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Every day, you wake up to an alarm on your iPhone, you listen to a streaming music application while brushing your teeth and heading to work, you stare at some awful business productivity suite for eight hours, and then you come home, Grubhub dinner, and Tinder the night away while watching Netflix (you pathetic bastard). Saturday night, you took an Uber to the bar, where you met up with your pals and got shitfaced while listening to the ’80s jukebox music you picked on a mobile app that used some damn satellites to figure out which cheapskate bar you were in and coordinated playback accordingly. The whole week, you snapchatted your first-tier friends selfies of you bored at work, and you snapchatted your third-tier friends videos of you getting wasted with your first- and second-tier friends.
We’re living in the digital age, people. Software impacts every hour of our yuppie lives, and the industry is thriving. The dotcom bubble bust didn’t spell the end for a booming software economy. It just warned investors that a lot of internet business ideas are shitty. Folks wised up. The software industry provides its workforce with a lot of awesome perks and a few challenges, but more so than ever, it provides stability that you can build a career upon. Programmers, while the poster child of the software biz, are not the majority of the employee pool, either. Tech companies require management, legal departments, HR, sales, design, quality assurance, and all the other facets of a business. What software does do differently is work environment and culture. It might be worth looking into the next time your backward company has you on the verge of putting in your two weeks.
Programmers make bank with as little as a bachelor’s degree and a half-decent GPA, which I’m sure studies would show if I felt like searching for an article and citing it. However, that would require looking up citation formatting and fact-checking and shit that I generally don’t do since I’m not in college anymore and you have Google, too, you lazy fuck. Anyway, programmers, while occasionally brilliant and often poorly-spoken, require handling in the form of project managers and quality assurance to ensure they actually deliver something that can be sold and used, rather than spelling error-riddled Firefly fan-fiction erotica. In other words, leadership is taking a gamble by paying poor communicators a lot of dough to complete technical work they can’t monitor effectively themselves, so having talented PMs and other business-savvy underlings to guide and coordinate software development is crucial. These people get paid pretty well, too–$80,000 isn’t an unreasonable salary in your mid-twenties. Of course, you will get paid more on average if you stick it out with medical school, but the software business rarely requires more than a four-year degree and a good head on your shoulders. And if you want to get that MBA some day, your employer will probably pay for it if you sign a contract for a few years.
To this day, I get looks of disbelief when I explain to friends or family that I don’t interview in a tie. Software development companies, in my experience, don’t give two shits about how you look at work when you’re not interacting with clients, so overdressing can make a hiring manager worried that you’re overcompensating for something (in addition to your tiny dick, chump). For programmers, a nice button-down and the ability to hold a normal conversation without giving off any Buffalo Bill vibes goes a long way in an interview. Non-technical roles might be better off interviewing with the tie or other business casual attire, but honestly, in software interviewing, a suit can often come across as rather cheesedickish.
Once you’re hired though, incorporating full-length pants into your wardrobe is just gravy to your manager. Client-facing roles will have to be a bit more formal more often, but your average desk jockey can wear (the same) khaki shorts five days a week with bottle-opener flip flops and get away with it. This isn’t to say that looking nice isn’t good for your career (or your chances of hooking up with the cute intern you are “mentoring” for the summer). Rather, the less formal environment means you can stand out as a sophisticated sharpshooter by doing something as simple as not wearing denim every day of the week. Throw on a nice Oxford a couple days a week and you’ll have a middle-management position locked down by 25.
This is a curse and a blessing. Spending eight hours a day at your desk can turn you into a fat, soulless bastard if you let it, but if you’re proactive about fitness, it can be awesome. Plus, software development companies know now that making employees sit at cheap office chairs and type on shitty keyboards for 30 years is a surefire way to incur expensive health insurance costs when they inevitably get simultaneous back problems, diabetes, and carpal tunnel syndrome, so they’ve made some sweeping improvements. Odds are today that your office chair costs as much as your first car, you can get an ergonomic keyboard if you bitch even a little bit to IT, and gym memberships are subsidized or straight-up free, thanks to your employer.
You might be apprehensive about taking a job where you’ll have to regularly interact with individuals who, for the lack of a better description, are often confused with Rain Man (i.e. programmers). However, not only are more and more normal, well-spoken, fun-loving technical employees being hired each year, but the gender balance is improving, too. Tech companies are also all competing to be hip, so you can expect an aesthetically-pleasing office with little niceties ranging from top-of-the-line Keurig and espresso machines to remote-controlled Nerf guns to treadmill desks to beer taps, which segues nicely into my next point. Also SEGWAYS. At the last place I worked, my boss communicated with people on my floor via a remote-control Segway-mounted iPad. Twenty-fucking-first century, folks.
Liquor And Drugs
Back to the booze. Booze and hard work have always gone together, and it seems as if the software business (as much as any) misses the “Mad Men”-era tradition of getting shithoused in the office. It’s pretty normal to have beer available in the office in addition to the staple free soda and other beverages. Shit, when I interviewed with a colorfully-logoed large software company in Silicon Valley during senior year of college, it had a damn scotch bar in the corner of the office. To be fair, someone put a sign on it that said to keep the drinking reasonable during normal working hours. Also, company-sponsored social events and happy hours are not unique to the software industry, but they are definitely highly appreciated here.
Speaking of your work staples, while getting snow-blind while managing your department is still a potential career problem, almost all software industry employees can look forward to minimal to no drug testing. As it turns out, creative people tend to like to breathe deep of the devil’s cabbage quite regularly, and software companies understand that (at least subconsciously) when they draft their employee handbooks. Any software company worth its salt asks at most for a squirt of your yellow bathroom juice when it initially hires you (to see if you’re smart enough to do math on how many days it takes to get a fake dick/wizz system delivered via Amazon) and most don’t even do that anymore.
Plus, a ton of big name, high-paying software development jobs are located in legal or medical weed hubs like California, Washington, and Colorado. There is literally a pot dispensary beneath my office (plus a sandwich shop–score). If left-handed cigarettes are your thing and you’re sick of getting shitty pot from your sketchy quasi-friend you met at your local dive bar, a switch to software might be the solution. For fuck’s sake, there are even mobile apps to streamline the process, like Weedmaps. If you’re not already convinced software and drugs go together like lamb and tuna fish, you should know there are even established hackathons oriented toward the legal marijuana industry. Computers and drugs–it’s like sophomore year of college all over again, but THEY’RE PAYING YOU NOW.
My Damn Point
Software might not be the right industry for you (you asshole). Maybe you like to manage nonprofits aiding poverty-stricken locals in Africa, or maybe you just are a sociable person and it doesn’t seem like a match. But 1) fucking Ebola, and 2) if you were really sociable, you wouldn’t be posting two dozen pictures to Instagram a week instead of simply living your life, which, by the way, is only possible because of software, dammit. Thus, I think you should at least keep the software business on your shortlist next time you’re in need of a job. The perks are great, the shitty things are getting steadily less shitty, and the career outlook is grand. Still, it’s your choice–but if your job gets automated by a tech company and you get shitcanned, don’t come crying to me. All I ever offered was easy money, free liquor, and legalized drugs..