The time has never been better to elaborate on this topic. Why? It’s 10.30 pm and I’m still at the workplace, trying to get this piece of code working. Yup. Life can definitely improve.
Software Engineering, as all of partakers agree, is a stressful profession to take up. Like the 300 Spartans who fought against an impossible enemy, like the Picts who faced destruction before the mighty Roman Empire but managed to wipe out its best legion, like the Kamikaze.. wait.. lets stop there… (contd) Software Engineers battle the toughest enemy of all with their might, even facing destruction themselves. These modern day gladiators with obese bodies are the pioneers who would take humanity to the next step.
Now that we have finished over glorifying the profession, lets take the hard facts. A Software Engineer’s life kinda sucks. You can’t engage it without spending a significant amount of time in front of a computer, and it often involves stressing the brain to the maximum limit. Only the hands and most of the organs in the head require motion and the rest of the body needs to be relaxed. Operation of no heavy machinery is required. Most of the time, you’ll spot one just staring at empty space, looking like a monkey trying to understand the opposable thumb. If in motion sudden stopping and freezing on the spot for a while is normal. Unlike most other professions, software engineers do not get to drop work at the office and go home with a free mind. Once you drop the line of work you do, there is no picking it up again. You should start from the beginning (I know I know.. soft kitty warm kitty little ball of furrrr….)
Despite all these “hazards” inherent in the profession, most software engineers are so by passion. They love what they do (again this most of the time, not all.) and they keep loving it for a considerable time. They can keep engaged in coding or whatever it is that they do without being distracted easily. Of course, again these habits can really be damaging.
A few weeks back some videos of a seemingly crazy dude babbling over Buddhism, world peace, war, and all the rest of it surfaced up. Eerily this guy is/was a software developer with a considerable number of years as experience. A brilliant one it seems, unfortunately (and hopefully) reached a mentally unbalanced state. I suspect stress and related hazards of the occupation. How much does it take for a normal guy to snap? Multiply that by two and you get the amount of stress us people go through.
And when us people are able to get through the sheer amount of Newtons per square meter over our heads, there is this whole not-being-recognized-for-the-work-done thing. I don’t know if you have already come across this discussion, but it is a fact that software engineers don’t usually get appreciated for the end product they create. A brilliant elaboration is done here, so I don’t have to go deeper about this.
As the job description involves constantly working at a computer, we don’t usually get to mix in with the rest of the society. This tends to have a noticeable effect on the person, which is noticeable only until you get used to it. You have to cross to the Dark Side, or become a bad software engineer.
And I almost forgot. Girls. To be honest, don’t expect a lot of girls to be in this profession. Most of the time you’d have to wander off in to other non-IT sections of the company to find attractive ones. And if you find an attractive female in Software Engineering, be a good brother and let the rest of us know. Now before you start flaming me, it should be said that what I mean is attractive females in this industry is comparatively low. This is to get you ready, so that you won’t be disappointed.
Seriously though, what I’m trying to say here is this. If you are an IT student dreaming of becoming a software engineer, you should be aware of these negative facts. We were also warned, but by then it was too late. And we’d have continued anyway. Consider this a warning. This is one of the most stressful jobs of all. Your lifestyle, habits, social awkwardness, relationships and personality will significantly change. I’m still single, but my girlfriend already complains about me staying at the office till midnight. If I was married, I’d be Tehran and she’d be Washington. Another blog post talked about what it is like for a married guy to be a software engineer, which unfortunately I can’t find right now. So, be warned weary traveler!
Of course, you wouldn’t stop, you wouldn’t think about giving up let alone taking a step back. You are passionate about coding, building software, the bloodline of the future human society. So buckle up soldier. You have a whole lot of coding to do!
PS: I started writing this article about two weeks back, it was 10.30 PM. I’m finishing it two weeks after, it is 2 AM in the night. I came home about an hour ago.