I think a lot of people imagine what it might be like to have a different career. I suspect a lot of those daydreams are about careers that have glamour-potential, like being a musician or an author. One of the not-quite-as-glamorous career paths I imagine is working in the tech field.
I have a lot of friends who are programmers, web developers, and other related jobs for which I don’t have the proper titles. My brother’s job in college was as a programmer. He didn’t have to come in at a set time, could wear shorts, and sometimes worked really late at night – very different from my summertime temp position as a receptionist. It intrigued me at the time and the field still does today.
Why? I see two main reasons.
First, I was never going to be an astronaut, or a painter, or a scientist that made an amazing discovery. But I have always loved computers. I enjoyed going to computer camp when I was a kid (yes, that was a thing when I was a kid). It’s a more realistic alternate reality than some options.
Second, I’m kind-of fascinated with company cultures. Different fields require different cultures, from the work they do to the needs of the people frequently found in those professions. Obvious statement. But in the areas that are a little more gray, from larger ideas like unlimited vacation time to smaller changes such as having food in the refrigerator or encouraging people to get up from their desks and walk around during the day, I find it fascinating to see what different companies do and what those company’s employees appreciate. Tech firms are a gold mine for observing similar but different company cultures.
Why all the chatter about this today? Last night I got to meet a Twitter buddy in real life. She works at a technology company in the Twin Cities that had caught my attention for a variety of reasons related to everything I said above. I originally followed her through the magic of internet connections, unrelated to where she worked – that was a fun bonus. Last night I mentioned my enthusiasm for the company during our conversation. This morning I realized that might have been an odd thing to say. I work in a historic house and I’m used to people being enthusiastic about it. But I suspect most people who aren’t in the tech industry don’t pay a lot of attention to individual companies and become fans of them. I do. Maybe someday I’ll work for a tech company. Maybe not. In the meantime, I’m grateful for all the fans of comedy, dance, and history that I rely on so I can pay my bills and pursue my passions. I’m happy to be a fan for another type of work.
Looking at it from a different perspective, maybe it IS closer to an alternate reality than an imaginary life. I love performing, but most of my work is behind-the-scenes at museums, theaters, and concerts. Jobs that few people see but that are essential to making the whole thing work. Computer programming, using the term in its broadest definition, is the behind-the-scenes job of the modern world. As my life and my jobs involve more work with “new media,” I get to spend more time learning the nitty-gritty details. I’m coming to it from one direction, but maybe in the alternate reality version I would arrive at a similar point from a different path.
Now we just wait and see what happens next.