In this article, I share some thoughts about what made me want to be and continue to be a developer.
The "always wanted to be a developer" fairy tale
I often see people on social networks writing about how they have always wanted to be a developer, how they started programming as kids, and how they have built their first websites in high school or before. Sorry to disappoint you, but that's not me. I have never programmed anything when I was a kid 🧒. Yes, I used a computer but that was to play video games not something geeky. I only discovered computer science after high school when I was preparing for the selective entrance examination to French engineering schools. The computer science class was an optional class but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it more than the advanced mathematics and physics courses that I liked but that were becoming too abstract for me. It convinced me that I should study in a software engineering school to become a developer. There I discovered what being a developer was really about, and became fond of it ❤️.
Hence, no "always wanted to be a developer" fairy tale for me 📖. No years of practicing software development before studying it during higher education. And that's okay by me. I think you don't have to be passionate about development since your childhood to become a developer. Moreover, it's not because you did not build your first website before 15 years old that you are not going to be a good developer or that others will always be better than you. You don't even need to get a computer science degree to become a software developer. I graduated in computer science and I am happy with my education but there are many other ways to become a developer (self-learning, training programs, coding bootcamps, career change, ...) 👨💻.
I explained how I became a developer but not exactly why, which brings us to the second part of this article.
Why? because it's fun!
Lots of people want to become developers because they are lots of job opportunities, the salary is usually good 💶 and you can work for nice companies. That's true, but we often forget the main thing: coding is fun 😁! It's like playing a game in which you have to solve problems. I still like playing video games in my free time (I don't do it often though), but sometimes I can spend a better time coding than playing video games 🎮. It just feels great writing code and solving problems!
Moreover, when you develop, you are building something. Something that may be digital/virtual but that helps people in the real world. It's amazing when you realize that with coding skills you have the opportunity to build anything you like: applications that run on your laptop, on your smartphone, on your watch, in your browser, in the cloud, in your IoT device, in your car... Software runs the world and you can help build it 🌍.
Nowadays, IT is everywhere so you can work in many different fields. Whether your work in the energy industry or e-commerce, you will still be coding but the software you are developing will have different business needs and constraints. It means, you can work for a variety of companies, and discover different businesses while being a developer. Being able to work for different businesses is the case in other professions but this is especially true for developers. And even if you only ever work for one business, IT is a big field so your job can be very different depending on what type of software you are working on 💻.
Of course, it's hardly a bed of roses. Just because it's fun does not mean it's easy to be a developer. IT is a fast-moving industry, so it's very hard to keep up to date with new frameworks, libraries, language features, cloud components... 🚀 Everything is evolving rapidly so you never stop learning. But it's part of what makes software development great, you are always learning something new 👍. I must confess you can sometimes feel like a beginner when you start working on something new, and even with several years of experience, you can suffer from impostor syndrome. Yet, when you realize how far you have come, how much you have learned, it just feels nice working as a developer.
💡 If you are interested in how to keep up to date with the latest things in IT, I wrote a series of 3 articles about how to do a technology watch 📚.
I think it's important not to speak only about the positive aspects of being a developer. I love my job but it's not always easy. Sometimes you get stuck on a problem for a few days, your code won't work, and you think nobody can help you 😿. Unless you are implementing complex algorithms, writing code is not hard but making it work is something else. Because being a developer is not only about writing code, there is much more to it than that: teamwork, understanding the business needs, designing software, debugging - building - packaging - deploying - testing - monitoring your code ... 🛠️ So yes it's a challenging job, but I like challenges. At the end, when things finally work, you ship your code to production, and the users are happy it's very rewarding 😀.
All that is what made me want to be a developer. Nevertheless, the developer's job leads to many other professions, so after a few years should I stay a developer?
The real question: what makes me want to stay a developer?
I don't know if it's the same in other countries, but in France, developer is often seen as an entry-level job. According to many companies, as you gain in experience, you should either become a technical expert in a specific field or a project manager leading a team. Being a "simple" yet experienced developer is often seen as a failure when you grow "old". Your experience and knowledge as a developer are not so much valued 💶, and if you wish to develop your career you should be managing projects better than programming. So what makes me want to stay a developer then?
💬 It's weird to encourage experienced developers to become project manager because it's not the same job and it does not require the same skills. Therefore a well experienced developer can easily become a bad project manager. I have nothing against developers becoming project managers, if you want to, do it, it's great but you should not have to do it just to get promoted or have a better salary. Hopefully, not all the companies think like that but still, that's a problem in France.
I want to stay a developer because I love programming 💖. I don't want to be a technical expert or a project manager telling people what to code but hardly coding at all himself. I like programming, it's what I currently do, and it's what I want to keep doing. And I don't just want to stay a developer, I want to become a better developer. I want to continue to grow and develop new skills.
As a developer, there are so many things to learn, so many technologies to discover, and IT keeps evolving. For the years to come, I want to continue learning new languages and frameworks, use the latest trendy tools, be amazed by new technologies, build software that helps people, and share with others what I will have learned along the journey.
Many things made me want to be a developer and stay one. Being a developer is awesome, I am grateful to do a job that I am passionate about.
I don't often write non-technical articles and even fewer articles that talk about me. I hope you enjoyed reading this article anyway. This article is part of the 4 articles in 4 weeks Hashnode writing contest.