If you’re contemplating a career switch into programming, you’re probably wondering what it’s like. And I don’t mean in the existential sense. Rather, on a day-to-day kind of basis, what’s it like?
Well, today we’ll take a look at what programmers do in the office.
What Do Programmers Do at Work? The Short Version
If you’re looking for an abbreviated answer or a summary, I can certainly provide that. After all, I spent a lot of years working as a programmer in an office. So I can speak at length and summarize quickly.
So what do programmers do at work?
Well, not surprisingly, they spend a lot of time programming computers. But they don’t do so in a vacuum. They also spend time doing activities that support programming, such as research, learning, collaborating with peers, collaborating with people outside of their group, and participating in the office as general workers.
For the rest of this post, we’ll look at all of this in a little more detail and talk about what it’s actually like.
Understand That Programming Isn’t the Movie Swordfish or Whatever
Before we go any further, you need to get something out of your head. And that’s the idea that programming is any semblance of the way movies portray it (or hacking).
I might be showing my age by citing the (terrible) movie Swordfish, where, apparently, programming involves Hugh Jackman tossing around virtual cubes… or something. But other movies show things just as ridiculous. People wearing ski masks, banging on computers like they’re pianos in a jazz bar, bypassing the mainframe and accessing the router. For programmers, this portrayal hews the line between exasperating and hilarious.
Forget all of that. If you were to film professional programming, the result would be like a less interesting version of watching someone play video games. Think more like watching someone make a spreadsheet.
None of this is to say that programming itself isn’t interesting. It’s a lot like doing puzzles all day for money. But it’s nothing like the way popular culture portrays it, from how programmers dress to how they interact with the computers.