Photo by Radowan Nakif Rehan on Unsplash

Letter to a Young Programmer

Michael Moreno
4 min readDec 17, 2023

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Back in 2021 a young person emailed me asking for career advice. The person was struggling to find a programming job, and he expressed concern that the pandemic was causing high unemployment, which was driving the field to be inundated with money seekers who have no passion for programming, and a weak understanding of computer science in general.

I’m publishing my response to him here, with only minor edits, because I believe that most of what I wrote then in still relevant now and hopefully others will be able to take something away from it. Without further ado, here is my response:

I believe that we’re witnesses to a unique moment in the history of our profession. Pandemic aside, we’re at a time when 1) there’s a lot of money floating around the software industry, and 2) it’s possible for a person to call themselves a software engineer without an advanced degree or license. I don’t believe that both of these things will continue indefinitely, but while they do, software engineering is going to attract the type of people you’ve described. At best, they’re honest, misguided folks who are under the delusion that they can learn how to program in 24 hours — they confuse accessibility with ease. At worst, they’re frauds who have no desire to learn how to program, they just want to make a quick buck by claiming to be something they’re not. In New York, it’s illegal to call…

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