Trained to sweat

4 minutes read

This is something that has been bothering me for a long time but became worse a couple of months ago.

I’ve been working as a web developer for the last four years. While has been a very constructive and fun process, it was also very wearing.

Before proceeding let me clarify: In this post I’m not saying that the job of the other people involved in the process is easier, or they don’t have to deal with pressure. But, I’m only experienced in software development and I can only speak for the people of “my tribe”.

Hey you, out there in the cold

Over the years, I’ve reached a point where I’m frustrated with the whole industry, and sometimes I even hate coding.

This blows my mind because coding has always been my way to escape the world, the only area where I felt comfortable and excited. Building an app/library over the weekend and seeing that is useful for others produces a joy that is difficult to explain.

The reality is harsh, but software developers are trained to sweat, work long hours, adjust to nonsense schedules, do what they are supposed to do and more, and I could go on and on…

This is a very ingrained cultural problem, thought leaders, people trying to sell courses and successful companies tell us to learn the new thing or use your product to “be more hirable”.

Don’t help them to bury the light

Be more hirable. Yep! could you believe it? I feel so anxious every time I read a phrase like that one…

But, what should you do to be more hireable? I mean besides of working in your full-time job?

Don’t get me wrong, doing all or some of that stuff because you want or makes you feel happy is perfect. My problem is when they imply that you have to do it because it makes you more hirable. WTF.

But it was only fantasy

But, wait. Maybe companies offer us a good tradeoff. Maybe our blood is well worth (spoiler: never is).

And this is the tricky part: most companies think that software developers are stupid. And guess what? seems like we are.

What we offer:

— A job post, by the average company.

If you think that this could be biased, please head to your closest job board, you will get plenty of this.

Just for fun, let’s do a light review of some of those:

Flexible paid holidays as something that distinguishes the company from the others denotes what the standard in the industry is.

Free coffee/soda, or paid service/recreational thing ; if you want to give me more money to go to the GYM, then give me a raise/pay me what I deserve and I will handle it. But, it’s cheaper to pay me a subscription, isn’t it?

Ping pong table : no words…

dilbert comic on ping-pong tables

Together we stand, divided we fall

As far as I see, the only reasonable thing to do is take action. I’m not sure if unions or anything similar is the answer though. Unions are dependant of the laws of each country, and the rising of remote work and outsourcing complicates the panorama. Besides of that, unions are always corruptible.

What I’ve found to be effective is to take action.

A couple of years ago, the project manager shared by accident a spreadsheet with the client’s invoice. They were billing for my hours of work about twelve times of what I was getting paid.

So, I waited until was time to renegotiate my contract and asked for a raise. They denied. I left.

I understand the complexity of finding the client and being a well-established brand. I’m not asking for your piece of the cake, I’m asking for fairness.

Funny thing is: I know for a fact that some of my ex-coworkers leveraged that fact to get a raise. And that’s good! We should stand for our rights because it will not only help us but also will help others!

I know that leaving a job it’s hard, and not everybody has the chance to do it. But we have to find a way to stand for our rights.

Final words

I encourage software developers reading this to not only take action but also learn some marketing, negotiation tactics, speech, and anything that you may find useful for negotiating your contract or starting your own company.

Roberto Dip