So chances are good that you’ve at least dallied with the idea: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have a tech job?”
The problem is that this is actually the wrong question. Of course, it would be cool to have a tech job. You know, the free sushi, the ballpits, the undying envy of your non-techie friends.
But here’s the catch: None of that stuff actually matters. Because a career isn’t a collection of perks or humble brags. Instead, it’s a monumental adventure that’s going to have you spending more time in cramped conference rooms with strangers than at home with your own family and friends.
So if you come to tech purely for the fringe benefits, you’re missing the point. If you truly want to find a fulfilling career, you’ve got to focus on what the job is actually like - namely, what you do all day and who you do it with.
Thus, before you embark on a journey to ballpit land, take the following quiz to make sure that the substance of tech is really right for you:
1) You walk into an interview for a tech job and find that your potential manager is wearing a hoodie and flip-flops. You think:
A) At last, I’ve found my lost tribe!
B) This is a little awkward, given that my shoes cost more than her outfit, but I could get used to this.
C) Ha ha - nice joke sending the intern in here. Where’s the real boss?
2) Your boss says, “In order to ship this product by Q3, we’ll all need to work late for the next two weeks.” You think:
A) I’m willing to do whatever it takes to build something cool!
B) I’m passionate about my work but also about balance.
C) I want a day job, not a cult membership!
3) You’ve just spent six months working on a project only to discover that it’s been canceled and you’ve been reassigned to a new team. You think:
A) No problem! I love disruption!!!
B) That’s a bummer but I understand that things move quickly in tech.
C) Who moved my cheese? I quit.
4) After working your butt off for a year to get a small raise, you find out that a junior engineer fresh out of college is making more than you do. You feel:
A) Proud that we snagged such awesome, critical talent.
B) Frustrated by the injustice of the universe but understanding of the scarcity in the technical labor market.
C) Pissed off that some pimply-faced code-monkey is getting paid the big bucks to sit around and play ping pong!
OK, scorecard time. For each A answer, give yourself a point. And for each C answer, take a point away (what a deep algorithm, right? ;). Then see where you stack up:
2-4 = Welcome home, my son!
0-2 = Reply hazy, try again
< 0 = Let’s just say the tech world is an acquired taste…
While this was a somewhat glib exercise, it points to the very real fact that tech is a genuinely different kind of culture. And though each company and team has a unique style, nearly every tech role features some combination of:
A casual workplace environment...
...Filled with passionate technophiles hurtling towards brutal deadlines...
...Rocked by constant, relentless change...
...And subordinate to a pecking order that prioritizes technical talent over just about anything else
Depending on your background and taste, these factors could either be a welcome change or downright revolting. But the important thing is to recognize them ahead of time. So that if you do decide to take the plunge, it’s not into a ballpit of hype - but instead, it’s with eyes wide open.