The Skeptical Methodologist

Software, Rants and Management

Let me show you the door…

Coding Horror and Joel both have things to say about leaving the field of software development.  Jeff hits the nail on the head,

I mean this in the nicest possible way, but not everyone should be a programmer. How often have you wished that a certain coworker of yours would suddenly have an epiphany one day and decide that this whole software engineering thing just isn’t working out for them? How do you tell someone that the quality of their work is terrible and they’ll never be good at their job”

I’m not one of the lucky ones that gets to work at the Googles, Microsofts or Amazons and thus never work with someone completely inadequate for this field, so I can tell you how hard it is working with someone obviously not here for the enjoyment of it.  I also question whether those fabled firms actually escape the hopelessly and forever lost developer, since it’s so hard to spot them in the first place.  I hear Google uses riddles and brain teasers.  Yeah, that doesn’t work.

Anyways, I would LOVE for anyone who’s thinking about leaving the industry to go ahead and do it.  Like Jeff, if you don’t love it, you should probably get out.  Loving development has no bearing on your character, it doesn’t make you a worse or better person.  But there is absolutely no reason you should do anything that you don’t enjoy doing.  This is not only for your own sake, this is for the rest of our sakes too.  This is because 90% of the defects we have to fix, 90% of the horrible designs we have to work through, 90% of the shit we have to shovel is left behind by you.  Someone just in software for the pay, who doesn’t love it, doesn’t care whether or not they do a good job or not.

I remember I was taking some drawing classes awhile back, and all my stuff was just wholeheartedly uninspired and lacking any talent whatsoever.  I wondered whether it was a lack of experience, or maybe I just hated my own stuff.  I sat myself down one night and drew, as best as I could, a still life of a coke can.  That was all.  But I made sure to spend the time to do it right.  You know what I learned?  I learned that when I put my mind to it, it wasn’t a lack of skill on my part.  I could draw reasonably well.  But I also learned I just didn’t care about drawing enough to put in the effort to do it right. I don’t get a thrill out of it like others do.

Programming is an art form too, and if you don’t want to put in the time and effort to do it right, then you’ll produce crap.  And the only way you will ever put in the time and effort in this field is if you love it – you can’t bondage and leather you way into it.  You can have an IQ of 160, a degree from MIT and the whole cannon (Art of Computer Programing, etc) under your belt, if you don’t love it, you will produce crap.  Crap the rest of us have to clean up.

So, if you really find yourself wondering whether or not starting your own business, or working on cars, or something else is for you, its a sign you don’t love programming.  Hell, this lesson is something that applies to every field – the best mechanic will be one who loves working on cars.  Any thing you find yourself longing to do other than coding, any time you hate the actual process of development (not all the shit that comes with it) you honestly should think about stepping aside and contributing to society in some other way.  You are probably a much better artist than you are developer, and you’ll help the development community, and the art community, if you just let me show you the door.

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December 29, 2008 - Posted by | Social Commentary, Software Culture

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