My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

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.

SHARE:

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

    Sounds great. Hey Michael, how about getting me a job there? :)
    Loverock Davidson
  • It is clear that this guy is unqualified

    He said: "However long you???ll
    think a task takes, add an
    additional 20 percent. If you???re
    feeling unsure, add another 20
    percent."

    That is wrong. There is well
    known formula for calculating
    time for ANY project whether it
    be IT or building a deck:
    Estimated number of hours times
    43 multiplied by pi. The end result of this should then be multiplied by 1667 and you will
    get the actual amount of time it
    will take, plus or minus 4
    months.

    He then said: "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???"

    This is also wrong. Somebody
    will ALWAYS change the
    requirements - generally after
    everything is finished. In most
    cases, the person ordering the
    change will have absolutely no
    idea about how to actually do the
    work.
    j.m.galvin
    • Virtual High Five

      Sooooo true! I am going to send this comment to my boss. On another note, he is called a developer, but isn't he a scripter, since all he uses are scripting languages?
      Symbioxys
  • RE: NyTimes is a propaganda machine

    After WWII, the New York Times wrote a propaganda piece which claimed that the Japenese died from the shock of the nuclear bombs and not the radiation. For the Iraq War, we were treated to Judith Miller and coverage which, unlike the european coverage, failed to challenge and illuminate bush's false pretenses. Personally, I don't know how you feel good about working there but good luck! Howerver, perhaps you could write a BS detector that warned the public...
    mistermachine
    • RE: NY Times is a propaganda machine

      Quote: [i]Howerver(sic), perhaps you could write a BS detector that warned the public... [/i]

      A BS detector for the NY Times would [b]always be at full scale reading (100%)[/b] and most likely after some time, the meter would catch fire.

      But, I would venture to call it a FoS meter, range from 0 to 100%.
      fatman65535
  • Really cool, but aren't they laying people off?

    I'd be worried about getting the big ax from the NY Times -- seems like every quarter they make their numbers by laying off a fifth of their staff! It would be like working in Pompey -- what is that rumbling we keep hearing outside?
    scott1329
  • RE: My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

    This is amazing he must have a boss who doe snot stick their nose into everything. You have a boss who is not one who has no back-bone, or Jelly fish. As for thing set in stone, I don't think so everything changes once you start. But I am happy this guy is one of the few who is happy with their IT/MIS job. I work in MIS/IT and I always have people who want this and that but are not willing to pay or even learn it they just want to push one button. The Poof!! it magically works. I personally think the people who make us MIS/IT person jobs Nightmares are the so called losers who pad their resume's saying they did this and that, and, these are the people who become managers and asistants and common workers. They are the people with no Professional Computer Skills or basic computer skills. These people give MIS/IT people problems they are the ones who can't function if their computer is down. Thats because they never heard of the Phone, the Pen, and the Paper. Those are the problems people that hate us MIS/IT people.
    the_roo62@...
    • Animal mucous?

      [i]he must have a boss who doe snot stick their nose into everything[/i] His boss is a female deer with a sinus condition?
      fairportfan
    • Maybe you should try another line of work

      With that much hate in the air, maybe you should try another line of work
      hasta la Vista, bah-bie
  • RE: My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

    It's good to see people happy for a change in their work. I basically am tired of whiners, get a new job or change careers. Life is too short to complain non-stop...
    gessen@...
  • RE: My Awesome IT Job: Developer, New York Times

    Are you kidding? This would make something estimated 45 man hours to become months!! While it might be reasonable for some cases, it is not so for some cases, in which this can't be universal.

    When doing estimation, there will be level of confidence and risk factor. You should include that instead of multplication upon multiplication of constants.

    Another thing, he didn't say requirements don't get changed. He says "try to insure no one changes the requirements", which is fair enough for all projects. Hey, we all should try that right? Although we can't guarantee, but certainly we should try.
    fadzlan@...