I had an interesting question posed to me after attending my session last week. She asked me “If you are no longer coding, why limit yourself to the software development industry?” My answer was simply “I love it.” but that was an “in the moment easy” answer. Why do I love it?
I didn’t grow up with college educated parents, who were grooming me for the professional world. The life my parents knew was to graduate, get a job, get married and have kids. The most that I remember saying is I wanted to be a lawyer because I liked to debate and argue. I enjoyed testing boundaries (yes, for anyone that knows my daughter, she is me and more). The truth is I was not an innocent kid. I was a smart kid, maybe too smart. As this is a blog and not a book, let’s just sum this up as a majority of my teachers and school staff were not very fond of me – some with very good reasons and some not. So I didn’t grow up with teachers helping guide me to the professional world either.
Then one semester in my junior year of high school, I took Computer Science. I remember completing my bowling game program in PASCAL. I then looked around and realized how many people were struggling. There were so many people that had barely started with their program and I was done. It was the first time that I enjoyed something that I seemed to be good at. Afterwards I did research about the demand and salary for computer programmers; only to get more excited about this possibility. I actually began to explore college.
Later I noticed a Society of Women Engineers program being advertised. It was a camp at U of M where you got to do various activities and explore the different engineering disciplines. I’m so very thankful to Whirlpool as they were a sponsor for kids that couldn’t afford the camp fee. So I went and had a blast. I fit in. I could be smart and sassy. I could be logical yet test boundaries. I could do this. So I applied to a few colleges in state and ultimately chose to go to MSU as a Computer Science major. I loved my computer science classes and professors (ok most of them). Three and a half years later, my love didn’t stop when I started working.
The fact is I didn’t stop coding because I stopped liking it. I still smile when I see code. The reality is I evolved and realized that the rewards I felt from finishing an app was not as high as the rewards I felt when I helped someone finish an app. Sure I could (and many do) help that person by coding with them but I struggled to find the time as my teams kept increasing and I was starting to do more damage to empowering (side note: I’m sure I’ll post more about the feelings I have that people have to choose between management and technical but that’s for a different day). I’ve chosen to focus on leading organizational environments that create amazing cultures for software engineers. Simply, I want others to have an even more rewarding experience than I did as a programmer. So yes, my skill set today might afford me to leave the software development industry but I owe and love this industry too much to leave. I don’t have a job, I have a passion. So I guess my easy in the moment answer was the right answer.
Why do you love software development?