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Mateusz Charytoniuk
Mateusz Charytoniuk

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Money or Passion?

Although I recognize it may be provocative, this is a genuine question.

What brought you into programming?

Is it something you always imagined yourself doing, and you would do that anyway, no matter how low the salary would be?

Or is it something you had to do (because you needed money)? Or just a career choice?

Since the current juniors market is flooded (and later mid/senior will also be - that's inevitable), and getting a job will be even harder than it is now, salaries have already started to drop - what are you going to do?

Will you continue because you love the job, or will you try to switch to something else?

If you want to stay anonymous, I started a poll on Reddit (can't open polls here):

Top comments (51)

lnahrf profile image
Lev Nahar

Provocative maybe - but a genuine question.
In my case, life somehow pushed me to be a programmer, old bosses at work and people around me told me that I should get a degree in CS (never had any meaning to before they did). I never actually got a degree but I did spend a couple of years learning mostly by myself, and somehow (almost as if by pure luck) got to where I am today.

I truly believe that this industry is tough (I will explain).
Yes, we get paid quite well, but we work unreasonable hours, we sit down at the computer for 9-12 hours a day, we handle toxic clients, coworkers, managers. We then go home to try and enjoy whatever is left of our day, just to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. While this criticism might be directed at our societal structure as a whole and not specifically at the tech industry, the industry does shine a bright light on everything that is wrong with the societal work structure.

That is why I don't think anyone who is working in this industry solely for the money will remain in this industry for too long. In order to work as a programmer - you have to love programming. If you don't LOVE programming - you won't remain a professional programmer. Passion is the answer all the way.

Ask yourself - is programming something I'd do even without the money? My answer is probably - if the need for a specific tool arises and there is no solution - I'd make one.

Your point about salaries dropping is completely wrong. Salaries might drop for Juniors and average-level developers because the market is saturated. Senior and highly technical developers will keep making more and more as time goes on.

My bottom line is - as of right now, I have no reason to search or switch to a different profession. If programming will become obsolete (it won't) or if I will get so tired of interacting with others in this industry - I will probably switch to being a personal chef or an author, or a farmer (probably farmer, honestly).

aarone4 profile image
Aaron Reese • Edited

Slightly different take.

It is not programming, or development, that I am in love with; it is solving problems. It just so happens that code is quite often a significant contributor to solving these problems. Problems will always need solving and the vast majority of the population don't know how to think about problems to go about solving them in any meaningful way. Even the growth of low-code platforms and AI generated code does not make the issue go away, it just makes those of us who know how to solve problems move faster by not having to set up the boilerplate each time.

mcharytoniuk profile image
Mateusz Charytoniuk

Thanks for the answer. I don't think the programming will be obsolete either.

So many people think about farming. :D I must confess sometimes I really want to buy a few goats (I heard they are easiest to start the farm with) and see what it's like.

lnahrf profile image
Lev Nahar

I have some chickens, they are great, very interesting and sweet animals.

michalispapamichael profile image
Michalis Papamichael

Great comments. As a junior developer i found them helpful. Though i do believe passion is a key material for staying in this industry.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I'd say both.

I think I ultimately chose this path above some others I thought about because it was a more pragmatic career, but I do have a passion for technology that is a driver for the things I considered.

I wouldn't work in a field I had no passion for, but I have other passions I strayed from in order to pursue a more financially-secure career.

chaoocharles profile image
Chaoo Charles • Edited

Money 😂 If I had lot's of money for sure I wouldn't write code. would be more of a gamer and stressing about quests instead of bugs. But after coding for a long time it's now like a passion, i have fun building projects, learning new things and teaching others.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I'm not sure it's either, for me.
It's more like, "this is the only thing I'm any good at"!

fyodorio profile image

That’s defo the good third reason, can relate 😄

miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

It's a passion for making things for me. For most of my career that has meant risking money rather than entering the profession to earn more of it.

The lifelong learning drives me on still, I'm more than 120,000 hours in now and I still know next to nothing. Wanting to make things has created businesses that have sales measured in billions (not per annum sadly) and have employed thousands of people. Wanting to make things has let me live in 6 countries and visit more than 80. I could probably have earned more actual money doing other things, but being a programmer has given me a career with daily challenges, strategic challenges, hopes and dreams. That's a pretty incredible wage in itself.

learnwithparam profile image
Paramanantham Harrison

Money without passion a never ending ending game. You will get tired sooner or later. Passion without money hits you from Day 1 with no life left to make your soul stay in the game of life.

You need to balance both, chase passion and make sure you have enough money to feed that monster.

I have been in startups with just passion with lot of financial burdens, I have walked out many times empty handed and frustration than anything else.

Reasonable amount of money and passion for what we do is always essential. There is no this or that in this scenario.

meeroslava profile image

I had few positions in different areas of the tech world. After few years of trying different things I just understood that programming is something I would enjoy for longer period of time (other positions got me bored in a few months). I wouldn't call it a passion, but money wasn't part of the decision.

dustinbrett profile image
Dustin Brett

Passion all day. I have no desire to work for money. Follow your passion and the money will come, and if it doesn't at least you are doing what you love.

villelmo profile image
William Torrez

The passion is non-rational.
Image description

montyharper profile image
Monty Harper

Both! I've done programming all my life, here and there, when I needed a custom app, or just for fun, if an idea struck me. When I was very young I sold cassette copies of a haunted house game I wrote for the ZX81. My first job as a teen was designing a database for the forestry department here at OSU & I loved it. But nobody ever told me it could be, like, a career! It seems dumb to me now to have missed it. But recently I needed a change for financial reasons, and poking around, I discovered that yeah, this is a great way to make a living. So I'm giving it a shot. How do you like my timing? I started on this path and just a few weeks later, layoffs hit the headlines. Well, even as salaries fall, if I can find a position, I'll be better off than I ever have been, money-wise, doing something I really enjoy. Hopefully the slump will be temporary.

1link profile image

easy question:

if (you_have_money):
passion > money
money > passion

davidzcode profile image

When I was a student, I wanted to study a medical profession, but my love for video games made me think, 'How do people create video games?' and my curiosity expanded to other areas such as mobile applications, web, and computer programs.

All of this, along with the satisfaction of creating things that other people can use or find helpful, is what I love most about development.

baptistsec profile image
William Baptist

I've always felt in computer science that giving back for free is essential to bringing new people into the field. How does someone who is 12 and passionate about computers start as early as possible if everything is behind a paywall? Sure, you want people to have jobs, but nothing is stopping you from sharing some knowledge without expecting anything in return. That should be where passion comes in to share your passion with others.

softmantk profile image
NIKHIL CM • Edited

My career began with a big love for technology. I first studied Mechanical Engineering because others wanted me to, but I quickly found out it wasn't for me. So, I switched to Computer Engineering, where I really enjoyed learning about software. After finishing my studies, I got an internship at an IT company to learn about MEAN Stack. I wasn't paid for the first year, but I stayed because I wanted to learn and grow. Later, I worked for a few IT companies and moved from India to Germany. But now, things have changed. I'm not as excited about learning new things in technology as I used to be. I don't want to do extra projects or freelance work like before. I feel like I'm just working for the money. This makes me wonder and worry a bit - what happened to my passion for my work?

arndom profile image
Nabil Alamin

Passion and then money for me.

Computers were what I was interested in ever since I was a kid, mostly bcos of games that were on my dad's work laptop, fast forward a couple of years and it was one of the few subjects I genuinely cared about in secondary school.

I chose to study computer engineering at Uni because I liked it and then when I found out I could make good money from it as well, my career path was set.

I honestly do wonder what I'd have done with myself If I wasn't on this path.

mcharytoniuk profile image
Mateusz Charytoniuk

I started similarly - I began coding as a teenager for no real reason, then just stuck to it. I even had this romanticized image of a software engineer from the '90s movies (lone wolf hacker :D). I always loved doing that, though.

I respect all the backgrounds and efforts, but it's easiest for me to empathize with a start like this.

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