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I don’t want to be a software developer anymore (medium.com)
256 points by Yhippa on Nov 23, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 305 comments



I feel like we as an industry can sometimes forget just how good we have it. Many of my friends do not work in tech, they are low paid, they have stressful jobs with little autonomy, they are not challenged at all and they feel little personal accomplishment in their day today. I appreciate the author alludes to this but having seen friends recently job hunting (outside of tech) I am reminded that even on the worst days I have it many times better than a lot of people.

> If I won the lottery would I still code? I would, but it would not be like work. It would be projects I enjoyed. And it would be fewer hours.

But wouldn't we all love to do that no matter our vocation? Until basic income comes along I think we have to just get over it. Most jobs aren't going to provide you with fun for 8 hours a day. I feel like the older I get the more I understand that a job is a way for me to trade time for money, I don't have to (or should expect to) like it.


This.

I find it very difficult to complain as a coder given the conditions at the moment. Companies battle to hire people and the pay is globally extremely good. Most of the time it is easy to get time off or to accommodate "errands" during the day.

As you said, I think a lot of us are out of touch about what it is to get a job outside of tech (and a couple other high demand privileged examples). You want to work from home one day a week ? Need 2 approvals of your N+2 manager. Coming late 3 times in a row? Let's talk about your "behavior". That coffee you just took over there ? It will be 1$ deduced from your paycheck.

I feel a lot of us live in the utopia that a job must be fun at all time and that we should always do what we like. Sorry but the world doesn't work like that.

Edit: I'm not saying that we shouldn't demand good condition. It is an "offer and demand" economic system after all. We should get what we can negociate to get in the market. I wanted to make the point however that >90% of regular jobs are not pleasant and fun at all time.


The churn rate is also high on most software teams. In some cases, successful companies struggle to find candidates because all the good people have worked there before and ran away.

One of the brightest developers I've worked with quit after 3 weeks at my company because they were underpaying her and wouldn't give her a raise. This same company complained regularly of not being able to find good talent.

Employers think they hold all the leverage and can treat developers how they want. They really don't. Why do you think half of software projects fail to deliver?


> Why do you think half of software projects fail to deliver?

A number of reasons:

1. Bikeshedding over the tech stack

2. A glut of CS grads who see a bunch of nails to hit with their textbook and data structures and algorithms knowledge failing to engage in a proper engineering process

3. Poorly defined requirements (blame aplenty to go around here: product development giving insufficient thought to the product details, sales over promising, and "engineers" failing to contribute by treating partnering with these folks as an onerous chore rather than a necessary task)

4. Insufficient resources

And many more, I'm sure.

Developers aren't blameless, here. In fact over the last couple of years I've come to see them as being at least as much to blame as non-technical people, perhaps even more so.


>quit after 3 weeks at my company because they were underpaying her and wouldn't give her a raise.

Why would she have accepted an offer she felt was too low?


Why wouldn't she? Maybe she wanted to get her foot in the door.

The point I'm trying to make is that the company needed her more than she needed them.


>Why wouldn't she?

Because it's unethical to agree to work for a rate you're not actually willing to work for. She wasted a lot of people's time and resources to bring her on board for those three weeks.

>The point I'm trying to make is that the company needed her more than she needed them.

I wouldn't want to work with a person who accepts an offer and then THREE WEEKS later starts demanding raises, no matter what their skill level.


It's possibly more complex than that? Maybe she was willing to work for less given other soft-factors; when she arrived, perhaps she found those soft-factors illusory (different boss; different project or work scope; coworkers aren't so fun after all, etc). In that case, asking for a raise is pretty reasonable.

Also, she may have simply gotten an offer she couldn't refuse from another company. You could argue that this shows poor ethics, but don't delude yourself, everyone has a price. She may have been generous asking her company to match.

Let's not judge people based on thin second-hand accounts.


Given the fact that "she" is completely anonymous in this case, no one is judging a person, we're judging the situation as described. Get off your high horse.


Oh, no no no.

If they can fire us at any time, we can leave at any time.

There should be absolutely nothing in anyone that says "work for less than what you're worth".

Whatever her reasons for going for and getting what she wanted, good for her. And any ethical system that says "work for less than what you're worth in an at-will environment" is a bad ethical system, full stop.


You're arguing against a straw man. If she felt she was worth more than the salary she was offered, she shouldn't have accepted it in the first place. Simple as that.


Who can say what was going on in the inner world of this hypothetical second-hand story person's mind?

All we know is she took a job and then took a better one.

You're claiming that's an unethical act, and I'm saying, "it's the free market, baby!" They pushed for at-will, they got it, consequences and all.

And, more broadly, I grew up in the transitionary period from "one job for life" to "throw 'em to the wolves," and I have absolutely zero sympathy for employers, in this world their policies have wrought.


There's a local employer here that is a household name. They have a history of doing things like offering positions to entire teams of people and then laying them off before their first day at work. In spite of the fact that they are one of the largest employers in the area I refuse to work with them because of their unethical behavior. Just because there are not laws which ban unethical behavior does not mean there are no consequences. I'd generally rather not work with someone who has shown a history of quitting after 3 weeks.


Like I said, maybe she knew her worth and just wanted to get her foot in the door. I never said she asked for a raise. She just found a better offer elsewhere, and probably would had stayed for the right counteroffer.

I wouldn't want to work with a person who puts their own ideas about when it's appropriate to expect a raise over keeping bright people.

She didn't waste anyone's time; unlike most, she was productive from day one to the day she left. The company was wasting their own time by optimizing for low compensation and not engineering acumen.

Companies have no problem staffing projects they know will be canceled soon, or projects that are underfunded. It's a dog eat dog world, I'm afraid.


Counteroffers are widely regarded as a terrible thing to offer -- it sets a precedent that anyone, at any time, can attempt to hold your company hostage for more money. Most organizations with much industry experience will pass on any sort of counteroffer.

And it's likely that she _absolutely did_ waste people's time -- the company may have passed on other candidates to hire her and had to start over.


How are they holding the company hostage? You either agree to a salary or you don’t, and if you want to mitigate the risk of even having to discuss salary, you overpay. I realize from a mgmt perspective it sucks to lose someone you invested a decent chunk if change searching for, but it’s on you to mitigate that risk.

In some sense, they wasted their own time by not overpaying.


You might have a point on a longer time scale. This is three weeks. She likely hadn't even gotten her first pay check. Her market value did not change that much in three weeks.


A bit of anecdata: my second software only gig (started in IT) was offered a very lowball rate with a '90 day eval' to bump my pay that came and went. 12 weeks isn't 3 but it took getting another offer to get a raise I more than rightly deserved. I was killing it and everyone knew it.

While 3 weeks sounds like a very short evaluation period, there very much could've been an arrangement like this. I hesitate to use the word 'unethical' primarily due to how pervasive Hanlon's razor really is. She gave them 3 weeks of seemingly extremely productive work and gave them a taste of the caliber of developer they could hire if they just threw enough money at the problem but it sounds like they didn't learn. Every experience like this is a chance to learn something but some companies just fold churn into the equation without properly evaluating what they could do to prevent it. Usually its those companies that think developers are just equal cogs capable of performing all the same tasks at the same magically high productivity level. They rarely learn that you sometimes actually do get what you pay for.


She might have ended up liking the job enough to stay, just as the employer might have liked her enough to keep her. That's the extent of the obligation between employer and employee -- so called "employment at will." Companies have fought vigorously to maintain this arrangement.


Yeah I thought the same thing why would someone accept a position at a given rate and expect a raise in 3 weeks? The only logical way I can comprehend that sentence is that HE was there for 3 weeks and SHE was already working there and after being there for X amount of time realized she wasn’t being paid what she’s worth. X being at least 6 months but realistically a year or more there.


I can totally understand why people wouldn’t enjoy being a software developer and would leave it for better opportunities if they could, but they should at least be aware what an amazing privilege it is, in the world today and in the history of the world to earn a living from thinking.


No they compete for unicorns. Normal developers who were privileged enough to be born in silicon valley and go to mit/Stanford/Caltech and aren't willing to work 16 out 24 hours of the day might as well not apply because you just get told to fuck off in every application


For the past decade I made it very clear during interviews that I value work-life balance and that in fact it increases my overall productivity. I was never told to fuck-off (And I'm in SV).

In fact any company that "requires" (explicitely or implicitely) employees to work more than 8-9 hours a day should be seen as a huge red flag IMO.


This supposes you can afford to get a job elsewhere. Most people need a job now.


Having and enforcing personal boundaries will change your life. People will respect you for it too, not turn you away.


You will not respect yourself even when your wallet is empty.

That said, it is currently reasonably easy to switch the job in our area.


That's why you (a) interview in batches, and (b) even after you have taken a shitty job that you needed _now_ you keep interviewing.

In the longer run: build up some emergency funds; and always keep interviewing as a low intensity background activity, so you have offers before you need them.


I've always felt that interviewing is a pretty high intensity activity. At least the ones I've been in, which are a parade 5-6 of interviewers asking you to do problems at a whiteboard in hour intervals. At the end of those days, I'm physically and mentally exhausted, and often hungry, as they tend to make me talk right through lunch. I really dread interviews like this.


You are right. My choice of words was confusing:

By low intensity background activity I didn't mean that interviews are easy. I meant to suggest, interview at one company every quarter (or a similar rate).

(Though interviewing does get easier with practice. I usually batch up a lot of applications to different companies when I'm about to seriously look for a new job, and when I'm properly in gear, I breeze through those full day ordeals without too much loss of sanity. After all, there are only so many different technical interviews questions in common use amongst the companies.)


I disagree with your point even if it's exaggerated. I'm a HS grad with about a decade of experience. At least for the past five years, I can find a decent job at a startup making well into the six figures at will. Last time I got laid off, I had multiple competitive offers a little over a week later. This was all from cold online applications, and I was not living in a strong market like San Francisco or Boston. I have no LinkedIn or references and I don't network. Granted, I'm pretty good at this and interview _really_ well, but what I just described would be impossible in most other white collar-ish industries, and a total pipe dream for a HS grad.


Unicorns definitely have it easier, but eg Google hires so many people these days that they have long exhausted the supply of unicorns. Nine to five and cushy job is definitely possible in today's job market---especially if you are willing to move cities or country.


All this was sort of my impression too.

I always reflect on the anniversary of my first job in tech (hitting the 5 year mark in a few days) - I still remember the days where I didn’t have enough money to eat, and I would have to ration out oatmeal for a week just to survive. I remember my days in the Marine Corps in infantry, sometimes with days where I only had 2 hours of sleep, and any mistake negatively reinforced with less sleep - I remember being the recepient of all the shit jobs and low sleep for a field op because I lost a PEQ-16 on a night op, and we ended up combing the field for it (thankfully I remembered the right information to find it, and didn’t get written up).

I gladly do menial tasks, and go above and beyond at my craft - I don’t take things for granted because I hated life where I had to depend on the kindness of friends to live.

That said, I very much enjoy what I do given that context - I get to solve problems, and make any necessary changes to help make development experience nicer. It’s not as difficult as when I was in grad school, and it pays exceedingly well. I don’t have many complaints, unless management strangles our ability to deliver/have unrealistic expectations (expecting more than 40 hours a week as a rule, not an exception - I’m happy to work more sometimes, but on my terms). I don’t have that problem with my current job, and hope to not deal with it again.


That sort of comparative thinking is the sort many managers or shareholders would love to hear. “Put up with it, it could be worse.” The next section about BMI is a better response since you’re starting to expect more and well we all should, considering the planets wealth is increasing. Sabbaticals, 4 day work weeks is what we ought to be passionate about otherwise our passion is directed into the wallets of those who can convince us how great it will be to be passionate about adding value to their product.

In short labor should ask for more, since wealthy corporations are sitting on massive piles of money.


Sorry if I sounded like an apologist for management. I am a believer in better working conditions and reduced hours and flexible time for everyone and anyone. The article struck a nerve with me as friends have been recently looking for jobs and the way they are treated has been terrible. I have done long hours in bars, worked on building sites and temped and it was not good. It makes me very aware of what my work day is like compared to say my father who has spent 35 years in a factory.

There is something I think to be said for thinking of the job as just a paycheck and forgetting about pretending to have passion. When I stopped worrying about "the company" when things were bad and doing my hours and getting out of there I was a lot less stressed about feeling unfulfilled.

I really do wish the world would change in favour of the worker and not the 1% but things like the Paradise Papers have me assuming nothing much will change anytime soon so I should at least take comfort in the fact I could have it a lot worse. That doesn't stop me from wanting better conditions for my friends in their own working lives.


I think the point the OP was making is don't fall into the trap that capital wants you to fall into. They pay you what they pay you because you are worth it, then then subtract quite a bunch of what you are worth because they employ tactics to do so. Sometimes it's as simple as offering you less and seeing if you'll balk.

Don't compare yourself with factory workers, compare your self with doctors and lawyers and you'll get a better appreciation of your negotiation position.


> Until basic income comes along I think we have to just get over it. Most jobs aren't going to provide you with fun for 8 hours a day. I feel like the older I get the more I understand that a job is a way for me to trade time for money, I don't have to (or should expect to) like it.

This is something I think is a fault of my generation (née 1985), when we started to create this fairytail narrative of participation trophies, and tech-places covered in brightly colored toys and snacks, where every developer constructed their cube from Mountain Dew and Surge cans. This is not reality, and for a while we were able to fool our minders into believing that this is just "the silicon valley way" but increasingly, those few that just 'buckle down' and work hard in a normal setting are outperforming the ones that took ridiculous valuations and then squandered them on perishables and amenities.

I think what we're witnessing here is the maturation of our industry; it's not so much the wild west anymore, and nobody is generating breakthroughs in tech every week like we were in the 90's, everyone should act accordingly. These are jobs, we do our jobs then we go home, if we like our homes and things and activities, we need to go back to our jobs. There is a balance that must not be disturbed.


These are jobs, we do our jobs then we go home, if we like our homes and things and activities, we need to go back to our jobs. There is a balance that must not be disturbed.

It would be interesting to peek ahead a few centuries and see how much they agree with this.


Luckily "a few centuries ahead" is not the setting for this article, this discussion, or the current period. I'm not sure what relevance this has, when I'm sure the 'theys' from centuries before would have quite a few things to say about the way we live today, and it would be an opinion equally irrelevant.


There's no such thing as "a balance that must not be disturbed," and such beliefs tend to lead people into an unfulfilling life.

Throughout this thread, there is an undercurrent of "Shut up and put up with it, you have it pretty good." But everything is a balance, and the balance can swing both ways.

There is huge variation between developers' paychecks. I've seen devs who can barely afford food, let alone expensive toys. And not because they're unskilled.

Also, not everyone can simply go to a job and then go home. Some are forced to do remote work for medical reasons.

There are valid reasons to speak up.


To be honest, I'm not sure if this kind of thinking is conducive to getting good work done. If someone is smart, self-motivated, and so on, you can mostly count on them to work hard on important stuff given a bit of direction. The "work sucks, do your job" attitude is, in my experience, one way to get workers to check out, stop caring, and start maneuvering politically so that they can do the minimum amount of work necessary to not get fired. If you add to this that the threat of firing means little to a lot of younger folks with ability and a network, since they have very few financial liabilities and can easily find another entry-level job anyway, you risk easily creating a bunch of unmanageable low-effort workers. The worst part is that managers seem to kick into "just do it" mode when things are most precarious for the organization.

This seems to be common in other industries with liquid job markets and little financial benefit to staying in one company over another, ex young people in low-end retail jobs who live at home


One nitpick: we never asked for participation trophies. It was the last generation that invented that and foisted it on it.

Neither I nor any one of my peers ever liked "everyone's a winner" day, but when you're kids in school you kinda go along with what the adults say.

The rest, I agree with you. I just think it's important to make it clear that, especially when you're young and inexperienced, you're much more susceptible to other people telling you your job is your life.

Not that it's impossible to get past that, other people feeding us that garbage, but most of us aren't that clued into the world at a young age.


There's still a huge divide in terms of talent, the vast majority of programming jobs outside silicon valley seem to be working on legacy code that is terribly architected (think Java apps written in a procedural style, etc) whereas top companies are making full use of more modern approaches and tools. It will be a very long time things even out and programming jobs are similar across the board.


> the vast majority of programming jobs outside silicon valley seem to be working on legacy code that is terribly architected

How can you say things like this? The internet is the great equalizer of distances; it does not matter what geographic location you live in, you could be working on anything.

On a sidenote, I can't tell if you are trying to be deliberately offensive or if you're someone who's never left SV.


>How can you say things like this? The internet is the great equalizer of distances; it does not matter what geographic location you live in, you could be working on anything.

It really is not. Culture matters. If you're from a conservative place, your boss and colleagues are likely to be conservative. It'll be JEE for you until the end of time.


Generally I don't necessarily think top companies are the ones using the newer stacks, with the exclusion of a few technology companies, but it's more so the newer companies that are.

Once a company builds a system, they don't want to spend to build it again. They'll bandaid the hell out of it. As long as it's doing what it's supposed to do. They're like farmers with these old beat to hell tractors. They're ugly and bitchy but they work, why spend $100K on a new one?


> legacy code that is terribly architected (think Java apps written in a procedural style, etc)

If anything, the hallmark of legacy Java is excessive object orientation for the sake of it. FactoryFactoryFactories. By comparison, in these more enlightened times, a class method to construct an instance may occasionally be countenanced without the programmer being burnt at the stake.


You don't have to like your job, but it's perfectly reasonable to expect equitable treatment and a non-hazardous work setup.

Injuries from bad ergonomics are real. I am dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck from 10 years of this and some days can barely sit up straight.

I get that there are people starving in China. It's not an issue of wanting a perfect job. I actually used to really enjoy my work before the pain started, and it all could have been avoided. I don't blame my employers for my injury, but I do wish ergonomics had more importance in dev culture.


The author says she didn't bring it up since she was afraid it would negatively impact her career. While I can certainly understand this is a real fear that is grounded in reality, I also feel that she has a responsibility to lift the issue internally to get appropriate furniture, tools (eg ergonomic keyboard), and treatment.


You can only expect to be taken seriously for requests like that if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition. By then, you've already experienced significant pain, so the damage has been done.

Ergonomics for developers is difficult. Damage sets in so slowly that you don't really notice it until it's too late.


>You can only expect to be taken seriously for requests like that if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition

If their default setup is bad (crappy chairs, etc), and they have the attitude you mentioned, do not work there.

For me, it would be a condition of employment to get me a proper chair and desk.


By the time you've been diagnosed, its possibly already too late.

I bought a Kinesis Advantage2 (and foot pedal) earlier this year and after a few months of using it, I wish I'd got one years ago. I feel much less typing strain.


The number of $1000+ Herman Miller chairs and standup desks I see tells me that they pay more than lip service to ergonomics.


Your company sounds like an exception, although I'd argue that "just stand up, then" is more of a cop-out than a solution.


There's another side of this story as well though. The consequence of having more intellectually challenging work to solve is that by the end of the day you're brain fried. For most people the only way you're really going to get anywhere in life is by staking it out on your own at some point. If you're not earning enough money to save away a sufficient stash, that means you need to be working your day job while also starting up your own project at home. In some cases this might be impossible due to the absurd contracts some companies expect devs to sign (all your work, even on your time off, belongs to them) and even when it's possible, it's made extremely difficult by the draining nature of more interesting work. Less interesting jobs may not be as satisfying in the short run, but can leave you with more energy to pursue what you actually want to do in the long run.


I have this problem as well. I would see people who sit in meetings and send emails do very low-effort work all day, and think they were working hard. When a former manager started cracking down on developers walking outside to cool down and think or spending any idle time, I started putting the similar amount of thought and mental effort into my job, to get 8 full hours of 'work' done without burning out. During this period, I got basically nothing that wasn't super routine done. Any minor hinge in development would take days or weeks to work through instead of a few hours. Said manager was perplexed and began complaining constantly about how the pace of development was slowing down and that milestones were being missed.


For me, intellectually challenging work is invigorating. I don't feel "brain fried".


I have quite a lot of autonomy now, but most programing positions don't have much autonomy. Between scrum, code review, management and architects, there is very little that is "on you".


Seriously tons of programmers just churn through tickets written by other people all day, its 100% process, they're part of an assembly line.


if you have to work for money, it's important to find a job you enjoy doing. not find a job doing something you enjoy, that's one of the worst things you can do. in my experience, that just turns something you enjoy into another chore.

but finding a job you enjoy doing is important. i spent years as a programmer just feeling sick. programming is something i enjoy, but not a job i enjoy doing, and working that job made me miserable in all the ways you're assigning to non-tech work. now i'm a janitor and i feel like a human being again. it's less money, but it's totally worth it.

trouble is, you need to work a job to know how apt you are for it. but then, to get into most classes of work, you need to spend the money to train yourself, with help from the general public perhaps. maybe you'll get a job, maybe not; maybe it'll be good for you and you for it, maybe not. it seems like a pretty sweet deal for the job creators though-- but i'm straying off-topic.


Some people in the industry in certain countries are definitely lucky, but as an industry we don't have it good. I mean most people can't get jobs in large corporations in the US and save enough money to leave in 5-10 years.


I feel the same as the author about software jobs. I love CS, coding, architecture, and UX design more than just about anything. I spend at least 60 hours coding most weeks, and mostly for the love of it. But I dearly hope that I never have to go to work at a company, any company, ever again. I've happily accepted a very minimal standard of living to help ensure that.

There are a lot of top comments here already that sound like "keep quiet and stop being ungrateful." Well, being grateful for what you have is good for your mental health in general, but it isn't the answer to everything. Otherwise, why have any preferences?

Obviously, I feel this way because of my experiences in the workplace, and you feel differently because of yours. Sorry, but ditch-digging is not universally a worse deal than a software job. I put in 4 years at Walmart, during which I cleaned a lot of shit and vomit off floors and walls, pushed carts through snow in the northeast winters, and physically exerted myself to exhaustion regularly. Yet I was never very unhappy. I never got anywhere close to the raw misery and near mental breakdowns I experienced in several of my developer jobs.

I would have expected more of us to understand all too well why dev jobs can be truly terrible, stressful, unrewarding, and dis-empowering. If you feel lucky to be in this line of work, maybe you are lucky, but not every software engineer is lucky to have their job.


"""Sorry, but ditch-digging is not universally a worse deal than a software job. I put in 4 years at Walmart, during which I cleaned a lot of shit and vomit off floors and walls, pushed carts through snow in the northeast winters, and physically exerted myself to exhaustion regularly. Yet I was never very unhappy. I never got anywhere close to the raw misery and near mental breakdowns I experienced in several of my developer jobs."""

So True, money is good in our industry, but sometimes the stress that comes with it is nowhere worth it. We spend our health earning money and once we are rich, spend our money trying to regain our health lol.


I think there is really something to be said for the simple satisfaction of doing almost the same thing everyday and never having expectations change. You leave your job when you clock out.

Constant deadlines can and will wear on you over time. Pressure to meet those deadlines while solving problems in which the completion time has been guessed and the people setting the deadlines don’t seem to get that creates a lot of stress.

It’s honestly made me want to get into dev management just because I feel like I could to more to help dev teams run smoothly than I can as a single developer.


I read the article; I'm not sure this is so much a criticism of the industry as it is an examination of this developer's personal anecdotal experience.

As developers, we lead a very charmed life that others sometimes aren't even born with the chance to intellectually compete for; the author neglects to address how lucky we are to be able to do this at all, let alone to then find employment in it. If it's not an industry that benefits you holistically, find something you love that doesn't strain your neck or involve gender-politics- dentistry for example, or maybe upholstery or culinary arts.

Personally, it's the hundreds of days spent in a dish pit, and burning my hands on a hot grill for 12 hours every night that gives me the ability and patience to appreciate this opportunity we have, and all of the different elements of it. I've had very few experiences in life that afford me this type of luxury or time to examine my surroundings and then have time to compose them in words for others to read. This doesn't make the author wrong, this makes our perspectives different, and perhaps a tour of duty in other professions would benefit the author.


This one hits hard. As a front end developer, when people ask what I do, I say "I make buttons". Red buttons, blue buttons, big buttons, small buttons. Any kind of button you can imagine. I spend my life making buttons light up on a colorful screen. And then people click on those buttons and I get paid an obscene amount of money for it.

I'm not sure if this is how people are supposed to live. It's driving me mad.

But then I get home, order a burrito on Postmates, and am horrified at the thought of ending up as this guy delivering me a burrito at 3AM to make his rent. So I wake up the next morning to do it all over again. As a mediocre self taught developer without even a high school degree, I know I'll be right back there once the market turns down, so I don't really have the luxury of considering anything else.


"I spend my life making buttons light up on a colorful screen."

Anything can be cynically reduced to some absurd description. You do your (very sensible) argument a disservice by doing that.


"Stamping out widgets" is the classic industrial equivalent, and the idea certainly dates back to the first craftspeople.

For instance, when their whole work is considered, nurses are essential, but their work can be similarly reduced to shuffling things around.


Don't craftspeople literally reproduce the same thing?

Reproducing the exact same button is as easy as ctrl-c,ctrl-v


I make crud apps, but shiny.


This hit a nerve. I think I hate my life as a developer, but then I see this janitor, in our office, cleaning the floor and windows, cleaning and unblocking the toilets, etc., and is always greeting me with a smile.

Makes me wonder why I deserve to be living such s luxurious life, while this guy has to spend his days waking up probably around 5am, commuting for a hour just to clean somebody else’s shit just to earn 1/3 of what I do.


I think a janitor has some advantages going for him which are pretty rare in our thing, as well as fewer issues overall.

For example, the janitor probably has concrete and relatively unchanging definitions of success in his work. His job has tangible effects every day on those he provides his service to. There aren't many janitorial meetings. He probably doesn't have to massage the ego of his boss. To my knowledge, there are no Sanitation Reviews where some coworker will criticize him for not following the One True Sanitation Style or the latest fad in Toilet Driven Development. His profession is not constantly put in the critical spotlight by the media as a front line in the culture wars. There's no such phrase as "janitor bro" which people use to stereotype and demean them.

Focusing just on "I make $X, they make $X/4, how can I complain" downplays a lot of conditions which can make some people in this line of work very bitter about it.


I agree. I've simultaneously worked as both a janitor and a developer to make ends meet. The main benefit for me working a labor job was that it was easier to switch off my brain at the end of the day. Personally I'd rather be physically exhausted then mentally drained, stressed and have it impact my sleep and mental health once the day is over. Physical work gives you a sense of satisfaction that you don't get from staring at a screen for 8 hours a day .


PCBS pay..


I’m a pretty good dev not getting paid enough - where do you work?


Shittier jobs I've had than a desk job:

5-6 hours a day biking in -15C snow with wet feet (Mailman).

8 hours a day moving chips one by one in and out of an EPROM writer because it was cheaper to have me do that than pay the extra 2c to have them preprogrammed. The chips were 25c without programming and 27c with. (Ericson subcontractor).

And I am privileged as hell, coming from Sweden with a good education and a family I can rely on.

I think the point of burning out on work is relatable still. It is not fun to work long hours of anything, and it is even less fun when something you used to do for entertainment turns into a chore. But I'm pretty happy with my desk job in the software industry because the other jobs Ive seen have been a lot less nice.


I'm a developer and still a mailman in Canada in the freezing rain and snow because that indexed pension is just too good to give up, plus they let you do awesome things like bank all your overtime so you can take more days off. I had one month off paid this year in addition to my regular 5 weeks off. Before my shift these days I program for a university medical research lab, which isn't highly paid but it's satisfying work where you are always learning something, and they keep writing me letters of recommendation so I keep picking up new research contracts when one ends. Very casual environment, coworker post-doc's are helpful to bleed for information, no performance bonus paperwork to fill out or bosses harassing me with nonsense the lead researchers thankfully take care of that.

Before I was working remotely for various companies and hated it as the unpaid hours kept growing with ridiculous meetings and paperwork. Their management kept sending me these surveys to fill out and very long emails and slack distractions that always required immediate attention so the job became more trouble than it was worth and I quit. My criteria for work these days is "Will they lay me off in X years?" and "How much mandatory overtime is there?" nothing else really matters including the pay being below average.


> I'm a developer and still a mailman in Canada.... Before my shift these days I program for a university medical research lab.

So your mailman job is a full-time job and the programming job is part-time? Or is it the other way around? Or are both part-time?

Asking because part-time jobs in software engineering are quite hard to come by, atleast in the US.


Check universities, because P/T developer work is in abundance here usually weekends or remote once you get to know the researchers you work with, showing up on odd weekends. These contracts pay less than industry but the education you receive working with post-doc's imho makes it worth it and it's still more than a livable wage. CompSci dept students don't often apply for whatever reasons, I suspect it's because they are chasing internships at big money corps.


Yep, this is true. In fact the only software dev work I've been paid to do in 2 years has been part-time a uni in Manitoba working with a post-doc there. It's way more rewarding overall than anything I've been fired for doing in an office somewhere accounting for my story points.


Do I know you?


> 5-6 hours a day biking in -15C snow with wet feet (Mailman).

As a Swede, aren't you familiar with the saying "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes"? :-)

I did spend one summer planting trees in Sweden. It was miserable, but in a good way: I'd sleep well every night. I'm not sure how well I'd put up with something like that over an extended period of time though.


Hehe, yeah. It is a pain in the ass to try to cycle in anything other than sneakers though imo. Especially when you need to get off the bike and run up stairs fairly often. Better to be cold and wet than be on the bike in boots.

It was actually a good job most days. Certainly made me more fit than before. I think most work is like that right? Some crappy things and some cool things. But like you say, doing that for 20 years or more I am not sure about.

I did it for a year and a half full time and then part time for two years while working on a CS degree.


Another Swede, was very fun to see that you got a job at Blizzard Entertainment. :D Childhood dread come true?


Typo or intentionally funny? Good either way.


:). Yeah I grew up on Blizzard games, so it has been cool to get to work for a company I respect and admire.


"It is not fun to work long hours of anything, and it is even less fun when something you used to do for entertainment turns into a chore."

This is exactly why I quit photography: it was a passion in which I indulged in my own time that became a job when I didn't say no to friends (and then their friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers) who wanted me to photograph their wedding or similar "on your feet 12 hours" types of events. Fortunately I have this programming thing on which to fall back. :-)


Also the fact that the market is over-saturated and nobody needs a photographer because literally anyone can point an iPhone at whatever they like and get a perfect photo.

Photography was hard in the 80s when you had to do your own lighting and process and develop film. Not anymore.


I held a similar opinion until I saw an amazing wedding photographer work her magic. That was a highly skilled job with a lot of work and effort and knowledge at play.


Easy to do, but hard to do well. And as a layperson in the photography world it's hard to know what you're missing until you compare an amateur and a professional side-by-side.


I don't see how the 2c saving per chip, multiplied by any reasonable number of chips a person can swap in and out could pay for the work (in the so-called developed world, at that)? There are other good reasons to be doing that, like nearly instant turnaround time if a change in the firmware occurs in early production runs.


Yeah there was a sizing thing to it too. It was for a specific build of headsets that didnt go out in huge numbers each batch, so buying in bulk was risky and the lead time from Taiwan was significant.

You can do a lot of chips in a day though, I did around 10k per day if I remember right, so there was still some profit.


[dead]


>your family or your nation worked hard for that

That is the definition of being privileged.


Being privileged also includes not having powerful people working against your, your family's, or your country's success, for example serf-owning European aristocrats, unethical monopolists, Jim Crow laws, or the US government overthrowing your democracy.


Not in a negative sense he implied.


I was a furniture upholsterer. It was super interesting, good exercise, and really required a lot of analytic thinking. I loved upholstery. However, I wasn't able to support a wife and kid on an upholsterer's paycheck. An employee upholsterer starts at $10/hour for a junior up to a high-range of $20/hr for 10+ years experience. Now I'm a software developer making multiples higher more income. I like it OK and I can provide a cushy life for my family.

Upholstery was the best. I miss upholstery. I don't see any way I could feasibly switch back to it, though.


Interesting you mentioned your story about going from upholsterer to software engineer. It looks like the OP of the medium post is going the other way around...

> The good news is I basically already did win the lottery. I built up savings working as a developer which allowed me to quit.

> .... but now gives me a landing pad where I can take some time to really do what I love. Ample time with people I care about.

> In January I’m starting a leatherwork vocational program.

So maybe a year from now, she'll experience what you experienced, i.e. low wages / income and decide to come back to the 'cushy' life

and follow up with another blog post titled "I just not want to be a leather worker any more."


I started getting a little dissatisfied with programming during university, and decided to become an Emergency Medical Technician because medicine had always interested me. I thought it would be a far more meaningful experience, but it drove me back to programming very quickly.

The majority of calls were rather pointless in terms of impact. Patients were generally in a state where nothing you did would make a difference, whether that was because they we're beyond help or didn't really need your help in the first place. The calls where you did make a difference we're generally so traumatic anyways that I preferred to try and forget about them.

In my area, pay was about 12 to 15 USD per hour. It wasn't worth it to me to dodge bodily fluids, risk throwing your back out lifting stretchers (those things are heavy even without a patient!), and above all, get an incredibly depressing view of humanity. I worked in a low-income area and above all it was just sad.

Granted, I was 22 years old and probably a little too immature for the work. I worked with some of the most burnt-out, cynical people I can imagine, but also some of the kindest, most-dedicated individuals I have ever met in my life. I moved back in with my parents to catch up on programming and got into software dev without any issues.

I worked in consulting for three years and it was incredibly stressful. I learned a lot working on a wide variety of projects, but there were also weeks of working 70+ hours. I began resorting to substance abuse to deal with burnout.

Now I work as the sole developer for a small organization. I don't learn as much in my day-to-day activities as I did as a consultant, but the work is not stressful and I have incredibly supportive coworkers.

I am less stressed but not satisfied with my job. Cars have become a passion of mine, I debate becoming a mechanic now at least once a week. I would get paid far less, but there is something incredibly satisfying about working on cars. It feels a lot more meaningful to me.


> cushy life

Nice upholstery pun :D


[flagged]


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It's not too much to ask for equitable pay or a non-hazardous environment.

Gratitude for something doesn't necessitate being blind to ways that thing could be improved.


Equitable pay = Equitable job security

Look at any unemployment chart since 80's and women have better job security than men. And the difference typically increases a lot in economic depression.


However we do live in a world where we have to prioritize because we each have finite time. The social issues of tech work will never be as dire as issues of poverty, child welfare or health care. Our privilege blinds us to this.


I hate this attitude. Well hate is not nearly a strong enough word for my sentiment, but I refuse to feel unearned guilt over somebody else not having what I have. I will work on improving my life and then they can work on improving theirs. I might have cared, once, but I have been hit in the head so much with attitudes like yours that I just don't care anymore.


Exactly, and even if you did, why would that unearned guilt stop you from being concerned about yourself and the people directly around you?


Just acknowledging a problem exists takes practically zero time.


I think it significant that you are not making a comparison to other intellectually demanding professions. A short order cook's worklife is worse than software workers, therefore let us be grateful. (The other day I made the same remark to a co-worker as we passed the guard in the lobby. "We're lucky!") It is true. Software development is indeed the best /blue collar/ career out there.

Software engineers need to look into work conditions of other intellectually demanding professions that meet the "charmed life" criteria you mention.


Just because other people have it worse, doesn't necessarily mean you have to settle for something that causes you unhappiness/stress/burnout. Yes, we are absolutely lucky and privileged, but the industry isn't all rosy either and there are lots of frustrated, unhappy and burntout developers out there.


Yes, yes, and yes. (I think you missed the point.)


I don't think the comparison is to the service industry, but rather to other in demand jobs that require the same level of education and don't get pushed into some kind of massive grind based on artificial deadlines.

If you get into software because you love the work, but then find out at this particular company, their goal is to make the work more boring and predictable than accounting. Only they also decide that you have to do this boring stuff for 50+ hours a week in order to meet whatever deadline they told their executives, you'd probably think about a different field as well.

It really depends on the company, on the freedom you get to do your job, and the kinds of problems you are allowed to work on. And the choices many people are given is to either work at an established company where all of the interesting work is locked up by the Senior people who will never leave, or work at a "scrappy" startup that doesn't have the budget to hire a reasonable number of people, doesn't know how to make a realistic timeline, and may not be there in a few years. It's possible to find a job or company with the right mix, but if you don't luck into one of those, the industry really can feel like a mug's game.


This reminds me of an amusing post that is... Well, not exactly a rebuttal as much as a re-framing:

> Every friend I have with a job that involves picking up something heavier than a laptop more than twice a week eventually finds a way to slip something like this into conversation: "Bro, you don't work hard. I just worked a 4700-hour week digging a tunnel under Mordor with a screwdriver."

https://gizmodo.com/programming-sucks-why-a-job-in-coding-is...


Dentistry is far from easy on the body and mind - high suicide rates, high toll on the body. Many if not most older dentists have some kind of physical ailment related to their job.


Realistically though, most of us working as developers wouldn't be working in a restaurant though instead. With a degree in maths, I would have probably ended up in something like statistics, science, finance or teaching. Not saying that those are better areas to be in (and one of the reasons that I work half-time is that I don't want to be more sedentary than I am) but it feels like a weird comparison for me.


I actually was working as a grocery clerk, then in a mail room. There are a lot of developers without degrees in the world. I was a nobody from nowhere and my vocational opportunities were pretty limited if I didn’t have the good luck of having a Commodore 64 when I was a kid.


We had a Commodore 64 when I was a kid. It was fun! I used to play games on it. That was the only thing I did on it - I guess I just didn’t know that you could do more than play games on it. Maybe I was a bit too young at the time, or the fact that it was gifted to my family who knew next to nothing about computers.

So I still ended up working at supermarkets and doing manual labour jobs until I was at university and started doing some tutoring.

I think it’s good to have had the experiences of doing some manual labour type jobs - it gives people context and perspective.


I think this piece needs to be taken with the context of the author’s work history which heavily colors her professional experience.

It’s easy to look up on LinkedIn. Once I saw it, her post made a ton more sense. I offer no value judgements as I know better than to do that (whether positive or negative, not interested in engaging).

But you can look for yourself.


> As developers, we lead a very charmed life that others sometimes aren't even born with the chance to intellectually compete for; the author neglects to address how lucky we are to be able to do this at all, let alone to then find employment in it.

As a normal, stupid person who interacts with coders frequently I find this to be not in the least unusual.

They simply don't understand what it is to be without a $4,000 apartment within walking distance of everything they could possibly want and so much money that figuring out what to do with it all is a real and ever present problem for them.

They love to humble brag about how the only people who shop at walmart are people who believe in despotic employment practices, never conceding to the fact that a lot of people shop there because they can't afford to pay $5 for a single apple (no seriously, at the Stanford Shopping Center there's a produce shop that sells a single apple for $5).


This is a perfect example of the tone that people (men) effect when they want to mask their own emotional reaction to feeling attacked with a veneer of logicism or scientificity. Simply state that her claims are anecdotal, and without even addressing the core of the argument you've managed to make them sound _unreasonable_. At least to those amenable to that kind of passive aggressive ad hominem.


The article author's claims are anecdotal by definition. She is recounting the story of why she doesn't want to be a software developer anymore. As readers, we can ask ourselves whether her story represents something that we feel is true in our own lives.

In a way, the comment you are replying to is at odds with article, and in a way the comment is in agreement with the article.

The comment you are replying to states that the physically demanding work that commenter is acquainted with is an alternative that makes software development seem like a good job choice. In that way, the commenter is disagreeing with the article author. However, the commenter also states that he is blessed by the ability to do software development style work. This is a sentiment that the article author shares, writing that she is blessed by the ability to build up enough money to safely try out other careers. In this way, both writers are in congruence.

I think you're reading sentiments that are not evident into the comment you are replying to. In my reading of that comment, there is nothing there that is attacking - just someone observing that they don't share the author's perspective, and explaining why. Bringing gender into the discussion also strikes me as an overreach. There is nothing about the subject that is related to gender - the article author is disenchanted with software development and wants a different career. The commenter, having had a less pleasant career first, prefers software development with it's flaws.

As a final note, I believe the word you are looking for is "affect" and not "effect" - if you mean that men are adopting a tone in order to make an impression on others.


I believe it's effect. Check out the verb section. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/effect

But, once again, nice side ad hominem. Keep 'em coming.

-edit:

Here's the thing, I'm a dude, and I have worked construction and agricultural jobs. I'm not pissed because I personally feel attacked. I'm pissed because I consider HN one of the most intellectually-honest fora online, but whenever gender politics comes up, the pretense of intellectual honesty gets used as a weapon. I get pissed at what I truly perceive to be intellectual dishonesty, I really dislike it, because I love the truth.

One truth is that telling somebody to find a new job if they don't want to have to deal with neck strain or gender politics is clearly a dig at the woman's femininity.

Another truth is that intimidation is not meant to be felt by those exercising it (Pierre Bourdieu, in paraphrase). So of course men aren't going to naturally "feel" intimidated by a subtle implication that a woman is not up to the physicality of many jobs, or that she's being too sensitive. The dig wasn't aimed at them.

So, yeah, I'm bugged. But I'm bugged because I'm convinced that the HN community (as a whole) is just plain wrong on this point, and they continue to be, despite any new information that comes their way.


The "verb" section has two definitions for effect.

>1. To make or bring about; to implement.

>2. Misspelling of affect.

I believe the second one is the relevant definition here. Compare that to google's verb definition of affect:

>1. pretend to have or feel (something).

>2. use, wear, or assume (something) pretentiously or so as to make an impression on others.

Which seems a much more natural fit for your usage.

I don't intend this as an ad hominem. I'm not saying your argument is wrong because you misspelled a word. Spelling and grammar mistakes happen. In fact, another commenter has pointed out one of mine in this thread. I just know that the distinction between affect and effect is tricky, and wanted to point it out as I want my own mistakes pointed out so I can stop making them and become better.

>One truth is that telling somebody to find a new job if they don't want to have to deal with neck strain or gender politics is clearly a dig at the woman's femininity.

My reading of this line is that it is a repetition of the theme of the comment - software development has flaws, but these flaws, in the commenter's experience, are better than in other fields. For example, one might imagine a dentist strains his/her neck while staring down into the mouths of patients for long periods, or a pursuer of the culinary arts will be exposed to variations of gender discrimination less refined than the writings of James Damore.

>of course men aren't going to naturally "feel" intimidated by a subtle implication that a woman is not up to the physicality of many jobs, or that she's being too sensitive

The commenter is not suggesting that the article is not physically "up to" the demands of software development. The article author is saying so when she writes that:

>Over the past decade it has worn me down. I have regular painful migraines triggered by working long hours. I have the beginnings of arthritis in my neck. I’ve tried standing desks, balance board desks, treadmill desks, special diets, exercising more before and after work. Doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists of every stripe. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars. I’ve hidden it because I was afraid it would make me unemployable. I’ve worked those long hours in intense pain

There is no shame or element of sexism in one individual being physically incapable or physically hurt by certain types of activities.


Well, I'll be damned. You are right about the affect/effect thing.


> with it's flaws.

> As a final note, I believe the word you are looking for is "affect" and not "effect"

A nice example of Skitt's Law.

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/skitt-s-law


Thanks for the correction. I typed the previous comment on my mobile, and the autocomplete there is quite confident with apostrophe insertion, which I don't always notice and correct.

You are incorrect though regarding Skitt's Law - this sequence of posts is not an example of it. My comment is mainly about the subject under discussion, with a post script correction on a tricky spelling error. Your comment, which is purely a correction of a common spelling mistake, contains no errors so far as I can tell. Thus, you are the spelling pedant in this situation (even implying I should be embarrassed for making a spelling mistake) and yet, you have no spelling errors - exactly disproving Skitt's Law.


By definition, her account of this is anecdotal.


I did't read that comment as passive aggressive or sexist. Maybe my SJW-meter is miscalibrated.


Please don't respond to a provocative comment with still more flamebait. That's exactly the wrong direction to take a thread.


I too spent 10+ years as a professional software developer before I decided I just didn't want to do it any longer. I still love "hobby coding", as the author calls it, but production/professional software development is entirely different.

Luckily, I stumbled into a job in the "solutions" genre: i.e. solutions architect, solutions consultant, pre-sales engineer, technical account manager, etc. There are subtle differences between these jobs, but they all require a fairly high level of technical knowledge, but also require soft skills and business acumen. I found this was the sweet spot for me. I'm able to stay close to technology without the immense pressure of professional software development. Plus, I get to learn more about the big picture, business operations, my clients needs, grow my network, etc.

I still hobby code in the evenings, out of pure enjoyment, and the knowledge I gain helps me do my day job better. It's the perfect situation. If you're over professional software development, try a "solutions" gig.


Thank you! This is exactly where I'd prefer moving too!


Coming from a country with cushy laws on the side of employees etc (the Netherlands), and as a male, I can say that I can really identify with the opening paragraphs of this piece.

When I started as all round IT guy 10 years ago it felt like a dream, getting payed for doing what I was doing anyway. And the first 4 years of turning in to a web developer was fun and challenging.

But after a while the shine wears off and getting up every day to make software for clients you are not interested in, with deadlines and promises that where not made by your self, it just drains you.

After finding my own solution (starting up a beer brewery) another thing dawned, sitting behind a computer hours every day for work just is not good for your body or your mind. The money is great, the work can be fun, but at least for me, the best thing I have ever done is starting something totally non-IT (or other office job) related.


My dream would be to have a house in a tropical country with a nice big garden and inside the house have a nice office. Inside the office I would work part-time for clients, part-time for myself (on games). Or perhaps only for myself, if my own projects would provide me enough income. Additionally, the garden would be used as a farm. I would divide my time between farming groceries and fruits and work on some apps or games. I would also like to have plenty of time to spend with my girlfriend and daughter. Do enjoyable things together often, because you never really know when you will die (or your significant other, or your children) - so you really have to try to make most of the little time you have in this life.

As a software developer it's probably easier to achieve your dreams in life compared to many other professions. When living in a country like The Netherlands you can get decent pay as a freelancer and safe money for future dreams.

I've already made the first step to achieve my ideal work/life balance. I am building a house in a tropical country right now. Currently the garden is small, but I am sure in the future I can buy some land from neighbours that will serve as a nice farm. Since the standards of life are lower in this tropical country (average income around 500 EUR / month), it means I can work less if I find a decent paying online job and hopefully can find better work/life balance, while still earning plenty of money for good hospital care (if needed) or pension.

Most people are not able to make these kinds of choices. Being a software developer is really a luxury. Because you _can_ really have more freedom if you choose to.


In only a vaguely related tangent, was it at all challenging to immigrate to the country? I've been thinking about these sorts of possibilities but for the most part there always seems to be some challenging aspect to long-term residence. I'm from Canada, and am thinking about various countries in Europe and the tropics.


My emigration will happen officially next year. For me there would be several ways to make this emigration work:

- I could get married to my girlfriend, this would give me a marriage visa.

- I can pay for a special type of visa with a certain duration (choices are 5, 10, 20 years). A 5-year visa would cost around 10.000 EUR or 8 EUR / day and gives some extra benefits, like yearly health check-ups at a major hospital, free limousine service near airport, preferred treatment at airport (not wait in long queues), legal help, etc...

- From 50+ years one can get a retirement visa (but I am only 36 years old, so this doesn't apply to me).

- I can work for a company inside the country and get a work visa. Easily do-able as a software developer, but obviously will earn a lot less compared to North Western Europe. But earning 2.500 EUR a month as software dev is still a lot, about 5x the average income.

- At least one company allows you to freelance and they handle taxes for you and give you a work permit. But all invoices should be handled through this company and they take a 30% cut.

There are some other ways as well, like an investor visa if you invest a large amount of money in the country.

I will go for the second option for now, pay for the 5-year visa. After 5 years I could extend this with a 10-year visa. And from then on I can use a retirement visa.


Thanks for the overview. I wasn't aware there were purely transactional visas like that.

Having explored options for a variety of countries, as a software developer without a degree there aren't a lot of options outside marriage, investment, and ancestry.


which country is this?


Thailand. The paid visa plan is called Thailand Elite[0]. Apparently there should also be some sort of new visa that could be useful for digital nomads introduced in 2018 [1]. The company that can provide a work permit in exchange if 30% of your invoice is called IGLU [2].

By the way, after staying 5 or 10 year inside the country, one can apply for a Thai citizenship, which is something I will consider [3].

---

[0]: https://thailandelite.org

[1]: https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/997836-4-year-professio...

[2]: https://iglu.net

[3]: https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/121353-story-of-my-thai...


Thank you for sharing this. While it's good to be appreciative of our relative privilege in this market compared to other labor markets, it's nice to hear people admit that being a software engineer does nothing for your social or emotional growth. Sitting in front of screen day after day with little social interaction or meaningful collaboration takes a toll on you, no matter how much you're getting paid.

My exit plan is to become a landlord. I love fixing houses and there's something very satisfying about being able to physically experience the product of your work (unlike software, which is mostly abstract). I will probably need to work for another 5 years in order to build up enough rental income in order to justify quitting this industry, but it will be worth it. I would be absolutely miserable if I had to write software for the rest of my life.


See my comment (in my history). I'm literally doing the same thing. Piece of advice: Max out your 401k every year and use a ROBS (rollover for business startup) to fund it tax free. It's complicated but totally worth it.


I've heard that taking that approach comes with a lot of a rules on how you can use your money. For example, if you make a profit from rent, you can't take it out in cash (it has to be reinvested into the business). Also, if you want to make an improvement to your property, you are required to hire someone to do the work instead of doing it yourself.

I could be totally wrong about this because I haven't done a lot of research. My plan is to use regular cash for down payments on traditional mortgages. I haven't decided what to do with my 401k yet, but I definitely want to use it even if that means paying the fee to pull it out in cash.


Before you commit to paying the early withdrawl taxes and penalties, do what i did; hire a lawyer that deals with erisa law. The legal advice I've been given doesn't match up with what you're saying, but I will certainly ask about it in my next conference.

edit: here is some info, but still make sure you get a lawyer. Also regarding taking the money out, it's true that you can't just spend it. This is due to the necessary structure of the business - a c corp. You can, however, take a salary once your business becomes profitable.

https://www.biggerpockets.com/blogs/3441/52232-starting-a-re...

https://www.mysolo401k.net/401k-business-financing/


The number of ex-dev's i know who have started breweries is pretty high. Its like a career progression - software developer 10 years -> start micro-brewery


Haha yes a lot of breweries have been started by IT people over here too. To be fair, brewing includes some science, a lot of self learning and creativity, so there is some overlap there.

Not to mention the fact that until recently (over here at least) most beer festivals looked quite a bit like open source conventions, just with different stickers. And the "beer nerds" (including me) I know are just as in to beer as I was in to computers.


I think in craft beer their is definitely a taste race going on. In the beginning every American ipa tastes like Sierra Nevada.... now you get multiple styles and hoppiness. I’ve found myself unhappy with the maltiness of some craft beers now.


I'm glad that the obsession with IPAs has started to fade some.

The craft beer scene in Dallas has exploded recently, and somehow the local scene had ended up focusing on milk stouts. That's a wonderful thing IMO; I can't stand the taste of hops, and I detest IPAs, so I consider myself blessed to live in a city where the local craft beer scene cares mostly about creating something thick, dark, and sweet.


My degree was chemical engineering and brewing/distilling was part of that. So im the opposite and a developer now


The author may not have intended it as such, but what I read is a excellent argument for a shorter work week.

She writes that if she won the lottery she would still program, but fewer hours. And I wonder how her work related injuries would look if she had worked say six or five hours per day. I'm guessing a shorter work week would have been cheaper for both her and her employer and that she would have been more efficient at her job. There is certainly a price to be paid for working long hours, and for each additional hour you have a lower output. There are many companies that don't get this and (hopefully unconsciously) treat their employees like disposables. Work 'em to the bone and replace 'em when they break. Companies can easily form a toxic culture around working long hours.

I guess my point is that most people would probably be happier if they traded a little income for a little free time. And they may just find that it makes sense financially as well, both for individual and company.


To me the optimum would be two part time jobs. Two days a week doing job A, other two days doing B and three days off. Eggs in different baskets.

For companies it's often said that you should never rely on single customer. But it makes sense for companies to force employees to rely on single customer simply by buying all of their excess time.


There are a lot of answers here that say "there are so many worse jobs, and I've done some of them, so be grateful for the comparatively cushion job you have".

I can understand this, and it is great to have people working for you who are willing to push through whatever shit you give them.

On the other hand, great people really are about bending the context space to make seemingly large distances become small distances. Then you don't have to push through as much shit as you thought in the beginning.

You don't want to lose the second kind of people by creating work environments in which only the first kind of people can thrive.


To be honest I had started to hate programming and the industry overall until I started learning functional programming and about category theory, etc. It turns out I've been working on crap my whole career, at least in my opinion, and that's why most of my time has been spent fixing bugs, slowly adding new features while working around horrible design. Working on crappy software with crappy design and crappy developers is terrible but this isn't how it has to be. Now I don't ever see myself getting out of the industry as, even if I'm managing my own company or working as a manager for someone else, I'm always going to do some coding and manage things at the code level because it's fun when you're doing things right and it's also extremely important.


I couldn't agree more.

I've read that the people most satisfied in life are craftsmen who dedicate themselves to mastering a craft. There is not much craft in managing deadlines and customer commitments and such. It is necessary work but it is not creative.

On the other hand, crafting code is a creative activity. Even for the simplest projects you can appreciate the structure, and learn about the varying tradeoffs in complexity that are made by any particular design pattern. This type of thing is a very rich craft, and very satisfying to master.

The good news for us is that mastering this craft translates into satisfied deadlines and confidence in ability to deliver on customer commitments. We can be master craftsmen and be nearly guaranteed success in the knowledge economy, which is not a luxury of other crafts like art and writing.


I’ve held jobs where I was able to work on only greenfield projects with minimal oversight and the ability to put in 3-4 hour days if I wanted to, and I’ve held jobs like the blog post author’s, working on hellish enterprise CMSes.

I can say the former is incomparably better and makes you grow into a stronger, more fulfilled engineer. I think as long as I could support myself financially and keep living somewhat comfortably, I’d take a 30% paycut to work that way.


I agree. I always work for startup type companies and they end up getting acquired and the process changes from what worked great (enough to get acquired) to shackles and mud. I hold on as long as I can and move to another startup type company.

Big companies suck the soul and passion out of you. You really have to be careful. Any passionate developer that wants to get out of development was most likely crushed by large company process.


Looking at this paragraph:

>Because it’s not really “passion” they are looking for, but people who are merely willing to endure long hours. They aren’t really looking for the person who spends a few hours on the weekend on an open-source project, they are looking for the person who comes home from work and spends all night on it.

I feel that the author is describing a lot of startups or mid-sized companies. Personally, I think the size of the organization is not the best indicator of how rewarding your work there will be.


For me, it isn't necessarily the long hours that do me in, it's the overburdening process that strips any creativity or problem solving out of the trade.

I don't mind working long hours as long as they don't expect me to. I'll do it because I want to finish something cool and useful I'm working on, and move to the next cool and useful thing I get to create.

Also, my perspective is from outside SV. I don't have any desire to work there.


>I don't mind working long hours as long as they don't expect me to.

And there's the rub, there seems to be a tacit expectation at a lot of software-based SMBs that you should be staying longer. They justify it with a bunch of perks they can't afford, by applying not-so-subtle mental pressure (using the right phrases like 'we're a family', 'we're changing the world' 'we love it here so much we often stay later' and 'hustle and grind').

And at the end of the day, most of them are building yet another CRUD-heavy inventory app with some reporting feature thrown in.


>I was able to work on only greenfield projects with minimal oversight

I'm pretty sure those enterprise CMSes started out like this too...


What does that have to do with anything?


I think thats an important point. As someone on the back end of a career in software I look back at all the projects I was proud of and thought I crafted well, and in the end they turned out just like all the other large unmaintainable swamps that everyone complains about.

Not completely clear about this, but the industry seems structured in such a way that (most) everything ends up being a horrifying mess of hacks over time. For any codebase, you can see it fall over the cliff. Poorly chosen compromises are made. People lose track of whats going on. A simple joy with boundless possibilities turns into a pointless daily slog. A rewrite would be too expensive and risky. An incremental refactoring too unjustifiable. The passionate people leave, and the interns are left running the asylum, hating every minute.

I don't know what the answer is, but no one seems to want greenfield development anymore, probably for good reason. The prospect of picking up someone else rotten excreta is pretty unappealing.

So yes, I think its salient to point out that that terrible bloated CMS you're stuck trying to mush into shape was once someones bright and shining future.


Very nicely put, thank you!


This is a new trend of tech blogging. Complain on each and every thing. I have this, I'm this. I'm that. I have that. I'm goood. pretty much crux of the whole article. Software jobs are complex, demanding, which is mostly `reflected` in salaries. She has devoted half of article sniding/criticizing here male peers >It’s really hard to celebrate “women’s day” with free feminist speakers when I just found out some guy who does the same work as me is getting paid 20% more.

Well, many men who do the exact same work, don't get same money. Women/men in tech, imo are getting paid, whatever they could negotiate. I think, it's not about gender at all. I have never witnessed hiring manager not willing to pay because candidate is women/asian/white/black or purple. Is there backlash against women in tech? I think, not at all. As a matter of fact, companies now have quotas for women in dev/engineering and management positions. Equality.. that's some real double talk. Workplace is not a political place, which guarantees freedom of speech. It's a controlled environment, which tries to achieve business objective. On top of that, I feel like women criticizing men in workplace is acceptable, like calling them "jerk" in article. I feel like, dev community is fine with that. Is dev community fine with, men calling names to women in workplace, without any consequences? On the top, we all know what is modern feminism movement about it. I don't how as a male engineer, I'll be comfortable, a bunch cribbing about men all the time around me, neither would women feel comfortable when a bunch dude pushing the idea of men rights. Dude from google got fired for expressing his opinion. I'm not quite sure, what kind of workplace we are trying to envision.


I too am planning my departure from the tech industry. I've been at several major startups in the bay area and I've worked for large tech companies.

I'm one of those people who are completely self-taught and passionate about technology, and I'm good at what I do. For me its a creative outlet. However, the dark side to this is that I'm frequently taken advantage of. And like the author in the article, I often work alongside people who couldn't care less or be bothered with this stuff. To them, its just a job, and they are masters at putting in the least amount of effort. They'll look at you with some kind of wonderment and incredulity and question why you even care at all.

Working in big tech (and some startups) were the worst. You had very little creativity, and there are plenty of other engineers devoid of any ounce of talent that will be quick to identity you as different than them and summarily drown you in dozens of pointless code review comments to stall your work and demotivate you. You'll often be forced to work with antique tools, ancient code bases and languages you hate and that have no future. Throw in a territorial devops person and a manager who treats you like a basic I/O device for shits and giggles.

If you have a vision for anything you want to build, or have an idea, better forget it. You better not collide with your product manager or the loads of management above you that don't actually contribute in any meaningful way to the actual product. They'll isolate you from customers and if you do come up with something original they will work to make sure you don't get any recognition for your accomplishments.

Sometimes it won't even matter if you're an early employee at a startup that is successful. The investors will just bring in all their own management and put you in jail anyway. If you're lucky once you quit or get fired you might be able to only get away with paying $15k or $20k to exercise your worthless, unsaleable options. This entire industry is a pathetic joke. I'm passionate about it still but I only like working on my own projects and ideas.

Eventually, you just give up. Its better to work in another industry, I'm trying to get into the art/design industry myself.


Well, I don't know man. If I don't like something, I would try to change it. I'll do something on my own, but not give up career in tech. I have, had some terrible demotivating code reviews,too. It's pointless at times, but I would rather focus more on merits.

Product managers have their own contributions and most of the times direct feedback from the customers. If I'm not able to convince folks, assuming they're reasonable, I would consider it personal failing. And companies can't change the entire stack overnight, not even the most progressive companies do that. It requires carefully articulated discussion keeping an eye how it may impact production systems, cost and available expertise. There are times when people are rigid, unwilling to listen then change the job. Do not get disappointed.


> Working in big tech (and some startups) were the worst [..] a manager who treats you like a basic I/O device for shits and giggles.

The entire paragraph - had this exact experience in a low cost center of an American IT company in post-Communist EU country. Are these companies created out of a template? Are these managers and code-monkeys cloned in a factory and trained in the same place? If by a catastrophic decision I end up in such a place, how do I defend myself?


What's amazing is that perfectly good tech companies become the kind of hell you describe. Every single one --- it's just a matter of time.


If your job as a programmer is being measured by the hours you're putting in every day, you are experiencing a conflict of mission. I have a co-worker who never seems to be working yet he's one of the most productive people in the office. He works for 1 hour in the morning untangling a hairball in the code that creates 22 hours of productivity for the rest of the team. He's been programming since the 1980s. Stop this madness of applying 19th century industrial England's work "ethic" to the job of a programmer, please.


> Passion is prized in this industry and people who come into code out of love are considered special. It is also considered the reason why certain groups of people are less represented in tech, because not as many of them are building Linux machines in their basements for fun.

I apologize in advance for being time deaf / lack of empathy. But why is this surprising? The best musicians I know were obsessed with their guitar when they were 11 —- like I was with QBasic. Most professional musicians don’t start playing at 18 when they enter conservatory. I can’t even fathom a conservatory admitting a student who wasn’t already obsessed to some level. Is this a valid complaint of the music industry as well?


There's little demand to hear someone who isn't a top talent perform music. You can just go to a concert hall and watch someone world famous play with several hundred other audience members, or buy a recording. There is a lot of demand for simple custom business applications, and many people without an obsessive interest in the field are more than skilled enough to provide the product.


Very good point. Although many professional musicians aren’t selling out large venues, they are playing small gigs/lounges, which sounds similar to the custom business apps you describe.


If you replace 'developer' with plenty of other job roles, then everything here still applies.

There is /no/ job that allow you to ignore all risks a business has like a hobby does. That is the difference here.

>If I won the lottery would I still code? I would, but it would not be like work. It would be projects I enjoyed. And it would be fewer hours. >I took the developer job because the medical bills piled up

You want it to be a enjoyable job with lower hours, but you don't want deal with hardship that comes with it? You can't have it both ways.


It's hard for me to read articles like this. If you don't like working at a high paying tech job, please quit and dig trenches, drag brush, or pick lettuce for minimum wage and no benefits. Then come tell me how much it sucks to write fragments of code while sitting in your air conditioned office.


"If you don't like working at a high paying tech job, please quit and dig trenches, drag brush, or pick lettuce for minimum wage and no benefits."

Those trench diggers, brush draggers, and lettuce pickers are actually lucky and should be grateful for the jobs they have. If not, they should try picking through garbage to make their living, working in toxic mines, or defusing bombs.

There are always worse jobs than the one you've got. That doesn't mean your job doesn't suck, that you shouldn't complain or try to get a better one.


her job doesn't suck and frankly it doesn't get any better than what she has. The article pretty much boils do I have to do something unexciting because I need money. Welcome to the real world


Of course, we could fight for those people instead of dividing the working class but I digress.


It still sucks if you are passionate about it. Coding was a hell of a lot funner 20 years ago, before the dark times, before the MBAs.


...before the grammar police.


> As a developer I’ve often had trouble figuring out if a job would be Snow Crashy or not, and been seduced by promises of engaging work only to find myself ferreting out bugs on some enterprise CMS.

Some jobs are more engaging and some are less. In my experience, all dev jobs involve some time spent doing things that I don't consider fun, but the company needs done. Employers do usually sell the work as interesting and engaging for the person with the right skills.

Companies do tend to value the people that willingly take on the ugly stuff and get it done. Sometimes (but not always) those people are paid more. I think there are ways to make it more engaging, by studying the value of the less fun work and working to fix it. This might mean developing interests in and spending time doing some non-coding skills. And certainly there are also some jobs that don't have much to redeem them.

Does anyone have advice for identifying what portion of the work will be engaging during hiring interviews?


> ferreting out bugs on some enterprise CMS.

Yikes, that hits close to home. The job was sold to me as helping improve performance of a website with 1 million + daily visitors. Which I took care of in the first month.

Now I ferret out bugs on an enterprise CMS.


First of all. It is called Software engineering for a reason. Engineering means to handle big problems in a way they can be solved by a company in an efficient way.

Second, women earn 20% less in average, yes, but for the same position the earn the same as men. The problem is women in top positions. That is why companies don't go crazy to hire women because they are not cheaper (otherwise the company would be in a big legal problem).

Said so, maybe the author would be happier working for smaller companies with smaller products where she can have a bigger impact on the final product. Even so, it is very unlikely a single programmer would be in charge of product specification, design and development. Those are very different things, and even in a small startup there are specific roles for those positions.


The problem is women in top positions. That is why companies don't go crazy to hire women because they are not cheaper

That is not why women earn 20% less than men. It is because men work longer hours over longer periods of time than women do.


Anecdotal, but my experience has been women working much harder than men. And I say that as a male.


If you work longer hours that is your problem. You are paid to work a fixed amount of hours and the salary is linked to it, it doesn't matter what gender you are. So sorry to tell you but you sound like the typical guy women don't want to work with (neither me).


This crosses into personal attack, which is not allowed here. Please don't do it again.


Please explain how is this a personal attack as it wasn't my intention. And how saying that women earn less because men work more is ok to say.

And I am sorry to tell you but you supporting him saying those things and complaining about what I said is one of the reasons women are complaining so much about tech guys.


This is a personal attack:

> you sound like the typical guy women don't want to work with

You don't substantiate this claim with respect to why they "sounds like" this, what a "typical guy women don't want to work with" is, or why it matters in context to this thread - but decide to air this unflattering view anyway.


I didn't ask you. So I am not sure you are telling me the correct answer.

But I want to ask you something. How "That is not why women earn 20% less than men. It is because men work longer hours over longer periods of time than women do." is not disrespectful and how it was backed? Sorry but I cannot stand without doing anything with such claims, and it pisses me off that the mods here think my comment is a personal attack and the said claim (that is not supported by any reference and it is also false) can pass without problems.


I can only offer a guess at what dang thought was a personal attack, but I can opine on what is a personal attack independently.

There are different contexts in which different levels of evidence or backing might be supplied, but the first thing I noted is that you don't explain why the things you mention are relevant. "That is not why women earn 20% less than men", regardless of if it is true or false is clearly relevant to the discussion, but why is what someone "sounds like" relevant?

Also, there is enough information in the above claim to search on it - or at least the claim can be refuted and thus begin an exchange of evidence. But your claim is about the character of the anonymous person you are talking to. Claims about a population of people, brought up in a relevant context is not disrespectful (possibly, depending on the legitimacy of the claims, but that is yet to be decided); Making remarks out of context about an individual is entirely different.

> that is not supported by any reference and it is also false

Who says it's false? Just say you don't believe the claim, and ask for evidence, or make a counter-claim of your own.


> why is what someone "sounds like" relevant?

Because we live in a world where women are treated as less important/intelligent than men. And we must try not to promote that stereotype with lies.

> Claims about a population of people, brought up in a relevant context is not disrespectful

So things like "people is stupid", "most people here are male chauvinist", are ok to say? The context is that the author of the article makes some claim about how women are treated worse than men in tech.

> Who says it's false?

All the articles posted in HN about salaries. Every year stackoverflow makes a survey for developers where they analyze among other things the salaries (for example: https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2016#salary-gender) There is almost no gap in salary by gender with same years of expertise, the gap only happens with age, >35, where the position is important (it means less women in top positions). But this topic has been brought here over and over, it doesn't need to cite it all the time.

I repeat the question again: How "That is not why women earn 20% less than men. It is because men work longer hours over longer periods of time than women do." is not disrespectful and how it was backed?


> Because we live in a world..

We live in a world consisting of different, distinct societies and community groups. In some of those groups "women are treated as less important/intelligent than me"; But this is not true of all groups - so whose norms do we assume in online conversation?

> we must try not to promote that stereotype with lies

There is a difference between "sounds like" and "is". If you believe a lie is being told, refute it rather than attack a persons' character.

> So things like .. are ok to say?

In relevant context, if it exists, yes. Neither of those things seem like they would be relevant to this thread.

> All the articles posted in HN about salaries..

That's still something you had to provide evidence for, and couldn't just be assumed. So long as it's an objective subject, the personal attack is not justified.

Plus, there are HN articles that "debunk" the gender pay/wage gap too.

> the gap only happens with age, >35, where the position is important (it means less women in top positions)

Who says that's what it means. "over 35" means exactly just "over 35". Your interpretation that it's "top positions" as the relevant factor is just one explanation. "men work longer hours over longer periods of time" is another explanation, that is not refuted by your example.

The question wasn't backed, but neither was your own until just now (after the PA).

There is no way to definitively answer "How [the claim] is not disrespectful" since "disrespect" is subjective. It seems uncommon to treat something that is true or plausible as disrespectful though, so let's focus on plausibility instead.


It's kind of weird how people in the US seem to struggle with work life balance. I'm constantly working for US companies remote from outside the US and I can work +/-40 hours per week without any problem.


It took me a while to understand this also especially in the US where everyone complain all the time they work 80 hours a week, especially in tech. In my experience, only a very small fraction of those claiming to do >45hours a week are actually working that much.

I think for a lot it provides them a subconscious feeling of importance, and/or an excuse for failed goals in their personal life.


The trouble with programming is it is virtually impossible to measure. If I employ a brick layer I can count how many bricks they lay and whether the wall is straight.

Management in our industry doesn't have this luxury and programmers realise it. The inevitable result is people start to measure how long your seat is kept warm and use that as a poor proxy for productivity. You also start to see politics seeping into everything.

If you are lucky with your employer you might be able to avoid it but I think that is unusual.


I think some 45+ hr/wk employees really don’t know what else to do with their time, and working longer hours is the “easy” way out.


I can personally speak to this because during the times I was working long hours, I was avoiding some other aspects of a personal life and was using programming/work as an escape. This paints some of my perspective on seeing coworkers who are working these types of hours. I am unsure whether they are passionate or are avoiding other things.


My experience in financial services was that those that stayed the latest were the ones who liked their family/partner the least!


Remoting makes it much more tolerable. Driving 30 minutes to an hour every day to get to some office full of noise and interruptions for reasons really starts shitty, makes the day shitty and ends the day shitty.


What kind of applications or work do you do for them?


Mainly iOS development.


I think one perspective shift that needs to occur in tech is not of lowering some bar but recognition that many bars are unnecessarily high. Many interviews can end up selecting for group compatibility "Can she passionately discuss Haskell at our group outings." Rather than ability to do the job. It's actually "important" though as without group cohesion new people can find it difficult to get help and up to speed.

Though this sounds like an "immature" type of environment it's probably fairly common at different levels of extremeness. Male vocations tend to have less work/life balance with more meaning derived from work than other things like family/relationships/hobbies. The bar can't be lowered without draining a portion of meaning which exists primarily in arbitrary difficulty/moats/hazing-rituals.

Everyone just wants to feel good about themselves. But when that feeling can't be derived internally (like being able to choose and follow a hobby) the only option is externally derived feelings of usefulness which necessitate one-upping something. If it's not "I'm Ok" then it's "I'm better than you." If it's not about living then it has to be about winning.

And winning is the culture of young males striving for meaning in the world.


I hated working in the "software" industry until I quit doing typical enterprise website development and started doing web apps and games which is 99% Javascript.

Working with CMS' was especially awful. Complete lack of creativity and felt like it was mostly just hooking up inputs to outputs without anything in the middle. Even when there was some custom functionality required it was mostly copy paste jobs.

If I ever have to make another Wordpress theme I'll slit my fucking wrists


A heads up? Don't take a cabinet making workshop with an instructor passionate about what you can do with a plank of Birds Eye Maple, a router and a piece of sandpaper.

You may never look at another Javascript framework again. So DON'T take that class. You may do something crazy like quit your day job and make wooden bowls all day. And have way too much fun.

You don't want to have way too much fun. And don't get me started on glassblowing!

You can do pretty well on Etsy, and code on the side. And keep that grad degree in CompSci as Plan B. :-)


The thing that kills me is that these problems don't have to exist. A company that can afford to hire a developer full-time can also afford a decent ergonomic setup and equitable salaries for women. It's just that we have collectively made this kind of treatment okay, as evident in the majority of these comments.


This is why I have always enjoyed working for smaller companies. I've got to do lots of things, I'm a multi stack developer (tm), I code for embedded systems, Web, and Desktop. You build from scratch the things you need, you make "executive" decisions about technology stacks and generally do kind of hobby like stuff but in a proffesional way. You work with a few other individuals in the same boat and constantly have to innovate.

There are downsides, you rarely get to focus on one thing for any extended amount of time, so some of the bigger pieces of work get trickier to do. Often you come up with really good ideas that would be great to do but just go on the back burner.


How about if I say this: Just because other people have it worse, doesn't mean that software developers are privileged or lucky. Many don't enjoy it, but they've put in hard work to learn it. I don't like how the word privileged get's tossed around these days.


I'm leaving IT after 5 years to start a real estate company and work with my hands. I feel exactly the same way as the OP. Sitting on my butt for 6 years is wrecking my health and I hate the work.

I've saved lots of money and as long as I don't screw up my investments, I'll never have to work for anyone else again.

I love open source software and will continue to build and contribute to projects. I hate enterprise software and development culture and will never do it again. To each his own.


Same here, I was lucky to work on a successful project and now have enough money to be independent. I am also going to support free and open software (I actually released some of my code and helped with small pull requests and I am donating a bit already). I mostly use free software now.

Corporations often restrict us and try to gain control and advantage over us. Just look at closed bios/intel ME. Why the hell is such an elementary piece of computer closed?

I purhased an expensive coffee machine. It works fine, except I would like to do a few minor software tweaks (add a note for each coffee config button to differentiate between them). If it were open, it would be very easy. Now I will have to reverse-engineer it and hope it uses some kind of filesystem and that extending it won't be too much work...


Good for you. That's really exceptional that only after 5 years you can do that. I'm not even close after 10 :/


To be fair, I'm in a 2 income household and my spouse bought into the "save everything now, retire early" plan.


I basically lost my hobby (writing desktop applications) by turning it into a profession.

I successfully compensated that with game dev. I started writing little games, working on game engines, and tinkering around. I'm pretty happy with that now. I guess that happens to a lot of people when turning your hobby into sth. you do for your living.

And I also realized that humans are simply not made to sit 12+ hours a day. (Count the work time + spare time). So some kind of activity is recommended, I guess.

//Edit: However, it took my quite some years to figure out why I hadn't fun coding Desktop applications in my spare time any longer...


I'm a 40 year old male and have worked as a Front End Developer & Designer for the past 8 years who is scared about having to give up my IT career. I lost my last Govt IT job due to being bullied and harassed by a peer who I reported to management. Managements response wasn't until they went hostile, put me on a PIP and made my bully the judge of my performance.

I wonder has anyone ever faced something similar and or what would you do besides moving on/getting another job because I've been on 15 interviews and oddly haven't received any offers(anomaly for me).


Good luck to the author. And kudos to her that, despite all issues endured in the software industry, had a relatively good career.

Our industry is not easy, and I don't feel like saying that it's the worst. This is what bad management does, unfortunately.

If companies want to win they have to train management to be better and educate them regularly, implement a feedback system and act on it (no, collecting is not enough).

We have lost a resource, a person who got trained for years not only at school but also on the job. Why? Because we got her frustrated and demotivated. I blame it all on bad management.


I understand that a job gets boring and you have to do things you wouldn't choose to do yourself for decades on end, but that's what a job is.

And as a developers, we're pretty lucky that we're generally respected within our companies, well paid, have plenty of work/life flexibility, and have the ability to go solo and do our own thing on our own terms - all within what is mostly a meritocracy in that talent often trumps pedigree.

I make a living running a company that I bootstrapped 5 years ago. It was fun when I started, but I do find plenty of days where I'm feeling burnt out or uninterested. I'm reasonably certain that no matter what you're doing - if you do it long enough, you'll find things you don't like about it.

My only tip for anyone feeling this way is to look for microchallenges. If you're basically just fixing bugs in an established enterprise product, for example, find clever ways to improve the code, refactor code, make debugging easier, improve system stability and monitoring, etc. Perhaps find something that you could parlay into an open source project. There are plenty of fun little challenges that can align your personal and work life if you look for them.


This really hit home for me, and I personally know plenty of other dissatisfied software developers who would feel the same. It’s incredibly sad. And this doesn’t even take into account the problems female developers run into.

The biggest thing for me was the hours. I can’t stand “startup hours”. In my first three years of software development, I guess I lucked out because this wasn’t a problem. But after my first two jobs, I started taking in 9:30-6:30 and 10-7. When I interviewed elsewhere, I came across a new term. I was told “we work startup hours.” Some companies described it using different words, but the meaning was always the same. You’ll be here late, just like everybody else. If you don’t like it, don’t work here.

I got that from three out of the four companies I interviewed for. Not a huge sample size, but hugely demoralizing.

I became a consultant thinking billable hours might save me. It’s not perfect but it’s a hell of a lot better. Working long hours is no longer the norm, as it’s cinsidered “eating hours” and doing free work for clients.


That's why I have avoided working for huge companies so far. The pros of working for big company (including the Government which for this purpose is the same) are the benefits are usually pretty good, and if you're going to do decent job you probably will have decent job security - unless somebody 5 levels up decides to close your whole subdivision, in which case you're out no matter what. The cons are you are not even close to where the decisions are made, have very little chance to influence anything substantial and can spend years perfecting formatting on TPS reports without even knowing whether somebody ever looks at them.

I would suggest people feeling the upsides of nice paycheck do not cover the downsides of being a corporate drone try to explore smaller company scene. Maybe not fresh-baked startups (too risky unless you have good cash cushion or so young that expanding your resume is worth it anyway) but ones that are already established but still did not develop to Facebook/Google sizes.


After graduating college, I really wanted to be a CS teacher, but the finances and logistics just didn't make sense at all. My current goal is to save up enough money where I don't have to rely on a teacher's salary (or have to worry about getting fired should I not bow down to an administrator), and then start looking.


Maybe live in a country that has a better work life balance? Or find an employer that is willing to give that benefit?


Moving to another country might not be as easy for everyone as you make it sound.


Assuming she passed our interview process - which I think she would - I would gladly hire the author into a software development position that is entirely different from her previous experience. It's not all roses - work is work - but I feel like everything she complained about is different where I work.


I am not a software developer. As a sysadmin, I'm paid less than a software developer with similar experience. I started doing support after college, even though I have a CS degree. At the beginning I wasn't sure if I want to this and was a bit envy to software developers. It took me several years to realize that I actually prefer to what I'm doing than full-time coding. I've been at jobs that I can travel to different parts of the work to support our infrastructure or build a company's server infrastructure from scratch and having significant impact on the organization.

There is always a different path one can take, especially at such young age as the OP.


Not to reduce this to one thing, but

> Coding for a couple of hours a day in your spare time isn’t the same as coding for 8+ hours a day. Over the past decade it has worn me down. I have regular painful migraines triggered by working long hours. I have the beginnings of arthritis in my neck.

I don't recommend anyone does 8+ programming days because of deadlines. It's different if you're "in the zone" of course.

Normal good programming jobs are fine with 8 hours days consisting of much less than 8 hours of actual programming.

That's why you are in a salaried job: you do your best but you you're not responsible for getting things done "at any cost".


the author has clearly been taken advantage of by her work as many people have been both in the software industry and outside of it. The biggest problem, is our need for money. If we only needed 1/3 as much money to live, then you wouldn't need to work nearly as much. You could work for 5 years and then take several years off. And, if everyone else did the same, the labor supply would shrink to amount that forces employers to treat labor with more respect. At that point, I don't think they'll mind you have a 3 year gap, as long as your skills are up to date.

But, reducing your need for money to 1/3 is hard, partly due to our financial decisions: but this part can be changed. It's pretty easy to cut spending on the frivolous parts. The hardest part is taxes. In the US, on average, 1/3 of every dollar you earn gets taken by the Gov and it's much much more than that if you're in an expensive area like the bay area. If you find this surprising, take a good look at gov spend of GDP.

Housing cost is probably the next biggest area that's hard to reduce, mainly due to laws that prevent land supply and zoning from increasing and lots of other political factors.

Anyways, I think it's not reasonable to expect everyone's work to be fun 100% of the time. We just have to expect that some of the work will be interesting and some of it won't and reduce the total amount of work done in a lifetime accordingly.


In my experience, it's counterproductive to code more than 4-5 hours per day. At a certain point you start introducing bugs/inadvertent complexity whose negatives outweigh any feature contributions you're making. There's lots of research which bears this out. E.g., https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/why-working-more-than-4...


That's why I encourage coders to document things.

Code and test for 4 hours, document what is not, maybe work on easing on-boarding on your projects or even other's. And read. Developing software is about a lot more things than the code. If you are making things for other departments of your company, don't hesitate to go check how your "clients" use your software and what the pain points are. Check what is done in other technologies so you can get new ideas.

If you think software programmer is sitting at your desk churning code don't complain you are not paid enough and have shitty health. Also if you're paid less than other people at your company and they don't do anything more than you it is time to ask for a raise while looking at other jobs.


I've been working 3-4 hour days for years now, however the only reason I can do this is because I work for myself.


The other option is to show up at your job for 40 hours/week but only put in 15-20. Especially in software, where one engineer can be 10x more productive than another, one can easily get away with this.

(I’m not advocating this, just pointing out that it is a strategy I’ve seen employed)


I think that's probably quite common.


Are you hiring?


> That savings was originally for a downpayment for a house, but now gives me a landing pad where I can take some time to really do what I love.

Saving up and taking two years to do my own thing made me appreciate the old saying "time is money" like nothing else ever has, I literally bought time to do what I want with that money. It ran out before I figured out how to turn it into a sustainable business, but I still had the best two years of my professional life so far.


I recently took a 4 month sabbatical and money is certainly freedom. I appreciate it more.


In one of his essays, Paul Graham remarks that the startups at Ycombinator who fail have several traits in common, and one of those traits is that they don't listen. He meant they don't listen to him, but I would make it general -- these failed leaders often don't listen to their own teams.

I've been surprised at how often I have an important insight about a business, and my clients/managers feel uncomfortable with my insight. The most common reaction I get is "We need to stay focused on ideas that deliver real business value." But I can think of examples where that response couldn't possibly be an honest response, since the top leadership felt the company was in crisis, and they were trying to brainstorm new ideas for moving forward.

I was present for cases where software developers push for a new way of doing things, and the top management pushes for the status quo -- and this happens even when the top leadership feels the company is in crisis and the status quo is untenable.

The most rational explanation for this behavior is that the top leadership is worried that a new idea will take too much time, or cost too much money. The tech team might say "We have this brilliant idea, and it will take 3 months to implement" but the top leadership is worried that it will really take 6 months to implement. But this is really the same as saying that the company doesn't have the right leadership. If the status quo is untenable and the leadership lack the skills to properly evaluate alternative strategies, then new leadership is needed. But it is obviously difficult to get the top management to agree to this. I say "obviously" though in some sense it is surprising how many leaders would rather cling to power, and oversee a spectacular failure, than step aside and let someone else save the situation.

Why does top leadership drive the software developers so hard? There are several reasons. Fear of failure. Fear of unknown risks. Fear of uncontrolled costs. Fear of unexpected expenses. Fear of having to rely on something that one doesn't understand. Demanding long hours, and implementing rituals such as Agile or Scrum, are seen as ways of reducing risk. And then of course, there is the simple fact that the top leadership can do this -- the USA has weak labor unions, the tech industry has almost no labor unions, therefore the government allows harsher working conditions than what you find in France or Germany or Sweden.


This sounds like a very one-sided perspective. Because while we devs might not want to admit it, incremental improvements in product quality don't have a huge business impact. There are 3 states of a product -- Not Working, Works OK, and AMAZING. Not working --> Works OK is the initial dev of a product, so you are likely already past that. Now, if your improvements don't move the product from OK to Amazing, or if your product is already amazing, but the business has other problems... then your organization is at a point where devs simply don't have the business impact that a refactoring of sales/marketing/strategy can have. This is not a bad thing -- it means the devs did their job, and everyone else needs to step up.

But unless you understand the bigger picture of the business, it can seem like they are ignoring you. The truth is, they aren't rejecting your idea... they just think it isn't making the leap to amazing.


I'm not sure who are responding to, but you are not responding to me. If you re-read what I wrote, you'll see that I was speaking of cases where the leadership agreed that the status quo had failed.


>That what James Damore said that really cut to the core was that a lot of us women in tech were only there because a bar was lowered to get us in to meet some quota.

I don't think that is what he was saying, he was saying lowering the bar is of limited utility if not that many women are choosing tech careers. Maybe addressing the reason that tech is not attractive to women is a better solution?


The article reminds of my story. I left 5 years ago. I'd written everything from 3d games to accounting & stock market analysis. Couldn't wait to get out.

I now write for me, and for friends. For free. Some of it could even turn very lucrative, if I felt inclined -- which I don't. I'm living off savings mainly, but occasionally do a bit of manual labour -- and am happier for it.


I’d love to teach high school math or physics (or hell, even programming) classes. I’ve looked into it a little, and the bottom line is that no school district is ever going to pay me even half what my <Big Tech Firm> employer will pay me to shine their latest shiny app. I think it might make a good retirement career for me some day though.


A relevant Harvard study - "Ten-month-old infants determine the value of a goal from how hard someone works to achieve it" https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-ten-month-old-infants...


At Spot.coach, we work with a lot of engineering teams to help them design their dream work life.

http://www.spot.coach/managers


I dunno. I spent a bunch of years shooting at people and getting shot at, literally, and I can't tell you how much that has helped me not take this dreamlike existence for granted. This post serves as a reminder that the biggest problem some people will face today is that someone at Chipotle forgot they didn't want guacamole on their burrito. We should be grateful for the opportunity. Meanwhile, just open really any history book or newspaper. Most people are living or have lived hard lives.


Almost anyone’s hobby is less fun when done as work, especially as a team grows and systems are necessary.

E.g cooking, painting, furniture making, etc.


I really struggle to find anything worth reacting to in this blog post. It sounds to me like the story of every individual worker in every economy.

Most of what she says is entirely self-evident, except for the anecdotes about pay/equity, for which she presents zero evidence.

Where is the substance? Why is this interesting?

Every dad in the world knows that a hobby is different from work, and that turning your hobby into work is not always ideal, because you lose your hobby, you lose your steady salary, and your dreams do not always work out. I postulate at least that every dad knows this inherently.

Most people have way more taxing jobs than IT. I've been in construction for 3 years, and that work is no joke. Outside in rain/snow/storms, lifting tons of material on a normal day, for little pay, and no "worker satisfaction" or "team building" events, etc. I only did it for 3 years - one of the people I worked with was over 70, and had done it since he was 13.

Is it because she postulates that companies are hiring more women because they think that they can pay them less?

And I'm not saying I think that's true/false (she presents no evidence), I'm just asking if that's the reason the blog post is interesting.


I think this is a mismatch in expectations. It's one woman blogging about her personal work experience, not a news article or a novel theory of life as a software developer. It's interesting to the extent that reading about other people is interesting. Just take it for what it is.


> Most people have way more taxing jobs than IT. I've been in construction for 3 years, and that work is no joke.

There's some discussion of this above, but I think it's interesting that the alternative to software development is seemingly always construction, or delivering food, or being a waiter.

Wouldn't the more apt comparison be something like law? Or medicine?

Or has software development truly reached blue-collar status and we're essentially plumbers/electricians?

I'm not accusing you of anything specifically, just using your comment to ponder.


> Wouldn't the more apt comparison be something like law?

An often stressful profession, requires extensive post-graduate education (which most developers don't have), has strict licensing requirements to keep out people. Doesn't pay as well as software development, relative to the requirements and responsibility.

> Or medicine?

A highly stressful profession (your patients could die), requires extensive post-graduate education (which most developers don't have), has strict licensing requirements to keep out people, and high liability for making mistakes. Also doesn't pay as well as software development, relative to the requirements and responsibility.

Software development comes out well ahead there too.

> Or has software development truly reached blue-collar status and we're essentially plumbers/electricians?

Maybe I'm just getting jaded but I'd say yes. Outside the big 4 and a few other niches, most developers seem to just be gluing together whichever pre-made web frameworks and libraries happen to currently be in vogue. Patience with the endless yak-shaving needed to get anything to work rather than any particular technical brilliance is the primary requirement for career longevity.


I'm not sure I buy that attorneys are significantly better educated, especially in some more traditional firms (e.g. MS) where a masters isn't unusual. It's only an additional year of schooling on top of that.

Fair point on the licensing though. Maybe that's what most commonly separates blue collar from white collar these days - licensing? Trying to think of other professions I would compare software development to, and they all require licenses (traditional engineering, for example).

> Maybe I'm just getting jaded but I'd say yes. Outside the big 4 and a few other niches, most developers seem to just be gluing together whichever pre-made web frameworks and libraries happen to currently be in vogue. Patience with the endless yak-shaving needed to get anything to work rather than any particular technical brilliance is the primary requirement for career longevity.

Yeah, I'm starting to get that impression as well.

To be fair, though, I think many US physicians would tell you a similar thing (being brilliant isn't nearly as important as how adept you are at navigating the healthcare/insurance system).


> Outside the big 4 and a few other niches, most developers seem to just be gluing together whichever pre-made web frameworks and libraries happen to currently be in vogue

Interestingly, in the last conversation I had with a friend who is a lawyer, he made a similar argument about how his career has shaped up. Most days he's just repurposing portions of existing documents into a single new one.


>There's some discussion of this above, but I think it's interesting that the alternative to software development is seemingly always construction, or delivering food, or being a waiter.

My guess is that the popularity of these professions is that they are all relatively low-qualified ones suitable to people working while studying or "filling gaps" before getting a "good job" in IT.

>Wouldn't the more apt comparison be something like law? Or medicine?

It could be, but I doubt that there are many people that after having invested in an education in either law or medicine and actually had a suitable job in those professions left them to become a full-time programmer, particularly an employed full-time programmer.

Not that it cannot happen or that never happened, but surely it is less common, and the probabilities that additionally these people will be commenting on HN are even smaller.

>Or has software development truly reached blue-collar status and we're essentially plumbers/electricians?

Since every other guy here seems to be well in the hundred of thousands US$/year or more, I would say, if this is the case, "exceptionally well paid plumbers/electricians".


> My guess is that the popularity of these professions is that they are all relatively low-qualified ones suitable to people working while studying or "filling gaps" before getting a "good job" in IT.

Yeah, I mean I don't doubt that's why they show up frequently. It's more like: In a discussion about attorney/physician burnout, I don't often see people say "well you think being an attorney is hard? Try construction..."

The discussion in that case would be something more like, "if you don't like being an attorney go be an accountant" - something like that, if that makes any sense.

> It could be, but I doubt that there are many people that after having invested in an education in either law or medicine and actually had a suitable job in those professions left them to become a full-time programmer, particularly an employed full-time programmer.

I see what you're saying, but my point was more like: Shouldn't we be comparing software development to those professions? As in, "software development is incredibly easy compared to being an attorney"?

> Since every other guy here seems to be well in the hundred of thousands US$/year or more, I would say, if this is the case, "exceptionally well paid plumbers/electricians".

I thought that was becoming more and more common in those professions (electricians especially seem to be well compensated)?


Well compensated, yes. As well compensated as software developers, no.

A median software developer makes $100k [1], a median electrician makes $52k [2] and a median plumber makes $51k [3]. Some of that disparity is because of software developers being more concentrated into high COL areas, but even comparing the same metropolitan areas there is still a large disparity. For the NYC metro area, the mean wages are $114k/$79k/$76k respectively, for Chicago $99k/$80k/$80k, for LA $107k/$65k/$58k, for Dallas $107k/$43k/$43k, for DC $114k/$58k/$55k, for Atlanta $104k/$48k/$47k.

[1] https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151132.htm

[2] https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472111.htm

[3] https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472152.htm


Software development is centered in a few global headquarters cities; the trades are as dispersed as the populations they serve.

I would expect wages to be drastically lower in the trades even if standards of living are much higher. The construction contractors in my hometown own houses and late-model trucks. My software engineering colleagues rent with roommates and ride the bus for hours each day.


There really aren't a lot of high paying jobs that are needed in quantities that software developers are. Take this data: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm sort by Employment per 1000 jobs and then look for jobs with median wages no less than 15% below the median wage for "Software Developers and Programmers". The only ones you will find with a higher employment numbers are "Engineers" (all engineering occupations combined just barely beat out software developers and programmers in number employed) and a variety of management and executive categories. Lawyers have a bit more than a third of the number of jobs; physicians and surgeons are less than a fifth.


>There's some discussion of this above, but I think it's interesting that the alternative to software development is seemingly always construction, or delivering food, or being a waiter.

You don't need a degree--or even any formal education at all--to become a software developer.

That's why it's often compared to blue-collar jobs.

For people like us, if we weren't developers, then blue-collar is our only other option.


Yeah, and I think that's the interesting divide to me: I did receive a formal education, and even a Master's, in CS.

Despite that, there's very little difference between myself and another developer who has no formal education at all.

I guess I always thought of myself as a white-collar worker because of that, and this whole discussion is making me re-evaluate that. Not that the distinction is super important obviously, or that I think of myself as "better than", but I always thought of my peers as attorneys and people in finance, not construction workers.


Yes, if I hadn't entered this business I'm pretty sure I'd have ended up in a trade, electrician most likely.

I sometimes wonder if that might have been an easier path, make programming a hobby rather than career.


> Every dad in the world knows that a hobby is different from work

Why 'dad'?


That's a thing BTW I recall an article in the guardian a few years ago on some small coal mines in west virgina did hire women for less wages than men


No great analysis needed: People enjoy complaining. You could make this person empress of the universe and she'd be complaining still.


It is pretty funny that she would insinuate they would hire more women to pay them less because a good developer is so much more productive than a bad one so, at least for an "on site "job where you're only pulling from local talent it would be horribly destructive to always hire people that are paid a bit less as most likely those willing to take less money will be substantially less skilled.


doesn't many companies stop out sourcing to low cost body shops does it


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