My “professional” hierarchy of needs
I’ve been working as software developers since July 2014 and during that time my point of view of IT industry have changed several times. Before starting my career I had absolutely no idea about this profession but even though I loved that! Why? Simply because of my friends who talked about tons of money they were earning, lots of benefits in the office including snacks, coffee, PlayStaion, alcohol and so on. That seemed awesome! Infamously, I must admit that during my first couple months as a developer I only took care of that kind of “needs”. But that changed pretty quickly…
“How much money do you offer?”
Yeah, that’s one of the most iconic programmer’s question. Don’t get me wrong, we all work to earn a money, and that’s totally fine. But talking with my friends who work as recruiters I heard a lot of stories when some “god dev” walked into the conference room, shook hand and started a conversation with a question “so, how much money do you offer?” Really? Is that the most import thing we need to know about the company we’re striving to? Yes, money is important since we all need to pay our bills, buy a food or simply waste some entertainment. But, here’s the thing. When we start earning much more than we used to, it turns out that suddenly 500$ doesn’t change that much. Let’s discuss the following example. John has three types of expenses:
- living – 2000$
- food – 1000$
- entertainment – 500$
Now, as a developer who earns 4000$ money might be kind of important since it’s almost completely divided into those three expenses (and he can also save 500$). Let’s say that after 2 years John earns 8000$ but his expenses haven’t changed since that. Having an offer for 9000$ might look temptingly but it’s not. The only change lies in the amount of money he can save each month since all his needs cost him about 3,500$. That is why money is a weak motivator for programmers. Of course, the example above is tightly stretched but I hope that its purpose is clear for everyone. In a real world the more we earn, the more we spend and that’s okay, but even though most of the programmers earn much more than they spend each month. That’s why I don’t care about money that much as I used to.
Code all night and party all day!
The first company I worked for wasn’t big. About 30-40 folks with office placed in a big flat. No core hours, no rules, no supervisors, no limits. Just do as you want, but finish your tasks at the end of each sprint. I remember that one day the air conditioning in my room broke and soon after the temperature grown to about 30 Celsius degrees. It was horrible, the sweat and pain all over the place. After one hour, our boss (sic!) came to the flat with dozens of beer bottles just to cool us. Two hours later I was almost asleep and I couldn’t pay attention to anything. But that was awesome! I got drunk during my work time! What a great company?! Yeah, kind of. The thing is that, as I wrote at the beginning of this paragraph, all tasks had to be done. What could I do catch up my work? I had two options (and both sucked):
- stay longer in the office
- work in my home on Saturday and Sunday
Yep, having much more freedom than expected caused the fact that I spent way to much time in the office than needed. Well, at this point someone would say that’s cool because I could learn more during my work time. But the key question here is: How many hours I spent on actual work? 80%? 60%? My productivity at that time was on the really low level. What’s even worse is the fact that I couldn’t imagine any other “work style” than that. I was lazy, and I had absolutely no motivation to do something more than in the work. So, dear recruiters: PlayStation, chilling zone, after parties don’t interest me! I’ve got too weak will power to simply say “no”.
And nothing else matters…
It took me almost 2 years to find out the thing that is the most important for me. At first, I thought that technology might be that one. As developers, we love working with all new frameworks / libraries/ languages. And I love that too! But there’s one thing in my personal hierarchy of needs which lies over technology – on the top. The people. Seriously, no joke. I’m very fortunate that during my career I’ve been working with lots of great folks (and I don’t think only about developers) who inspired me to work, who helped me many times and who injected into my body passion for programming and IT industry in general. I know that it sounds like yet another shitty “motivation speech” but it’s true. The people I worked with partly contributed to who I am today and what I do. They are the most important stimulus which sticks in my mind and says “this day is going to be exciting, full of challenges, great atmosphere, and fun”. The is no benefit which could replace that. The implication of that fact is that it’s hard for me to judge (after the interview) whether the company suits me. Why? Because they could act like the best company in the whole universe, and we’re gonna believe it. But, that’s the topic for the another post 😉
I’m curious how does your hierarchy of need look like?