DEV Community

Cover image for Is my career my life?
Jeniffer Carvalho
Jeniffer Carvalho

Posted on

Is my career my life?

When someone asks you "who are you?", the first thing that you might think to say is your title, like "I'm a doctor" or "I'm an engineer." But, is that really you? Are you your title and is your career your life?

I mean, I'm not judging. I just want to put the cards on the table. Try to think about that.

In my case, probably the answer would be YES.

I built my life around my career. I'm not sure if it's bad or not. But I did.

I made a lot of sacrifices to be where I am now. I changed everything and almost everyone around me in favor of my career. Most of these changes I did and not realized them.

My life dream was to get a degree. So when I was at university I put this goal in front of any other. No matter how hard I needed to study. I did not relax til I realized this goal. At that time, my degree was my life.

I was really focused on finishing my studies. So I stopped to going out at night, stopped seeing some friends, stopped talking with loved ones and I did not realize that.

I changed myself and my lifestyle in favor of this goal.

I really don't miss most of those things. Go to parties at night and expend my sleeping hours on that? Thanks, but not anymore.

My degree was just one step toward the main goal: my dev career.

After I got that, I had another goal: work with a hot tech and be better paid. So I started to focus on this goal, staying at home most of time and not caring about anything else.

I spent a lot of weekends building projects just to practice and getting better at that. Hang with friends? Not really. Nothing was more important than showing Captain Marvel comics using React. (I loved that project)

So I changed my weekends to achieve this, and I did.

Next goal: talk in english with confidence.

So, I changed everything around me to English: smartphone, MacBook, TV shows. If something could be in English, it is now.

I never liked to watch TV series, I always saw that as a waste of time. But I changed my mind just to study English and practice my listening skills. So again, I changed myself in favor of a goal.

It is clear for me that my career is my life, because I built and shaped it around me. Of course I had a lot of losses on that. But most were wins.

Is it dangerous to think this way? Maybe. I'm not a workaholic and no one should be. But of course to achieve some goals in life, I think you have to change yourself. In my case it has been worth it.

Now I just can't see myself only as Jeniffer.

I'm a happy and proud software engineer, and by the way my name is Jeniffer.

Top comments (19)

samuelfaure profile image
Samuel-Zacharie FAURE

Well nowadays the alternative to a career is soul-crushing, depressing no-future low-status poverty.

So yeah I guess it makes sense that you have to sacrifice parts of your life for your career. A better question might be: did you ever really had a choice?

robole profile image
Rob OLeary

I think it depends on where you live and how you live. If you let lifestyle steer your decisions - you may arrive at your conclusion. You can live well and comfortably without this. I have lived in Europe, US, South America, Asia, and Australia. Culture affects your goals. In countries like Korea, getting 1 degree is a minimum, I met quite a few Koreans with 2 degrees. They are at the extreme end of work culture. Even, in Ireland people work on average 1500 hours per year (close to Korea), while in Germany it is the lowest in the world and they have a strong economy.

samuelfaure profile image
Samuel-Zacharie FAURE

I mean sure you can work one or two shitty jobs to make ends meets. However, in most countries, try building a family without being in the top 20% earners. It becomes exceedingly difficult. It's not about your lifestyle and it's not about how many starbucks you drink.

Heck, just try accessing home ownership as a millenial. The only people I know who could manage it either inherited, or are in the top 1 to 5% revenue of the country.

We developers don't realize how privileged we are.

Thread Thread
jenicarvalho profile image
Jeniffer Carvalho

Samuel, I couldn't agree more with you.

We are extremely privileged.

I can use myself as an example.
I'm from Brazil, I studied in public schools, and I needed to use a university loan to complete my studies. Every little step was hard and faded to fail. But I was resilient, and today I work remotely for an American company. I like to use my example to inspire others to do the same.

The path is tough, sometimes money is a problem, and you don't have anyone to base on. That's why I create those articles.

Thread Thread
robole profile image
Rob OLeary • Edited

I totally get your perspective samuel and I agree it is too hard in too many places. What I was getting at, is that your welfare/attitude is tied to your country's economy, system, culture, and your own background. For example, I am from ireland, and university is free. I didnt start my career in debt, which is a big help. The other side is that home ownership in Ireland requires a big salary and demand is always > supply, so prices grow bigger. The culture is that everyone wants to own a home, and the rental market sucks in the cities. So, this puts people in an awkward position like what you mentioned.

If I wanted to own a house, I would need to get a good dev job, and/or have a partner with an income. This wasnt a realistic goal for me, especially early in my career. But I am not hung-up on owing a house and I would prefer to be away from the city, so this does not force my hand. My attitude is flexible and I like to travel, so I found it better to live in places where renting is more the social norm and prices are sensible. I am probable doubly lucky, that I can chose to go to another country to find a better fit. I hope that the availability of remote work breaks some of these negative cycles soon.

I have a few friends in Brazil with dev jobs and they still find it hard. They tend to live with their parents longer until they have savings and their salary goes up. I stayed with a guy in greece and he worked in london in a dev job for a couple of years. He left because there was no jobs in Greece. It took him a couple of years of searching to find a dev job in athens. Things are different place to place.

abdullahjaffer profile image

My career has to be my life. No choice in it. I love being a software engineer, but what I don't love is being bound to something because of financial contraints, like a job, just the feeling of it is off putting to me, perhaps it's in my mentality to dislike it, I don't know.

My fever dream is just sitting all day doing side projects for fun, not noticing the passing time, but that doesn't earn paychecks unless each of your side project is a cash grabber idea, which sadly is not true for me.

Sometimes I feel like I want to leave my job and start my own startup as well, but I can't, it's too risky.

I have family that depends on me, being in a third world country does not help, The salary for a software engineer here is enough to allow you to live comfortable month to month, but forget about any feasible savings, unless you have 5-10 years of experience and no family that depends on you no worthwhile savings are going to be made. I wish to become skilled enough to work in an international company that pays well so I can save up some money. So I've been trying to learn a lot of things on the side to upskill myself.

Still, I am much better off then many people in my country, for that I am greatful, I do enjoy my job, but every 3rd day I am reminded I can't leave it even if I want too. That kind of spoils the fun out if it for a while.

ash_bergs profile image

I've had a lot of careers - caregiver, pharmacy technician, chef, and now developer, but when I'm introducing myself I always identify as an artist first... then right after that a dev. They're both important to summarizing me as a person and I don't think there's anything wrong with identifying with what you spend most of your time doing.

richardsilveira profile image
Richard Silveira

Wow, great article and discussions!

I work with Jeniffer, I'm a dedicated person as she is as well.

But I'm still waiting to have a baby because I think I didn't reach my goals yet. I still don't have my Playstation/X-box because I feel that I don't deserve it yet.

I'm not a workaholic, I'm usually in front of the PC 10/12 hours a day, but only 8 workings hours - the other ones I reserve to study.

I have some valuable certifications and tech knowledge, but I'm 35 years old, and I'm sure I won't play soccer with my grandson/granddaughter...
So, probably I cross the line of study-life balance but maybe there is no way to get back anymore...
I'm not complaining, I'm just sharing a bit of my story with someone else to think about it.

severodev profile image
Anderson Severo

Hi there Jeniffer, I pretty much see myself on your words. My career is my life. Going out? Nah. Drinking? Waste of time and money. I always put 95% of my attention and energy on college and career goals. This made my life really easy during this pandemic period (home office just allowed me to save even more money and work/study more). I've just turned 35 last week and I have now a paycheck that allows me to buy my first house (although despite all my effort to save every penny for the five years, this will yet cost me 7 to 10 years of mortgage - still, this is something). I work all days, mon-fri on my formal tech leader/architect job, weekends on freelancer projects. Before the freelancer projects were here, a master degree's classes and assignments use to fill this space in my schedule. So, my word form the future to you? Your plan will work, you'll have career success, but keep your eyes open to some friends/family that are worth keeping around. I was absolutely indifferent to friends/family few years ago - turned out some of them are really nice to share your achievements with. My wife helped me a lot with this perception. She is a much more people-person than me.

So, I'd say: go for it! Work hard, study hard, immerse yourself in your goals (as you have been doing already). When I look around and see some friends from high school or even college struggling in life, and remember they choose to stay relaxed when we were young, then working so hard seemed to be the best choice for me. [Of course working hard is not the only thing that dictates people's "success", we know life is much, much, muuuch more complex than that]. Just try not to become an island, because on the long run this will make all your achivements kinda of useless, or at least less fun than what they could be ;)

leandromarques profile image
Leandro Marques

It's quite hard being an excellent professional without building your life around your career unless you're a genius.

In my case, I've achieved relative success by putting a lot of effort into it. So yes, I've expended most of my time thinking about my career.

Now I reached a certain degree of stability, so I give myself the pleasure of doing other things without thinking about productivity or goals.

But until reach that kind of stability, everyone that wants to succeed in something has to hard work. There is no success without effort. As I said before, unless you're a genius or part of a rich family.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

My first question for you is what do you mean by hot tech company?

Is it FAANG, deeptech startup, a software consulting firm that is working on interesting & latest project?

My second question will be what do you mean by being paid better? What is your rough range of annual salary your looking at?

My last question is what is the type of lifestyle your looking at for this tech role?

Is it a software engineer in the latest tech?, a researcher working on world changing tech? or a tech entrepreneur building the hottest tech that is world changing.

Being focus and understanding what you are looking for makes it easier than being vague. This helps you on your job search or the type of lifestyle you are looking living as well.

_hs_ profile image

I see many people think American style of life applies to the rest of the world. No, if your career is not your life in some places it's not soul crushing povery. It's just less paid job since you're less of a professional. Some countries actually take care of their people. Take me for example. Having some on/off focus on my career made not so much difference since I had a string of bad luck with companies/clients. Yet I left my country for Sweden because I thought people are more responsible. Was supprised to see way less responsible people and it hit me. They have about 10% of people who are amazing professionals. About 10% more care about what they do and others but they are maybe not the best of experts. And another 10% who are quite balanced. So max 30% work really and care. Others enjoy the fruits of it. Now this is based on personal experience and could be quite wrong and better than my own experience but reading articles from others could be way less in percentage. This might be angering to some and being migrant who came because of a job and got f** multiple times you might think why bother being better. Well, seeing how other stuff is solved and how you can't really yell or fire delivery guy for f** up the order makes youtl think at least it's more human whatever the others say. Now, from that focus on life depends on the place you live in. Brasil moght have the same mentality flowing as in US while some of the Europe, Cuba, parts of Asia are quite human focused. Yes, you get less money and some countries are poor but they still live

inajaralopes profile image

Maravilhosa determinação Jeniffer!
Espero que já esteja na fase de desfrutar de suas conquistas também em festas, viagens e boas companhias.

jenicarvalho profile image
Jeniffer Carvalho

Pode ter certeza que sim! Dou sempre um pulinho na praia quando posso. :)

cheahengsoon profile image
Eng Soon Cheah

Work life integration

aheisleycook profile image

I am autistic

robole profile image
Rob OLeary

Parabens 👏

furkanbezci profile image

Nice post