I am a junior level Developer from Germany. After my bachelor’s degree in informatics, I worked for a company for two years. However only during the first year I worked as a developer. During the second year I became aware of a special program within my company to work abroad. At this point I never had the opportunity to leave the country in my life, so I went for it. I don’t regret it, however my tasks during this time took some turns and ended up having noting to do with IT or software development.
I am currently interviewing with several companies as a junior developer and In my personal opinion I feel like some companies have shown some double standards during those interviews. At this time, I have not found a good or professional way to react to this, so I would like to ask for opinions.
One of the most common questions I get asked is, how I stayed up to date on programming since I was out of the loop for about a year. I usually answer truthfully that I allocate time to self-studying on a very regular basis. Most of this time is dedicated to improving my skills using relevant literature like Clean Code or more specialized literature like “Data Analysis with Python” etc. The rest of the time I am trying to stay current by reading on the official docs what new releases are out and what changed, trying out new language features by playing around with them or visiting user groups and relevant websites to stay informed about new frameworks etc.
Often the reaction to this is kind of negative, more than once I was told “that does not really count”. The first time I heard this, I was a bit stunned, because I was unsure what the company would have expected.
The second time I got a reaction like this, I made a note on my pad and let the interview progress for a few minutes. When it was time for me to ask a few questions one of the things I asked was how Staff Development would be handled within the company whether there where personal budgets, certification programs and how “the staff is kept up to date on technical changes and new developments”. It was not even meant as some kind of “got cha” question, however most of the companies did not offer certification or personal budgets, they instead referred to getting information from the relevant or official websites on the internet (being the official docs etc.) and giving their employees time to read up on new language features and frameworks and to play around with them.
I am feel like company are displaying some double standards here and I am unsure how to react to this or even to call them out about this topic as well as some other, however minor issues like this.
EDIT: I wish to clarify what is the problem/double standard about this. It is not about me having not coded professionally in a while. This is probably a problem of its own, but if there are any coding tests or questions I usually do pretty well.
The problem is specifically about methods to stay up to date on new technical changes. The duble standard is, what @Flater described in the comment below:
the company both dismisses reading documentation and playing with features as a valid way for OP to keep up to date on software development and claims that reading documentation and playing with features is how they encourage their own developers to keep up to date. That's contradictory. Either the approach is valid or not (and they can have their own opinion on that), but it can't both be invalid for OP and valid for the company's developers without it then being a double standard..