My professional career has been kind of an interesting one. I believe that when I diverted from being a completely stereotype of a geek, my career as an IT professional really took off. Or at least, the real experience: that experience that no words can describe on a resume but that only you have within, that experience that only comes up when you’re facing a real-life problem and no interviews or screening processes or algorithms challenges and tests can really discover. That experience really started emerging when, ironically, I started looking at work as a medium to get to a more fulfilled life, instead of the life itself. I stopped attending conferences for fun or just hacking mandatory GPL software, and started developing a different array of preferences. I believe that when I started doing that, I started learning more in favor of my previous employer. I didn’t see everything through the pragmatism of what other programmers (specially free software advocates that I was mostly involved with six to seven years ago) would think and started to enjoy what I do and how I did it. I started to learn from other people, to see how real life problems are approached and how they’re attacked and thankfully I did learn how a lot of those are solved. And how the entire scheme actually pays off.
I come with this preliminar description of my current professional career because I read, and you should too, a great masterpiece of a ranting about the brogrammer and geek/nerd stereotype overall, by Perl guru mst, called Neither Nerd nor Bro. In it, he rants extensively about this brogrammer term and the whole nerd culture. Go read it. I’ll wait here.
You done? Good. I am of course not a brogrammer, don’t let the title of this post trick you. I believe that such a term is associated to failure just like a company could pretend to be cool enough to call its programmers something like ninjas or rockstars. Recipe for disaster. Why would anyone think of himself like a rockstar or a ninja? What’s the point for that? And is this only a recruiting technique by that people who don’t have a single hint of clue of technical knowledge and think they’re getting to real and actual A-player programmers?
I cannot do anything else but agree with what mst states. And I think the best programmers are those who don’t consider themselves like it. Good programmers, just like everyone else in life, are those who enjoy life and not those who pretend to be something they might not even be. I stopped attending conferences when I learned that I would enjoy seeing people kick each other on the groin more so I started spending money in watching UFC pay-per-views and whenever possible, come to live shows (believe me, they are expensive). But do not fail to encapsulate me on a “I’m so not a nerd that I want to choke you until you pass out to prove my manliness” speech. I also continued developing my passion for chess by joining a chess club and enjoyed chess tournaments. And when I started doing all of this alternative activities, my work, I believe, saw a peek in productivity. Doing what you love best, does affect your skills at work.
While the whole brogrammer term might be an entire joke, calling programmers rockstars is a fact and a reality and I couldn’t do anything more but despise those using the term and even more those owning it. In the hotbed that the whole Web startups have created in places like New York or Silicon Valley, you can be approached under those terms. As someone who has interviewed people for positions before and who has effectively hired people, I can say that you can definitively benefit more from passioned people who have other interests than those who are just pretentious fucks. I like people who might spend more time thinking about how to put that passion into a full-time endeavour. Those are legit. People who do what they love are the real deal. People who dream to do what they love and never lose motivation are the real deal as well.
Please be genuine. Peace.