Everyone Has Their Own Trials
Some thoughts I had on software engineering while reading “Diary of a Med Student”
The trending topic in tech right now is “hiring freeze,” but I am writing this on Saturday — hopefully by the time I hit “publish” on Tuesday the economy will have fully recovered, Meta stock will skyrocket, and all five FAANG companies will send me fruit baskets in recognition of how this blog has finally reached 50 followers.
One can dream.
The topic is covered fairly well in this article by Protocol, linked here. It states:
Microsoft is the latest name on an ever-growing list of major tech companies to have changed their hiring plans, another sign that the slumping stock market is taking a toll. Nvidia announced in its earnings call on Wednesday that the company will slow hiring later this year as a way “to focus our budget on taking care of existing employees as inflation persists.” Other companies like Lyft, Snap, Uber, Meta, Salesforce and Coinbase have made similar moves amid tumbling share prices.
The important thing to note, whenever reading articles like this, is that no matter how much the economy seems to be recovering…the sky is falling. We are all doomed, tech is doomed, and sooner or later we are all going to be replaced by AI and no-code until eventually the AI murders us all. All of us will be dead and, more importantly, unemployed.
Software Engineer Trials
I have a strange love-hate relationship with a blog post I once wrote criticizing coding interviews, but a thought occurred to me while reading Diary of a Med Student. I was not sure what to expect when I started it (and it is something I purchased because it was compiled by someone who lived in my college dorm), but what I found were well-written, heartfelt stories about what it is like to work so closely with people who are sick and, in many accounts from this book, dying.
Of course, our own field is difficult to generalize, and the same can be said for healthcare. When I wrote the aforementioned post, I wanted people outside of tech to know that there was no free ride — that in many cases today, becoming a software engineer involves a long and fairly rigorous process even after earning the necessary credentials. But it has a payoff. If nothing else good can be said about them, the meticulousness required to study and to perform well in a software engineer interview is similar to the meticulousness required to study coding in general.
I found a couple really good articles.
This one, on Dev.to, chronicles the various experiences of a software engineer interviewing at various companies. She continuously improves, but she writes from a place of tremendous vulnerability — she even admits to crying after a Google interview and asking them to end early, not because they were unreasonable or rude but simply because of the pressure. She fails FizzBuzz her first time at IBM, she completely bombs Microsoft because she has no concept of the system design interview in a final round…these are all really relatable experiences, and the one part she barely mentions in her article is how she finally manages to succeed. Rather than focus solely on the final victory, as many on LinkedIn might, she puts herself out there with a laundry list of supposed failures that all of us can learn from.
Another good insight story is here, on the terrible website called Forbes.com. He describes how his mindset completely changed when he started thinking of interview feedback as a scorecard, rather than binary success vs. failure.
“Is my baby going to be okay?” my patient asked me. Her eyes were wide with fear as tears streamed down her face. While continuing to massage her uterus, I said, “your baby is in good hands, the doctors are making sure that your baby is okay.”
The EMTs had arrived, prepared to airlift the baby to the nearest tertiary care center. The lead EMT walked over to the crib. The Peds resident had been doing CPR for 30 minutes.
“It’s time to call it,” said the EMT.
“Time of death. 8:52pm.”
— From Diary of a Med Student
The purpose of this post is not to trivialize the experiences and trials of a software engineer. They can be laid out in the famous Torvalds book about creating Linux, or this tragic science fiction novel about a Martian who has to write like five lines of code on some random page, or, most tragically of all, this collection of GitHub debugging stories.
It just provides a window, and through that window are some pretty dramatic stories.
A doctor who calls himself a coward because he can’t bring himself to keep visiting a patient who deteriorates from a humorous man to one who can no longer seem like the same person. A young girl whose final wish is to donate her heart, so that another may live. Watching a father die.
Everyone, no matter what field they work in, as their own trials. They go through testing. They treat patients. It’s not just doctors, either. Below is a video by a registered nurse, Sienna Nguyen, whom I met in division 7 of Kiwanis even though division 44 is better.
Yeah, things might be pretty rough right now…or maybe not. I am not really sure what the field will be like in ten years, six months from now, or even tomorrow.
All I know for sure is that I am sick of this clickbait about how the industry is collapsing.