Jonathan ES Lin
Life · Tech · Faith

My Issues With Software Jobs

Jan 19, 2019

I have issues with Software Engineer / Software Developer jobs.

They are:

  1. I don’t believe in your company’s mission.
  2. I believe in your mission, but your tech turns me off.
  3. The probability that your project will die, along with all the work done.
  4. I don’t want to start from scratch every month.

I don’t believe in your company’s end goal and aim.

Tech problems eventually run out of novelty and while I may have enjoyed playing with your shiny new toys for a few months, I will struggle to get out of bed to help you achieve your mission after that.

Food delivery and ride hailing, hmm it’s definitely a problem that needed solving, but I kinda already consider it sufficiently solved by now; so why spend more engineering time on it? Are you just hiring people because you have a ton of VC money to spend? Is my work really necessary? Marketplace for matching clients and service providers, well it’s great but it doesn’t really excite me to make that my goal. Cryptocurrency startup? No thanks. This issue alone probably weeds out 70% of the companies out there.

I believe in your mission, but your tech turns me off.

I came from a startup background. So let’s say I really like what you company does, e.g. your mission is to save consumers with fraud detection tools, or deliver goods from A to B in a very timely manner. What puts me off is that you use enterprise technologies that I find is a drudgery (Java, Oracle, etc.). Oh maybe you use React too, I have issues with React because it is not based on web standards, and it doesn't play nice with the rest of the web. I also happen to not like AWS, I find it super messy with inconsistent UI/UX and unnecessarily complicated, which sucks for me because most companies use AWS, for better or for worse. Try Google Cloud, people. You’ll love life more? Oh you code in Django (Python), I don’t think I want to learn another web framework for now… PHP? No thanks. Rails? Ah, I’d rather not.

I am perfectly fine with your company mission, but your tech stack repels me from it. Unfortunately, as developers increase in age, their choice of technology become more and more radicalized, and they are less open and less likely to try new technologies. Tried and tested is gospel in this industry. I am no exception. You have your tried and tested, I have mine. This issue alone probably weeds out 75% of the companies out there.

The probability that your project will die, along with all the work done.

It’s not a zero sum game, a company can die and it doesn’t mean you didn’t learn anything that you couldn't take forward, and at least you got paid (handsomely, hopefully) in the time you were there, or you met great colleagues along the way. In the end, all code will eventually be rewritten.

But in the past it was a real downer when that happened too prematurely, it’s like wasted effort, and life is too short to be spent on wasted efforts. Essentially, this means that I wouldn’t join your company/project if I do not think that it has a real chance of survival in the medium term. Being the pessimist that I am, I think that 60% of software companies/projects out there are just waiting to die eventually.

I don’t want to start from scratch every month.

Oops, no consulting companies please. I just don’t want to keep starting new projects every month. I think 70% of software companies are consulting in nature. There’s also consulting companies that have a core product which requires integration (consulting) to deploy to the customer. While that is somewhat better, personally I see myself more as the person works on the core product itself, not the integrator role.

I prefer to work on the product in all it's gory depth and be accountable for its performance and reliability and how it helps the business' bottom line.


What other options do I have? Obviously, find a company whose aim and goals I believe in, and whose tech stack is sufficiently enticing to work with, and whose project is viable enough so that it won’t die so soon (it doesn’t matter if it’s enterprise / big co., remember Google Allo or Google Plus?). This company is by definition super rare (by my super shady statistical analysis, the probability is 0.3 x 0.25 x 0.4 x 0.3 = 0.01, i.e. I will strongly consider joining only 1 out of every 100 software companies, and of that who is actually willing to hire me, and who is actually located within my commute range?).

If that company has yet to come under my radar (especially because I have closed off my options so severely), maybe I can create such a company in the meantime, until depression or finances gets the better of me.

What problems entice me? Me being me with my personality, I am attracted to problems of tidying up the world. Maybe it’s trying to help organize and optimize all the business processes in the world (, alpha launch soon). Maybe it’s archiving and searching web pages I care about ( Maybe it’s aggregating the world's news into one consolidated API (soon, hopefully). Or maybe I’m biased because those are my current ideas 😉

That is why I am out on my own again, folks. I feel that I have no other choice. If I have to find a job again, I would really rather not code on the job.

Alternative titles for this post:

  1. Why software developers can't just work in any company they like
  2. Why software developers won't work at your company
  3. I am a jaded 30-year-old software developer
  4. I don't like your company's mission
  5. Stop using React and AWS