My dream job

My dream job

Summary: If you could design your own dream job, what would it be like? Here are some thoughts about mine. At my dream job, I could immerse myself in the latest technologies and ideas, and spend as much time as I wanted learning (and teaching). If I wanted to use Java in my dream job, I could do it without explaining for the umpteenth time why Java isn't slow....

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TOPICS: IT Employment
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If you could design your own dream job, what would it be like? Here are some thoughts about mine.

At my dream job, I could immerse myself in the latest technologies and ideas, and spend as much time as I wanted learning (and teaching).

If I wanted to use Java in my dream job, I could do it without explaining for the umpteenth time why Java isn't slow.

I could use a language like RubyAt my dream job, "play" would not be a dirty word. in my dream job if I felt it was the best tool for the job, without dealing with people who say they don't think it's ready for the enterprise. 

At my dream job Marketing would not set my tasks and priorities. I would look at what the customers needed instead.

We would not "prioritize requirements" and "scope tasks" at my dream job. Instead, we would design/code, gather feedback, refine, and repeat. 

At my dream job, competitive analyses would be brutal and honest, not rosy and fluffy. 

Everybody I worked with at my dream job would be above average.

At my dream job I would always have enough disk space, cpus, monitors, hardware, software, etc. to do my job comfortably and efficiently. 

My dream job would not require me to make up time estimates for things that cannot be estimated, and then chastise me for not meeting them.

When fixing bugs at my dream job I would be free to fix them in the most elegant way, not the most expedient way. 

At my dream job everyone would be encouraged to participate in the outside industry or community instead of being anonymous and hidden behind technical support and public relations.

I would be encouraged to write blogs, articles, and books at my dream job, and effectively use my knowledge to improve our products and services.

At my dream job, "play" would not be a dirty word. Neither would "strategy" or "refactor".

Nobody would monitor my net activity at my dream job or restrict the sites I visited (within reason :)).

At my dream job I could save as much email as I needed and would never have to do housekeeping to keep my mailbox under quota.

I could use any standard web browser I wanted at my dream job and not be locked into a certain one just because it comes with the OS.

At my dream job there would not be separate quality testing groups. Developers would be responsible for the quality of their own code.  

I could make source changes at my dream job without filling out a two page form explaining what I want to change to someone with 1/10th my experience. 

At my dream job there would not be departments and turfism; there would be flexible project teams and a software commons.

All the tools we used at my dream job would be open source, including anything we had to write or modify ourselves. Custom/proprietary tools would be replaced or open sourced.

Continuous integration and testing using industry standard tools would be the norm at my dream job. In fact we'd be pushing the envelope on those standards.

At my dream job, I would be empowered to be responsible. People would take my advice and I could see a direct link between what I did and the success of the organization.

When I created something at my dream job, it would quickly find its way into users' hands so they could provide immediate feedback without waiting a year or more until the next release.

My dream job would not require relocation, or much travel. 

And finally, at my dream job I could write and promote open source software used by huge numbers of people, and get paid for doing it.

Now it's your turn: what would your dream job be like?

(BTW, this is not a reflection on any job I may or may not have now. But if you're hiring for a job like this, let me know. :))

Topic: IT Employment

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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6 comments
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  • It's only a dream

    I agree with most of what you say. However, I think the main reason it is not the way you would like it is that the customer base is not cognizant of things they could do to make the software development process better, which I think would naturally lead to a better work environment for developers. I could be wrong, but it's been my experience that it's the customers who are driving this.

    Keying in on one issue you bring up, almost every place I've worked has insisted that us developers must provide a complete up-front estimate for an entire project we haven't even started yet, and stick to it. This approach has a tendency to cause one of two outcomes: either the developers slave away like mad in the closing weeks to meet the deadline that was based on their estimates, or the deadline gets extended to provide some breathing room, but the project risks going over budget (which the development company ends up eating), which was fixed at the time the estimate was made. This method of budgeting and scheduling reflects the deeply flawed one-way waterfall model.

    To me, a more rational process would be an incremental approach of setting budgets and schedules based on milestones, rather than on an initial conceptual design. Some might object, but hey, in just about every project I've been on, the customer ends up changing their mind about what they want in the product in the midst of the process anyway. It's been rare that I've seen a project go from start to finish without the customer modifying the initial vision. An incremental approach would be closer to the reality of what's going on, rather than trying to shoehorn reality into a process that doesn't fit the situation.

    Having regular releases, and status communications with the customer would be crucial to this process. There needs to be some transparency with the customer so they can see what progress is being made, and decide if the progress is to their liking.

    When I was in college I used to hear about incremental development models, such as "the spiral model", but I have yet to work at a place that uses it.
    Mark Miller
  • And this is why...its always the way it is...

    You are lamenting about the typical workplace malaise that virtually ever job subsists in to one degree or another. While some jobs may be inherently subjected to more minuses then pluses, some specific workplaces for any number of reasons might be better or worse then others. And as in any situation that is so pervasive in society, and particularly where most people wish it was different then what the status quo; is it is certainly a fair question to ask why it always works the way it does. And the answer is not so difficult.

    PROFITS AND MONEY.

    That?s it right there. The persons who are making the money at the top, and have no direct connection to the actual work being done, shareholders perhaps being one of the most extreme examples, are never ever going to allow for the micro management of any company solely for the purpose to improve working conditions unless it has a verifiable connection to improved profits. After all, its not them who has to live with the conditions, just the profits. And just how in the hell are you going to empirically establish that? While many of the improved work conditions we all might want would seem to intuitively imply improved profits down the road, most people whose head or wallet is on the chopping block want serious proof before implementing new workplace policy that makes the employees life nicer, when its going to cost them a thin dime, that the new policies or procedures will translate into genuine profit in a reasonable period of time. If you can?t prove it, they see little reason to spend more to earn the same amount..or possibly less just because it will make the workers life move livable.

    Just look at some of your examples;

    ?Everybody I worked with at my dream job would be above average?
    Average does cost less to hire, above average might make you more money

    ?At my dream job I would always have enough disk space, cpus, monitors, hardware, software, etc. to do my job comfortably and efficiently?
    Less space does cost you less money to set up, more space might make a worker more efficient

    ?When fixing bugs at my dream job I would be free to fix them in the most elegant way, not the most expedient way.?
    Expedient is quicker so it does cost less to do in the first instance, elegant might save you money if it is done instead of an expedient method that might have eventually failed

    ?I could use any standard web browser I wanted at my dream job and not be locked into a certain one just because it comes with the OS.?
    Conformity by way of policy removes culpability (potential job loss or negative consequences) for those with their head on the block, flexibility in many cases shows no inherent potential for improved efficiency or profit, just a happier worked at best.
    ?At my dream job, competitive analyses would be brutal and honest, not rosy and fluffy.?
    Rosy and fluffy allows for projections that are unattainable and allows management to always have the option of subsequently delivering critique for not meeting rosy and fluffy projections, thus being able to better regulate wage increases and claiming justification for berating employees to accomplish more when rosy and fluffy is not being achieved. Brutal and honest will on occasion mean admitting the best that can be done is already being done, even if its not as good as one might hope for, and that is no good for explaining why an employee should not get a particular raise or bonus. Brutal and honest means accepting reality and that means not being able to claim employees should be able to accomplish something that cannot be done.

    In every case, its the same, what the employee wants "DOES" cost more money and only "MAY" eventually result in more profit. And those who collect the money say thats not good enough.

    Its money man. And it?s the way it is.
    Cayble
    • Agree

      I say it a different way. What I find is that places typically want the expedient route, because they and their customers are only concerned with up front costs. They don't care about the "long tail", as it were, of maintenance costs.

      I am sure that taking the time to design something right will save money in maintenance. Expedient design tends to create more costs down the road than a more elegant design would, in my experience. I know that "elegant design" can lead to overdesign, overthinking the problem, which just leads to bloated systems.

      The reason there's probably no empirical data on this is that no one's bothered to do it.
      Mark Miller
  • Message has been deleted.

    slack9999
  • Not so much of a pipe dream

    It is not necessarily that much of a pipe dream - the company I work for would actually fit most of the points raised; the exceptions being that there is a QA team (but they spend most of their time doing general QA / Testing, developers are responsible for their own defect/feature fixes) and for customer project work development needs to give an estimate. But a valid estimate is: "we have no idea - it would take us 4 / 8 / 32 hours to find out..."

    It may take a while for some companies to come to this way of thinking - hopefully those in our industry take longer than others :D

    Karl Laird
    Solution Architect
    OrderWare Solutions Ltd
    iiq374
  • RE: My dream job

    Great blog! Never stop dreaming, life is too short! One key factor was missing here...how much you're worth for your time at your "Dream Job". Your time is always valuable...think BIG! Success will follow! BeFree365!
    God Bless!
    rickf007