I’m not a model employee. I’m not happy with just putting in my 8 hours and cashing my paycheck every two weeks. I want to learn. I expect to be constantly be challenged. I want to work on products I find interesting. I expect my co-workers to share my passion. I want a sense of purpose. Maybe I’m picky but I want it all.
My pickiness has made me wonder if there’s something wrong with me and I constantly reflect on what I really want for my career. I’ve never formally written it down which in hindsight was a mistake because I never got a full understanding of what I wanted, only what was currently lacking from wherever I currently was. My thoughts are below:
I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room
I want to work with other smart, passionate people who are interested in building cool stuff. When your coworkers are bored or not excited it has a tendency to rub off and really bring you down. I want to work with people who are just as excited about technology as I am and love to constantly push their personal limitations and knowledge. I expect my coworkers to have personal side project(s) (paid or open source) where the technology stack or libraries are different than what they use at work. Why? Because it brings perspective. Doing something in a different technology stack really opens your eyes to what is easy and what is unnecessarily hard in your current stack of choice.
The times where I’ve made the biggest leaps in my career are when I had unbelievably smart people on my team who openly shared what they were thinking and the rationale behind it. If you find people like that stick to them like a magnet and just soak up anything you can while you can. I want my whole team to be full of extremely smart people where everyone brings different strengths and weaknesses and we all learn from each other.
I want to help revolutionize an industry
OK maybe that’s a little extreme but it symbolizes my desire to work on fresh product ideas where we are pushing boundaries. The worse thing for me is to be bored or unmotivated at work. I hate the feeling and it saps all of the efficiency out of me and I feel like crap. I would absolutely love a job where I am constantly challenged by interesting problems (part of my problem is defining interesting). It’s sad but very rarely in my career have I ever been excited about a product or company and really thought it could change the world. I WANT to change the world. I WANT to be excited about coming in to work everyday and know that I’m making an impact. I WANT to be excited about the products I’m developing.
I want to work for a company that values me and my opinions
I’ve worked on cool stuff where the management was horrible at outlining the future. It seemed like a bunch of VP level people were having secret meetings and outlining our technical futures and the devs were on a need to know basis. Screw that crap! I understand management can’t be completely transparent at all times but a lot of your job is setting a direction and making your underlings excited about that direction. I completely switched my tech stack from Java to .NET because of my loyalty to the company but I could never get a clear answer from them about whether future projects would be mandated to be VB.NET (yuck). That doesn’t make an employee feel very valued and I ended up leaving because I lost confidence in the management.
At that same job we also had a team that was responsible for core product/architecture but weren’t allowed to speak or give feedback to that team unless we went through a manager. WTF! Again, screw that crap! It gives you a sense that your opinion is not valued and that you’re their primarily to just crank out code.
Part of valuing me and my opinion is giving me some autonomy about how I work and a little independence about what I work on. That’s a lot to ask for and it’s hard to strike a balance between getting stuff done and constantly spiking new concepts but give your employees at least a little freedom and see what they do with it!
I don’t want to be a manager
I was at a point a couple years back where I could see my career arch taking me into management. Then I dreamed about a life without writing code and it was a nightmare. I want to create/code until I die. Companies really need to stop taking their best devs and moving them to a non-dev role (unless that’s what they want).
I haven’t mentioned compensation yet
That’s on purpose. Software development is a very lucrative field and you can make a lot of money doing it. Once you make above a certain level of income though the additional money over that amount becomes a lot less important than what you’re working on and who you’re working with (hat nod to my mentor for so succinctly phrasing this to me).
If I got offered a job making 20k more but the gig sucked I’m not taking it. I’m past the point in my career where I take jobs because of the money. I want to work with smart people on cool products. That doesn’t mean I’m going to work for nothing of course, there is a basement to my salary I won’t go below. Anything above that though is extra and I focus more on the opportunity than the money.
Is this where I pimp the cool company I work for?
That’s how a lot of these rant type posts go but that wasn’t the point of mine. I haven’t personally experienced anything even remotely like what I describe above. It’s what I mentally picture places like Github and Google to be like. I’ve ended up in independent consulting because nowhere I worked ever fit the model of my ideal company. I know those companies are out there and that they exist but they seem to be very rare in Southwestern Ohio. Until I find it/them (or start my own company that fits the profile) I’m content being a hired gun.
If you’ve made it this far down the page and think your company fits what I’ve described above feel free to contact me: