[tpm] Perl as a career

Alex Beamish talexb at gmail.com
Sat Mar 7 18:32:54 PST 2009

On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 12:35 PM, Antonio Sun <antoniosun at lavabit.com> wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> I'm new to TPM, and would like to hear your opinion on Perl's future from
> the career prospective. It can be considered as to further the "great
> debate" about whether IT can be recommended as a profession to the next
> generation,
> http://techrepublic.com.com/http://techrepublic.com.com/5206-13416-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=234089&start=0
> To me, Perl is the most powerful language, however, career-wise, I see most
> Perl jobs are maintaining web applications, whereas Perl lost its
> competitive edge over Php & Java.
> I personally think,
> - Though powerful, Perl has always been a "Cinderella", and will continue
>   being so, with no "Princess" come along to rescue in the future.

That's a pretty non-traditional reading of the story -- in the one I
grew up with, it was the "Prince" who came rising to the rescue.

But in our case, Perl is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
Or himself. Or itself -- because the Perl community is very strong.
And also because there's plenty of legacy code out there that needs
decoding and maintaining.

I think Adam already nailed it with his comment "Your language of
preference does not need to define your career, unless you want it
to." Use whatever tool you think you need to use.

> - Perl's role for building web applications will fade out as time goes on.

Um, on what assumptions do you base your conclusion? Please explain further. :)

> What do you think?
> I'm new here, so my observation might not be correct.
> What do you think the percentage would be (web maintaining to all Perl jobs)?

It's hard to tell, and I'm not even sure that it matters. I don't even
know how you'd classify something as a 'non-Web' job. Some of the work
I do is on web applications (definitely web), and I get my hands dirty
(so to speak) with HTML, Javascript and CSS. Some of the stuff I write
is cron jobs that support the web application (probably not web). Some
of the stuff is useful tools or one-liners that Get Stuff Done (that's
not web).

I'm a developer, and I get stuff done.

> What industry are you in, what type of Perl programming do you do?

I work at the same company as Adam -- I'm in the forex business. I've
described what I do in the previous paragraph, except to also say that
I also do SQL on a large DB2 installation.

> What do you think the future (career-wise) of type of work you do?

I think it's pretty good -- I have 10 years Perl, Linux, various
databases (MySQl, PostgreSQL and now DB2), Apache and mod_perl, HTML,
some CSS and Javascript; before I got into Perl I wrote C for 15
years, and before that I did assembler. I've acted as a Perl resource
at my current and former employer. I have a strong customer service
ethic. I think the future looks bright for the type of work that I do
-- and enjoy the work a lot.

> If you lost your current job, how much likely you can get a similar job?

A scary question -- but I think the odds are fairly good that I could
find something relatively quickly. And I think in these Difficult
Times, open source projects are probably easier to rationalize than
something that needs a shiny and expensive certificate.


Alex Beamish
Toronto, Ontario
aka talexb

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