An IMPORTANT message to ALL developers
I recently read this comment on one of my YouTube videos and honestly, this broke my heart! It really made me sad for a little bit and that’s the motivation behind this article.
I think as a coder and especially as a Project Manager, well and most of all as your friend, it is my responsibility to help you get rid of this kind of “stinking thinking”, yes now we have a term for it in the English language, “the human tendency to persistently engage with thoughts that do not serve us”, thanks to the psychologist, Albert Ellis.
Well, not to digress, what I want to share with you is what I find wrong with these kinds of questions and mostly this way of thinking. I do understand the situation 100% because I have been through the same experience a few years ago and I am so happy I was able to overcome this period of doubt and uncertainty, and this is why I genuinely want to help you do the same, so you can find your happy place too and are able to enjoy what you do.
Problem #1: Lack of Patience
So the first problem with this kind of thinking is, lack of patience, as this “3-month” time period is nothing! One should not even think that they can be productive as a web developer or as any other tech employee when they know nothing about the company, its culture, or its infrastructure, let alone the product they are trying to build or the service they are designing. At least this is exactly what your company thinks and is prepared for. Yes, in my experience as a hiring manager, I can tell you that when a company hires a new employee, they are prepared to give them time to navigate the environment and they understand that it might be impossible for you to be productive or even add value to the company for the first 3 if not 6 months. They know that you will actually do the exact opposite of being productive, taking more time with the senior members of your team, asking more questions to your teammates, and needing constant supervision thus you might even slow the team down in the beginning. Guess what? Employers are also prepared for that, at least most of them are! Why do you think most companies have a probation period of 3–6 months? And if this gives you any consolation, an employer is allowed to fire you with minimum explanation/legal formalities in your probation period. So, if they still have you on board, even towards the end of your probation period that means that you are doing well at least in your employer’s eyes if not yours.
Problem #2: Setting Unrealistic Expectations
This brings me to another issue, setting unrealistic expectations from oneself which gives birth to the “quitter mentality”. So, you don’t want to continue with something that doesn’t work for you, I get it, completely understandable, now before quitting, just do this for me, ask yourself - “Have you tried it long enough?”, “Have you tried hard enough?”, “Do you think it’s fair to say that you’ve tried everything in your capacity to make it work and it still didn’t work out?”
You know what, Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor as we call him today, didn’t even become a billionaire until he was 50 years old! In fact, 99% of Warren Buffett’s net worth was earned after his 50th birthday. Can you imagine that? Imagine if he lost patience and would’ve quit(well we sure wouldn’t be having this discussion right now). My point really is, when a company can set realistic goals with its employees why can’t we do that with ourselves? This reminds me of a great saying, “People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year..” I absolutely love this. Pause, and read again, let it sink in…
The real question is, what does your employer want from you in the first few months of starting a new job if your productivity is not what they are after?
1) They want to see your work ethic. How motivated are you to do a job? Not how fast you can do it!
2) How willing are you to learn? Do you ask enough questions? Do you well understand your tasks and clarify them if and when needed before jumping onto them?
3) Eventually when you start to understand things and get the hang of the work environment, how willing are you to participate in discussions? By either asking analytical questions or providing your opinions on things when needed or to even proposing a solution or uncovering the risks associated with a solution. It’s all about participation!
Now, I understand each work environment is different, so if you think your employer is pressuring you to complete more tasks by setting unrealistic deadlines and comparing and ranking its employees based on how many hours they overwork, or if they encourage employees to work crazy hours for long periods of time, which can be understood if it’s sporadic and temporary, but if this is a part of their culture and this goes on forever, in my opinion, this is a toxic work environment and is not sustainable. Well, then you might want to reconsider your choice of working for this company.
Problem #3: Switch Fields to Escape Coding
Now, my next problem is a mistake that I’ve time and again felt many people are guilty of indulging in(including myself), consciously or subconsciously, underestimating the field of Project Management. I feel that Project Management is very misunderstood in the sense that it’s not an escape for you if you are bad at coding, or if you “think” you are bad at coding. It is NOT easy, or let's say it’s not as easy as some people think! Now, I’d like to share a bit of my personal experience here, which is honestly a bit embarrassing but it’s important to admit it out loud. I did my Bachelor's and also my Master's in Computer Science which was never the plan. The plan was to pursue MBA right after my bachelor's to switch fields and get into management. Why? That’s because I hated coding so much, or at least I thought I hated coding! However, the truth was that I never tried enough to actually know or understand what it was like. The goal at the time was just to be good enough to pass the exams and complete the program. It was after I finished my Bachelor’s degree that I actually gave coding a shot. I, for once, started learning to code on my own through online courses and web forums, and in a matter of months, I started working on hobby projects out of intrigue. This made me realize that coding is not impossible and most importantly I don’t suck at it! As I never really tried it outside of my school’s curriculum, in a non-pressure environment, I just never knew that it was this fun when you can apply it to solve real-world problems.
We often fear or hate the things we don’t understand and I well realized that that was the case with me. So, I decided to not give up and give it another shot, and that’s how I ended up doing a Master’s in Computer Science. Right after, I took up a job as a Full Stack Web Developer for the first few years of my career. As I passed out of school and joined the workforce, oh my god, it was so overwhelming at first, coding in a complex/sophisticated environment is so different than coding in school. Well, the first few months were especially challenging, I faced major Imposter’s Syndrome. Long story short, eventually you realize that this feeling is totally normal and it happens with everyone. It only gets better with time and experience.
Now, coming back to Project Management, it takes a lot of work and time and very strong interpersonal skills to serve your team and your company as a good Project Manager. So, if you want to choose this field as the next career option for you, I’d encourage you to ask the following questions to yourself, 1) Why do you want to become a Project Manager? 2) Are you a people person? 3) Do you enjoy organization and documentation and talking to people, asking a lot of open-ended questions to brainstorm solutions together?
The bottom line is, you can never succeed at something you don’t like/enjoy. However, a good thing about us humans is that we never cease to surprise. So, I can’t discount the fact that you might be one of the exceptions haha! In all honesty, it is important to pursue what you enjoy doing, this keeps you interested and would make you want to keep learning and improve at what you do, which in turn brings you professional success!:)
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