It Pays to be a Polyglot

by Alex Khalil

 

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Any Computer Science student has no doubt been shown countless graphs such as this one by professors and advisers, I know I have. The graph emphasizes which programming languages are most in demand and therefore, more likely to lead to jobs. It makes sense to give yourself the greatest odds of employment by learning the most popular language, I look at it a different way

As this graph suggests, Java is the most popular language for new hires. Putting all your time and energy eggs in the Java basket should seem like a good idea, but it isn’t. In my first two and a half weeks here at Sundog I have already been exposed to both Apex (which made the list!), and Visualforce. Not to mention the fact that HTML, CSS, and Javascript are all fully compatible with Visualforce. Now I’m not bashing Java, it’s the most popular back end language in the world for a reason. All I’m saying is a well rounded experience is much more attractive and beneficial. Being knowledgeable in multiple languages can surely increase your odds of landing a job more than being a master of one.

Another reason to disregard this list and focus on what you want is time. Java is old, like 1995 old (older than the person writing this blog post). Which makes C, basically Java’s grandpa, a dinosaur. To put it into context how much the languages on this list differ in age, C, which is sixth on the list dates back to 1972 . That makes C ancient in terms of programming languages. To contrast this, Go which has been around since only 2009, is just three spots back from C. This high variability of popularity and age shows that languages can come and go quickly, especially in an industry as turbulent as computer science. I am very thankful for MSUM’s range of programming languages offered. I see it as a safety net, to prepare for a dynamic work landscape.

The best advice I can suggest from someone with limited experience is to find a set of languages or a popular stack that you like and explore all of its frameworks and libraries to give yourself a balanced set of skills. Odds are the landscape of programming will change exponentially in the next twenty years anyway and many, or all languages on this list will be completely obsolete.

 

Alexander Khalil

Software Engineer Intern