My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

Summary:Hey, we all complain about work from time to time; we've all had lousy jobs. But before you call it a day and head off to the support group that meets at the bar, here are a few words from an IT pro that loves their work.

Hey, we all complain about work from time to time; we've all had lousy jobs. But before you call it a day and head off to the support group that meets at the bar, here are a few words from an IT pro that loves their work.

Name: Michael Donohoe

Location: The New York Times Building, New York City

Profession and specialization Developer in Client Technologies Group for nytimes.com

My role is a bit of a mix between front and back end in relation to web development for nytimes.com. On any given project I could be focused on any combination of; Javascript, CSS, XSL, PHP, with some third party API (or some level of integration) and the various libraries, protocols and formats that go with them. At this moment in time the two core ones in my life are Javascript with the Prototype framework and PHP. There is enough variation so almost every project is unique, but grounded in a small enough subset of languages so I can reinforce anything I learn along the way.

We are also encouraged to contribute our own ideas to the development of nytimes.com. Right now I'm also playing with microformats and other under-the-cover changes to make our site more semantic and standards friendly.

Hobby: Hobbies are a great idea. I like to think that someday I will have one, maybe even two. Leaving my computer at work usually means resuming on a different one when I get home - whether pet projects or like now where I'm learning Cocoa so I can work on the NYTimes iPhone app. However I'm getting better at putting all that to one side and spend more time with my wife and baby daughter.

Last book read: Not counting books on programming (Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X), I've just re-read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It remains one of my all time favorites and each time I return to it I find some new sub-plot that I missed that last time. However I would advise against reading the sequel (Closing Time) which misses the mark completely.

Latest accomplishment: I'm working on a project called TimesPeople, along with a small number of other developers, which just has its initial closed release. It is a new social aspect to The New York Times. It remains one of the more exciting and rewarding projects I've been lucky enough to have come my way.

Toughest technology lesson learned: Saying 'no'. Everyone has a wish-list of features and changes they'd like to see made. You want to be helpful and oblige--but there are only so many projects and features that you can do effectively. In the very short term that's fine, but when you suddenly have to deliver on everything you'll feel the heat.

Advice to an up-and-comer:

  • Never pad your resume unless you're able to back it up. I've interviewed candidates and if they had kept to what they really knew they'd have been better off. We have a number of open spots and there is nothing worse than someone nixing their chances because they have overextended themselves.
  • However long you'll think a task takes, add an additional 20 percent. If you're feeling unsure, add another 20 percent.
  • Don't start work on anything until the requirements have been set in stone. However the real trick is trying to ensure no one then changes the requirements...

[Know someone who thinks their IT job is awesome? Introduce them to me at debperelman [at] gmail [dot] com.]

Topics: Software Development, Apple, CXO, Operating Systems, Software

About

Deb Perelman is a journalist in New York City with a focus on tech and the daily grind. Previously she was a reporter for eWEEK, leading the magazine and Web site's coverage of the issue and trends that affect IT workers.

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