The choice of programming language acts as a big factor for a novice in the world of programming. If one stumbles upon a language whose syntax is too complex, one would definitely reconsider learning it. But, what if you’ve crossed that entry barrier and you’re looking to make a career and land a job at heavyweights like Google, Facebook, or Amazon?
You might have come across the articles that tell which programming languages are used at big companies like Google, Facebook, etc. The choice of those companies doesn’t necessarily reflect their needs while hiring a candidate. There are few chances that they’d be interested to interview someone who is expert in a single programming language.
Similar views were also expressed by Justin Mattson, Senior Software Engineer, Fuschia at Google. He answered a user’s query on Quora.
In his answer, Mattson says that if a company is hung up on the fact that you know a language X, but not language Y, you shouldn’t be interested in working there. ” Languages are a tool, like a saw. Whether the saw is manual, table or laser is less relevant than understanding the basic principles of wood and how cutting it happens,” he writes.
There are chances that a person is expert in a popular programming language, but that doesn’t make him/her a good engineer. Different programming languages teach us different things–C and C++ teach you what’s happening with memory and other low-level operations and Java, Ruby, etc., test your design choices. So, it’s important that you learn more languages.
“Don’t learn just one, learn at least two, hopefully, three. This will give you a better sense of what feature are often common to most languages and what things differ,” Mattson adds.
But, what about expertise in a single programming language?
Is having complete command over one language completely irrelevant? Answering this question, Mattson says that one must become an expert in the language one uses, instead of focusing on what a company wants. “If you say you’re an expert in Python and then can’t use it properly in the interview, that is a problem,” he adds.
In the nutshell, if your fundamentals and design choices are strong, the programming language selection isn’t that important. In such companies, you’ll need to deal with multiple languages and pick up the new one as needed.