December 20, 2017
Where Do Coders Work?
Coders work for companies of all sizes and in every industry. While it’s easy to understand why a developer might work at Microsoft - a company that develops software - it’s perhaps less intuitive why a developer might work for Home Depot.
The explanation, though, is simple. Every company relies on technology in some way. A hardware store may have a website and tens of software tools for internal management. From inventory trackers, automated product ordering software, and human resource management tools, a retail store may have a lot more software running its business than you might imagine. And the same applies for every organization in every sector.
The truth is that a developer’s day-to-day is affected much more by the employer’s size rather than industry. Working at a small, five person Silicon Valley startup is a very different experience than working for IBM. Let’s talk about the different scenarios.
Startups: Startups can have anywhere between 1 and 100 employees. I once worked at a ten person startup in which I was the only developer. Other startups have a whole team of developers. Working at a startup is usually exciting, but also comes with greater risk and sometimes less work-life balance. Some find working at a startup thrilling since their impact on the company is very large and noticeable, and the company itself often seeks to make a large impact on its given industry.
Midsize companies: For the purpose of this book, I’m defining a midsize company as one with 100 to 500 employees. The truth is that some midsize companies have only a few developers, while others may have dozens of them. In a company with more than ten developers, they are typically divided into teams. You’d work with your team on a single project at a time, splitting up the work among your teammates.
Large companies: Large companies usually come with large company culture - which tends to be a bit more bureaucratic - and you may be one of hundreds of developers. In many large companies, there may be many teams of developers, and you may not even know all the other developers in the company. As with a midsize company, large companies divide their developers onto various teams that each tackle a different project.
TV and movies often depict the perks of working as a software developer. You may have seen pictures of Google’s crazy offices, where lunch is served every day and dry cleaning is taken care of in-house. While it is true that these perks do exist at some companies, it’s relatively rare and everything depends on the company you’re working for. If you’re a developer for a typical large company, you will likely not have many perks beyond what every other employee of the company gets. Deciding to become a developer because of the perks is not a great idea.
What you do get as a software developer is a career that’s enjoyable (for the right person) and stable, and the ability to command a high salary that has the potential to keep growing.
We’ll talk more about salaries in a future post, but I wanted to focus a bit on career stability. One of the most promising things about becoming a software engineer is that our world is become ever more dependent on technology. High-tech - by definition - is something that can never go away. While robots may be taking the jobs of people who perform certain tasks, the world will always need people who can program those robots.
According to Code.org, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 500,000 open jobs in computing. (This includes software engineering and some other related fields as well). However, less than 43,000 people graduated in computer science last year. In other words, computing jobs will be in demand for as long as the eye can see. Additionally, ComputerWorld reports that tech jobs are projected to rise on the whole by 22% through 2020. Software developers in particular can expect a 32% percent increase by that time.
There’s an entire industry around trying to get a developer from one company to switch to another company. Since it’s difficult to find developers who are out of a job, technical recruiters are always bombarding developers with enticements to join the company that the recruiter represents. Recruiters get paid when they successfully nab a developer for the company. I personally receive emails from recruiters every week who are looking to hire me as a developer - just because my LinkedIn profile says that I have development experience. The fact that my LinkedIn profile also says that I run my own business doesn’t seem to matter. That’s how desperate they are to find developers!
In short, a career in software engineering is a career with longevity. While many other jobs may be going away, coding is here to stay. (The rhyme was entirely accidental, I promise.)