David Veksler's recent post on less-known truths about programming is great, and I definitely recommend it reading it all the way through. Here, however, I want to touch on this point:
Averaging over the lifetime of the project, a programmer spends about 10-20% of his time writing code, and most programmers write about 10-12 lines of code per day that goes into the final product, regardless of their skill level.
I completely agree that most of my time is not spent writing code - and it has never had, irrespective of whether I was considered junior or senior in a project. My experience matches perfectly the poster of the post mentioned above, as well as it matches other people on the web (and apparently what was written in The Mythical Man-Month).
CollegeThis is something no one tells you in college: you will not be coding as much as you think. As a matter of fact, in big corps, you will probably be communicating and handling other things much more than working on the technical things. If you're operating a service, like I mentioned here, then it's possible that you're be coding even less and potentially debugging and trying to diagnose issues even more than coding.
InterviewsAnother point of this is how the technical side is the focus of interviews, although they can account for the minority of your time on the job. Soft skills, communication, dealing with ambiguity, etc., are often neglected and can be very important for the success at work as well.
SuccessActually, what is important for a professional to be successful? This TED Talk gives us good tips. See this quote:
Embedded within that question is the key to understanding the science of happiness. Because what that question assumes is that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels, when in reality, if I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10 percent of your long-term happiness. 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, what we can do is change the way that we can then affect reality. What we found is that only 25 percent of job successes are predicted by I.Q. 75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.
These are things that we don't look at when hiring someone. Coupled with the fact that you don't spend much of time doing the technical core work anyway, I don't think that our interview techniques are actually that effective to predict an individual's longevity (and success*) at the company.
* The meaning of success is probably a topic for another post :-)