Thursday, April 29, 2010

Computers alone would not make me stay in this business.

Now and then I find myself observing other developers in awe of their discussions and line of thought. When in this state of mind, I don’t participate in the discussion because my mind is occupied by “something” I haven’t been able to put into words until recently.

Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “Good things don’t happen by coincidence” (yes, I’m quoting The Terminator). He is, however, wrong. If it hadn’t been for a series of coincidences, I would never have become a developer. In fact, if you would have asked me five years ago what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, I would have answered a doctor. Luckily for all patients out there, that didn’t happen.

As I began my degree in computer science, I didn’t actually know what programming was. Computers had never fascinated me, they were simply tools for getting things done more efficiently. Developers were geeky men whose words I couldn’t make sense of. Exactly how and when I went from being clueless to becoming one of the geeky men (although I’m female), I don’t know. But within the last year, I’ve become more and more certain of one thing: Computers alone would not make me stay in this business.

Of course, I find the technology we’re working with extremely interesting. But that can not be compared to the fascination I have of developers. When you, as a developer, are given a task you find challenging and exhilarating you become passionate about your code. You find yourself yelling at your computer when nothing works out the way you planned. You’re so determined to fix the problems that you’re not able to think outside the box and you end up leaving the office annoyed because you weren’t able to locate the problem. You wake up the next day even more determined than the day before, and after hours of intense work you’re able to think outside the box and the problems are solved. You’re not yelling anymore, you’re cheering.

Hopefully, this is not what every day looks like to you, but I’m sure you’ve experienced it. Have you, however, thought about what this scenario would look like if you weren’t passionate? You would probably not care much about these unexpected problems, you’d be satisfied as long as you could go home at night without any responsibilities. Luckily I can’t say I’ve met any developer yet who just doesn’t care, and I’m glad for that.

However, the passion goes further than this. The passion you have for your job is one thing, but what really amazes me is the passion I observe while I’m not at work. A lot of developers have their own personal projects where they live out their dream of trying out the newest technology in order to realize some of the ideas they get from who knows where. I see these personal projects being mentioned everywhere: on Twitter, in blogs, at meetups, or while talking to other developers. The passion these developers have for their projects sometimes intimidate me. How do they do it? How do they manage to fit all these projects into their schedule?

How or why they do it is not important, the only thing I ask of you is to continue! After all, that’s what makes me stay in this business: Your passion. So if you’re a developer, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it :)


  1. Seconded. I think it was Magne Jørgensen who stated in Computerworld (Norwegian paper edt) some time back that computer science is more than just work, it's a "legning". Very well said :)

  2. I didn't see that article, but I absolutely agree with him!

  3. It's great working with one of your interests. No, it's more than great, it's a privilege.

    And don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back too!

  4. Yes it the passion that drives you in this industry, persons looking for a 9 to 5 should think before entering. I recently had the chance to talk with Joe Stagner a.k.a MisfitGeek about managing the projects with job & family and here it is what he advised

  5. I agree, it's a privilege to work with one of your interests and without "legning" we should all be lost! (or at least be very very boored)

  6. A lot of people seem to forget this privilege at stressfull times (myself included). The pleasant revelation occuring when you realize it once again is amazing. But I'm trying to teach myself not to forget, however stressed out I am :)