What is an “Advanced” ColdFusion developer?
Preface: You will see the word ‘framework’ used in this post once or twice, though it has little to do with the topic. Please refrain from using this word’s occurrence as the catalyst for yet another framework debate thread.
As we’re all well aware of, labels such as ‘Advanced’ are only a weak approximation at best used to give some context to an individual’s skill level and abilities. Shoot, for most of us, even our own job titles fit this definition, as there is no single phrase that totally encompasses our duties, abilities, and skill set. One reason it is that we humans take the time to factor a person or ourselves down into a single adjective or descriptive phrase is typically for convenience’s sake; it’s expected protocol that whenever we’re asked the question “what do you do?” or “How would you describe your current skill level?”, that we do it in a way that can be uttered with a single breath. Sometimes the whole labeling thing can also be misused as a self-serving item, fueling vices such as inordinate pride and the like; in that usage I personally condemn it, and make it a point not to use it in that way. For the remainder of this post, however, I’ll assume that those who seek the label that fits them best do so for reasons other than pride.
So regarding skill level assessment, what categorization would I ascribe to myself if asked to do so, and why? Using what criteria? Ah, even we as individuals in the privacy of our own minds would have to jump through a few hoops to arrive at an answer we felt really confident and comfortable with (assuming a healthy level of self-humility is present), so how on earth could we possibly do a better job of summing up someone else’s skill level? Between the lines of many different threads hither and yon regarding frameworks I see that the reason ‘Advanced’ and ‘frameworks’ and ‘OO’ are being spoken of in the same thought is the fear factor. I speak from experience, that at one point I felt, not from any internal source, but from the evolution of the community, a burning need to re-evaluate my own skill level. Why? Because in a nutshell, there were things going on out there that I did not know. That innate fear of the unknown that often has its subtle effects on the way we behave and think did just that, and caused me to wonder if by not forcing myself to “keep up with the Joneses” was the skill level status that I had personally settled on losing its actual meaning? I believe that everybody in our community, to one degree or another, felt it just like I did. Some said to themselves, “you know what, I just better go ahead and invest the time to traverse this new learning curve. It’s going to be painful and tedious probably, but I’d rather go through that pain than to face the potential situation of not getting a job because one of those new frameworks became an industry standard and I remained ignorant of it.” Still others, like I did for quite a while as well, said to themselves “Why should I question my skill level just because I don’t take the time to keep up with every single new thing that comes out? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.” But even having told themselves that, the fact that those new things persist and continue to become ever more prominent in the community keeps them questioning even when they don’t think they need to; it’s just human nature. And then every once in a while when someone inadvertently or even purposefully posts something that gives the slightest hint of equating OO or frameworks with Advanced, the need to defend their point of view is roused, and we see the myriad of debates such as we have. Let me be clear at this point, I am not belittling anybody regardless of which camp your personal philosophy resides in; the previous was merely my evaluation of what I believe regarding why it is there came to be two camps in the first place.
What I do believe to be relevant here is my philosophy on the very question of “Am I Advanced?” You see, we all have our own personal hierarchy of skills; those that we have deemed as more or less advanced than another, and our own personal rules for classifying a skill somewhere in the junior to advanced range. With everybody harboring their own personal “opinion” on what is junior, what is mid-level, what is advanced, how can we even hope to answer the question of whether or not we as individuals fall into the “Advanced” category or not? In my opinion, to even pursue such a quest is an exercise in futility, with no reward of any consequence waiting for us at its conclusion. Even if we concluded that “yes, I am advanced”, so what? The next guy may not think so after applying his own hierarchy of skills to your resume. Does his opinion matter? To me, only if he’s my potential new boss would I care how he classified me according to my skills, and with that even, there’s no way I could know ahead of time what his personal hierarchy of skills is!. Other than the previous scenario, opinions are like armpits, right?
Bottom line is that classifying an individual’s skill set is a subjective thing at best, and is best done by ourselves for ourselves. We should not allow somebody else’s evaluation result to provoke us to anger or discourage us from going forward, but like any good student of any profession will, take any and all critique (including self-critique) and use it as a tool for progress. We’re the best judge of ourselves, and if we keep or pride in check and our minds open to new things, nature will take her course and we will continue to evolve and grow in a healthy, career-enhancing way.
So are you advanced? You tell me. Do you feel advanced? Are you aware of any areas in your personal toolbox where there are ambiguities or understandings that could stand to be refined? Areas in your professional experience that you haven’t really gotten your hands dirty in yet, dug down to the nuts and bolts so that you could get a thorough understanding of how a particular technique or tag behaves? Are you aware of new techniques or methodologies being explored and implemented by others in your professional community which you have yet to really take a good look at? The answer to all of those questions will likely always remain an unequivocal “absolutely dude!”. Does that mean nobody is ever advanced? Are you getting tired of reading the word “advanced” yet? You should be, because homing in on labels such as these are a bad thing to do unless it’s the appropriate thing to do at the time, such as during an interview and you’re asked point blank how you would categorize your skill level. When asked, give your honest estimation. Until then, I say that the question will probably be one best left as a reflexive one; ask it to yourself, of yourself, and when you do, let it be nothing more or less than a catalyst for your own personal and professional growth. But let’s not go the way of those poor, poor Sneetches who were more concerned with those who “had stars upon thars” and those who did not; it was and will always be an exercise in futility, not to mention a complete waste of the precious few moments we all have to invest in something better and more lasting in our lives.
Are you advanced? You be the judge of that. Ask yourself often, ask yourself honestly, and always strive to do better. Personally, I won’t look at you through “label colored glasses”. From where I’m standing, we are a community, a community with an enormous amount of collective experiences and knowledge, and I would venture to say that every single individual who has joined themselves to this community has nothing but the common good in mind, manifested by the very obvious and copious levels of sharing and assistance that takes place 24/7 from every side.
Are you able to wear the label ‘advanced’? I keep repeating the question so that I can beat it as the dead horse that it is, hopefully making it a distasteful question so that we won’t even have the stomach to utter it again anytime soon. Fact is, it shouldn’t even be a question at this point; it’s almost completely irrelevant to anything we as a community work to accomplish. N’est-ce pas?