Last month I reached a important milestone – it’s been 15 years since I started working in the technology industry. I have been fortunate to work in a wide range of roles, worked with and for several companies through the globe, worked in on technologies from semiconductors to cloud that has enabled me to develop a broad perspective.
I want to leverage this milestone to briefly reflect and share 12 insights:
1. You wont get rich by working in tech companies. Yes the pay and benefits are pretty good and there are few who do get rich. But the odds are YOU wont be one of them.
2. In tech, there are a lot of fun engineering challenges to work and your individual contributions can have a large impact. Most tech challenges are really fun and cool to be working on perhaps it’s one of the only industries where you actually use your mind at your job.
3. There are a lot of crappy workplaces in tech industry – avoid them like toxic waste. There are several great companies with awesome culture but a lot of horrible places that you should avoid like toxic waste. Choose the place and people you work in very carefully.
4. Your boss is most likely an ignorant idiot or a jerk . Learn to live with it or just find a different place to work. Yes all the Dilbert cartoons apply to tech as well. Learn to live with it and learn to work with it. There are several awesome bosses too in tech you might luck out and have an Awesome boss to but don’t count on it.
5. Your job is impermanent .. focus on developing yourself. Inevitably the company you are in will shutdown, your job will be shipped elsewhere and you will be out of a job. Investing in your own self is the best form of investment you can make. Learn that no job is permanent.
6. Staying in a job too long will hurt you. The sweet spot is 2-3 yrs. If you are not learning and contributing you will stagnate. In most tech companies 2-3 years is a good time frame to learn, make and impact and move on.
7. Age bias is real. You will get too old and too expensive so prepare for it.
8. There are a lot of passionate folks and a lot more people who are just there to collect a paycheck. If you are not passionate about tech or your companies mission – do your self a favor and find a different job or career.
9. It’s really tough to fire someone and its liberating if you get laid off yourself. I’ve been through both embrace both as a great situations for your personal growth.
10. Technologies change fast- really fast. So, always be learning. The last 15 years in tech has seen acceleration in technologies – first there was smartphone, then cloud and over the last 5 years we have seen explosion in machine learning, big data, virtual reality and the pace is accelerating. So, always be learning.
11. There are very few people who actually do the work. There are even more people who take credit , talk or just hang in there for namesakes.
12. You will work crazy hours so do it in a company that is making an impact that is personally meaningful to you. Yes, late night calls, travel, global teams, aggressive deadlines – take time away from other things/people in life while working in a tech company so be sure that these sacrifices are worth your time by working on things that matter and make a impact that is personally meaningful to you. You owe yourself to work in a job, and for a company, where you feel engaged, fulfilled, appreciated, and eager to do work you love.
Techology industry is a fun place to work but comes with some pitfalls. It’s possibly the only industry with casual attire, fun atmosphere, serious work where you can use your brain and every individual can potentially have a large impact.