Someone to look up to
I was staring at the calendar, trying to figure out how I got through that initial Carbon Copy Whiteboard requirements post on a Wednesday after a day of work. However that happened, it won’t happen today. Maybe on Saturday.
Yes, I just don’t feel like it for the second straight post. But I am going to write something anyway.
I was wondering: do I have a programming hero/mentor?
I can’t think of one. When it comes to being a man, I look up to my dad as the role model. But neither of my parents are programmers. Who do I look up to as a programming role model?
I can’t say that any of my team members at work fit this mold. I have nothing against them, but there is something intractable that I can’t put my finger on.
I admire Tony Gwynn’s persistent excellence, loyalty to his team, and work ethic.
I admire LaDainian Tomlinson’s team-oriented mindset and classiness, the latter of which I really need to work on.
I admire Trevor Hoffman’s nerve under pressure.
All nice and good, but it would be nice to have a role model in my own field. I could say Eric Evans or other authors. I could name some of my professors (yuck). But these choices are weak because they don’t serve as models for how I should do my job. They gave me invaluable knowledge and techniques, but they don’t work the same 9-to-5 (or in my case, 7:30-to-4) that I do.
Currently, my target career ladder goes like this:
- Junior developer (now)
- Senior developer (5-7 years)
- Tech lead (later)
- Designer / architect (much later)
It seems natural to look towards the next highest rung in the ladder for potential role models. I mentioned before that for whatever reason, my fellow, more experienced developers that I interact with on a daily basis don’t seem to fit the mold.
Enjoying the work: It seems to me that a role model for me would enjoy development.
Professional learning: It also seems to me that a role model should devote some free time, like I am right now, doing some professional learning, getting their “fix”.
Pessimistic: : On top of that, there is a healthy degree of pessimism that goes with this field. I find unwarranted optimism nauseating.
Curiosity: The pessimism leads to a developer who is always looking for a better way to do things. This type of developer goes back to his code he wrote yesterday and writes a comment along the lines of “what a pile of goo!” (I did this today).
My co-workers probably do enjoy their work (somewhat). On the other three, I think they and I differ. Though I have no evidence to back me up, I’m not sure that most of my co-workers spend parts of their free time learning more. This is not a knock on them, but rather a compliment. They have lives.
I’m told by my manager that I need to lighten up, so I can’t credit any of my co-workers for sufficient pessimism. And I’ve already been burned once for questioning the status quo due to a co-worker turning me in for such an act, so I think the curiosity factor is out.
Am I supposed to be listing the qualities I want in a role model? Isn’t a role model supposed to be worthy of the title by their existence, whether they fit my criteria or not?
Maybe my qualifications themselves are esoteric. My manager claims that most people don’t question what they’re doing the way I do, they just go along with it. I always find that hard to believe — I’m just doing my job!
Also, most people smile a lot more often than I do. I think maybe my pessimism criteria is a little odd too.
I mentioned the career ladder. What about tech leads?
I actually have two tech leads, and only one does any better than the other. I can tell that this particular person does enjoy the work, perhaps too much. This person is known to stay at work until 6 or 7pm, and to send emails and make calls on his days off.
I think that is a little much, and this is coming from someone with no life. I did say I’d look up to someone who devotes some of their extra time to self-improvement, not most.
I don’t know if this fulfills the professional learning criteria. Typically, when I think of a developer doing some professional learning, I don’t envision it as a company-specific investment.
Chances are I won’t find any one person who satisfies all four criteria, but I should expect to find at least one person in my field to serve as an example for each one, right?
It is said that when young boys lack a male influence in their lives, they grow up to be males and not men because they were never shown how to be men. If I lack a grown-up-developer influence in my life, am I destined to the same fate?