How Not to Get Fired from a Software Team

I’m really busy here in Brazil. Honest. You think I am sitting here like this:


But really, it’s like this:

Writing flow chart while drinking coffee

Still, I have taken time away to explain to you how not to get your sorry ass fired, so listen up niños . I had the benefit of starting writing software at a large organization, General Dynamics. Having the experience from the beginning being part of a time prepared me in a way I seldom see from people who have been working solo their whole careers.

It’s easy to be the smartest person in the room if you’re the ONLY person in the room.  If you’re used to being THE computer whiz and suddenly find yourself part of a development team, let me give you a few pieces of advice:

1. If it’s not yours, don’t touch it! Your mama should have taught you this. An example i saw recently was an ‘expert’ in css who removed a bunch of classes because it was clear these were not used for presentation. They weren’t referred to in any linked style sheet, in-line style or in the page head. The classes were used in JavaScript to control certain behaviors. Deleting the classes may have made the code look better to Dr. CSS but it made the application quit working.

2. Don’t assume everyone is stupider than you. The CSS expert removed those classes because clearly everyone else had been too stupid to do it. When you come into a new organization, make the reasonable assumption that other people have jobs there because they are not incompetent morons. (This is not always the case, but I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.) ASK! The people who treat you like you are stupid because you don’t know the answer to a question are insufferable pompous asses and you don’t care about their opinions. Normal people realize that you are new and you don’t know everything. They are happy to help as long as you don’t overdo it. Even on those rare occasions that I have gotten a question from a new person that made me say to myself, “Are you fucking kidding me?” I tried to give the benefit of the doubt that maybe the person was confused or having a bad day. After all, I’ve made stupid mistakes a time or two myself, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a moron.

3. Document! I admit to being a hypocrite because as soon as I have finished something I’m SO tempted to go on to the next analysis/ part of the game, etc. As our wonderful 7 Generation Games CMO Maria says, documentation is one of those things no one ever wants to do but everyone wishes was done. Maybe you know exactly what you were thinking when you wrote that code, but I am pretty certain that your colleagues were not hired for their mind-reading skills.


If you’re reading this, you’ve probably mastered multiplication, division and fractions, but you may be fond of a small human who has not. Check out 7 Generation Games. Play adventure games in a virtual world and learn stuff.

Games that make you smarter ! Buy them for your children, sponsor a school or play yourself (we won’t judge!)

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  1. Wow, that’s some really brilliant insight Ann! I’m a sole programmer at the moment and this article really provides a perspective on what to expect in a team environment. If you don’t mind me asking, at what age did you first start coding? Was it a passion of yours or did your parents push you into it?

  2. I had a class in high school where we did some programming – I was 15. Then I had a class in Fortran and another in Basic in my sophomore year of college. I was 17. I found it interesting but not more so than other classes like statistics. I started programming for a full-time job when I was 24. My parents had no interest in it at all but I had an older brother who was a programmer who was very encouraging and helpful.

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