In the last decade, development has become a lucrative and popular career. Whether it’s formal education, online courses or being completely self taught, those who are interested in programming have ample opportunity to become a developer and there is certainly no shortage of work for them; as long as business owners continue to have ideas, they’ll also need developers.
But why do people want to become a developer? Well, there are lots of reasons. First there’s career safety—many want to enter a field with a high probability of finding a job. Secondly, there’s the allure of a handsome salary. This is relatively true, talented developers can expect a sizable salary: in New Zealand the average salary for Bachelor of Computer Science graduates in their first year of work was $55,000 (2017). With hard work, developers can find their salaries hitting six figures. Salary varies in different parts of the world and many like to move to places where their skills earn more—the modern developer needs to have outstanding communication skills and cultural adaptability.
However, money is only one part of the equation: why do you really want to become a developer? Paychecks and career safety is great, but you need more than that to have a long, successful and meaningful career. Ask yourself, what’s your raison d’etre?
Developers vs Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s (in)famous hierarchy of needs should be taken with a grain of salt—humans are very complex, and a lot of modern research is very skeptical about it, particularly the position of the social tier. Still, it remains a useful guide, both for managers and for people seeking to understand themselves and their needs. Let’s discuss the tiers in relation to the job and experience of being a developer.
Physiological and Safety Needs
If you’ve got a job as a developer, it’s likely you can give the first two tiers a tick. Even beginners can find a wage that sees them earning well above their local cost of living. Remote work is also much more common in tech, allowing you to save easily by living somewhere cheap while earning exceptional wages. That’s food and shelter mostly covered. Landlords may not necessarily understand what you do, but the IT industry has a reputation for stability that suggests rent will be paid consistently and on time.
Belongingness and inclusion in the workplace. You’re an adult, you’re busy! Making new friends as an adult can be difficult, sometimes it happens naturally, other times it’s something we have to consciously consider.
Developers are known to be a diligent bunch, which can leave little room for socialising. How sociable your experience is depends on the company itself. At CodeClouds we celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, wedding anniversaries (this is common in India) and public holidays. Does your company host other social events, after-work events, does it have a sociable office culture? Each company varies, but each opportunity is a way to help create a more comfortable and productive atmosphere that takes the weight off individuals to meet this need.
You should be comfortable with those who you share your workplace with. Many will remain colleagues, but some have the potential to become friends. This is commonplace for developer relationships—more than colleagues, but not quite friends. Many people only reveal a snapshot of their personality within a workplace, making it hard to tell whether you truly want to be friends with this person and whether growing that bond will be mutually valuable.
Ego and Self Actualization Needs
As a developer, we can achieve the third tier (social) by focusing on the two above. Here we improve ourselves as a developer, reaching for greater technical, creative and title aspirations.
Here is where we begin to answer our “why” beyond material needs. When we realise our potential and actively strive to reach it, we find more joy and meaning in our role as a developer.
The salary increase will come, but the challenges, improvement and eventual innovation should be its own reward.
The Role of a Developer Within a Business
The best companies are those that provide unbeatable solutions. Business owners have an idea and developers play a fundamental role in creating a solution that makes that idea a reality.
Developers are a massively influential part in creating a valuable project. Developers create the founding logic and code of a product, which is then given form by designers and sold by marketing.
It’s no secret that the role of a developer is to give life to someone else’s dream. You complete a task, to receive money so you can satisfy the first two tiers of Maslow’s needs. With more challenging projects, you will upskill yourself technically and broaden your horizons creatively—partially satisfying the top 2 tiers of Maslow’s needs.
Moving on from Maslow: What Do You Truly Want to Do as a Developer?
Forget the money, forget safety, forget stability, just for the moment.
Why did you first want to learn to code? With your current knowledge and experience, what can you envision yourself doing now? Do you still imagine yourself moving beyond your current state? Or have you become halted by the stability and financial comfort that comes with being a developer?
Did you want to create an app? Did you want to create a game? Did you want to start a business? Did you want to work as a freelancer? If you’re unsure, then start experimenting and your interest might spark.
What is that idea that continues to whisper when you let yourself dream? That idea may not represent money, it probably represents risk, but almost definitely represents fulfillment. Are you willing to admit to yourself that it’s what you want? Are you willing to live with regret? All of the above questions are questions you need to put some serious thought towards and make some serious decisions. Following what you really want to do as a developer might feel like taking an intimidating step into digital darkness—good!
Self Actualization: Making Your Developer Dream A Reality
Creating code is a huge advantage you have over many others in modern dream actualization. You have the ability to create, digitize and materialize dreams. Not many can do that, it’s a hard skill to learn, that’s why they pay good money to hire you. Each project for someone else is effectively training for your own aspiration, if you’d like to view it as such. There’s no reason why your next project can’t be your own.
If you’re thinking while reading this, “what if a developer following their dreams, means they’ll leave your company?” Well, that might happen. But, following your dreams does not mean you quit your current workplace immediately, that’s usually unwise. When developers view their hired work as an opportunity that can also benefit their individual aspirations, they produce better work, it’s mutually beneficial. Furthermore, they still have to gain the relevant knowledge and some savings before going it alone, which takes time. It’s never nice to say goodbye to a valued employee, but it’s equal consolation knowing they’re doing something that they’ll find even more fulfilling.
Whether it’s at your current workplace or your own efforts in your spare time. Everything you produce should represent progress towards a future goal. Sometimes you’ll feel that progress feels like a giant leap, sometimes a small step, other times a push back. What’s important is that you continue to find that progress no matter how small it is.
Develop Yourself: Develop Your Dreams
Some people say that the whole idea of following your dreams is a form of individualism, which is a very Western idea. I can see the truth and falsehood in that. Yes, you’re prioritising your aspirations. But, improving yourself, sharpening yourself and considering that many dreams have very humanitarian purposes, you’re still very much serving the overall group, i.e society. None of this is to say that traditional work is bad, many people are contempt with working and improving as a developer, but find plenty of meaning in other parts of their life.
At CodeClouds we pride ourselves in creating a company atmosphere that is both enjoyable and fulfilling. We are always looking for new talent for fresher and senior roles and provide career pathways that value individual improvement. If you’re interested, please see our careers page.