Everyone should publish something they wrote on their own – their own conception, implementation, and product. It is a completely unique, surreal feeling sending your own brainchild out into the world, seeing people use it and finally tear it to shreds. I recently began an internship (and soon will finish), tirelessly writing code that I’ll never see again, as a developer or user. I am writing an internal tool, possibly the worst combination of words an undermotivated 19 year old intern could hear.
I lazily submit chunks of code, waving goodbye as they disappear into the abyss of ‘production.’ I’ll never look at them again, and I’m sure no one else will either. Whatever I wrote will forever live in a zombie state, it will never die, on the off chance it bites back, but it will never really live and serve its purpose either (I’ll leave before its done), much like developers that sell out too early. I understand the need for money, but why settle for a full time, 9-5/6/7/8? job when programmers have a unique opportunity to create nearly anything they want with they own computer? Not many professions have the opportunity to take their craft into their home and make something useful for people everywhere.
I talk mostly to college students and recent grads, but I find that people don’t often evaluate their work experience and excuse their own lack of independence by citing perks and (sometimes falsly construed) perceptions of monetary necessity. Sure, I get it, there are top chefs and free food and espresso machines and rock walls and there’s someone that wipes them after they go to the bathroom, but at the end of the day, I’m sure they are just as unsatisfied as I am, wishing they had the energy to work on something they really care about. I hear about people’s ‘side projects’ all the time but what stops their side projects from taking over their lives? I know I can’t help but let my side projects take over my life. I try to see past the perks, but the walls of my cubicle sometimes block my view.
It seems easy to fall into the trap, especially for a college grad used to cheap vodka and ramen, but nothing stacks up to the amazing feeling of making something that you care about. It doesn’t even have to be good. People don’t even have to like it. Hell, people don’t even have to use it! Don’t believe me? I recently developed a pretty terrible android app, its buggy on certain systems (it works on mine, I swear), but I love it! I loved making it and I especially love watching the number of people using it slowly climb to my delight and scouring at the terrible reviews (I’m on an old api, leave me alone). It is my own. And I swear that I will not settle into a cubicle (again) until I chase down that thrill of self fulfillment, chain myself to it, and, in case of emergency, fail miraculously, believing in what I did – this should be the default behavior.