Readjusting Expectations in Tech
“If a student of any discipline could avoid ever repeating the same mistake twice, they would skyrocket to the top of their field.”
-Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
I remember growing up always thinking the next stage of my life was what was going to end me. As I was finishing up 6th grade ready to start junior high I had teachers telling me, “You thought 6th grade was hard? Wait until junior high school!” I think it took a week into 7th grade before I realized that comment was bullshit. 7th grade was 6th grade with a few more teachers and a few more rooms. What a relief.
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. Once I was about to finish junior high, I was told high school would be my reality check. After high school it was college yet each year was largely the same as the year before. After situating myself in college, I think I managed to build up an immunity to this scare tactic. I was never falling for this again.
Fast forward again to my first full-time job out of college. I was working for a great company with good pay and benefits but something just didn’t feel quite right. Outside of my day-to-day work, I was doing some basic VB programming in Excel for coworkers. This sparked my interest in programming so I started reading more about tech. I found TechCrunch, HackerNews, and a variety of blogs talking about the wonders of the tech industry and startups.
I began to envision a workplace where results and skills are everything. A workplace where I wouldn’t be a cog in the machine because the people making the product collaborate to decide its future. I could be a part of a culture where degrees and titles don’t matter. Passion and ambition are everything.
As you may expect, this isn’t the reality your average employee in tech faces. Like every other milestone I’d previously reached in life, tech was more of the same. High expectations with a reality that wasn’t much different than what I’d been a part of before. I was still sitting in meetings and waiting on details to be finalized before work could start.
Office politics still existed because, well, I was in an office. Just as I’d expected something different transitioning from grade to grade in school, I’d done the same switching companies and industries. I’d expected something to change and the only real difference was my work. Somehow, after all those years, I managed to make the same mistake once again.
Looking back I still would have made the decision to switch jobs. While I had high expectations coming in, I enjoy the act of programming entirely too much to switch careers. It’s very fulfilling once you consider yourself to be a competent programmer. However, my expectations would be much more realistic this time around. I would expect more of the same like the transition from junior high to high school but with a bit more programming.