A fresh undergrad programmer. I was surprised he got hired in the first place. It also lead me to question the education system overall, especially universities.

On his CV, he conveyed that he has knowledge in Front-End Web Development, Back-end Development, C and Python - Which overqualified him for the junior role. He got tested on the interview, perhaps the test was basic, since he passed it. I really don't have a problem with this person personally but only with his lack of knowledge in programming.

He understands the SYNTAX of every programming language he enlisted on the CV, yet when it comes to problem solving, actual programming this person had nil knowledge. Knowing a Programming language and knowing how to program are two different things, respectively.

I am a patient person, I worked with him 3 months, I understood his weaknesses and tried to make it work. He was my assistant, hence I wanted him to do the easy certain tasks as I focus on making core apps for the company. Its been 3 months and he didn't adapt to the tasks I have set him. The major task I wanted him to do, is website maintenance and develop small patches in order to improve the website. Not only he failed but he made the actual live website nom functional for 1 day, which was a major problem for the company and the responsibility went on me.

My question is, why do universities teach something that is not practiced in the work place? Should I contact my boss and tell him to get another person?

I really tried to make it work, but its hard for me, maintaining everything.

  • 2
    As a computer science graduate-now-developer myself, one year in the field was far more beneficial to problem solving and commercial programming than another four years at university. He will learn with time, unless this is an extreme example of learning nothing on the job!
    – user34587
    Sep 29 '17 at 11:27
  • 3
    Do you have standard procedures for the website maintenance? If you don't, then what you described in your question is actually your fault because you're his mentor and you are supposed to give him the procedure to do the job.
    – Nobody
    Sep 29 '17 at 11:29
  • 1
    You / your boss are the only people who can tell you whether this person is matching expectations. We have no concrete data here regarding his performance to make this judgement for you, nor would us doing so be appropriate. Sep 29 '17 at 12:04
  • "Not only he failed but he made the actual live website nom functional for 1 day" - Why was it not tested before it went into production? This is the real problem, not your junior programmer.
    – Brandin
    Sep 29 '17 at 13:45
  • 1
    @Devx Research proper deployment procedures, e.g. staging environment, pre-production testing, etc.
    – Brandin
    Sep 29 '17 at 20:59

My question is, why do universities teach something that is not practiced in the work place?

This is a classic issue of who is teaching the class and who is putting together the curriculum. In come cases, the universities can be way out of date in comparison to what is happening in the real world. Not much can be done about this except for the student doing his homework to make sure the languages being used in the lessons are relevant.

Should I contact my boss and tell him to get another person?

I am not exactly sure what you would expect from someone straight out of college. This is their first job in the professional world (most likely), it takes time to move from academic to real world thinking.

My advise, and this will help you as well, is to set up a training schedule and present it to you boss on your co-workers behalf. Let your manager know the time constraints this will put on you, and let him decide whether to proceed or not. This is a positive approach to the situation, versus attempting to get the newbie fired.

Make sure you used a pure facts based approach when discussing your co-workers weakness with your manager, and do not add any personal bias.


Firstly, try to take a step back and take an objective look at the situation. Are you sure you're not expecting too much from someone who's fresh out of school? As you state, you've hired someone who's fresh out of school. What you're talking about may seem like basic knowledge to you now because you probably have a good many years of experience, but we all had to start somewhere. Higher education is notorious for being out of touch in most fields, let alone a field like software development where things change practically weekly.

Secondly, assess whether or not you're setting the right tasks for this person and whether or not you're providing them with enough guidance. Again, website maintenance and patch development may seem like simple tasks to you but I would argue they are one of the hardest things to get right. You should also expect to have to teach this person how to go about completing the tasks you've set them and what they can do if they get stuck. Remember, they've never done any of this before. They know so little about programming in the real world that they probably don't even know where to start figuring out what they need to learn in order to complete the tasks you've set them.

If you expected to have an assistant to whom you could simply offload some grunt work without having to interact with them much apart from giving them a list of tasks, then hiring a fresh graduate doesn't seem like the best solution. If this was the goal of hiring this person, then it's important to discuss this with your boss and decide how to move forward: either decide to aim for the long term and shape this person into what you need, or go for a short term solution and hire someone else who will be suitable straight away.

One thing to realise is that if you have an assistant of any kind, if they make a mistake then it's always going to be your responsibility, in the same way that it's your manager's responsibility when you mess something up. You decide what tasks to give this employee and you're responsible for checking their work. It sounds like you underestimate the amount of work that's involved in having someone who reports to you.


why do universities teach something that is not practiced in the work place?

Because the people making the calls in universities work in universities, not in places like yours, so they know little or nothing about the actual work their students will end up doing.

Should I contact my boss and tell him to get another person?

You should definitely raise your concerns to your boss but do not tell him to get another person, that is not your call, maybe you are not a good trainer, maybe he needs more time or do easier activities.

  • 2
    Universities teach the underlying theory - they are not and should not be a replacement for your company and yourself training your new staff Sep 29 '17 at 11:28
  • I'm not saying they are, we are missing some information here, but assuming he is studying some kind of software engineer, besides the underlying theory, an advanced student should be able to develop a fully operating application in some language(taking into account that people who take 6 month courses can). Otherwise they have no way to start from scratch their career on a company or on their own Sep 29 '17 at 11:40
  • Regarding me being a good trainer - This role was not for me to teach him core fundamentals of programming, the role was for a person who HAD knowledge in fundamentals of programming and apply that to tasks I set him. Actually I went out of my way to help him understand for 3 months with no success. My responsibility was to let him adapt to our systems, but not teaching him what he stated on his CV.
    – Devx
    Sep 29 '17 at 11:40
  • I agree, my point is that you are thinking about letting the guy go and that is not your job, this situation is not your fault, or the other guy's. Your boss brought in an under prepared person to do certain job, so he should figure out how to solve it Sep 29 '17 at 11:46

My question is, why do universities teach something that is not practiced in the work place?

Because they don't know better?

My experience (in germany) is that universities are open to "real world programmers" who volonteer to organize coding camps, coding dojos, code retreats and alike where you can show the studens which abilities are of value at least in your company. Go ahead and improve the education system!

Should I contact my boss and tell him to get another person?

At least you should tell your boss that this new coworker needs more training. And you should tell him what extra time it will take if you have to do it.

  • 1
    I think most universities in the UK assume you can code before starting a degree in CS / EE - its what the Pi was originally designed for Sep 29 '17 at 11:29
  • @Neuromancer I disagree. Coding and/or Software Development are not computer science. A lot of people go into CS for the math. I've had a lot of fellow students in the first year of CS who had trouble turning a computer on.
    – simbabque
    Sep 29 '17 at 15:49
  • @simbabque I take the point but with Google etal prefring CS and the fetization of CS degrees by employers that's what people assume - and you should not be on a CS course unless you can program acceptably Sep 29 '17 at 17:10
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    @Neuromancer In my experience (CS/CEG Double Major), this is not the case. I had never programmed before entering the degree field and all the intro classes were enough to teach me what I needed for the higher level courses. The higher I went, the less programming I actually did.
    – kjw
    Sep 29 '17 at 17:50
  • @kjw wel if I was employing you in the average IT/DEV job that would be a very big -ve at interview time Sep 30 '17 at 18:28

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