As a young director at an IT company which develops apps (people consider me well paid and good in app development), students and recent grads around my age (I'm still in my early 20's so I meet a lot of new / upcoming grads because either I know them from highschool, university or from a friend's friend) always ask me questions like:

"how do I get a well paying job?", "how can I make lots of money?", "how do I become a really good programmer?", "how do I become like you? (meaning, how can they go from being a programmer to eventually a director)", "how can I create a social network (because I am an app developer, they ask these questions)", "how can I quickly develop good apps?", "how can I create an app?", "how can I become a good android developer?", "how come you didn't quit your job and become a billionaire by creating the next flappy birds?".

I get these questions a lot, and I try to answer them to the best of my ability but it seems as if as long as I try to answer these questions, people just continue to ask more similar questions. I just came out of a conversation which went like this:

Feel free to skip the conversation if it's too long of a read

"how do I make money like you?" Me: "First pick which career path you like. Try out different career options and volunteer at places and see what you like, and then go for it. Start by applying for jobs regardless of the pay and then you can work your way up from there. Just make sure that even if you come across a job you don't like, give it your best shot because you might need that workplace as a reference for another job".

"oh okay, but how do I create an app which people will use? Like the apps which your company creates?" Me: "You just gotta think of an idea and create it and see if it works. A lot of ideas fail but you know, everyone will eventually fail. Just keep working on it and keep giving it your best shot. If you find that it isn't working, then try something else: maybe an app developer might not be what you are best at."

"No but everyone gets jobs at like Google and Apple if they are a programmer, I wanna do it, I tried it out and I know it's a good job man. I wanna make lots of money and be rich. I'm gunna try creating my own company, how do I create an app for Android?" Me: "Well enrolling in Computer Science in university is a good start because in university they really give you a strong background for programming and they help you understand the theory. After that, you should be able to apply your knowledge and you should be able to create apps."

"No but like look at Zuckerburg and you (I dropped out of university after I found a couple coop jobs and got promoted), it's definitely possible to learn programming without university man, university is useless. They just charge money and make us learn useless stuff. Just tell me what to learn and do and I'll do it, how can I create like really good apps?"

No more conversation

I represent a fairly well known company in my area and I don't want to come off as a douche when answering these questions, but to me, it just seems as if the people asking me the questions are just looking for an easy way out of life and a quick and easy way to make lots of money. I try to answer these questions professionally but I get them a lot and the more I answer the questions, the more similar questions I get. I tried explaining to one person how the question he's asking isn't a good question but if I explain it nicely, he doesn't get it. The only time people will understand me is if I be up front about it and tell them what I really think about the questions they are asking (but when I do this, people see me as a douche - the fact that I'm a really young director and a bit younger than the people I am talking to doesn't help either - and I'm afraid I will be ruining the reputation of the company which I represent.

Can someone help me deal with these questions and people who ask these questions?

Edit: The answers are really helpful and it seems as if everyone is 'on the same boat' when it comes to how I should respond. I'll start responding and letting people know that the first step in anything is to help themselves first before getting others (like me) to help them. Nonetheless, thanks for the suggestions, I'll remember them the next time I come accross these type of questions.

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    To provide helpful feedback while saving time and not coming across as a douche, you might answer such future questions by saying "I [or "A friend of mine"] wrote some ideas about this in a short article, why don't I email you the link" and send them a short URL of this post (goo.gl/hezWAQ). – A.S Feb 6 '15 at 14:17
  • This approach might provide a decent filter: It will also allow you to spend any additional Q&A time and effort more productively, by focusing on the latter category among these three: (1) those who don't bother reading the post and leave you alone; (2) those who read the post, "get it," and stop asking; and (3) those who read it, think about it, but may follow up with more intelligent questions. – A.S Feb 6 '15 at 14:19
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    Agree with all the answers below, basically saying roughly the same thing. Gotta give them tough love. Time to start emphasizing the hard work that went into being a developer. These people think you're a "get-rich-quick" source. Your time is more valuable than that. – Brian Feb 6 '15 at 15:10

Can someone help me deal with these questions and people who ask these questions?

I think you are on the right track and agree with everything you have said. However, there is a point where people stop looking for inspiration or advice and start demanding your success.

When that point is reached, I would tell them there is no magic to success. While many find their own path, there is no secret handshake or silver bullet. I think your problem is increased opportunities, lowered barrier of entry and increased visibility of successes. People start to think hard work, focus, intelligence and luck no longer play a part but they are more important than ever.

I understand you want to help and encourage people. You have likely worked hard to be where you are and you want to give something back. However, sometimes helping people is not really helping. You need to set limits for your own generosity. You have a business to run and dreams to achieve.

In other words, you have to give yourself permission to say "no".


Refer them to the many resources available in their public library and on the web... such as the appropriate Stack Exchange area... unless you have a professional or personal interest in teaching them directly. Part of professional practice is knowing that you don't have to do it all yourself.


..people asking me the questions are just looking for an easy way out of life and a quick and easy way to make lots of money.

That is true far more often than not.

You're on the right track with your answers. The final answer should be along the lines of:

If you aren't willing to go to school to learn this, then go down to the local book store and pick up a How to Program book. The ones who didn't finish college and are able to find work in this industry basically taught themselves.

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