I have mentioned this many times before on Twitter, but I think it is important enough that it deserves its own post. If you find yourself working at a company where you are over worked and undervalued, I have a suggestion for you when you decide to start job hunting. Look for a place where a good number of your coworkers are going to be parents. In my experience, parents make the best coworkers and here is why.
I am not a parent myself, but I suspect that having a family forces parents to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Because parents have a healthy work/life balance, in my experience, they encourage it for everyone else. For example, one night I was working late and pinged a coworker of mine who was a parent. He chatted with me for a little bit and then finally said,
That sounds great, let's pick this back up tomorrow. I am going to go play with my kids, you should take a break as well.
I am one of those people that feels like they need permission sometimes to take a break. Hearing things like that on a daily basis from my coworkers helps me maintain a good work/life balance.
Part of maintaining a good work/life balance for parents means sometimes they have to leave work early to attend a recital or baseball game. Every time I hear a coworker has to leave early to attend a child's event, it's a great little reminder of what matters most in this world.
Parenting is the hardest job on the planet*. You don't get a manual and nothing really prepares you for it. Because of this, parents have to struggle to figure it out. Being a developer is hard and everyone struggles at some point. Parents know what it is like to struggle, which makes them optimally prepared to help others through the struggles that come with being a developer. They know what it is like to be in the trenches, not just at work, but in life.
Parents of older children, not only have struggled themselves, but have also had to help their children through struggles. Those parents of older kids are probably the most qualified to help others when they are struggling. The next time you find yourself deep in the trenches and you are not sure where to turn, look to a parent coworker for help. I bet they will know just what to say to help you conquer your battle.
Parents have a certain type of wisdom that only comes with having raised a kid. They have life in perspective, and they bring that perspective to work. When the world seems to be crumbling around you, they will remind you it actually is not. In my experience, they even tend to act like a parent at work. They make sure everyone is taken care of and happy. They are constantly not just looking out for themselves, but also for others. They are a strong pillar when things get crazy and always provide a solid voice of reason.
Our VP of Engineering at Kenna is a parent, and he is the master at giving us perspective when things get rocky. A couple years ago we had an outage that was rough for everyone. Rather than wallow with the rest of us in the post mortem, he said:
Remember, we are not saving lives here. If a client cannot see their data for 20 minutes, the world, I promise, will keep turning.
He is constantly pushing us to produce the best software possible, but at the same time, will always remind us what the important things are in life.
The next time you are job hunting, I encourage you to look for companies where many of your coworkers will be parents. They have a lot more to offer than you think.
*I am not a parent but I have watched quite a few of my friends tackle parenting and I have to say, I could not do what they do. Their strength is remarkable