September 26, 2019 // By Jeff Nordquist
This is the second article in a series exploring why we, as developers, love writing code. In Part 1, I talked about solving puzzles - one of the most basic aspects of software development.
Here’s another thing that’s really important to me and, I suspect, to a lot of us:
Reason #2: I love the products I work on
In my career I’ve been lucky to work on products from a wide range of industries - healthcare, finance, retail security, tourism, and more.
Some of these fields grab me more than others, of course. The one that sparked the most passion for me was in the music industry (I was a music major, and still play trumpet wherever anyone lets me). I had used this software in high school and college, and it was the first job I applied for after graduation.
Eventually I got the gig, and for the next 10 years I went through many highs and lows. It certainly wasn’t “easy”. We had challenging shipping schedules requiring late nights. We had passionate customers who loved and hated us at the same time. We had sudden and difficult changes in leadership and direction. The product was built on a massive old codebase that kept us on our toes every day. My role in the company had me jumping from intensive coding and dev leadership to budgeting and performance reviews (see Part 1).
Through it all, I never once considered leaving. Yes, I loved the challenges and the people I worked with - but at the core I loved what we did, and who we did it for. I believed in our products. Why am I working on a bug until midnight and then attending an 8 AM company meeting? Because it’s for a good cause. Why am I starting to add a new feature on the day we shipped the last big release? Because I want this thing to be better. When I’d play trumpet at a gig and the music had been published using our software, it felt great to know I’d played a part in that (even when the composer would start giving me a list of their biggest pet peeves 😉).
Eventually, the company moved to a different state and my family and I decided not to move with it. Probably a blessing in disguise, because when the dust settled I found myself at Magenic and that’s a great place to be. But had the company not moved, I’m pretty sure I’d still be working on that music software - and I bet many of my old coworkers would be too - because we truly believed in what we were doing.
Believing in your products, and truly caring about your customers, is a powerful thing. It can lead to some of the most “spirited” discussions on everything from architecture to company direction. You take risks that you might not otherwise take. You have to be vigilant about work/life balance. And it’s all worth it, because deep down you know you’re helping to build something worthwhile.
Honestly, I don’t know how common this is in our industry. I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced this, where the purpose and mission of your products was at the core of all of your hard work. When considering a new job, how important is this to you? Are you passionate about your products and users right now? Let me know on Twitter @jeffnordquist.