VB Application Developer putting up with closed minded intolerance

Developing applications in Visual Basic is one of my favorite things, so much so, that I am finally programming for a living.

Imagine discovering a carrer that you know is for you as is the same as finding your one true love in life. That was VB programming for me. I had started with Visual Basic since version 3 as a curiosity. My curiousity grew into an interest as when purchased version 4 standard. My interest evolved into a “love” with version 5 and then passion when I finally mustered enough money for Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise. I also must have purchased over 100 books visiting Barnes and Noble and Borders, Books and Music grabbing topics from Visual Basic, SQL Server, SQL, ASP, HTML and UML. If that wasn’t enough I spent as much as $2000.00 purchasing active controls from VBExtras and I wasn’t even a company, just an individual. …and still I wanted more! ;so I went into debt $7500.00 to study at New Horizons Computer Learning Center to compound my knowledge of Visual Basic and at that point I was felt I was ready to make my mark in the industry.

At the time of studying I worked at USAA federal savings bank in the credit card operations area. It was during Y2K upper management desired to upgrade service to cardholders (or customers) so that customers could call and do a balance transfer over the phone instead writing and mailing a convienence check. However USAA’s IT divsion (or ITCO for short) was tied up in Y2K compliancy. There was no way that they could develop the applicaton during time.

My boss an operations officer was in charge to make the project work and in turn she gave me the task to build a program as what we called and a temporary solution. I relied on my skills and all that I studied and completed an application which processed just under $100,000,000.00 in transactions in 8 month period. I was very proud of myself and though I recieved very little in return and recognition that fact of the matter was is that I proved I could build an application for corporate goals. I decided to leave USAA and took my ambition to the real world where the real money could be earned.

I teamed with RHI consulting (an excellent company, by the way) and they landed me a contract for 6 monthes with a small company who has no IT infrastructure what so ever. This is where I am now.

The IT department (I won’t mention any names)has 2 other VB developers, a web developer, and project manager who is a SQL Server fanatic. There are a couple of web graphic designers too.

I was really excited. I built a program before and I knew I could do it again. …or, Well… could I ?

I always have tried to learn the way Microsoft did things, but in this job experience I found that I was up against a totally different world. It almost seemed I had to learn VB again.

I come into the project near the end and almost all the COM components were built. There is just a few left to get job done. The lead programmer, a former airborne commando in the 82nd airborne, had developed the application along with VB developer #2. Both of these two seem to click like clock work, but for some reason I am out sync.

I don’t believe I was ever trusted to begin with as the lead progammer starts me out building Icons for command buttons and eventually graduates me to “harder” tasks. (OH boy! really difficult). I eventually get a class to build. All he wants me to do is look at other classes that have been biult, copy and paste similiar fucntionality (or code) form those classes into this new class. The reason being is that he has code that works and doesn’t want the wheel reinvented. Fine! But no class is the same espically if you are going to clipboard code your application in to production. So I clip board code the class and the shit doesn’t work. I am being put under this deadline that I keep missing because I am trying to fix the errors and stay within the restricted context of not reinventing the wheel, while in the process I actually end up reinventing the wheel.

In the meantime as this is happening I am feeling this serious isolation cold shoulder feeling from everyone. Have you ever tried to communicate with people who refuse to communicate? People who tell you, “Figure it out yourself!” I mean the guy’s (lead programer) stress level rises if you even look at him, as cracks his knuckles and turns the volume up to drown out reality in his favorite classical masterpiece.

Don’t get me wrong me. The former airborne lead programmer has been doing this for 10 years and he has some good code and some good things to learn from. However what is interesting about learning (or should I say adapting to) his way is that these are not techniques that I learned at New Horizons, nor Microsoft’s way of doing things, nor was some of his techinques ever discussed in any WROX books. …and I have to ask myself do I go by a man’s 10 years of experience or my training and gut instinct.

And so I find myself, knowing that I can program, but being treated as if I don’t know a damn thing about programming, while being alienated from the “in-clique” of a small company, where I amout of sync and where I do not fit in.

What a great way to start the love your career. Kind of dampens the enthusiasm don’t you think?