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Why Software Career Sucks!

Workaholic
Hi,
I’m 27 years old, like you guys, went to university, had my CS degree, and then started my career.
When I was in college, I used to put Bill Gate’s picture on my wall, I used to wake up around 4 AM to study, then spend the whole day between classes and part time job, till 12 midnight, I go dead to sleep.
Then I started my career, my first job was for small Software Company, specialized in business applications (Accounting, Stock Control, etc…) I worked for a man who was mid 40th , single, lives alone, likes to program, no social life, stays at work from 9.00 AM till 9:00 PM every single day.
I started to like my work, I spend most of my time writing code, and I really enjoy that,  all days including weekends, year later I started to think about starting my own business, and become like Bill Gates, I started to read how he was working 12 hrs a day, and sleep on the disk, then I started to talk with my boss how he started his own business, he told me he used to work till 2 AM every single night in his late 20th and 30th.
2 years later, I become very familiar with business applications, so, I thought my next step is to get a high paid job in big tech company, and I did from the first company I went for an interview, my boss was mid 40th married to one lady she runs the admin section in our company, they both work from 9.00 AM till 10:00 PM!!! No kids, no friends, nothing.
With my new job I started to think about starting up my own business, and I did, well, sort of, I worked for a year on one software product, then I designed the website, then I release, it worked ok till now, not many sales thought, but as you already know, it takes some time to get to the point where you can quit your day job.
During all my life I didn’t have any girlfriend, and very, very few friends, as you can guess, no social life, and  so on, like a true geek life, that how was, google t-shirts, Microsoft mugs, etc…
Until one young girl started to work with us, she works as secretary, as I saw her I liked her, and we started dating!!!
That was the real wake up in my life!!!
During the past 10 years I was studying, working, dreaming, vision, and all that bullshit Paul Graham writing about.
But I was missing something…something called LIFE….life to the full…where people do communicate talking, not texting or emailing.
I realized that I myself SUCKS…I had some courses in Psychotherapy, when I think about it, I realize more that most of people working in software industry have mental sickness, even if they don’t admit it.
We think we’re smarter than all the people around us, we judge people by their knowledge in tech, we love to explain how things work to people, people they hate to talk with us, or at least they fall a sleep while we’re talking.
Tech career sucks…
In my work place, I work with mind corrupted people, young depressed people, middle age with terrible wife so they end up working late to escape going home, and old workaholic people who can’t stop working for one hr, if they did they will feel like they’re losing control over their life.
It’s a mess, the whole career is just a nightmare, even Bill Gates the one I was dreaming to become like him, he got married at age 39 years old!!! I don’t think he was saving money for to get ahouse.
The real problem that most of us don’t realize that, we don’t realize that we simple suck!!! We have no idea how to communicate with people, how to talk, not about computers, tech or business, but simply about life, we don’t know how to listen to people either.
And all the time, we think we are the damn smart people, we are the new generation for the damn future…all these things make us suck more :- )
You ask me, why do I continuo in this career then,  I will tell you because of money, I’m starting my own business, and soon I can save some money to get rid of this nightmare, and live a normal life.
Paul Graham said that that best thing is to work hard for 3 years , day night, no life, no friends, no going out, no girlfriend (sex is not in the geek’s mind)  work like hell, in exchange for the rest of your life…
He said that, but what he forgot to say that after you do work like hell for 3 years, you will end up different person, it’s not like you stop your life, your thought s, your feelings for 3 years, and after you make some big bucks, you turn on your life, and here we go, I’m back guys, where is my girlfriend, where are my friends….they are all gone buddy.
My advice for anyone in their 20th and 30th working in this career is..MAKE MONEY, as much as you can, so you can quit as soon as you can, this career SUCKS, it even doesn’t value your damn experience, 10 years ago I was damn expert with COBOL, today no one knows what COBOL is, WTF, if I was a MD or journalist, or lawyer, or accountant, my working years will be very valuable, every day I spend working , I can get it back when I’m late 50th, where they deal with me like expert… but with Tech, the kids will be expert and the old guys will have to work hard to just prove that they can handle the new damn tech.
Get some money, and change career.
WeAreGeeks_
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Excellent post.

I didn't live much during my first 8 years of working in the software industry. I worked long hours for an at best mediocre salary. In some of my jobs, there was some social life with the people I worked with, but none outside that.

I worked late almost every day and worked quite a lot of weekends as well. This wasn't my choice. It was just I had a habit of getting assigned projects that required a lot of work.

So work displaced a normal social life.

Fortunately in the past few years, I have started to have a social life and get girlfriends.
GreyHairedISV Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
most people in software do not work those kind of hours. I work 50 hours/week, but I am hourly. I normally work a 40 hour work/week.

if you run your own company no matter what you do, you work really long hours. The guy who runs the Quickie Mart is not working 40 hours/week. Ever work in a restaurant? I guarantee you those owners work 70 hours/week.

So working long hours as an employee is your fault for putting up with it. there are plenty of jobs that don't require that. Now working long hours at your own company is to be expected. There is alot to do.
Contractor
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Well I didn't have much of a life starting with my entry into the workforce all the way up until now, at age 30 (about to turn 31).  I don't have a very balanced life.  My only friends are people I have met online or old friends who live in different cities because it's hard to meet people where I live and because I spend 11 hours 5 days a week at a desk and commuting to/from work.

I'm not sure I can blame my jobs, or software development career, for my lack of a social life.  I think it's because I'm an introvert and that's why I gravitated to this field.  However, I agree with the point of view that working on machines all day makes it harder to have meaningful interaction with people.
NPR
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I totally agree the young person entering this field should have a contingency plan!  How I wish I had made some different choices, esp. with finances and investments.

The vast majority of IT jobs are not long-term, and employers view IT workers as fungible and therefore, easily replaced by younger, cheaper workers coming out of school.  They don't know yet they are fodder.
NPR
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Interesting but not the norm. I'm 29, married with 3 kids, worked for a large multinational, then medium sized tech company, and now am employed as a .net architect at a different medium sized tech company. I work 37.5 hrs per week and earn $100k. I've still got the "start my own business" bug and often write code in the evenings, but my family is really my life, work is just that - work.
only for some
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
You were a COBOL expert with 17?

Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I've never seen a programmer work more than 40 hours a week, even the ones who claimed to didn't at all, except maybe once for one week and I think that's what they are always referring back to... In fact I've rarely seen one work as much as 35 hours in a week; there are always errands to do, long lunches to take, long phone calls to make... Even on the computer they are always goofing off, spending time on a board like this is the best of it; there are many worse things they are wasting their time on the Internet with... In general, computer programmers DO have a life. Sometimes it is dominated by Half-Life or Second Life (the names tell it all), or other online pursuits, but many times they have families.
onanon
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
This account is one extreme view on the career and it could apply to any career.  I've rarely worked more than 45 hour weeks and I'm happily married with kids who I spend a lot of time with.  I'm also well respected and valued by the companies I've worked with (2 in 8 years) and have moved up the ranks.  Granted I can't stop working at age 35, but I've also lived a balanced life and will likely be able to retire earlier than most folks.

I agree that if you want to be super rich, or create your own company or retire before 30 you're going to have to make some sacrifices along the way, but I'm not sure they're worth it.  I've seen and known those 100% career driven people and I do not envy them one bit.
Chris
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
@OP

Software career doesn't suck. You life choices sucked. I hope your girlfriend put some common sense into you.
Roman Werpachowski Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"I used to put Bill Gate’s picture on my wall"

Unrealistic expectation.
Rick Tang
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"MAKE MONEY, as much as you can, so you can quit as soon as you can"

You're feeding this to yourself as an excuse for your lifestyle. You don't have to live like you do to make money in the profession.
onanon
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I have Cpt. Kirk on my wall :-)
asmguru62 Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
It always amazes me how people who've only worked in software think it's different to any other type of job. Take your head out of the sand!

I've worked in the military, in shops, in marketing, in distribution, in TV, and in software - guess what, it's all about how YOU handle life. Same shit, different job.

And yeah, life does get better after you lose your virginity.
45yo
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Good God, with a choices like that, no wonder you are unhappy.

Sounds like you need a long sabbatical away from programming, maybe to learn more about the profession or find another life path.  Seriously, take a year off.  If you have been working without a break since college, that is almost ten years.

I think one reason programmers will sometimes take two or three years out of work, and then when the money runs out, "magically" find a job in a month, is because they just needed the time off to build their psychic reserves up, not to much deal with long term sleep deprivation.
dot for this one
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
See also:

"Why Automotive Career Sucks!" (with a picture of Henry Ford on my bedside table)

"Why Academic Career Sucks!" (with 70h/week for no pay, because I'm a narcissist)

"Why Rockstar Career Sucks" (now my experience in psychedelic funk makes me look like a loser)

Get the trend? The best careers are those that suck the blood out of unreasonably idealistic, I'm-ganna-get-rich-and-change-the-world, overly conscientious suckers. If you want to work for people (or a system) that is not truly evil, you have to be a good judge as well as ... keen. Because good employers are (believe it or not) on the lookout for good staff.
PeterR
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Working a lot and trying to make tons of money is ok if you want to do it.  However you can work moderate hours and play good defense financially and be in really good shape from a money standpoint.  This means controlling expenses and living below your means.  In the US the emphasis and most energy is spent playing good offense (earning lots of money).  If you live large you can't get off the treadmill.  I think software as a career is both difficult and fun.  Lots of people say it stinks but I'm not convinced the grass is greener anywhere else.  Most developers would think differently if they had a few years of salary stashed away and no (or little) debt.
ComputerProgrammer
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I also feel must add some weight to counterbalance the 'nighmare camp'. I am 38 yrs old, work 40 hrs a week doing cool stuff in a large Medical Imaging company, OK salary. The only regret I _used_ to have was carpal tunnel syndrome but I managed to cure it. I have a great life, good marriage, three kids which I spent PLENTY of time with, and I even get to exercise daily at work.

Blaming the environment for our life choices or lack of them will not make things better....

Best regards,
Ari Telias Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I agree that most software careers suck, especially at large consulting and I/T firms.  Working in a career where probably 90% of the people are introverts and men gets old really fast!  Then, at many companies, its expected to work the weekends for deadlines and installs, then still put in 45-50 hours during the week.  Comp. time isn't even in the vocabulary of many companies!
Fortunanantly, I moved out of this in my late 20's (I'm 32 now).  I went back to school for an MBA and left for a smaller online marketing company where I was able to interact with both I/T and non-I/T people.
I now run my own business full-time. Right now, its a lot of hours, but I enjoy the variety of work and I can work from home and I'm starting to make more money than I did at my old job.  Doing sales is a bit scary for a programmer, but the money is good and I enjoy doing something different.

Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I work 40 hrs/wk, have a wife and two kids, make plenty of money, and mostly get left alone to work on interesting problems, but also am connected to a larger organization and can be as involved as I want to in it.

I have surveyed the careers of my many college friends over the years, who studied all manner of things and went in all different directions career-wise, from academia to law to medical to finance, and just can't convince myself that any other career is better, beyond a "grass is greener" mentality.  Some have more money, some have more freedom, some have better "intrinsic value" (benefit to society), but when you balance it all out, I don't think I could do all that much better without a great deal of luck.
Robert
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
I have the exact same story as the OP.

I lived and breathed Paul Graham's philosophy.

I even slept in a kitchen cabinet while working on reddit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33809408@N00/150538078/

But eventually I fell in love with someone from work :-) and realized what I was missing in my life:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/73086/Cozy-Domesticity
AaronSW
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
To the OP: I think your life would have been better if you learned how to use paragraphs... ;-)

I don't understand what your post has to do with a software career sucking.  I happen to like programming. 

If I had 10 million dollars, I'd be doing exactly what I do every day,  I'd just get to do less crap work, and i'd do it from a much fancier home office.

I think you may be under the mistaken impression that suffering is a neccessary virtue for success.
SmartYoungAnonPoster Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
This is why you want to make sure to get laid in high school.
Sassy Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"Fortunately in the past few years, I have started to have a social life and get girlfriends."

How old were you when you began your social life?
.
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"Well I didn't have much of a life starting with my entry into the workforce all the way up until now, at age 30 (about to turn 31).  I don't have a very balanced life.  My only friends are people I have met online or old friends who live in different cities because it's hard to meet people where I live and because I spend 11 hours 5 days a week at a desk and commuting to/from work."

I'm in the exact same situation except I'm a year younger. 

"I'm not sure I can blame my jobs, or software development career, for my lack of a social life.  I think it's because I'm an introvert and that's why I gravitated to this field.  However, I agree with the point of view that working on machines all day makes it harder to have meaningful interaction with people."

I have to agree with this.  Some of us are naturally introverted and grativate toward this field.  However, working on comptuers all day does not make one very sociable at the end of the day.  If I'm coding all day, I'm usually tired, irritable, and in no mood to socialize.  If I'm filling in for a tech where I have some interaction with other people and move around a good portion of the day, I usually feel much better at the end of the day and more sociable.  I totally agree that the work contributes to the problem (unless you already have an established social life).  Man wasn't meant to sit in one place with very little socializing and strain his brain all day.
another geek
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"This is why you want to make sure to get laid in high school."

As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  When you're younger, you're told to go to school, get good grades, be successful, etc.  Not too many people go out of their way to tell you to "get laid".
.
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"It always amazes me how people who've only worked in software think it's different to any other type of job. Take your head out of the sand!"

Differences?  Let's see....In software, you're accumulating knowledge that won't do you any good in 5-10 years.  Ageism is rampant.  You sit in one spot for 8-10 hours a day and don't have much contact with people.  There's a good chance you'll work for a clueless boss that does not understand your work.  I agree that most jobs are stressful but there aren't too many jobs like programming.  Maybe it's not necessarily more stressful (depending on how you define stress) but there are drawbacks that do not exist in most other professions.
Rod Price
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
Right. But the best advice if you are starting a business and you are a technical expert should be to always keep in touch with your clients/consumers from the first week, first month, first always moment, and to solve just a little problem at a time, instead of accumulating richness in a cloudy of ideas and bits.
Joao Pedrosa Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
BTW, as long as you work and live in a very crowdy city, you can make a lot of money being just a successful employee and save a lot of time whenever you can. Be careful of getting stuck in an endless loop, while seeking success and free time at the same time.
Joao Pedrosa Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
" I agree that most jobs are stressful but there aren't too many jobs like programming.  Maybe it's not necessarily more stressful (depending on how you define stress) but there are drawbacks that do not exist in most other professions."

Feh. I've worked as a dishwasher, a library aid, a lab tech, a teacher, a clerk in a stop-and-rob, a clerk in an insurance agency. They all sucked compared to ANY of the software jobs I've held. My wife has been a copy-editor, police officer, and a lawyer. I've got friends who are doctors, nurses, and business people, and you know what? They all go through periods where they are stressed out and the thought of going to work another day makes them want to vomit.

The trouble is you know a lot about the downside of programming jobs but apparently not much about the problems associated with other lines of work. If you don't like your job, or don't even like the industry, that's fine, I can certainly understand that. Seek out something that's more to your liking, but don't whine about how hard us poor computer geeks have it. Compared to telemarketing it can sweet work.

If you want to learn about how bad jobs can be, read George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London", or "The Road to Wigan Pier". Heck, watch "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and learn about what it's like to be a talented musician who's stuck playing elevator music in Tiki Lounges.
Grateful to be where I am
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"It always amazes me how people who've only worked in software think it's different to any other type of job. Take your head out of the sand!"

It is different. I worked in engineering for most of my life and I can tell you that it was certainly challenging at times, stressful at times, but it did not require the amount of continuing education and study that software does.  If you don't keep up with current art, you'll be a has-been in not too many years.  This wasn't true for most areas of engineering (some possible exceptions).
Mike S Send private email
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"I used to put Bill Gate’s picture on my wall"

Is that when you realized you were a fag?
pr0nSt4r
Friday, January 11, 2008
 
 
"Excellent post" my ass! you make the choice you want. you let your work take over you. shit like what op said can apply to many other job.

stop making execuses for your sorry ass life. no one fucking force you. you can work 9-5 if you want. i have no problem doing that with my employer.

IT people tend to whine like a bitch.
.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
Wow such a thread!  I just have to add my $0.02  :-)

Many of use have at one time or another been sucked into the Hollywood stereotyped geek-to-success myth.  I've worked for a couple of the top 3 software mega-corps, a mobile mega-corp, mid-size corps, and startups.  Most of the time I was trying to realize the dream.  I made some $$$$ off of stock options, ESPP, and gradually built up an above average salary.

But looking back I now see I made a very small number of people wealthy.  While I gave up hours of my life, that I will never get back, those few lucky "elites" lived better off of my work.

That said, these sorts of things happen in other professions too.  Any of you that have taken a few graduate level business courses know what I am talking about.  There are armies of sad MBA, Finance, Accounting, etc. students who have similar dreams of rising to the top just like [fill in your favorite biz hero here] did.

You see the same thing in Law.  I know a number of lawyers and most of them are chained to the billing clock, constantly having to play politics, working over-time, etc., and you know most of them get paid around what a staff or principle software engineer gets paid.  Many of them get overlooked for promotions because there are just so few positions up the food-chain.

Any how, I think too many of us in the software industry try to live a MYTH.  The myth that we have to work our butts off, we have to know everything, we have to constantly be on the cutting edge, etc.  Heck, we read this stuff right here on Joel on Software every week about what managers think a "good programmer" is, etc.  People your manager will always be happy to take more and more from you!  It makes for a bigger bonus...FOR THEM!

So find work-life balance as soon as you can!  Will your employer come to your deathbed when you are on your way out of this world, or will your children?  Who will comfort you when times get tough and your boss lays you off due to a bad economy?  And lets face it 90% of coding jobs are about coding churn-and-toss business logic.  I know for a fact that most of you aren't even interested in what your company produces!  But you all still have to put on The Face...The Face that the MYTH requires.

And as for emulating for favorite industry hero, just remember by the time the story gets to you it has probably been exaggerated or it was complete fiction in the first place.  Remember most of these big time heroes/founder/execs that are successful have PR departments, marketing departments, and career coaches molding their image.

Take Bill Gates for example.  Everyone knows the story.  Dropout turned billionaire.  Well the real story is Bill Gates came from a wealthy family.  His father was a big time lawyer with connections.  His mother was on the board of directors for First Interstate Bank (now part of Wells Fargo).  His parents paid for him to go to exclusive private schools and gave him the best that money could buy.  The mothers of his school held a rummage sale to buy the school computer equipment and time.  This is back before PCs when computer equipment cost a lot and use was metered, yet a rummage sale was all it took.  Gives you an idea of the rummage these people had!  The real story goes on and on.  Basically he had the connections, he had mommy and daddy's money backing him, he could afford to fail because mommy and daddy would just send him back to Harvard to become another corporate lawyer like daddy.  Dang if I had all that when I was a kid I would have come out ahead too!

So in summary, it was all a dream.  A myth that many of us bought into.  Then as we grew up we put away the things of children and became adults.  So here we are.  DO YOU LIVE TO WORK, OR WORK TO LIVE?
At Some Point We All Grow Up...or We Just Come a Sad Cliché
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
"IT people tend to whine like a bitch."

The thread was originally about software development shops, NOT IT.  There is a big difference.
Ted Nugent's Love Child
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
to  >>>
At Some Point We All Grow Up...or We Just Come a Sad Cliché

Thank you!
WeAreGeeks_
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
The OP sounds like a wanna-be "rock star programmer" who couldn't make the cut!
jon s
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
At Some Point We All Grow Up...or We Just Come a Sad Cliché

I agree! S/W dev I think does suck, I'm coming up to having only 2 years xp, and I'm already cynical and I know I haven't even seen the worst of it all like some of you guys. My reasoning at the moment is that I shall move from company to company annually to keep things fresh.

I've realised I don't enjoy making someone else wealthy so I work as little as possible. This makes sense as I'm a pretty bad developer anyways.

Surprisingly, I regard the other developers I work with to be pretty poor as well and they products they make are rubbish. I fell like I am like a garbage man, debugging their code, cleaning messes. Why should I?

Programming on my own was fun, when I had these fantasies that I could write something that would make money and be brilliant. But that was only fun because the fantasy was fun, programming is in fact for the stupid and socially retarded if theres no objective to it.
Christian Thomas Send private email
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
"When you're younger, you're told to go to school, get good grades, be successful, etc.  Not too many people go out of their way to tell you to "get laid". "

Only except ALL YOUR PEERS. Jeez, where'd you go to school, a monastery?
Got STD at school and proud of it
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
"In software, you're accumulating knowledge that won't do you any good in 5-10 years.  Ageism is rampant.  You sit in one spot for 8-10 hours a day and don't have much contact with people.  There's a good chance you'll work for a clueless boss that does not understand your work."

Good grief, Rod. That's just about applicable to ANY office job. Are you trying to be ironic? Or do you really believe that?
45yo
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
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lipitor Send private email
Saturday, January 12, 2008
 
 
Some courses in basic English grammar and spelling would have proved to be much more beneficial, I am sure.
Michael Wales Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
As in any other career, you need to have a very clear picture in your mind as to where your money comes from.  ("From my paycheck" is technically correct, but misses the point.)  If you understand where it comes from, you can selectively improve your performance to get more of it, or at least to secure it, without having to put in crazy hours or be a super genius in your chosen field.
Tim Randolph Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
Oh dear, this thread gives me vertigo :-(
olsson
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
You're goddamn right.

Any career suck, btw. Too many hours.

I'm already working 4 days and finding ways to set up additional income in the 3 days I have off.

When the additional income is higher than the income from wage slavery, I'll quit my job and be free forever.

Looking forward to doing whatever the fuck I like, the whole goddamn day long.
Jay Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
<<<Until one young girl started to work with us, she works as secretary, as I saw her I liked her, and we started dating!!!
That was the real wake up in my life!!!>>>

Well, there you go....pussy changes everything...what you think, HOW you think and how you communicate with others.

By the way, if you think that that pussy in your life is "finished" changing you, you are just beginning....

The key here is B A L A N C E. Balance in everything you do....Asian culture has been teaching this for millenia.

But, sound to me that the pussy you are now getting has opened up a whole new world for you.......good for you and there you go....

If you don't control IT, IT will control you...that goes for anything in your life with which you've come into contact....
Brice Richard Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
"Well, there you go....pussy changes everything...what you think, HOW you think and how you communicate with others."

Is that a good thing?
.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
Everything has its ups and downs. I think the point we all need to think about is: When you die, will you regret how you spent your time? When you find something where--even if you completely failed and nothing went as planned--you still won't regret it, thats when you've hit

For many, this is family. For others, its also a career. For some, its a cause.

Its not about software. this is the same in any industry. The real question here is what you set as valuable in your life.

Like the common saying goes "no one ever wishes they spent more time in the office when they're dying".

On the other hand, I bet there are also ppl who look back on their life's work and think "yeah. I did what I love, I did my best, and I don't regret it."

Here is to everyone finding that in their lives.
One Square Foot Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
Live the dream, baby.

I'm taking steps to do something similar.  For me, I've always wanted to travel and see the world, but never thought I made enough money.

My current plan:
* doing consulting now, sometimes making as much as 2x per hour (w/o benefits though so take that into account)
* moving to a part of Europe where cost of living is 40%
* spend half my time consulting, half working on my own projects / startups / etc
* your first 80k is tax free if you live overseas all year

... profit!

But seriously, checkout "The 4-Hour Workweek" if you remain unconvinced.  The guy's kind of an arrogant prick but he has definitely been living the dream (his dream), and was partly an inspiration for me finally taking this plunge.

I used to want a billion dollars too... Now I'll be happy with $100k per year, but living a kickass life in some exotic land and not having to answer to a PHB.

Not to mention... if you are a true rockstar who cranks out 10x more code, you'll **never** ever ever be compensated by a company for that.  At most, you'll make 2x as much as the people that you outproduce 10 to 1.
Shanti Braford Send private email
Sunday, January 13, 2008
 
 
My first 6 months were like your whole life - until I discovered that noone died if I prioritized other aspects of my life besides the neverending programming.

2.nd year in a startup now and I have what is considered a very good salary here in Norway and my life has never been better economically AND socially.

It's all about choices and realising certain truths/lies ;-)

Shine on!
Chris, 26 YO, Norway Send private email
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
"...this career SUCKS, it even doesn’t value your damn experience,..."

Thats a good point, indeed. Like everywhere, software guys have to think strategically. If we only sell language xyz, we should not complain by being measured by our language xyz skills.

What counts is expert knowledge in the field you are programming for, not languages. If you are able to combine a language that is common in your field (be it banking, science, medicine, law etc.) with some long term expert knowledge in banking software, scientific software  medical software etc., no youngster will replace you (ever!).


I doubt the thing with "life is only complete with a wife and family" etc.
I am 43 now (unmarried) and 50 percent of my friends and collegues get divorced and lose EVERYTHING! The other 49 percent is locked in marriage hell and can't get out, either because of young children or too little money to divorce. I am really happy that I chose not to marry!

What counts are friends and freedom, not women and, by any means, not sex.

Good post, thanks!
Michael Send private email
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
The main problem in this industry is that it's a desk job, with no exposure to people. You don't really meet anyone at the job, or at least the people you meet are other software engineers and mostly men.

Now, it's not going to be 100% in other jobs. If you're a let's say accountant, the job is probably a lot less inspiring, but you'll spend your days in an office at a desk anyways. I don't think the grass is a lot greener on the other side, except perhaps when it comes to being an actor or musician or something... But that might not be realistic for you.

People probably end up looking back at their life, how their younger years were so fulfilling, because of school. School is the ultimate social experience. You meet a huge number of people in a heavily social setting, and most importantly these people are interested in a variety of different subjects and they mostly have ambition in life to become something in the future. Maybe you even start dating for the first time, etc... So it's a very special time and palce. Once you're 30+ and tired of working life, everyday is the same, and your dreams didn't materialize, it's a lot more depressing place to be in.

All you can really do to escape this is to make enough money so you don't have to work and maybe find that social experience again?
politrix Send private email
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
How many times have we had this thread rehashed in so many ways (why my job as as a Space Shuttle Fuse Lighter sucks, etc...)

I gotta go back to Joel's original post on companies... you gotta decide whether you're a Ben and Jerry's or an Amazon, and not BS yourself.  If you're gonna do the hack-yourself-mad-70-hr-weeks, then acknowledge it, along with the price you're gonna pay.  But then again, just like Joel's post, only a few of them are really ever gonna get the big payout... the rest are gonna turn out like this poor sucker, burnt out and regretting the initial investment plus the opportunity costs.

If you don't have the cojones (and the ability to realize what the costs really are), stick with the Ben & Jerry's model... if you're gonna be at work for 8+ hours a day, then at least make sure you actually LIKE what you're doing.  I enjoy coding, I do it in my spare time on little pet projects in addition to my work stuff (the folks at the coffee shop surely think I'm a nutter), but I also go out to the pub, play footy with my mates, go watch live shows, and yeah, even date.  Why?  Cuz I realized the Amazon model was for suckers...err, get-rich-quick dreamers.  Will I retire at 40?  Nope.  But do I WANT to retire at 40?  With my current job, hell no.
Gabriel Nevarez Send private email
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
Amen!

Same here, except that I am in my early thirties with 9 years spent mostly at work.
In these 9 years my mindset was "I am responsible for so many cool things at work, so friends and getting into relationship can wait 'till I have some spare time". Ended up being quite a good programmer, but with no girlfriend, no friends (all the highschool/college folks got married, moved to different parts of the country etc), unable to have a conversation with non-technical people, and not remembering anything but work for a few years back.
It sucks huge time.

Fortunately I was able to get save some money (hey, I had no time to spend it anyway...) and I recently started my self-funded sabbatical. Plan to spend it travelling, socializing and learning, both technical (I LOVE programming, just hate programming CAREER) and non-technical.
Hope to recover from my ultra-geekiness a little bit and then try to set things up so that I have a reasonable life-work balance.

Cheers!
Michael too Send private email
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
"Fortunately I was able to get save some money (hey, I had no time to spend it anyway...) and I recently started my self-funded sabbatical."

Do you think you'll have trouble finding a new gig when you finish the sabbatical?  Not only will you have to explain your work history gap, you're approaching the age where ageism starts to hit...
.
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
"I doubt the thing with "life is only complete with a wife and family" etc.
I am 43 now (unmarried) and 50 percent of my friends and collegues get divorced and lose EVERYTHING! The other 49 percent is locked in marriage hell and can't get out, either because of young children or too little money to divorce. I am really happy that I chose not to marry!

What counts are friends and freedom, not women and, by any means, not sex."

Isn't that the truth...  All you guys thinking that marriage is the answer to your problems needs to checkout nomarriage.com.
.
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
"People probably end up looking back at their life, how their younger years were so fulfilling, because of school. School is the ultimate social experience. You meet a huge number of people in a heavily social setting, and most importantly these people are interested in a variety of different subjects and they mostly have ambition in life to become something in the future. Maybe you even start dating for the first time, etc... So it's a very special time and palce. Once you're 30+ and tired of working life, everyday is the same, and your dreams didn't materialize, it's a lot more depressing place to be in."

I don't know about this...high school sucked for most geeks.

"All you can really do to escape this is to make enough money so you don't have to work and maybe find that social experience again? "

If you're single, you can always quit your job, get a loan, and go back to college.
.
Monday, January 14, 2008
 
 
"Many of use have at one time or another been sucked into the Hollywood stereotyped geek-to-success myth. "

Oddly, most Hollywood movies show hackers and programmers as intellectuals and iconoclasts who can write/crack code almost without thinking and then go off to a party/rave/club in the nights to chill out. This is definitely a stereotype you would be interested in ...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
 
 
"...  All you guys thinking that marriage is the answer to your problems needs to checkout nomarriage.com."

That's the most ridiculous site I've read, btw.
the above poster^
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
 
 
I think it was the lack of social life at the start... I'm in my 20's, have a CS degree, one semester and a dissertation away from my MSc (part time) I also work as an web applications developer.

I worked damn hard at school and university, during the day as well as having many different part-time jobs(from bar staff to cleaner to shop assistant to bouncer to help desk).  Now I work 8am til 6 pm Monday to Friday.

Evenings and weekends are mine.  I party hard, I have a large group of friends and a boyfriend.  Sure I am a geek, I do websites and programming for friends for alcohol, fix peoples computers, build new ones for others and I enjoy it but I am not defined by my career.

I find myself fighting the perception of "You're a programmer?? Then why are you in the pub?" far to often. 

Guys, step back from the computer.  Create hours that are specifically devoted to NOT working.  Go out, have a drink, talk to people who aren't in the software industry and enjoy it.  You never know your big idea may hit you when your not looking for it.
Amy Glass Send private email
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
 
 
"I don't know about this...high school sucked for most geeks."

I find it amazing how many x-jocks I have found working as software engineers today.
Mr. L
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
 
 
"I do websites and programming for friends for alcohol"

How about for sex? ;-)

Sorry, someone just had to say it :-P

Yes, all you geeks, nerds, gimps, hackers, crackers, programmers, software engineers, hardware engineers, etc. go have a drink!

Things won't change as long as you let your manager bagger you into working 80 hour weeks.
fuzzy
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
 
 
I just got a new job in a small software company. All people do there is stare at the computer screen all day and we went to lunch once as a group, but everyone was so boring, antisocial and unpleasant... And yes they do think that they are better than everyone. I really miss my old job where people were not so smart but much more social. I hate going to work every day, because it makes me feel like my life goes by too fast...
A woman programmer
Saturday, January 19, 2008
 
 
"I just got a new job in a small software company. All people do there is stare at the computer screen all day and we went to lunch once as a group, but everyone was so boring, antisocial and unpleasant... And yes they do think that they are better than everyone. I really miss my old job where people were not so smart but much more social. I hate going to work every day, because it makes me feel like my life goes by too fast..."

I have to agree.  You might want to think about changing careers unless you REALLY love what you do.  Women tend to be more social than male geeks anyway, you'll never be happy in that type of environment.
male programmer
Saturday, January 19, 2008
 
 
I worked at a software startup for a while.

why it sucked:

- long long hours
- no interaction except with other coders and management
- expected to debug and fix other people's crappy code
- abusive and ultimately inept management
- constantly changing software specs

why I initially signed on

- expectation to make significant cash at some point in
  the future
- expectation to work on "interesting" projects

why I left

- management promised stock options, but did not commit
  to any in writing. other, earlier hires were still
  waiting for their stock options, one year out.
- projects turned out to be boring UI apps for business.
  tedious, mind-numbing work of no lasting value.
- very bad project management
- the use of multiple third party proprietary poorly
  documented packages.
- unrealistic expectations by management
- expectation to integrate code with other code of
  other programmers, some of dubious quality.
- management revealed itself to be capricious and
  vindictive.

would I try it again?

maybe. but look for the warning signs in your workplace and don't be afraid to cut your losses and leave if management sucks. Don't be afraid to let loose with some
choice commentary unless you really need a reference...
it's definitely worth it :)

Monday, January 21, 2008
 
 

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