related.
- Being able to, if you have time of course, accept dirty jobs and do them without hesitation and do it properly! Show some honor in what you do!

And the most obvious of all: Don't slack of. Do your job and in time!

Good luck :)

Like an asshole, of course. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143778)

Really, everyone knows that the best hackers are all insufferable assholes. Chopping up your wife is optional, but at least refusing to release passwords is key. BOFH is a good primer, if you're having trouble wrapping your head around the concepts, but if you need a primer, you really should reevaluate -- maybe you just don't have what it takes.

notepad.exe (2, Informative)

yup2000 (182755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143784)

Use notepad or nano and write down everything. This way you won't have to ask more than once for something.

Re:notepad.exe (5, Informative)

yup2000 (182755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143814)

Also, read this: http://samizdat.mines.edu/howto/HowToBeAProgrammer.html

Re:notepad.exe (1)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143830)

Better still, use vi to start building your inscrutable guru reputation early.

Re:notepad.exe (1)

Nitrodist (1791378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144052)

Better still, use vi to start building your inscrutable guru reputation early.

Vi?! Emacs... is clearly more inscrutable and guruee.

Humility (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143786)

Admit when you don't know how to do something. Admit when you don't understand something that someone has explained to you. Most of all, admit when you have made a mistake (such as a bug in production being your fault).

I don't know what it is about software developers, but collectively we'd have to be amongst the arrogant people in the world. For some bizarre reason, we pretend that we know everything and blame someone else for our own mistakes. The best developers can recognise their own short-comings.

Re:Humility (3, Informative)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143932)

It's worse in my case. I am BOTH a software developer AND an Argentinian. If we could gather energy from my ego, we could solve the world energy crisis.

Always give your best effort even if you think it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143788)

Always answer a request to do something unfamiliar to you with "I don't know a lot about that, but I'll give it my best shot".

And don't express your outrage at how horrible either Windows or Linux is. As a new-hire, it's not your business to make these kinds of decisions. It doesn't matter if you hate or love an OS. If they ask you to use it, USE IT and get over it.

Re:Always give your best effort even if you think (-1, Troll)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143928)

Ah ... the leave your soul at the front door approach. Nice.

Good hygiene, don't be a know-it-all (1)

johnhp (1807490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143794)

Be sure you're shaved, clean and don't smell. Don't wear wrinkly clothes even though they don't technically increase your compile times. Also, don't be a know it all. I learned the hard way that telling everyone their product is a piece of shit, on the first day, is not the way to win any friends. And neither is crushing your lesser educated colleagues for sport.

Re:Good hygiene, don't be a know-it-all (1)

awyeah (70462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144090)

I will second the clothing thing. Often times, you'll see people wearing clothes that are worn out, wrinkled, or maybe even have small holes in them. I understand that most developers are not customer-facing, and looking like you care about your appearance doesn't generally affect your productivity. But still. Do it anyway.

throw fits over minor things (5, Funny)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143798)

stop bathing
be awkward around the opposite gender
come in at noon and leave after midnight
be extremely condescending towards anyone at the company who is not an engineer
never admit that anything is your fault
drink 20 cans of free soda a day
claim to be a libertarian if you dont already

No, Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143800)

I've been in two companies that have two completely different approaches.

One just wanted to get things done. They didn't care how it was done, if it was appropriate, well-kept or even how flexible it was. They weren't very forward-thinking and technology was not really frowned upon, but they didn't seek it out or how it could help them. When new tech was introduced, at that point it was frowned upon. They also wanted things done their way. Traits? Conservative.

Another company I've seen wants your stuff to be well-kept, correct, flexible and they welcome new tech. They also are very keen on new ideas and input from everyone. Traits? Fresh and future-thinking.

Good impression? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143812)

Make sure the coffee pot is always full.

Play their game, not yours (3, Insightful)

Webz (210489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143838)

A lot of nerds value things like talent, transparency, and being tacit when there are no errors. And also are averse to things like small talk, self-promotion, and various shades of lying. These are all great qualities. But they are only valuable to nerds.

If you really want to get in good with someone, and you'll have to, since a work environment is a multi-faceted beast, you'll need to play their game. Am I saying you need to sacrifice the values that make you who you are? Absolutely not. Will you require some tweaking? Probably.

For instance, small talk. If you don't ping people every so often, even if you don't need them for anything work related, you will lose out on social capital. It's good to keep everyone in your sphere, so to speak, so that it's easier to ask them for things as you need. Having a purely work-related relationship with someone is so dry and inorganic. I'm not saying you have to be BFFs. But you can cultivate a personable in-work casual relationship with someone to smooth out those moments that you need them.

I'm sure a lot of other comments in this thread will elaborate on the things I've mentioned. In general, it's about working on your soft skills. To put it in RPG terms, you are an INT hero who graduated from the top of their class. You know all the spells. But guess what, this is a STR and AGI challenge and you need to work on your charisma to rope in some help. No one is taking your INT skills away from you. But you'll have to work extra hard on navigating this new game called office politics that nerds typically aren't used to, exposed to, or want in their lives.

Good luck and tread cautiously!

Respect senior coworkers obviously (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143842)

Do not familiarize yourself with them unless it's clear you have their approval. Take over the duty of caring for the cofee machine. If you make some snacks, doing more of them than just for yourself won't be a big strain. Show enhthusiasm in replenishing office supplies (that includes also local supplies of your coworkers). Etc.

some quick stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143844)

Test your code vigorously - even after you make small changes. It's easy to develop a rep as a sloppy guy when you're new. Be sure to observe proper code versioning and deployment/staging processes.

If you find bugs in other peoples code, try to be a diplomatic as possible. Downplay them and ask if they are indeed bugs. Don't be a computer nerd with a superiority complex - even if the shortcomings you find are obvious.

Ask questions about how code works. First it shows that you care, and second most people generally like teaching. of course there are limits to this. You only ask when you can't figure it out. Ask too much and it just makes you seem lazy.

Ask to do the shit jobs.

Generally just be humble and eager to learn.

Easy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143846)

Wheaton's Law.

Be good, but humble.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143850)

I have a co-worker that knows all of the ins and outs, and is able to fix most anything.

His skill is not at all appreciated because it seems like it is more impressive that somebody was able to survive his self aggrandizing "you couldn't do this without me" bragging than it is that he was able to solve the problem.

Yah, don't be that guy.

Don't dip your pen in the company ink (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143864)

And don't be such a kiss ass.

How To Behave At a Software Company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143866)

Find a good and novel lunch place, social is very much more important than ability, this goes for any company really

What industry? (1)

Erinnys Tisiphone (1627695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143878)

It depends a lot on the industry, the demographics of the work place, and the company's customers! All of the above are great tips. Try to get a feel for other people's interests, their work ethics, their dress and appearance, and their level of self-expression, and try to emulate it. I've worked at ma and pa telcos where ties and sparkling clean desks are unspoken mandatory, trading firms where just talking to another employee can spark a random stress meltdown, as well as government contracting companies where people wear jeans and have nerf gun fights. Be yourself - just get a feel for how much of yourself you can be.

Re:What industry? (1)

Nitrodist (1791378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144102)

Conform to the corporate culture, but bring your own personality along and contribute!

Seriously? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143890)

You're a programmer - what the hell do you care?

Wear pants. Shower. Stop reading slashdot. (3, Informative)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143902)

Those three things would put you immediately ahead of me as a coder (and ahead of 99% of the coders in the industry). And, for fucks sake, let go that stupid stapler.

Now, jokes aside, it all depends on what company you are working for. I own a small software (and hardware) company. We develop several solutions, including DVRs/NVRs, digital signage server/client solutions, and other video capturing/processing/streaming/recording/analysis devices. I look for smart, creative people that can truly think out of the box and work in a non-conventional environment. I look for good multitaskers, eager to get things done. I look for good hackers, and good hackers aren't good employees by definition.

There are companies that look for just good employees, other look for the best employees they can get considering they are looking for smart, creative people. There is no recipe for this. Working at Apple-like, Microsoft-like, Google-like, or ID-like companies is radically different.

My advice is: If you are worried about making a good impression, you will end up in management. I am the kind of person that on my first day would be worrying about what new challenges I will face, and what great problems I'll get to solve. If you are truly worried just about making a good impression, and job-security is your main concern, you belong with the soul-less bastards in management, not in IT.

Probably redundant (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143910)

But anyways:
- Try to keep your trap shut and listen instead
- Volunteer for shits people don't wanna do
- Put some extra hours, but just a little so that it won't piss off others
- Try to be dependable, rather than brilliant
- Don't even think about the hotties at the marketing

How NOT to act at work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143914)

From Eric S. Raymond's Slashdot Hangover [trollaxor.com] :

It was dark in the Holland, Michigan office nestled deep within Slashdot's Geek Compound. Shifting and moaning, ESR laid sprawled over his filthy desk. Dried spittle stuck several Post-It notes to his cheek. His PC, running Linux, silently printed swap error after swap error to the screen, lighting ESR's sickly form. As he burped several times he attempted to recall the night before that had led to this stupor. Holding his head in his hands, he was interrupted by lights and doors slamming. Someone was in the office!

As Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda walked past ESR, he noticed the several empty bottles of Jägermeister and what appeared to be fecal stains on the floor and walls surrounding the recovering ESR nothing new. He also noticed the some semen bubbling in the cracks of ESR's chafed lips.

"Another all-night office orgy, Eric?" Rob asked coyly.

Tilting his head gingerly toward Rob and raising his eyebrows slowly, ESR spoke softly. "Oh shit. Is that what happened last night? I believe I blacked out at some point, I can't remember anything. Who was here last night?"

"Well, CowboyNeil got there a little late last night, but he said that by the time he got there that Alan, Emad, Jamie, Michael, and Signal 11 were already pretty drunk," Rob said just a little too loudly for ESR's tender head.

Closing and opening his eyes gently, ESR muttered to himself about having not invited Signal 11. He also started sniffing the air and licking his lips. "I can smell dried feces on a dick a mile away. Just where were you last night, Robbie? You get a piece of ass last night and decide to ditch my party?"

"What's it to you? Your breath smells like semen and you don't hear me asking whose it is," Malda shot back.

ESR smiled and swiveled with a gleam in his eyes. "Ah, but you see, this is my own sperm!"

"And it must taste specfuckingtacular!" Rob shot back.

Eric interjected before Rob could go on. "Ah yes. You see, I like to add a shot of Jäger to it to give it a little kick."

"No," Rob replied with anger rising in his voice, "You fucking raging alcoholic. Your semen tastes like old motor oil. I think you may have ruptured both of your testicles and now your colon is shooting diarrhea out of your cock-hole."

"What!? You little fudge-packing piece of shit!" ESR threatened, "Ditch one of my office parties because Hemos calls up and says he's lonely, will you? I bet that's what happened. Well, guess who I'll be recommending we lay off at the next LNUX board meeting? How do you like that, Taco?"

"Whatever, Eric. You don't scare anyone except your parents," Rob said as he stormed out of ESR's office, his green plaid flannel whipping in the wake behind him. "You would be nothing without Slashdot."

ESR stammered and shook. Ever since the LNUX stock had plummeted, things were so tense around the office. Relations were falling apart between he and the Slashdot admins. Last night, Michael and Jamie had pounded each other exclusively, ignoring ESR's crooked, erect penis, and Eric had to convince Emad and Alan to restrain CowboyNeil before he could engage in homosexual intercourse with him.

With a flick of his wrist, ESR popped a dozen extra-strength Bayers down his stinking gullet and washed them down with some Jäger from the bottle he had woken up holding. Depressed, aching, and on the verge of vomiting up the entirety of last night's semen binge, ESR cried silently and went back to sleep at this desk, ignoring the pile of work that sullied the landscape of his desktop.

Clapping twice to darken his office, ESR curled into fetal position as best he could and rested, preparing to do it all over again later that night.

What worked for me, and what I wish I had done (3, Interesting)

devleopard (317515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143922)

10+ years in development...

Here's what has helped me:
Learn to be more than a geek. Don't be another one of those guys that just wants to sit in his cube, write code, and be left alone. If you are, pretend you aren't. Learn the business-speak. Don't speak in acronyms all the time. Speak at stake-holders' level, but don't talk down to them.. they're not stupid, they just may not understand what you do.

What I wish I had been told:
Don't be a bitch. In other words, when you make estimates, don't be ridiculously low because you're afraid of what the stake-holder will say. And no, they won't always be nice when you tell them a number they don't want to hear. But stand your ground, intelligently (as opposed to defensively) explaining why it'll take so long/cost so much. This makes you an asset who "tells it like it is". The other way, you become a pansy with a bad rep because you're always so far off.

Change small things, be self-critical (1)

swamp_ig (466489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143924)

You can't fake a whole different personality, it's simply not possible to sustain for any length of time.

Of course a bit of positive self-evaluation does everyone a bit of good - don't dwell on your mistakes but try to learn from them. Try to identify your personal pecadillos, and try not to let them act against your own self-interest.

Open Minded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143930)

Be open minded, no matter how stupid a suggestion or opinion is, take it seriously, listen and ask questions. This will allow you to catch your own mistakes and it will garnish the respect of the person making the suggestion. You may also be suprised how fast stupid ideas can get on track towards being a good idea.

Even balanced (5, Insightful)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143934)

Some random thoughts - I'm a Systems Admin/Engineer by trade, but have spent some time in the Manager's chair as well. Here's some thoughts that would have helped me for my first real job (i.e. why didn't someone tell me):

Don't act like a know-it-all, but don't be afraid to offer a concise answer if solicited. Us nerds tend to LOVE to elaborate to "make an impression". The only impression is "Thanks, now how do I shut this guy up?".

Don't be afraid to challenge your peers when your approach may be better, but know when to back down when you're out-numbered.

In a cubical farm, your voice or other odd noises carry much further than you think. Same applies for the office restroom.

Speakerphone is a privilege reserved those with an office and a closed door. (Ab)using speakerphone (esp. loudly) in a cubicle will earn many more enemies than friends. Consider a headset if you're going to be on the phone a lot and need to type or do other things with your hands.

Learn and understand your company's core values. Chances are, you hold some of these yourself or you wouldn't have been hired (at least by any competent manager). These values will help guide your management team's decisions, just in case you question their motives.

If you lied on your interview, you'll be quickly found out the moment you submit your first program. If it's a serious lie that you can't lie your way out of again, don't even bother showing up for your first day.

Learn how to comment your code, but don't do it so much that stripping them out strips 75% of the file.

Use sane variables that someone else can maintain. "a, b, foo and bar" are not sane.

Be willing to learn - always. This may involve learning OUTSIDE of your job as well.

You will be required to understand the business to a degree that helps you develop useful code. Don't be surprised if your first few weeks on the job involve training that seems initially pointless (stocking shelves, packing boxes, etc.). It will all make sense in the end, and may even help start the creative flow of "I could do that better".

Innovate or get out of the way. Complacency often gets you fired.

For some companies, continuous improvement is expected. For others, they prefer the tried and true. Don't be afraid to ride the middle if you aren't sure which one you're dealing with at first. Someone will set you straight.

Make sure your line of communication with your manager is wide open. Understand his/her expectations and deliver on what's asked. However, if the expectations are completely unreasonable, have a backbone and ensure they know why you can't rewrite Linux in a day.

This is hard at first, but employees who perform well need little management. Those who don't can expect constant management. Then again, some managers like to micro-manage anyway, especially their under-performers.

Be someone who people want to work with (1)

enryonaku (1441337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143942)

- Don't be a know it all!

Biggest one socially dysfunctional nerds have a problem with. Just because you have perfect memory of an API doesn't mean you should start correcting people. Memorizing some shit correctly is not the same as being able to architect a system or delivery a project. The little bit of knowledge you have has very little value. An older guy may not know python but he certainly knows how to get something done.

- Don't complain

- Take initiative but learn when to ask for help. You gotta figure out the balance between giving something a good faith try and aborting wasteful activity in order to find out the proper way to do something.

- Have a sense of humor. Know one will work with you, talk well about you, give you good reviews, push your for promotion if they don't like you and can't stand to work with you.

Being pleasant to work with is more important than technical skill. Being pleasant to work with is more important than technical skill. Being pleasant to work with is more important than technical skill.

That has to be repeated.

- Hygiene. Just don't smell bad. Shave and dress up if meeting with a customer or higher up

Mmmkay, I'm going to need you to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143946)

...stop reading /. and get back to work.

common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143948)

Be humble. Be nice. Be neat. Be punctual.

Follow the guidelines (you will soon find out there are unwritten ones; learn them and follow them as well).

Be proactive. Work hard. Help others get their job done. Ask for help to get yours done (but try not to make a habit of it).

Find out who are the ones that can teach you stuff, and let them. Find out who are the ones who will syphoon off your productivity for their benefit and leave them alone.

Do leave a paper/email trail of the work you have done (I'm assuming here you will work a lot - if you want to be a chairwarmer, forget that last part). Do not leave a paper/email trail of your opinions on someone else's work or, worse, life (better yet, avoid gossip entirely, work-related or not).

Don't suck up to people, but don't be a pushover either. Respect your co-workers. Stand your ground but remember that you make mistakes too; keep an open mind and be ready to acknowledge your errors.


Be patient with non-geeks, they are often nice people (believe it or not!) and they probably know way more than you do in their area of expertise (which might not be obvious at first).

Keep track of everything you need to do (a TODO list, marked emails, list of tasks, whatever); keep all this info readily accessible all the time.

All I can think of right now.

Incompatible personality (1)

neghvar1 (1705616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143956)

Adapting to a new work environment is tough for me and even to maintain it. I have asperger syndrome and the main part of that involves being socially inept. Lacking in certain social skills which are necessary in today's corporate environment. Teamwork is one of the big ones

A lot of common sense (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143964)

There is such a wide variety of office "culture" that general advice is hard. I think a lot of it is trial an error.. you're going to at some point piss someone off or at least do something/say something and hate yourself for it. When you do, just try and learn from it and minimize the damage as best you can.

I guess one thing I'd recommend though is that while you (being fresh out of school) probably have all kinds of great ideas on how you're going to revolutionize everything, you have to accept that companies can't just change their process with ever new graduating class. Not saying you shouldn't try to bring in new ideas.. but don't be "that guy" who spends every meeting talking about how the way things are being done is totally wrong and how pair programming and executable UML would be perfect. The guys with 20+ years of experience may be set in their ways.. but they also (probably) have a lot of experience seeing projects succeed and fail.. having some new kid throwing ideas from a textbook at them can ruffle some feathers.

be yourself (1)

adnd74 (1022357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143976)

Be yourself, if they don't like you, chances are you don't like them either and should be working somewhere else anyway.

Rule Number Two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32143994)

Rule Number Two: "It's more important to get along with others than to get your work done." See also "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Yup, it sounds corney, but it will change your life (and future career).

(BTW, if you're wondering what Rule Number One is: "If we can't have fun, by God, we're leaving.")

How to behave at any job... (1)

lemur666 (313121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143998)

Don't lie about what you know. I.e. it's better to say "I don't know but I can find out." rather that pulling something out of your ass.

Don't complain about anything unless you can also offer a solution to the problem.

Do good work. Figure out what the company considers "good." I.e. some companies value speed of development, others value high-quality.

Never, ever take offense when someone points out a bug in your code. If there's a 'real' bug thank the person who found it, after all they are improving on your work. If it's a not a real bug work with them to figure out why they were mistaken (bad documentation? Not trained enough on what it's supposed to do?)

Social skills help. But don't be a phony.

Manage up. If you think you deserve something from your boss, and they won't give it to you, work out a plan to get it. (If you want a promotion, work out with your boss what he needs to see before he can promote you. Work out a plan with you boss to meet those goals.)

Hopefully you get the idea. Basically you should always try to improve the situation for everyone, not just yourself.

Until you reach middle-management. And then the knives come out and it's best to be a complete sociopath.

there are a lot of good suggestion here but.. (1)

tbj61898 (643014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144008)

My personal experience is that, if you work hard and give respect to your coworkers, You'll be Welcome anytime, despite any bad traits you may have.

You're on the right track because You are asking yourself how to get better at work, do that with your colleagues and you'll be good! "What can I do to help You with that?" often do the trick, if you are looking for a starter motto.
After 12y in this I actually have two mottos:
1- that above, the standard one
2- "Sounds impossible to me" if I don't like the project/ideav

Serious Advice (3, Insightful)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144020)

The answer to your question depends on your boss, actually. I've found that there are generally two types of bosses: The better kind that are intelligent, do things right, and get shit done; and the crap kind, whom are generally idiots, don't care about doing things right, and are only out to make themselves look good.

So, if you have an intelligent boss, here's your advice:
An intelligent boss respects good communication and honesty. If you inform your boss enough about the projects and solutions you are working on, he'll have a better idea of the status of whatever project you are working on. If he can answers basic questions from the 'customer' without having to bother you, you're doing it right. I find my boss greatly enjoys that I keep him informed enough about my projects that he lets me operate pretty much unsupervised. Second, always be honest, especially with your boss. If you're having a problem with someone's crap code, make sure he knows about your impediment. If you've run into a tricky problem that will take time to figure out, or you've made a mistake that's going to cause to take longer on your project, be honest with him. A late project with an honest explanation is so much better than a late project with no explanation or an on-time project that has subtle flaws that will inevitably cause problems. Lastly, be flexible. We all know it's difficult to drop what you're doing and work on something else, but your boss is generally not the one setting priorities. If he asks you to drop what you're doing, do it, and if the change of direction will cost time, let him know, politely.

Now, if you have a crap boss, here's some advice:
Keep your mouth shut, keep your head down, do what you're told, and if your boss hasn't been replaced with a better one after two years, get those resumes out. A shitty boss will do everything in his power to make sure you can't advance.

That's all I got.

Do you want to be used? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144034)

There are two opposing forces in this discussion (possibly three, depending on your perspective).

The company perspective:

    They want you to be quiet. They want to to take orders. They don't want you to ask for a pay raise. They want you to go out and learn things on your own time so you can contribute them to the company. They want to promise you equity that costs them little and sounds like it gets you a lot. They want to minimize the cost to them that you incur (in the form of new hardware and software tools). They want you to do things that look good, not that are actually any good from an engineering perspective. They want you to buy into their marketing and business hype because any sort of true engineering rigor takes too long for them. Not that it matters any, since they have no idea what it is you really do.

The engineer's perspective:

  You want to learn. You want opportunities that, by their nature, will teach you by experience. You want a taste of new ways of working and new tools that don't take up all of that time you want to spend with your family, significant other, or friends. You want to do things the right way, not just because a timeline that was set by some manager who either has never programmed or has not done it within the last five years has you working towards a deadline. You want to spend the time to learn how to do it right, so you do less work and better things later. You need to realize that what you do is closer to an art than merely stringing a set of components together, the errors that come out of which you are solely responsible (because it can only ever be your fault, right?). You want to believe in your product, in the threads that bind it together, in the ideas that maintain the appeal of it, both from a user and creator perspective.

The way I look at it is you can be a drone or a diva, or somewhere in between. As a realist, I'm happy basically in the middle, but I wish I was more on the diva's side of things without being so full of myself. That said, you must always be vigilant that others do not take advantage of you. What you do is not the best, it's not perfect, but be damn insistent that some Joe Blow out there couldn't even do half of what you do. You are not "just an engineer."

A Few more things ... (2, Insightful)

starfire-1 (159960) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144058)

A few life lessons that may help...

- No matter how smart you may think you are, there are others who are smarter

- In almost all cases, software provides a service to those who need to use the software for their job. So when the customer/user asks or suggests a change, resist the urge to say "Why would you need to do that?" Listen to their needs, take the advice in stride.

- Managers have their own goals and methods that often work against engineering quality (specifically cost, schedule and award fee). No matter how "right" you think you are, you will probably not change their motives or methods.

- Your career and time are valuable. Choose who you work for carefully and don't misplace your loyalty. (See previous point).

wtf (4, Insightful)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144066)

Be yourself, otherwise you'll come off as fake and no one will like you.

reliability (3, Informative)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144072)

The most important quality of a good worker, at a software company or anywhere else, is that you show up. It doesn't matter how good your skills are if you aren't working. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said that 80% of life is just showing up?

First Day (5, Funny)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144078)

The first day, what you need to do, is find the biggest, smartest, most awesome software developer they have... and kick his ass.

No one will screw with you after that.

Dress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144080)

Dress one notch above your co-workers. This will subconsciously cause your co-workers and bosses to have a better impression of you. Don't out-dress them to the point that they consciously notice it. This will be a distraction and have negative results. Just one notch above the rest.

Don't underestimate the effect this will have on your career. You only get one chance at this -- at the beginning of each job. Trying to crank it up a notch after you've been at a place for a while doesn't work.

Don't break the build! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32144086)

Test building any code you write on all supported platforms and configurations before you check it in. Nothing pisses off other developers like some newbe checking in code that doesn't compile and breaks the build.

Just in case you missed the point, Don't break the build.

show initiative (1)

getNewNickName (980625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144100)

I always like when staff show some initiative in looking for solutions to problems themselves instead of waiting to be told what to do. Also don't be afraid to speak up when you come up with better solutions than the ones currently known to the team. There is always room for improvement.

Be eager to learn (1)

Lynal (976271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32144104)

Not being a know it all should be easy, you'll need to become familiar with the culture, tools, and goals of your team. But try to maintain high energy. If you finish your work early, ask someone nearby if he or she has time to pass off some of their work on to you, so you can (1) help him or her and (2) improve your skillset. There's nothing more frustrating for me than trying to work with someone who's stuck in their role and refuses to improve.
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