Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You Do What Again?

This weekend my aunt, uncle, and about-to-go-to-college cousin were in town visiting. We were catching up, and one of the things my cousin said was, "So what do you do all day?"

As background, you should know that both my aunt and uncle are physicians. They don't know what software engineers do all day, either! (Granted, I don't know what physicians do all day, so we're even.)

So what do I do all day? In any given day, I'm probably going to do most of this:

  • Modify some existing code
  • Send a bunch of emails
  • Write some CSS
  • Test a feature someone else wrote
  • Respond to a customer request or problem
  • Attend stand ups and/or scrum meetings
That really doesn't sound very interesting. Those are the tasks I do, yes, and there is joy in many of them. I actually really enjoy writing code - it's a game to make the software do what I want. I also like playing with someone else's feature and seeing how they interpreted it. There's value, too. Because I write an email, a customer knows what to do. Because I wrote some CSS, a page looks as good as a designer could make it. Because I fixed a problem, a client saved time. That's pretty cool.

Those aren't tasks, though. They're accomplishments.

So what do I accomplish in a day?
  • Help others see possibilities
  • Make a system do something useful that it didn't do before
  • Make a web page more beautiful
  • Save time for customers
  • Offer my customers abilities they didn't have before
That's better. That's what I really do.

What do you do?

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