It was only a little more than a year ago that my supervisor sent me a link to Joel's site on software development. Hard to believe how far my career has come since then! I've switched jobs am no longer an under-paid grunt, and I credit a lot of it to Joel's site.
It didn't take me long to adopt Joel as my mentor. His essays on software development, and the crowd of great folks who contribute to the forums, woke me up and got me interested in software development as a craft. I started using his painless software scheduling, and more importantly, started reading the books on his book lists. I started off with the two classics Peopleware and The Mythical Man Month - talk about eye-opening books!
When I started my current job about 9 months ago, I was the only full-time developer in the office of an international consulting company. I was assigned a few small projects at first and was able to use Joel's template for functional specs, and his spreadsheet for schedule tracking. I installed a source control system, and started trying to improve the system from within to bring our division's score up on the Joel test. I was doing things the grunt way - doing what I could with the power I had to use the tools I wanted on the projects I was working on.
Management took notice of the good job I was doing. People were raving about my interview questions and how I actually made applicants write code in the interview. When the division organized itself from flat and ambiguous, to structured into stove pipes like sales, app development, etc., I was able to use it as an excuse to pull every developer in the region (about 5 offices, 10 developers) into a community of application developers. I created a Groove workspace for us all to collaborate and share code snips, talk about standards and patterns and practices, and jell as a team. For the first time we'll be working on projects together even though we're in different offices, and jelling as a team will be very important.
At my annual review I was surprised with a large raise, and just a week ago I received a call from my boss twice-removed (two tiers up). He called to say what a great job I was doing and how he expected everyone in the office to be working for me one day (ha!), then he gave me a big bonus! It was incredible - no one at my level gets bonuses at our company; they are reserved for the elders who are paid too much to give big raises to.
So, I just want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Joel for being such a great mentor. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of guts to put all of his opinions out on his site, and I think he provides a great service. All said, since I've adopted him as my mentor just over a year ago, my salary has increased by 50% and my career has really taken off. I should really send him a bottle of champagne! I'll have to ask him what he likes.