This weekend I visited my uncle and his wife both of which are working as software developers - but their workday is basically the opposite of mine or my coworkers. And I forgot that there are still workplaces like that in tech and it made me appreciate the industry and company I work for much more.
Both my uncle and his wife have a PhD and worked in software for 20 to 25 years. On paper, they seem overqualified. Yet, I would never hire them. They don't care for the latest technology, security, standards or the products purpose/quality and quite fittingly they both work in companies I would never consider working for. I was particularly interested in her stories because she is doing web development where I can relate to much more than to my uncles 80s-astro-physics-software.
As I talked to her, she explained to me a typical workday in her software firm and the complaints of her about her job or team. While everyone complains about their job, it struck me that basically everything she complained about I considered "solved" in software companies. But apparently there are enough companies that never even tried "agile teams" before. Nor do they have flexible working hours or free coffee. These companies try to get out of sending an employee to a 200€ conference to save money.
A yearly budget for education of 25€. Basically one book.
Educating employees on the latest technology trends is not a concern for these managers. Nor are enjoyable working environments or equipment. I get the chills just by looking at that Windows 7 brick (not that I don't have one myself somewhere in the drawer...). Taking a new developer productive takes them about one week. Setting up their dev and test environments takes so long and is so complicated that new people need pairing for that week too. Compare that to other standards where a new dev should be able to work productively within the first day.
She said she and her colleagues are so far behind in tech they will never do "modern" software. I asked what the hell they're building anyway? Guess what, it's the god-awful intranet modules of giant german corporations 🤦♂️. The ones Chrome tells me are insecure. The ones where I still need to fire up Internet Explorer 10 to use them. I asked her to deploy an empty HTML file and delete all repositories 🤷♂️.
Not only do they work on meh-projects with oooooold tech and non-existend company perks, they also don't know that there's another world out there. Everything I told them about my workplace was considered "a nice utopia" or "the ideal vision" that never really works. So now I'm wondering, do they live in a bubble? Or are we in the bubble?
After our conversation she said: "maybe now... 5 years before retirement... it would be nice to work in a real software company for once in my life"... and I said: "fuck yes, there is nothing to lose anyway. Do it, right now." And as you probably are in the office right now, I want you to look around to the things you take for granted and appreciate how lucky you are to work in a place with so many cool things on exciting things each and every day.