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Discussion on: Are you a multi-passionate developer?

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Crystal Schuller • Edited on

My background is in print design and marketing, and I initially decided to move towards tech as a way of escaping the yucky "must be passionate about representing our brand" ethos of recruiters in the marketing space. There's a pressure in parts of that world to be an almost Disney-fied version of a person, who functions primarily as an expression of their brand culture - they're not really hiring, they're casting.

As I've explored the tech culture of Silicon Valley, I've been disappointed to find many companies have a strong bias toward this same "always on" mentality. "Sure, you can do your job" they seem to say, "but if you're really serious, you'll also be attending meetups, conferences and trainings, giving talks, creating personal projects and learning a new language every weekend."

To me this flows from managers and leaders in the industry, and I find that really insidious. By selectively hiring & keeping only the most active developers, they're indirectly requiring a 7-day workweek. It's great for their bottom line in the short term - if you spend every waking hour thinking about code, of course you'll encounter and apply many more solutions than someone who's only wired-in from 9-5. But it selects for people who measure themselves in one dimension, which encourages competition over collaboration. It also ignores the burnout that's rampant in the industry, which leads to high turnover, which in turn pushes salaries higher and higher. It's very shortsighted and ends up costing everybody much more than money.

When I try to build my network, I focus first on my other interests. I meet other developers at metal shows and design expos, and steer clear of "tech networking" nights. This helps me find people - and hopefully eventual employers - who can respect a more balanced lifestyle.

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Lanae BK

100% this. A lot of tech culture (and by extension, the culture of the modern "professional" world) these days has a pretty culty vibe and it really bums me out.

We are people, we are not brands. We have depth and breadth and we are messy and complicated, but the prevailing ethos these days seems to be that unless you can jam yourself into some slick package with catch phrases there's no place for you in the modern economy.

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Nadya Primak Author

I know exactly what you mean. Some companies like Netflix have alarming bullet points in their culture guides (yes, culture guides are a thing now apparently) like "you put Netflix's needs before your own" -- also how can a tech company ever hope to understand their customers if they want their developers to basically be coding robots?