Most computer engineers dream of becoming software wizards during graduation. But when they enter the Indian IT industry they lose focus in a few years and become another programmer in the herd. What does it take to step aside from the crowd and walk towards your own goal? From my personal experience, watching seniors and juniors around me I have found a few guidelines very very essential to keep a software engineer focused.
1. Many a time a meager salary dejects a quality developer. The trick is to go for successive switches within a span of a few years. An employee’s relationship with his company is strictly business – the one which can afford you gets your service. There’s a myth that quick switches may be regarded negatively by companies. Well NO! What matters is your quality and capability of getting their work done. No company wants to pay an employee over the next 3 decades without knowing beforehand whether it will have suitable work for him all the time. But as a professional it’s ethical to complete the current project and then leave if it is in a critical state. Once you cross a lakh INR per month net salary in India it’s time to stabilize. Better to do it sooner not to worry about money later. I left 3 companies in 5 years before joining my current company which suits me with respect to work, work culture, salary and I never regret the past switches a second.
2. If the work is not quality, there’s time to spare and no good openings in sight it’s the time to enhance your skills. Join any open-source module of your interest, contribute and sharpen your weapons. It matters a lot in your CV. It takes at least 6/7 years to become a confident developer unless you are a genius or a prodigy; being well-versed C, C++ or JAVA is simply the beginning. In addition, there are much more opportunities to learn in product based companies than the service based companies. If you are a quick learner, exploring multiple domains makes you formidable.
3. The wrong boss who gives more importance to people who are technically handicapped and sound more. Personally, I have seen this a lot but passion for work can keep you going. People take credit for things others have done, the wrong person gets appreciated all the time… But a focused developer with a few years experience can survive these and have his satisfaction from his work and obviously a better package than others (check point 1). Appreciation from the wrong people doesn’t count – pure and simple (rather pity them because they can’t understand complexity). But this does affect freshers extremely and finding a positive mentor is the only option for them.
4. Read and realize the Tao of Programming. It teaches how to live beyond everything and in your own technical mind-space. It may seem funny or trivial (to know-all people at least) but it is nothing less that a full-scale Bible – it teaches to forget everything in honest hard work.
Here’s my favourite one from the Tao:
A programmer from a very large computer company went to a software conference and then returned to report to his manager, saying: “What sort of programmers work for other companies? They behaved badly and were unconcerned with appearances. Their hair was long and unkempt and their clothes were wrinkled and old. They crashed our hospitality suite and they made rude noises during my presentation.”
The manager said: “I should have never sent you to the conference. Those programmers live beyond the physical world. They consider life absurd, an accidental coincidence. They come and go without knowing limitations. Without a care, they live only for their programs. Why should they bother with social conventions?
“They are alive within the Tao.”
“Never Go back” by Evanescence booming through my ears in full volume and 4:14 in the morning, it’s time for me to sleep. Analyzed an issue related to a nasty kernel crash on SMP systems today (no yesterday) – satisfaction guaranteed. 😉