I needed my Catharsis - why developers are not happy with their career?
Did you ever hit the wall and wondered, what and why you are doing as a developer? We, as experts, want to work on interesting, problem-solving projects. Some of us would want to work for Google, Facebook, Apple, or NASA, but it’s impossible to have all of us in top brands in the world, or in the Fortune 500. In some cases, even working as a developer for Facebook, would you feel complete by solving issues in an internal system that helps exchange documentation across the teams?
On the one hand, there are our ambitions, what we want to do, and what is our main goal of career. On the other hand, there is a problem being solved by the project we are working currently on. If we will step back and take a look at the project from the perspective, we could notice dozens, hundreds, or thousands of users of the system, whom we are making work easier and more effective. But let’s go to the examples - I was working with numerous projects - systems for an insurance market, e-commerce, green energy, and recently - the restaurant ecosystem. You know what? All of them are super valuable for the end users. So, why do many of us think that our projects are “not enough”?
Also, I talked about it in #brightdevtalks podcast. It's recorded in Polish.
Lack of agency feeling
For the record, I’m not a Project Manager, so it’s only my personal feeling
In social science, the agency is the capacity of individuals to have the power and resources to fulfill their potential
It’s about social life, but it can be also applied to the IT projects
An agency handles several tasks required to deliver on their client's projects. Whether it’s onboarding new customers or creating deliverables and rendering services, it takes a system to make it all work.
So those two terms are similar and explain something I want to express - you, as a developer, need to understand that you are not working on another button or another notification. We all are working on a whole project, which has requirements, goals, and actors. Once you realize it, it will be easier for you to understand “why this manager wants to have another input field”.
In other words, you need to perceive the project more holistic. Get out of your own frontend/backend box, the module you are working on, and try to understand the essence of the system you are creating. It’s common for massive systems full of integrations, busses, and other stuff - you are working in a small team, which is responsible for notifications sending, but you have also tasks about SMS channel - it’s easy to forget about the main goal behind the fence and focus just on the JIRA tickets.
Working on “insignificant” things
Let’s say that you have a career goal - working for NASA. Sounds interesting? Of course, it does - everyone I was talking to, wants to work for a big shot (another one wants to be a big fish). It’s easy to lose your faith in the current project while you are still focusing on the desire for working somewhere else. Did I have such a moment? Come one, ONE? Five, at least. But hey, you are a valuable person. Your employer wants to have you in his company, he pays you good money and invests in you. Maybe it’s not NASA, but maybe it’s not a time, for you to do NASA things? If you are reading it, I’m pretty sure that you could be starting your career or you are not far from it. “Everyone needs to start somewhere” - it’s a really nasty thing to say, but let’s take a look at the chart:
Source: HackerLife Data
Around 50% of software engineers only stay at a company for two years before switching to somewhere new. The national average for job tenure is 4.2 years so software engineers stay in one place for half as long. Typically the larger the company the longer a developer stays in one role.
I bet, that the current company is good to you - as I mentioned, the employer is doing a great job (usually) to keep their employees happy (yes, Bright is doing a hella job about that - you can check our Instagram account), but let’s face it - the employee will want to switch after some time. If the average for Twitter or Apple oscillates around two years then how many of the companies you will work in, in the next 10 years? You will work for NASA or Tesla one day, take it easy.
I’m going to repeat myself - even if in comparison - working on the systems that help send equipment to ISS could beat the restaurant ecosystem, but let’s admit it - how often do you order takeaway food? That’s right - we are creating solutions for ourselves. Keep that in mind!
All I do is write another loop
This is a real quote from my beginnings. I was pretty sure that all I do is just write another loop, another if/else statement. If we will go down to the foundation, then we can say - yes, we are writing if/else statements. But what is software development? Even after we tear down the business value from the project - we need to connect the facts, endpoints, modules, and subprojects into one, working solution. That’s why a lot of companies have developers but architects also. Maybe you are not an architect, but still - use your energy, knowledge, and experience and create something that matters.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge. Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills.
The same effect can be shown slightly different:
A lot of experts tend to underestimate their abilities and knowledge. I’m pretty sure that you have seen this chart somewhere over the Internet, but maybe you are in the valley currently?
It’s natural to have mixed feelings about the company, project, or team. I was (and doing it still) have doubts about my own qualifications, I was wondering if the project I was working on, was the right one for me. Once I realized I’m permitted to have all these feelings and I have a space to take a step back and take a look at the project and team from the distance, I feel like everything is new to me, but also more exciting. Maybe you need to have your own Catharsis?
Let me know, what you think - maybe we have similar thoughts?