Why Does Everyone Want To Be a Software Engineer?
A riff on all the “tech hiring freeze” articles
The title is, of course, hyperbole — I once worked with a woman named Maria, and she did NOT want to be a software engineer so she became a product manager instead.
The elephant in the room right now is the tech hiring freeze, something that started with Meta’s rather abrupt hiring freeze and has now fanned out, to the point that I can Google “tech hiring freeze” and get a dozen results. This is not to say that Meta started the trend, it just so happens to have been one of the first companies. You can also read articles by people who claim that the tech bubble has burst. That’s fun.
These blog posts are written on a queue, meaning they are sometimes made weeks before they are released. Maybe by the time you read this, things will be drastically different…I doubt it, but it’s possible.
In the video below, Clement talks about the tech bubble and why he remains optimistic — in summary, he believes it is only applying to certain companies. Clement seems like a great guy, and some of his YouTube content is great, but I cannot help but wonder if he is just doing this to promote his product. If I were asked to promote his product, AlgoExpert, which I have never used, I would have taken the opposite approach: I would have said that I am very pessimistic about the situation of software engineers right now, so AlgoExpert is more useful to us than ever.
Instead, I am going to push for Grind75 again and everything Yangshun Tay has touched. I am getting a little tired of everyone trying to make money off of coding interview preparation, especially now that demand seems to be cooling off. I am also a little annoyed about how the media is covering this, considering that just a year ago, we were bombarded by endless clickbait articles about how easy it was for anything that moved to become a high-paid software engineer. I also still like InterviewNoodle, but I am disappointed so much of its content is paywall-blocked now. Also, how the hell did this NFTs article get in?
Why Does Everyone Want To Be A Software Engineer?
I was never really sold on this video, which argues that coding is in just about everything and that the workplace amenities are really sweet. To the first point, what about business? Every company listed on the stock exchange has a business side, so why don’t we dedicate our lives to optimally pricing goods, assessing business risks, and making sales? To the second point…yes, for better or worse, a big draw in the tech industry right now is how employees are treated. I interned at a company with a snack bar, an open bar, and a video game arcade. I hear they recently upgraded and now have a petting zoo.
Instead, if someone were to ask me why they should consider becoming a software engineer, I would point them to this article series. In it, someone plays through the game Final Fantasy 6, locates a bug, systematically exploits the bug in order to experiment with her own personal goals, documents how she thinks the game mechanics work (no one ever managed to get the actual source code), and then becomes famous for unlocking a secret.
Even a non-gamer could relate to this story because a software engineer gets to be curious and really break down how things work. Let’s say, for example, you are wondering why your website does not work. First, you can look at the console and some client-side code to get an idea. You can go much deeper, however. To a software engineer, a lot of these problems in everything from a mobile application to a website become interlinked. You can explore different technologies, and you can piece them together, and you can keep on discovering new things while inventing your own ways to solve problems.
Let’s be clear: Not every company is Google. If you are just starting out as a software engineer, you may be dismayed to discover a regular office with no video game arcade, secret room accessible via a bookshelf, or petting zoo in sight.
I found a really popular Reddit Thread featuring the Bloomberg article, Tech Companies Coddled Their Employees. Now They’re Firing Them. By “coddled,” it is referring to things like 30-days sabbaticals every five years and mental health days. Amenities come to mind for me here.
Most posts on the Reddit thread were highly critical of the use of the word “coddling.” Is basic healthcare coddling? Is it coddling to provide sleep pods, but with the rationale that employees are spending so many hours working that it is more convenient for them to sleep in the office? There are many, many questions these amenities bring to light.
All of that being said, I really wish we had a secret passage. Maybe we do, but no one told me because they knew I would blog about it.
More Reasons To Become A Software Engineer
- The pay
- The demand, though my now-infamous article was written to complicate that idea, I suppose
- The power to explore and create like ElephantGun had in that Final Fantasy 6 post
- Amenities or, on the flip side, flexible work-from-home options
- Blogging opportunities. What are you going to blog about if you are not a software engineer? Politics? War? Economics? This stuff is all terribly dry. Coding interviews are the most fascinating topic in the world, and I often leave parties/movie theaters/restaurants early just so I can get home to grind more LeetCode
You’ll read all kinds of “10 reasons to become a software engineer” posts, confusingly juxtaposed by a bunch of recommended articles with titles like “10 reasons to NOT become a software engineer.” As someone who wrote a fairly popular blog post complaining about coding interviews, maybe I am part of the problem.
That being said, this is still probably a good time as any to prepare. If the market really is that dire right now, then we will risk layoffs or an extremely difficult hiring situation…and that will be the time to go in with competitive skills. If they are all completely wrong, and this is mostly just isolated to very specific companies or will simply blow over in a little while, then we still need to have a certain level of skills.
Do those skills consist of coding on a whiteboard? Unfortunately, yes, though now we are talking about virtual whiteboards. I am not sure if that is a step in the right direction, though.
(P.S. a little bird told me Amazon and Microsoft are still hiring)