You know what I do at home "just for the hell of it"? I play with my kids.
So, you have kids, great! Spend time with them, enjoy your life. Presumably you're a software engineer so you're making more money than the vast majority of the world. Enjoy that, but do you feel entitled to go as far in your career as someone who dedicates more of their life to their career? Should those people be punished by being displaced by someone like you who presumably has less expertise due to spending less time on your career? I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but I'm struggling to understand why our current system should change to cater to your lifestyle choices of having kids.
If the general solution to career advancement is just to work more hours, we'll be a bunch of unhealthy, overworked burnouts.
Where's that expectation that you have to be best of the best coming from?
(Not to mention, the expectation to be seen and treated as the best of the best, without putting in the work.)
Sure you can put more hours into something to get better and improve your performance.
But why should you spent more hours on your free time? Some employers grant a free "afternoon" every-week for employees side projects. Guess what more side projects, less burnout...
Source: The company that support PostgreSQL for my workplace do that. Which we were doing the same.
People are going to have kids regardless. So, the question we're really asking is, should we structure things so that people have time to raise those kids that they are already going to have. I haven't reviewed the literature, but I'd guess kids who have their parents present in their life have better outcomes.
I am aware of hiring decisions between several candidates that hinged on their side projects (or lack thereof).
some workers like to spend time coding off-clock: that's fine.
some employers prefer those workers: that's fine too.
I'm not interested in being one of those workers, and quite happy to avoid those employers. I have no trouble finding workplaces that respect my time.
I think what we want to limit is employers pressuring people into side-projects as a form of unpaid overtime. Other than that, I'm not sure if I see the problem here - but I guess I'm a part of it too.
As a 20-something year old with no kids, I certainly do not feel any more entitled to "go far in my career" than anyone else, just because im dead inside and write code on the weekends after work. Anyone who thinks like this is an asshole who I don't want to work with.
In my experience, the people who have kids generally have more experience because they built up the experience before getting the kids.
Can you see how this presumption could be problematic?
Edit: fixed grammar
And that's great and all, but it also ensures that the only thing you did that was noteworthy for prospective employers was whatever project you happened to be stuck with your current job.
If you happen to be privileged and work on architecting exciting cutting-edge projects that use any of the relevant or even popular technologies then you have nothing to worry about.
If, instead, you happen to be like the most of us and are working on maintaining legacy projects with technologies that you hate and are obsolete and became irrelevant to the eyes of prospective employers, or even worse you are stuck on doing boring stuff that tangentially have anything to do with development at all... Then how do you work on your marketable skills?
Do you honestly expect to be the best candidate to a job position when you're competing with people who spent years working on exciting and interesting cutting-edge technologies when all you have to show for is years of maintaining a legacy application that was mostly done except with the minor updates you were charged to do?
So yeah, please do enjoy spending all your free time playing with your kids. Some of us are compelled to, in the very least, brush up their skills outside of work because otherwise we might not have a shot at a job that allows us to play with the kids, or even get a job in the near future.
Your line of reasoning doesn't actually benefit you unless you can negotiate a higher wage because of your side projects. In most cases, it's a proxy for an employer getting away with not paying you for training - either your current employer or a prospective new employer.
I guess it matters whether those side projects are intrinsically motivated. If you’re just doing it because you’re expected to, I can see it leading to burn out as it’s essentially a side job. But if you’re doing it out of intrinsic interest, it’s more of a hobby that also builds your professional skills
Here's what I googled and read up on this weekend, how to repair rotted roof rafter tails because the garage needs work. I was looking at the repair manual of the broken elliptical to see if I can repair too. As for coding, I was building a daycare app before the pandemic put a lid to that and I shelved that for now. Since the pandemic, I have just written toy throw away sim codes to run simulation of whatever that came to my head, predicting the pandemic numbers, housing market, etc.
Point is, I can somehow find out a little time here and there to play on the computer, most people can.
Of course, I could equally judge you based on my own life experiences. An engineering manager? Pfft, managers are overpaid babysitters who add no value. And I've supervised ADHD dabblers - on the side, while working primarily as an IC. Their flurries of little shiny projects sure do look impressive, especially in meetings and on resumes, but when it comes to building something genuinely new and difficult, and persisting to a high quality finish? MAN, they sure require a LOT of hand-holding.
There are plenty of people out there who are completely different from you and yet contribute as much or more than you do. Get over yourself and appreciate human diversity a bit more.
>>My typical work week is about 50-60hrs.
>>I'm not single, not young, now north of 40+. I'm just a doer.
You are at least 2 decades late to having kids. But that's ok, better late than never.
But I'd absolutely recommend partitioning some part of your 60 hour work week and late night Googling, and allocating it to exercise, sleep and relationship. Stuff like heart attacks, brain diseases and divorces tend to wipe out gains made over 30 years.
At the end, any amount of hyper productivity makes sense only if its beneficial and sticks to us in some way, like on the longer run.
I've been delaying learning ML for a while now, it doesn't seem to matter, basically delaying doing lots of things without payoff many of which will be irrelevant in 5 years. I can't say the same for exercise though.
You aren't necessarily a better developer (or person) for doing all of that than those who played videogame for all those hours.
Spending many hours on doing software development does, in fact, make you better at software development than someone who, ceteris paribus, spent that same time playing video games. I feel that "not necessarily" is becoming the 21st century version of "but there's still a chance, right?"
Plus if you have been doing it for 10 years+ how much more are you going to improve really by coding more hours?
The field is so wide that you could be doing it for 100 years and still keep learning new things that would improve your work.
And for senior+ levels, where soft skills start to dominate, you still need to have already become competent at the hard things. Soft skills are means for making things happen, but you have to have a clue which things need to happen, and which don't.
It isn’t rocket science really, learn the fundamental well, keep practicing 40h a week for years and you will master the craft.
The difference between two masters of the craft won’t be the person who sit more hours on the chair in front of the computer.
Skill doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from practicing it and thinking about it and otherwise being mentally engaged with the field.
And yeah, I'm pretty sure that after 100 years of cooking, and learning how to cook, I'd be better than the person who put in only 20, just by sheer virtue of more internalized knowledge, more time to think, and more practice.
Each person brings an unique set of skills based on their experience (professional and life).
I have worked in lots of different industries from designing hardware chips with VHDL to multi datacenter kubernetes deployment with 100k of cores.
I never did side projects neither did I expect more time on the chair from a coworker... Still somehow I can build winning teams with all the different mixes and industries.
By that logic the oldest developers should be the best of all. But that is not true. Some are great, some are average and some are still bad even after a life time of practice.
The word developer itself means someone who builds. So it is natural to assume that someone who enjoys building stuff, even for fun, is a better developer also at work.
As any rule, this has exceptions and it's not universal, but it makes sense to think so. And since he's a manager, it perfectly makes sense for him to think so.
It is entirely reasonable to provide programming tasks or whiteboard interviews or whatever in lieu of going through someones personal project.
Using your own lifestyle and tastes as a benchmark is what riles people up. If side-projects are the measure of the man, then there is an expectation of how people should spend their free time.
I believe the polarization is coming from how this is expressed, specifically pegging side-projects as the determining factor. People can find joy in their work (programming in our case), but not necessarily want to do the same thing in their free time.
This is likely biased as it is coming from someone with no personal projects though :)
Plural of anecdote is not data. The principle that "the more work you put into something, the better you get at it" works in general.