Choosing the right industry for a software developer is one of the hardest decisions in her or his career. Fortunately, you don’t have to stick with your first decision.
Think about your dream job. Really do. In my case, it was being a game developer. Maybe this resonates with you. Lots of software developers love video games and also want to make games by themselves.
But it could also be app development. Or you want to work for a car company and build the next amazing features for the new Tesla series.
Whatever it is, you should try to do that first. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you would really do anything to be in that particular position, you should put in the hard work to achieve your goal. And you will. And maybe it isn’t that hard at all.
What are the options? Maybe it’s possible to do an internship in your dream company without any kind of salary or at least with a really low salary. Then you should do it.
The point is, you need the experience for your dream job. Not because you will learn to perform better. It’s because maybe, just maybe, your dream job isn’t that great all of a sudden. It’s crucial to know that fact early in your career. Because if you don’t, you will live your life thinking, that there is this perfect job that would save you from your miserable professional life right now – sounds a bit extreme, I know. If, however you love the job, then you will do anything to succeed in this industry all the more.
Let me share a short story with you.
When I was a kid, the first time I played a video game, I knew I want to make games by myself. I started to read books, wrote text adventures in QBasic, learned C++, wrote little games for Windows, and the dream to make games got bigger and bigger. When I studied computer science, I took several jobs. In retail, in a bank, in a 5 people company and so on. And finally, during the master studies, my friend and I got a job in a game company. To get to this point, we completed games on the side with XNA and Java applets so that we could show them on our websites and we organized talks with actual developers from the games industry in our university.
We wanted to be part of that industry.
As soon as I got the job, it brought tears to my eyes. I finally did it. I achieved that long cherished dream. And it was amazing – at first.
When we got our degree, they wanted us to work for them full time. Of course, we did, although the salary was extremely low. We could easily make 10k more had we started in a bank or as web developers, but our love, my love for games was bigger.
I made games in Unity with C#. Mostly wrote gameplay code and created some particle effects. The way the camera moved around the main character, the fight scenes (it was a turn-based dungeon crawler called “Dungeon Empires”), the in-game chat system was done by me. Gaming magazines wrote about the game and after release, for the first time in my life I could see and talk to players that played a game I was involved in. Absolutely stunning.
But, and that’s the harsh truth, eventually, the excitement faded away. I want to emphasize that this was my personal experience and yours might be different. But in my case, the job did not really become “just another job” but my interest in other fields grew. I wanted to know what else the software development world has to offer – and I wanted to make more money.
So I got a job in a bank which was a disaster and then switched to web development what I’m doing until today.
Now, what is the moral of this story? Try things out. As early as possible. You may be surprised how an alleged “dream job” turns out. Don’t look at money in the first place, unless it’s your absolute number one priority. If you want to build a startup, go for it. Maybe it works out, maybe not. Maybe you just need more experience and start another company later on. Either way, you will get the experience and that’s the most valuable thing you can get. No one can take this away from you. And most importantly, you won’t live a life dreaming a fake dream of a job that doesn’t exist.