This article is about my first steps into the world of web development. If you are considering changing careers into the IT world, or have already decided to do so but don’t know where to start, I hope this helps. And if the above does not apply to you but you are nosy, I hope this is still entertaining for you, too. :)
I’ve structured my tale in five sections:
Why become a developer anyway?
Let’s briefly go back to the summer of 2020. I was without a job and, at this point, without the certainty that my job as an agile project manager was what I wanted to do long-term. With everything I took for granted being called into question, I decided to take a step back and think about what kind of work I really wanted to do. Both from a “making ends meet” perspective as well as a “what do I want to contribute to the world” perspective.
Of course my reasons are specific to me, as your reasons will be to you. But I still want to go over some of the considerations that lead me to my decision. My motivations were two-fold: I wanted job security and financial stability as well as doing work that challenged me and that I would enjoy. Let’s look at the practical considerations for choosing a career as a dev. They might seem unromantic, but I for one think romanticising work is not that helpful anyways.
I wanted financial stability and a job I could trust I wouldn’t lose again as easily as the one I had before. The demand for developers seems to be ever increasing and even if some companies struggled in the pandemic, the industry as a whole was doing fine. I believe it is likely that the industry won’t be too affected by other crises in the future (though of course we can’t know for sure). Before the pandemic, I never gave working from home much thought, but now working remotely was a must-have requirement. Not only to keep myself safe, but also others, during a virus outbreak. Being able to work remotely from anywhere became more attractive to me for other reasons as well. Even if I don’t have any plans to move right now, with my future becoming nebulous I wanted to make sure my job would not be a factor in holding me down in one place if my plans change. Luckily, at factorial we already have a globally distributed team and have had a lot of experience with remote work even before the pandemic. So if I decided to move I wouldn’t need to find a new job. Still, it is nice to know that I could find work almost anywhere, not just on a local job market.
For me, working in tech means the perfect combination of stability (good pay, job security) and flexibility (working remotely, flexible working hours). These factors allow for adaptability to life changes, which brings me to my other set of considerations.
A career that I can see myself in for many years to come needs to provide more than a nice paycheck. And even if I don’t believe in romanticising work, I want to enjoy what I do and not dread getting up every morning (more than I will forever dread waking up on any given day).
I wanted to do work that is meaningful and that would add value. Something that would challenge me and was at least adjacent to my ambitions in life. Talking about purpose (or as I like to call it, one’s work in the world) can get pretty personal and somewhat philosophical real fast. So while I won’t go into much detail about my convictions here, I want to provide some help if you are still in the process of figuring this stuff out. After all, this is a lifelong practice and a question that needs to be revisited as life changes.
If you are unfamiliar with the Ikigai method, I recommend you read up on it. It’s a japanese model for finding your purpose and it basically asks you to answer the four questions: What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What does the world need? What can earn you money? Where the answers to these questions overlap is where your purpose lies.
I am paraphrasing here, definitely read up on the real thing, which will also guide you how to best do the exercise. You can go full-on spiritual with it if you like, but even if you are the most rational person out there, it is worthwhile to give this approach a go.
If you are already set on becoming a developer, this method might not be groundbreaking, but thinking about what you like to do on a daily basis is still helpful. I love puzzles, finding order in chaos and am good at noticing small details, as well as seeing the bigger picture. Thinking about stuff like this can help broaden your perspective on what tasks you might enjoy. Doing the exercise also made me realise what a blessing it is to be able to choose a career based on what you enjoy in the first place.
To sum it up in one short sentence, I wanted a job that was resilient and I wanted to do work that enriches my life and the lives of other people.