Seniors devs, do you regret committing to software development?
By - Le_Vinke
The grass is always greener.
I've got friends in manual labour jobs, and they often feel exactly the same as we do - that they're wasting their lives in their van/on their building site/on the road. Some of them despise their job and only do it because they're good enough at it to coast. Some of them used to love it, but feel nothing for it any more. Some even feel that their job has changed over time, and that the stuff they loved about it in the past is no longer present.
That thing you feel is missing from your life is your free time, and doing something that you don't want to be doing during the day.
The other thing is that manual labour jobs can cause health issues. My brother worked as a welder for a while and had to get out because it was fucking up his lungs. My cousin works as a landscaper and has had issues with his back and knees. Don't even get me started on the risks healthcare workers have had to take on over the pandemic.
Software is pretty chill by comparison. You sit on your ass in front of a computer all day. We have health risks, but you can mitigate it by exercising regularly or getting ergonomic equipment. And the pay is better than most manual labour.
This. If OP instead did woodworking, policing, blacksmithing, etc as a career, they'll be unhappy with other pitfalls. It really comes down to this: no matter what we do, we're working for someone else, and that sucks. Whether we're a developer, a woodworker or a policeman, we don't have control over the work we do. There's no personal achievement working towards someone else's goals. So my advice is to think of your job - no matter what it is - as a means to fund the things you're personally interested in.
Also this. And I’d add that sometimes working for yourself doing your own thing or even running a business, isn’t always what it’s hyped up to be. You probably sacrifice even more of your own time. A lot of times life is about perspective. I’ll repeat, perspective.
One thing to consider is the physical toll of many manual labor jobs. Our biggest concerns are sitting too much and RSI. I had one job that was somewhat physical and I’m always grateful to not be doing that.
I started for the love of it. I stayed for the money.
I started for the money and continue to do it for the money. I'm not going to actually find a job I enjoy as long as I'm working for someone else. Might as well do one that pays well.
This is pretty much the mentality that sent me to college for CS in my late 20's. Got sick of hating crappy paying jobs, hating a decent paying job is way easier.
Got my degree in my late twenties. Nothing like working shitty jobs to motivate you to get good grades in college.
Currently in university for CS in my late twenties for the same reason
Or perhaps you're not going to find a job you enjoy as long as you chose your career only for the money? I think working in tech without loving it would be worse than other fields - so much upskilling required
I started for the money. I stayed for the love of it.
hoping i end up like you
i hope so too :-)
So much this
I started because I love it and am damn good, if I may say so myself. I stay because on top of that, I make enough money to keep myself comfortable while working for an employer that is doing something I feel is noble (higher ed).
Nope. The money is amazing and let's me do a lot of things I wouldn't otherwise be able to do with most other postions (own a house, have a stay-at-home spouse, retire early, take plenty of vacations, etc). It probably helps that outside of work hours, I don't think about work and have plenty of non computer related hobbies.
Hedonic treadmill my friend. No matter what new thing you move onto, eventually the novelty is going to wear off. I read some time ago that people with the highest self reported happiness have the largest number of friends and social gatherings. If you're looking for more meaning in life, perhaps consider meeting new people with common interests, or get involved in community projects. Food for thought
I guess what you are missing is adventure in your life. Life is short. What you do doesn't matter but how you do it matters.
Just listen to your heart what it says.
You discovered one reason why Software Engineering salaries are higher than average salaries.
It's difficult work, very few people can do the work or are willing to do the work. In addition, keep up with the constant changes in tech stack.
20 years of being a developer and I would still do it even if it was not my career.
The key to not burning out is balance. I take breaks during the day and make it a point to get outdoors. I work out 4-5 days a week also.
You must exercise your body as much as your mind if you want to avoid burnout. Both are in a feedback loop.
ex welder here.
Working with your hands is nowhere new as glamorous as it looks on youtube.
Plus the extra moolah lets you kit out a garage and do what you like
I used to be a grunt. I was better blowing shit up and shooting things. Got hurt and needed to pivot.
My life is better than I thought it would end up being.
10/10 would do again!
Lol no. If I didn’t like it I would do something else with my life. There are days of course, but that’s life.
I like the craft, but I've come to dislike the industry. We can pretend all we want, but invasive adtech and addictive social media tools are very harmful. Personally, I took a step back when the company I worked for started moving into collecting user data to power the next phase of its growth.
>I have much more admiration for a woodworker, policeman, or a black-smith than for a genius developer
I feel the same, but it's just escapism. For all you know the blacksmith would kill to make 100k+ in a comfortable chair. And if he were to become a SWE for 5 years, he would probably find himself in the same position you are, and the loop would continue.
So how can we break this loop? You're placing too much meaning in your career and tying your identity to it. Even your choice of words ("committing") indicates that. In reality, "you" aren't committed to anything. You are you and the career isn't you. Realizing this at a deeper level (not just as an object of knowledge) will set you free.
You might want to look into roles like sales or “solution architect“ which involve more travel and more interaction with customers.
Or fuck it and become a park ranger. Whatever floats your boat. You only have one life. No reason to waste it doing something you don’t like.
No not at all. I like the work and it's a great market too (loads of jobs/contracts). I don't think the 'issues' with CS are specific to CS at all but mostly specific to desk jobs in general. So if a desk job isn't something for you, CS won't be either.
Why do you regret not going to Stanford? You seem pretty successful. What did you miss out on?
I think it just makes it easier to progress faster and go into leadership since so much of leadership is from Stanford or Ivy League schools at large tech companies and startups.
Anecdotal I know but I've already been promoted to L4 and am on track to make 300K in my first year at Google, not sure how much my graduating from Stanford played in it, but it is probably non-zero if you consider the ease of getting interviews, etc. for me during my new grad search.
I get why it could make new grad easier, but I don’t see why you think it’d make progressing either on the IC or management path easier
matters a lot. When you went to the same school your boss went all of a sudden you look a lot better in his eyes.
Oh okay yeah I guess that makes sense — to be clear, I wasn’t really saying that it doesn’t matter for progression, but just that the comment itself didn’t seem to explain why it did
Have a look on Linkedin at the proportion of senior-level management who either did a bachelor's from Stanford/Ivy or went back and did an MBA from one of them.
Right like I get that it’s the case, but I was wondering why (and as someone else mentioned, it might be because ppl just like ppl from their alma mater)
Absolutely not. 20 years in and i think think this is a great way to make a living. Still enjoy making computers do things, making users happy, and definitely the salary.
I've realized being an adult isn't about having some master plan and checking off all the check boxes. Shit happens, people change, desires change, circumstances change, companies screw you over, your SO ends up not being your SO, life isn't ever what you expect it to be (for good and bad reasons)
It's better to be able to tackle challenges in front of you rn and learn how to deal with them one day at a time. And right now I know how to tackle MY challenges better (including as an engineer).
I'd probably go into psychology if I had to do it all over again as an 18 year old who didn't know anything about himself. I'd still probably be miserable or feel like I'm not making a real difference.
I remember when a doctor family member complained about how lucky I was too have an office job.
Grass always greener
No it’s a good job so I don’t regret it even though yeah the screen does suck.
I played MMORPGs so my screen tolerance is built up.
I'm quite happy being a developer. Yeah, the work can get boring or tedious sometimes, but that's more of a project-specific thing rather than how I feel about programming as a whole (I still enjoy programming personal projects in my free time). There are certainly days where I'd rather be doing something else, but honestly, there are very few careers where I could be making as much money for as few hours, while working from home.
I'd say no if the money was better
I’m no where at your age, but you sound similaly with what I always think about.
Yeah, i also dont want to stick my face to the screen all day, and i enjoy other jobs a lot, so i think i will get enough money at some point and do another job like teacher, farmer,…
I like the money. I save vast majority of what I make and invest it. Now i can retire young. Now i dont have to work at all and I ca do what i want.
Look at the bright side. With software engineering salary you can pay someone to help you solve this problem. Talk to a career coach, a counselor or a therapist.
Nope. I would be in an Amazon warehouse busting ass for 12 hours a day if I didn't get into software development.
> keeping up with the tech takes so much time and energy
The trick is you don't try to keep up with every single little thing, and instead only focus on things that apply to your career and job. If you do that you'll find that things move at a quite manageable pace.
My job is tolerable and enables me to do the other stuff I want to in life. Travel the world, have some nice bicycles, eat fancy dinners, go to concerts, live in a housing situation that isn’t garbage.
I don’t always love software development or my job. But it’s…. Fine. I can find new projects with different challenges when I get bored and the pay is just really good.
I’m only 4 years in. Grass is always greener on the other side. There are way more police men that wish they would’ve done Software Engineering than the reverse. Can’t say the same about Black Smith or Woodworker since it’s not the 1800s. Seeking happiness and fulfillment comes more from within.
Go volunteer somewhere the people you admire work then you will learn how lucky you are to have a good job!
I've worked retail 6 years and now have a deskjob and I'm now looking to become a dev. I can tell you I've never been happier in my life sitting at a desk all day.
No one really likes Computer Science jobs.. it's against our nature.
I always remember my first lecture at the university: I was with a friend and he told me "bro I hate this enviroment.. too many nerds with social issues here.. ". He never came back again to university and he suggested me to do the same.
I didn't listen him.
Since 7 years he's producing and selling his own Wine. He does basically everything: production + marketing.. he goes around the world and knows/speaks with interesting people everyday.. he has thousands of contacts around the world and he doesn't even need to go in holiday because he already visits all the cool places in the world.. he decides where to go basically...
What did I do in the meantime? Just sitting and studying.. 5 fking years + others of work. In my Linkedin I've 90 contacts but I know only 30 of them.. and yes, I hate them.
I fking regret my choice. My friend has more money, social skills and health than me now.
I think computer science is for people who really don't have any other choice to get money. So your depression is pretty normal, don't worry.
> No one really likes Computer Science jobs
I think you're generalizing there; I entered this field before it was a gold rush and have never regretted it
Yes, the parts I don't like (but is still quite good at lol) is the typical un-CS things like explaining to some product owner for the 5th time why someone can't be done in a certain way or writing pointless documentation. The pure coding, setting up servers and all that is still very fun for me
Honestly, your friend sounds rather stuck up. I'm glad he forged a path for himself that he loves. I certainly admire that. But, I think it's totally possible to have a great life while following a less exciting path.
I'm not going to say that I'm not a nerd with social issues, because I am a nerd and there are some social situations that I find challenging. I've met a wide variety of people in this field professionally, and many of them have been good people that are a pleasure to work with. Some have been nerds, but there's nothing wrong with that. Some have had their quirks or insecurities, but I haven't run into much downright anti-social behavior outside of school.
Speak for yourself. I still look forward to going to work in the morning.
>I was with a friend and he told me "bro I hate this enviroment.. too many nerds with social issues here.. ". He never came back again to university and he suggested me to do the same.
what a fucking Chad!!!
Yeah I heard the same comments from my friend freshman year and now that friend is in jail with 2 kids.
The reason why we go get get a degree and sacrifice 4 years of our prime to get an average salary is because not everyone is as lucky as your friend.
Si it’s good planning you can retired by 35 and live.
Yea sure and I know computer scientists that are in jail.. what now? The thing is that if you're an outlier and you can earn a reasonable amount of money, then you can be an outlier also in other fields that don't require a min. 40h per week of reclusion.
>Si it’s good planning you can retired by 35 and live.
I guess you're in USA.. In Europe I've never seen any computer scientist retiring before the rent. Here we are paid as an average person with a random degree. A friend of mine studied something about marketing (the master was 1 year long and during the bachelor he was just partying) and he earns like me.
If you don’t like CS, why don’t you try something different? Plenty of people switch careers after college. Go start a wine business or whatever. Your friend did it without any training, so what’s holding you back?
Thanks for sharing your story, I feel like even with less money I could be happier. I need to buy things to compensate for the boredom I get from SE jobs, it creates kinda a goal for me to keep on, even if it's delusional.... If I had an interesting life I would be happy with way less. Did you decide to change something?
> No one really likes Computer Science jobs.. it's against our nature.
My childhood disagrees. I got in to computing before the average person recognized it as a great career move so there was no pressure or even knowledge on my end to do it for money or job opportunities. I just enjoyed it.
I can find you a decent handful of people with comparable stories. I can tell you I still do tech/computing projects and learning in my free time even when it has little to no career applicability for me just because it's my hobby. I actually *prefer* to do things entirely unrelated to my work in my free time because that's how I don't just feel like I'm working all the time while doing hobbyist shit in my personal time.
> I think computer science is for people who really don't have any other choice to get money.
I think you're projecting your regrets on to everyone else, and being self-defeatist about ever being happy by contextualizing this regret as a situation in which you "don't have any other choice" anymore.
Just find company that makes our world a better place. Human Rights organizations, Health care technology companies, companies that work with sustainable energy or combating global warming/sea pollution etc.
Make smart investment decisions now, and retire at 40. You'll have half of your life in front of you and you probably would have achieved financial independence.
Ha no. It's pretty damn awesome.
work is just that - work. but imo software dev is the best kind of work - (mostly) safe, well paid, mentally stimulating, meritocratic and you meet more nice people that in other professions (at least in my experience). grateful to be in the space.
In my late 40s. Never questioned being an engineer. If I could talk to younger me I'd tell him to practice Cracking the Coding Interview book so he can get into a Big N company much earlier LOL! Leetcode didnt exist back when younger me decided to leave game studios...
I was doing manual labor when I was a teen mowing lawns. That sucked I'd rather sit on my arse all day. I aint mowing no one's lawn but my own now
edit- there was one bad spell where I was unemployed for 3 months. I thought bout becoming a writer but had no luck there
> I do a lot of outside activities but I feel like a coward just doing random things on a computer and trying to escape from real life. Don't get me wrong, I love programming and the thing we can achieve with that. It is more a question of personal achievement in life.
Hobbies outside of the field can absolutely help with this. You don't always have to be on the bleeding edge of tech trends, so you can slow down on this.
Find a club sport somewhere. Take a community college class on cooking, baking, woodworking, metalworking, art, or whatever else. Something to satisfy that need to do something more tangible.
Nope. I enjoy solving problems with technology.
Do what pulls you then. You live only finite time, so why are you planning around something you don't like. You can even choose another type of job in the same field.
I know what you are thinking, there are other job in tech? Look em up.