Monday, July 09, 2007

Can I be a programmer for life?

I always wonder, can I be a programmer for life, or at least be a technical person for life. Why would I want to do so? Because I am good at it and enjoy it. Would I still do it if it means earning low wages all my life and risked being replaced by another fresh graduate? Hmm, that is worth pondering.

Sometimes I feel that a career in IT is quite merciless, as it favours the young and adventurous. If one day I can no longer keep up with the technology, I can no longer hold on to my spot as a programmer. I might need to move up the ladder and become a System Analyst or Manager, which require less technical skill but more communication, documentation, planning and delegation skill (a.k.a use lots of Microsoft Office products and make my minions do all the dirty work, more Power, hehehe).

As I get older and moving further away from the corporate ladder, I felt at lost. I am not sure of what I want to do in the future. Being a manager seems like the de facto path, but I might not be qualified for it in the eye of the corporate world. At the same time, it also doesn’t seems like a very interesting job, although with more responsibility and less fun. I imagine going to the office, making a cup of coffee, checking lots of emails, attend the 10AM meeting, handle emergency issues, doing pep talk, make sure everyone is doing their work, keep project on schedule, going for more meetings, taking more crap, fire up more Microsoft Office products, etc. It doesn’t seem that bad, not as if my current work is much better. Perhaps I am just lost and feeling fearful of my future.

What is my ideal future then? Running a small software business, and making more or equal amount of money if I were to climb the corporate ladder. It seems to be a possible dream; it is just the matter of how long I take to get there. Is time working against me at this moment? Can I still afford low wages and continue with my exploration? Somehow I no longer feel that young or adventurous, but I still intend to make my ideal dream come true. I like the dream; I like running something small and am comfortable with it. I am quite fearful of getting another job, and be totally uncertain of what is installed for me in that job. Since when do I worry about getting another job? Perhaps it is the matter of whether I can find a job which I like (and pay well), and not be disappointed again. Nothing is perfect, perhaps I am thinking like a perfectionist again and fearful of uncertainty (which is pretty common in life).

Do I still want to be a programmer for life? Am I happy with my life for the past 8 years as a programmer? I always believed that even if I am a boss or a manager, I should still be a programmer. I felt Micro ISV is a very unique business that requires me to have strong technical skills, unless I can find a side-kick who is better than me in technical skill and be loyal for a long long time. I had seen so many software companies fall apart because they didn’t manage their software development process well. Perhaps I am just being too paranoid and techie, but I can’t help to have a strong belief in it.

In order for me to feel secure about my future, I have no choice but to make what I am doing now to work. I really need to bulk up and sleep less (I have massive sleeping urge all day long). For the future and the love of my life, I have to do the very best to make this work.

Like most of my postings, there are more questions than answers, and the is a conclusion which isn’t quite the answer to the question.

PS: I found that I write during the time which I am busiest?

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