Once in a while i have someone reject to work with me because they don't know Pike. What they are really saying is, that they are not willing to learn something new.

If you are a decent programmer, then learning a new programming language is not hard. Technology changes all the time, and every year you'll learn new frameworks and tools. That's part of your work. So why shy away from learning a new language?

If you can't bring yourself to learn a new language then i suspect you'll also have a hard time learning anything else. So actually i should thank you by refusing the job because of that.

You say: learning a new language is hard.

If you believe that, you haven't tried enough. Sure, if you pick some of the more unusual languages like Haskell, it may be hard (but i don't know, i have not tried learning Haskell yet) and in general, learning your second language is probably the hardest (because the first language you learn, everything is new and you expect it to be hard, but with the second language maybe you fear it is as dificult as the first one, and you don't want to go through that again), also learning a new syntax may take some getting used to.

But all of these hurdles are measured in days.

Pike in particular has a syntax very close to C and Java. (that is, operations that are the same in C, Java and Pike also use the same syntax, with very few exceptions). This makes the syntax also similar to Javascript, PHP, and the many other languages with a C-inspired syntax. Picking that up should not be hard.

The rest is learning the Pike libraries and figuring out what makes Pike tick. You should have that down within a few weeks.

This is the same for pretty much any other language you might start to learn.

I am talking from experience here. I'll give you a few examples:

At my first fulltime job i was hired for my Pike experience. As a junior programmer who hadn't finished univeristy yet, i didn't really have any work history. But i did have a number of Pike modules for the Roxen webapplicationserver that i could show off.

At the same time a university graduate was hired, who had not even seen Pike before joining the team. Within a few weeks she was as productive as the rest of us, and having finished her studies she arguably knew more about programming and could explain more about Pike than i could.

At another job a few years later one of my managers who had just recently joined the company fell in love with Pike, and when he left he built his own company using Pike as the main development language. This guy was not even a programmer.

When i came to china, my first job was for a python programmer. I had learned python by then, but i had no practical experiece whatsoever. I was allowed to do the programming tests in Pike (they had an automated testsuite, which of course could not handle Pike, so in my case the answers were reviewed manually. They had no problems reviewing their tests in a language they had never seen before. That's how good they were). One of the tests i did in python, and i passed and got the job. I was productive from the start.

A few years ago i hired 3 chinese students to work for me. Since this was the first time i hired anyone, i was not sure how learning a new language would go down, on the first day, possibly their first experiene working with a foreigner too. So the first project i gave them was in Java. It was a Java client for the sTeam server. Two of the students left after the summer holidays were over, but one stayed on, and his next project was in Pike. Also for the sTeam server, so he could reuse his knowledge of the APIs that he learned during the Java project, but he did have to learn the language itself. He was productive within a few days.

Last year i was hired to help with a PHP project, using the Laravel framework. I had never really written PHP code before, but the framework was not so different from others (eg Django) so that i was productive immideately. And i ended up fixing other peoples code too.

This summer, i was working with 3 students for Google Summer Of Code. One student worked on the sTeam server, and had to learn Pike for that. He did it during the get-to-know period and started churning out code from the first day of the coding-period.

Another student picked a smalltalk project. She learned smalltalk as soon as she picked the project, joined the pharo-smalltalk community and became a recognized contributor to the pharo 4.0 release. All before her proposal for the GSOC project was even accepted.

Convinced yet?

You say: Noone else uses Pike. It won't help me get a job.

That is probably true. But it is becoming less true as time goes by.

One of the problems with hiring is that, just as you believe learning a new language is hard, so do the hiring managers, and thus they search only for programmers that already know the language that they will need to use.

In the Pike community too. I was the only Pike programmer available who liked moving countries, and so i had my pick for jobs in the USA, in Germany, in New Zealand, in Latvia. Thanks to Pike i got around. Try that with a popular language.

Fortunately, this is changing. Like my first China job, more companies recognizing the ability to learn as more important than a particular language. For them it won't matter which programming languages you learned, as long as you can demonstrate your learning skill. In fact, learning an unknown language will let you stand out as someone serious about learning programming languages.

Learning new languages will also increase your confidence in your ability. For that PHP job i was never asked how much PHP experience i had. I did make clear that i had no experience with Laravel, which is something they could not expect from everyone, even if they had plenty of PHP experiece. But i had experience with similar frameworks, and i was confident that i could pick up what i needed quickly. And i proved it.

When i am hiring programmers myself, i definetly don't care which languages they know. All i care is that they know at least two languages. These people have at least gotten over the second language hump, and learning a third language will be a breeze. Whether it's Pike or any other language.

Stop telling me that you can't learn a new programming language. You can! Because if you couldn't, you would not qualify as a programmer to begin with. At least, i would not hire you.