The Death of the Junior Developer

(sourcegraph.com)

38 points | by winkywooster 30 days ago

17 comments

  • alex_smart 30 days ago
    Today: Don’t hire or train junior developers.

    Five years later: Why can’t I find any senior developers? Shocked pikachu face.

    • WalterSear 30 days ago
      > Five years later: Don't hire or train senior developers.
  • josephmosby 30 days ago
    This has happened before. From 2000-2004, this was the world. Companies were going out of business or cutting headcount to the bone, and the folks with 7+ years of experience were getting picked up (often at a discount). If you started your first job coding in 1999 and then got laid off half a year later, sucks for you.

    2004 both Salesforce, Google, and Blackboard (they were big then!) IPO, and Facebook comes screaming onto the scene. Greenspan monetary policy had already made capital nearly free, and the 2008 financial crisis kicked us into 0% interest rate territory. It costs us nothing to invest in talent, so why not? If we invest in 100 startups, each with 100 employees at $150K salaries, and just two of those unicorn exit, we've made our money back, and it costs financiers nothing to wait.

    2004 kicked off the simultaneous rise of "software as a service" and "social media," both of which were highly lucrative. But not only that - SaaS allowed traditional (think General Mills or Procter and Gamble) to have high-quality, cutting-edge software products without needing to employ a lot of engineers to run them. They could just pay a line item to Salesforce and let them concentrate the devs.

    Just like in 2004, I think we will have a major industry shift that unlocks jobs for lots of these junior folks. I don't think it will be AI - just feels too obvious. I suspect it'll be something to do with climate change.

  • menacingly 30 days ago
    You're only allowed to believe LLMs are a kind of digital messiah or that they're complete hype garbage, when of course the answer is some point between.

    There is obviously a lot of potential here, but there is also a lot of solution looking for a problem.

    My current red flag is if an argument hinges on a trademark breathless frisson for the growth potential. Statements like "models are getting smarter every month" that hasn't been true for a year. If your excitement over AI is based not on what we can do today, but a presumed future expansion for which we have no evidence, that's silly.

    But what they can do today is cool. We worked for a long time to get computers to understand natural language intent, and LLMs demonstrably solve this problem.

  • wavemode 30 days ago
    Yes, junior developers submit bad code sometimes. And they will at times be led astray by LLMs.

    But... that's what code review is for. Has the author of this article never heard of the concept?

  • llIIllIIllIIl 30 days ago
    Well, it’s difficult to study books to become senior developer. You have to participate in, experience the problems and solutions, at the end it’s still people that are working with you. Ai assistant is another tool in the box.

    Imagine the engineer going oncall for the code this mediocrity generation tool produced. Are they gonna reason with chatgpt “why the duck did you write it this way?” or are they gonna zoom the person whose name git shows on commit during the incident?

    The tool is getting better every day, although it will not replace the operator.

  • migf 30 days ago
    As a senior I'm really not feeling any FOMO here. If the tools are going to get better and better, is there any need to be an early adopter, or build expertise in using them?
  • benatkin 30 days ago
    The format of the article is creative and I don’t like it. The use of movies seems to be trying to channel a16z with movies instead of hip hop quotes and it isn’t working.
    • euvin 30 days ago
      Agreed, I personally found it distracting. I'm not sure if each section was making a point similar to the corresponding movie plots.
  • rkunal 30 days ago
    Using LLM is so tiring. If I wanted to chat all day, I would be an extrovert.

    I have a genuine query. Are any software engineers getting sane code out of LLM ?

    I struggle to conjure good unity or kotlin code from both paid and self hosted solutions.

    • verdverm 30 days ago
      LLMs can often stitch together information from blogs and stack overflow like sites. You can view it as a better way to search and find answers to your development roadblocks, instead of something that writes code for you. This is where I get value worth paying for, by saving me time of having to navigate multiple search results and piece things together. Many times it is a mix of the two and the LLM, as a starting point, gives me better leads
    • wavemode 30 days ago
      I use AI autocomplete (copilot-type plugins).

      I could never imagine copy-pasting back and forth with an AI in a chat window. At that point I'd just Google the docs and write the code myself.

      • rkunal 30 days ago
        Which specific plugin and LLM ?
  • cgio 30 days ago
    It’s a fight to the bottom until we see the gaps. Senior associates think they can replace junior associates, managers think they can replace seniors, partners think they can replace managers and so on. My expectation, however inconvenient for me, is that juniors will be safe, mid levels will suffer as their subject matter will rebalance, seniors will collect the profit. Juniors will suffer longer term on a path with more selective progression.
  • sdsd 30 days ago
    Yup yup, in the words of Olivia Rodrigo, it's brutal out here. I've found it nigh impossible to sell my programming skills as a web dev. Instead I've found freelance work doing technical writing and making Urbit apps on the side. Wish me luck. Anyone wants to code together to train for that imaginary dream junior dev job in the sky, hmu! Always happy to learn with friends :)
  • matt3210 30 days ago
    My field is changing so fast it scares me and I honestly don’t know if I have long term prospects in my career.
    • WalterSear 30 days ago
      The blog author is right. You're in the best spot, just don't stop swimming. The ladder is disintegrating behind you.
    • vasili111 30 days ago
      Which is your field?
  • master_crab 30 days ago
    Steve is right. Things are definitely changing in the space thanks to LLMs. Question is how quickly and in what way. I tend to think the junior devs are the ones embracing the LLMs.

    As a side note: I use Cody and the Sourcegraph core search product at work. I recommend both (I particularly like Cody’s context building using repos). I also think they are in a competitive hard spot, because their own tools will get commoditized by the big bruisers in the space (GitHub, Gitlab, and Codewhisperer).

  • meiraleal 30 days ago
    Such a lengthy and badly written article with multiple mentions to "cody". I bet most people will discuss just the title.
  • simonsarris 30 days ago
    Wow I have never read something that I feel and live the total opposite of quite like this piece. To address the title first: My company only hires juniors, straight out of high school, sometimes HS juniors (3rd year). I myself was hired out of high school as an intern and now I am part owner (1/3rd of the board). It has gone fabulously for us and I wrote about this and why companies should consider it: https://simonsarris.com/p/growing-software-developers

    As for the rest...

    > You remember that big manufactured drama, right, about the new OpenAI "4o" GPT model supposedly having Scarlett Johansson's voice? That's the one. That model changed everything about programming overnight.

    > ...

    > You can quibble over the numbers, but it's clear that programmers using CHOP with these new models are getting a turbo boost.

    I just don't think this is true. I think its a bit hyperbolic at this rate. And I don't think other people think its true which casts some doubt on part of this narrative.

    > Things are changing fast. I'm an optimist, and I generally think, or at least hope, that as companies become more productive in the coming months and years, they simply get correspondingly more ambitious.

    Again I really don't think we've seen any real productivity boost yet to companies. Maybe a few individuals, but not companies. And I am suspicious that we will, given the nature of things.

    > All I can tell you is this: Get there early.

    I actually think the opposite! You can safely ignore most of the AI hype cycle and tools right now. You don't have to play with them that much. You can wait a few more years and when they are more polished, use them more if you like them. There's really not a big rush.

    I take umbrage with the style of this article, trying to convince of its point by using conspiratorial tones while gesturing towards movies. Maybe its amusing to some, but it feels like a crunch in its convincing-ness of the central arguments.

  • JohnMakin 30 days ago
    basically this is a lot of seemingly AI-generated drivel directly related to driving you to Cody, whatever their thing they are trying to sell with this click baity headline is doing.

    I could not find anything of substance in this article, and was disappointed, because I feel this is a topic in dire need of discussion.

    • presidentender 29 days ago
      It would surprise me to learn that Steve Yegge had deferred the opportunity to type a lot in favor of using an LLM to generate natural language.

      I'm biased in his favor, but I recognize that brevity is not among his virtues.

    • breckenedge 30 days ago
      I agree. My takeaway from this article is that I need to sign up for Anthropic so that I can bounce ideas off of GPT-4o. Ultimately, I’m seeing diminishing returns in the output of LLMs over the last 18 months.
      • JohnMakin 30 days ago
        Probably the biggest red flag to me is anything that requires me to rapidly skim to get to their point. Good writing usually establishes their point early.
        • WalterSear 30 days ago
          There needs to be an LLM for that.