In it for the money?

When I was in college I was stunned by a fellow students answer to my question, “Why are you studying Computer Science?”. His answer was “Because the money is good”, not because he liked or was interested in computers. The other day I got the same reaction from some of my co-workers. They were in the tech industry because the pay is good.

You could say I chose to study Computer Science partially because of the money, but that came after I realized how much fun computers and writing software can be. Also, it was one of the few courses which I got good grades in as opposed to the other majors I tried (Architecture, Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics (ok I only thought about majoring in Math)).

I think part of the problem with the tech industry today is that it’s full of wanna be programmers, notice I didn’t say Software Engineers or Computer Scientests. There are many folks out there who want a quick buck, but don’t give a rats @$$ about computers or their software. I for one, want to be the best Software Engineer I can be, and would prefer to work with folks who also want to be the best Engineers (or Scientests). People who want to constantly learn new technologies, grow both professionally and personally, and not to simply make more money.

Now I wouldn’t give up my salary, at least not now. But if you asked me would you rather get a raise and continue working on boring stuff, or would you rather learn something new and contribute to the software community. I’d choose the latter. I don’t believe many in our industry would.

One of my favorite quotes is by Picard:

“The aquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives.
We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”

– Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek: First Contact    

My question to my readers, why are you in the tech industry?

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4 thoughts on “In it for the money?

  1. Yes, indeed I am also mostly in it for the creativity. Where else would you get your motivation in life? In your private life? Maybe… but that is usually not what is “public” so you can be recognized for it.
    In my work there is a collegue who isn’t in it for his love of technology. He is here because he is lazy, stupid and doesn’t care about system but somehow is good at emulating that he is an expert.

  2. I initially got motivated to be in the this industry for the money. I chose to go to an expensive school (University of Denver – 20K/year), and part of the deal (with my parents) is that I’d pay my own way.

    I started out as a Russian and Internation Business Major in college. Then when I saw there were hardly any jobs in Russian or Int’l business, I decided to major in Finance as well. While interviewing, I found that Finance jobs started out around 20K-30K, which my CS buddy was getting offers for 40 and 50K. If I was going to pay off 100K in debt, I *had* to get a good job!

    Since I’d always done web pages, he suggested I go into computers. I found I had a knack for it (Grandpa was an IBMer, dad a Network Engineer) and got a job as a consultant before becoming a true Programmer.

    Today, my project/job decisions are definitely motivated by money, but also by environment/people. If I don’t like it, I’ll try to find another project. I’ve found that sometimes the best paying jobs just plain ol’ suck. I hope to always be in computers, and always be paid well, but a cool work environment can be much more rewarding than cash.

  3. Imagine you’re living in a third world country. Imagine that you’re good at math and that you can program a little.
    Like most of the people there, you and your family are poor. Say, poorest of the poor. Now, by choosing programming as your profession could mean a decent life for you and your family. Maybe you don’t like programming much, but musing over such a choice would be an option for you?

    Disclaimer: I am romanian (eastern Europe, that is). I live in France now. Salaries for deveoppers are decent, but you can’t get rich by writing code. If you want to be rich, you have to be a manager. Those positions are (very) well paid. Needless to say, there are a lot of manager wannabes around here.

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