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Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

Hosts Dave Smith and Jamison Dance answer software developers' most pressing questions about life, the universe, and everything. Join us each week to laugh at our terrible amazing jokes and gasp at our pretty good ideas pure wisdom.

Recent Episodes:

Episode 19: Firing someone for a coding mistake and getting demoted

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In episode 19, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

Would you ever fire someone over a coding mistake? For example, should you empathize with ignorance and explain how SQL injection works or is the mistake so basic as to be intolerable. Would you change your answer if the mistake was found during a code review or found as the source of a data breach?

How do you positively represent the desire to be demoted? I am called a ‘senior engineer’, but I got that way because of null instead of actual skill. I would like to be a senior engineer at some point, but I would be a better one if I travel more where I have seniors to look up to, established processes etc rather than stressing about defining everything myself; but that’s a weird thing to say to a current or potential boss and is hard to do without also volunteering for a pay cut.

Episode 18: Dropping out of college and preparing for interviews

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In episode 18, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

I’m a computer science major who still has a couple years of school left. I also have a part time job doing web development. I love what I’m learning and doing at work to the point that I question if it’s worth investing two more years into school. How would you counsel someone in my position?

From listener Antonio: How do I prepare for an interview?

Episode 17: Side project ideas and getting fired

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In episode 17, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

From listener Greg Harrison: I want to build a side-project, but my lack of coming up with a good idea saps my motivation. Do you guys have any tips?

Have you ever been fired? What happened? How do you bounce back?

Episode 16: Dealing with recruiters and learning new things without frustration

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In episode 16, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

From listener David Renne: What’s the best way to talk to random LinkedIn recruiters, recruiter calls and emails? I prefer the reverse lookup apps to determine if an unrecognized phone number looks like a recruiter it goes straight to voice mail during business hours.

As a mid-level dev, i sometimes get frustrated when i try learning new things. how can i be more comfortable as a beginner? Sometimes i get frustrated with myself when i don’t immediately grasp something that i perceive to be very simple. It makes me less motivated to try new things and take risks on new technology, and really feeds my impostor syndrome.

Episode 15: Working with non-technical people and keeping up with the latest technology (with Brad Green)

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In episode 15, Jamison and Dave join Brad Green, engineering director at Google and Angular team mamager, to answer these questions:

How do I deal with non-technical people at work? I often get questions that put me into a position where I have to explain really basic concepts to non-technical people like sales and marketing. They seem to rely on me like a crutch, and it gets tiring to have to explain things over and over. How do I strike the right balance of being helpful, but not so helpful that they become dependent on me? I want to be helpful, but I don’t want to spend 90% of my time acting as tech support.

How do I keep up with new technology but avoid being sucked in by hype?

Episode 14: Web developer prejudice and legacy code

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In episode 14, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

Since I am primarily a web developer, I often find there is a bit of developer prejudice, against web developers from software engineers of other categories. Often I find they think I am not capable of anything other than jquery dom manipulations, and talk down at me like I wouldn’t understand their expertly setup mysql queries. As it turns out, I too have my CS degree, and start new projects in all kinds of programming languages just to learn them. Any tips for breaking the web dev stereo types?

How to deal with legacy code and legacy coders? The code was probably good once, but it is impossible to maintain and doesn’t work on new hardware. You know the best approach is to scrap it and start from scratch but the original coder is resistant and wants to find a way to “make it work”. What do you do? In my situation, this legacy coder is a peer, and the only person above us doesn’t want to take a side on the argument, so we are left at a stale-mate.

Episode 13: Dealing with a 'yes' boss and the difference between contract and permanent positions

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In episode 13, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

What should you do about a boss, or in my case ‘solution architect’, who won’t push back to the client and just keeps sacrificing quality of the product to push more features out?

What’s the difference between contract and permanent positions?

Episode 12: Making friends at work and how to be good at being managed

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In episode 12, Jamison, Dave, and special guest Ann Harter answer these questions:

How do I make friends at work? Should I?

I hear a lot about being a good manager but not much about being managed. How do I do that?

Episode 11: Negotiating offers and dealing with an oblivious boss

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In episode 11, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

I’m looking for a new job. How do I negotiate to get a better offer?

How do you deal constructively with a boss who is well-intentioned, reasonably nice and intelligent, but incompetent, oblivious, and who has minimal to no oversight on their work performance?

Episode 10: Mentors and Stock Options

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In episode 10, Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

How about an episode about mentoring? Why is it important, how do we do it, and how do we find the right mentor for us?

How do stock options work? How can I tell whether an offer with stock options is any good?