I never really thought I’d end up in tech. The web was brand new when I started making websites and not many people could foresee what it was going to become. I was a webmaster and that was as far as my mental model went. Nowadays, I have a career, UX is a legitimate (yet insecure) industry and some people care about it.
So, now is a great time to take a snapshot of what it’s like to work in tech:
PRO: If you like nerds, you’re going to meet a lot of really great people all the time.
There are tons of developers and designers now that come straight from school to the industry, which is great. But there is also a ton of nerds who weren’t traditionally schooled, found their way to a computer, did a bunch of really random things and stayed there. They’re pretty great too. If you’re a nerd, you’re finally going to be the norm.
CON: White guys. Everywhere. All the time.
Your friends will become white guys, you may date a few of them because you can’t control everything, and you may start absorbing white guy culture. Cliff notes: meritocracy, drinking for no reason, really tight pants, summer beanies, and rock climbing. Get your chalk bag on.
PRO: You don’t really work that hard.
Tech’s version of working hard is sitting at a computer for a very long time and thinking. Sure, I guess, but you’re not exactly working in a coal mine. You’re in an air-conditioned office with catered lunches, ‘culture’ departments and every so often you get to play ping pong or video games. This is all provided you’re not working for Elon Musk. If you are, you should probably get back to sacrificing everything so we can move to space.
CON: Your computer chair might kill you.
Like most things in life, if it’s easy or fun, it’s probably just out to kill you. Sitting down for eight hours a day is easy but it’s a great contributer to poor heart health, unstable mental health and back issues. The rock climbing or crossfit you’ll eventually do will help. Standing desks are also very popular but just as bad for other reasons.
PRO: Outside people think you’re really smart.
You get to say things like affordances and postgreSQL (I don’t know, I’m not a developer) and if the person you’re talking to doesn’t necessarily use the internet, you’re going to sound like a genius. This generally feels good, makes life a little easier, and being able to help your grandma set up her iPad so she can FaceTime you about what grandpa is cooking for dinner makes you feel useful. No, I can’t believe he’s making spaghetti again.
CON: Inside people think they’re really smart.
There are people who write 4000-word essays to innnocous internet comments because they need to prove someone else wrong. You’re going to meet/see/read about those type of people. Being right and logical (always the most logical) is a really big deal. Any evidence of bias will be ignored because it’s all a feminist conspiracy. Tread carefully.
PRO: You get to see people use the stuff you make everyday.
2000 sunk hours later you may be lucky enough to see someone use a product you worked on. Your eyes will light up as they click exactly where you wanted them to click. Oooh yeah, force touch that shit. They’ll say something like, “Oh my God, this is what I’ve always wanted! I love this!” It’s so satisfying and you’ll drink your gluten-free soy vanilla latte with a smug smile on.
CON: You get to see people use the stuff you make everyday.
They may also just click around in silence with a blank expression on and your eyes will turn black as these words escape from your mouth, “That’s not the way it was supposed to turn out.” You know you’re ashamed but you have to save face so you tell them about how difficult it was to communicate with the other team. Oh well, at least they’re not telling you about how tech ruined everything. Just kidding–that happens too!
PRO: The future is everyone’s oyster.
There are jobs that maintain the past and present and there are jobs where you get to design and change the future. Congratulations! You are part of the latter half. That’s cool as shit and this will never change.
CON: Any positive moves for the future may be fruitless.
The singularity is ahead of us.
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