The world of software development has a strange reputation, both for insiders and outsiders. One thing many people have wrong ideas about is how many hours software engineers work, or should work. I’d like to dive a little deeper into this subject: What is the reality and what should you do?
What Many People Think
Many people think that software engineers work almost all the time. When you ask about average work hours per week, numbers between 60 and 80 hours per week are not an uncommon response. This idea lives among both developers and non-developers. Among some developers, there is also a strong feeling that you can only be a great developer if you work this much.
I’m not sure where the idea comes from. Maybe it originated from the image of the asocial nerds that spend all their time sitting behind a computer. Or maybe the immense pressure that Silicon Valley startups have put on young developers created this idea. In some cases, developers like to cultivate this image out of some peculiar macho reasoning of what it takes to be a “real” developer.
Apparently, things have improved over time. A CNET article talks about how companies and individuals have evolved to more realistic work weeks and room for a personal life. Companies have also realized that overtime doesn’t necessarily mean developers will be more productive. And with the advent of working from home, developers can increase their productivity without crunching extra hours.
Today, we’re starting a series interviewing veteran developers, asking them questions about their journey to tech mastery and sharing the advice they have for those getting started.
Our first interview is with Peter Morlion. Peter is a passionate programmer that helps people and companies improve the quality of their code, especially in legacy codebases. He firmly believes that industry best practices are invaluable when working towards this goal, and his specialties include TDD, DI, and SOLID principles.
Let’s hear what he has to share!
Let’s start with some basic logistics. Which stack do you work in? How long have you been doing it?
I started out my career in 2007 as a .NET developer. I preferred Java as a student, but hey, I wasn’t going to be picky for my first job as a software developer. After several years, I found opportunities to work in other stacks. I’ve worked with technologies like Node.js, Python, TypeScript, and AWS Lambda. Since I moved from general software development to helping out with technical debt, the specific stack is less important now. Although I suspect the .NET space is still a big market in Belgium (where I live).
What made you want to go into programming?
Ever since my parents bought a PC when I was about 10 years old, I loved playing and working with computers. As I got older, I started to tinker more and more. I studied political science, but after graduation I decided I wanted to “do something with computers.”