Dealing with supportive but overeager boss (Computer programming)


macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 27, 2013
Hi folks. I've lurked here a bit, first time posting. I know this is weird for a first post, but there are lots of knowledgable folks here so hoping for some good advice.

I work for a small internet company. Because we are small and have limited resources, we all were several hats in the organization. I do back-office type stuff, completely non-technical. But my direct boss is the guy that maintains the website.

Although I do not have any technical/ programming background, living in the Bay Area and being surrounded by it, I do want to learn some basics. So I decided to sign up for a community college class to learn Java.

One of the benefits of my job is that I get a small allowance every year to take classes on whatever subjects interest me, so I discussed this with my boss to get his sign off for the reimbursement.

He immediately got super excited. He suggested I learn HTML and CSS as well and ASAP, as we currently need help with the front end development of our website. Then he said after I learn Java, he can find some backend stuff for me to help with as well.

This got out of hand really quickly. Learning how to program and then being able to use it here at work would be a terrific opportunity (both here and for possibility of moving into other tech positions), but at the same time I know ZERO programming right now. I just wanted to sign up for this Java class to see how I'd like it, and most importantly to see how good I'd be at programming.

So here are my 2 big issues right now:

(1) I know there are lots of free resources for learning the front end web design languages - HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc. My boss mentioned learning HTML / CSS quickly, as he said he could find me stuff to do almost immediately. What are some good free resources to learn on (Codecademy is something I'm looking at), and how long would it take me to get proficient at these languages?

Can I learn HTML / CSS while also taking my more formal Java class, or will that confuse the hell out of me?

(2) My bigger issue is managing my boss's expectations. He's super excited as having another "programmer' here would really help him out. That being said, I have no idea if I'd enjoy programming or hell if I'd be any good at it. He's a supportive guy and if I came back to him after taking the Java class and told him "man, programming is just not for me", I'm sure he'd understand. But i'm sure he'd be disappointed. So suggestions on managing this situation would be appreciated, as I'm sure he'll be asking me for the next several weeks how my class is coming along.


macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
Melenkurion Skyweir
Markup languages and "languages" like HTML and CSS, respectively, are *very* different from programming languages like Java. So no, you won't get confused between the two, unless you're really easily confused... ;)

You can learn the basics in HTML in a day or less. And you can learn to a pretty advanced level in a week or two. CSS? You can master it in a day. Less. It's seriously that easy.

It's the dynamic stuff (JavaScript and so forth) that things get hairy.

As for Java... completely different beast. It's like HTML/CSS that you write source code, and magical things happen when the computer reads it. But the similarities stops right there.

Can't help you with problem #2 :)

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
Behind the Lens, UK
I'd just be great full that you have a job and you get a training allowance. Where I work you get no training whatsoever. If you try the course and its not for you, just be honest with him. You could always flatter him with wow you are really clever, that course was way over my head!


macrumors 603
Aug 29, 2008
As for Java... completely different beast. It's like HTML/CSS that you write source code, and magical things happen when the computer reads it. But the similarities stops right there.
It's magical, and frustrating.

As for issue 2: be cool with it. Don't play things up.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2010
I think the training allowance is awesome. However, if I were to be in that position and be expected to take on more work from a developer standpoint I would expect my pay to increase. Developer jobs are in hot demand right now. Whether you have an understanding of the material at this point or not, don't sell yourself short. Those skills are highly valuable in this market. The exact reason I'm attending school for software engineering.