For a lot of people on the outside, being a computer programmer must seem very mysterious. They will hear all about the stereotypes about computer programmers, most of which seem to contradict one another. Lots of people really don’t know how their computers work, even if they have some vague idea of what is in them. More and more people are computer literate today, but that only means they know how to operate them. The inner workings of computers seem to become more and more mysterious as they become more and more advanced. It seems that no matter how long computer programmers have been programming, programmers are just mysterious as the programs that they program.
In a way, I suspect that computer programmers and software engineers actually like it that way. For one thing, if people really knew all about what they were doing at work, they might be a little suspicious when it came to evaluating their salaries. I can tell you that as a programmer, procrastination is a huge part of my job, and I’m really not supposed to be getting paid for it.
I do write original codes at work, but that isn’t the entirety of what I do or what my colleagues do on a regular basis. The people fresh out of college will usually imagine that they’re going to be doing this sort of thing at work all the time. This is partly a function of the fact that this is what they did in college when they were still learning how to code. They’ll think that whatever they did for their final projects is going to represent what they’re going to do at work time and time again.
Sadly, that’s probably not even going to be fifty percent of what they’ll do on the job. Obviously, it depends upon where you work. If you’re doing a startup, then you probably are going to be coding more or less nonstop in the beginning. If you’re working with the sort of big tech company that is going to give you more stability, than you’re not going to be writing as many original computer codes. In fact, I spend more time fixing other people’s codes than I do writing any new ones of my own. Maybe this isn’t the most efficient system in the world, but it is the one that a lot of software companies use.
I will also test software frequently in order to detect any potential problems with it. Usually, there aren’t any problems with it, but that isn’t going to stop me from testing it over and over again. A lot of my colleagues are going to be doing the exact same thing. Often times, a lot of the software research that we do in these situations is also going to be a matter of us failing to truly change software even as we’re giving the impression that we are.
I don’t want to give the impression that software engineers don’t contribute to their fields, or that all of the work that you’ll do as a software engineer is going to be redundant. However, aspiring software engineers need to know that our work is drudge work like any other. They should also know that many of us really do expend our vast brainpower on finding ways to avoid work. If people don’t accept that, then they’ll never fit in with the culture of the average software company.