What are programmers like? Smashing the top 5 stereotypes


5 min read

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Being a programmer varies. A lot – based on technology, sector, location, employment status, and a million other factors. Still, since programmers are everywhere in popular culture, there are a ton of stereotypes and generalisations about what they are like and what they do.

To give you a more realistic image of their tasks, qualities and challenges, we’re going to debunk 5 common stereotypes about programmers.

1. Programmers are boring and have a dull job

This might be the most common stereotype of all, and also the one that cannot be further from the truth. Programmers may not express themselves like a poet or a painter does, for sure. They are rather like applied artists when they work around a particularly challenging problem. 

Creative problem solving is a programmer’s number 1 task. You’re basically going to solve puzzles for a living – puzzles that can have several solutions. Imagine you’re given a hammer, a rope and a box of matches to get out of a locked house. There are a number of ways you can solve this puzzle, and there’s not one single solution that’s considered best. First, it should be effective, and then you can figure out methods to do it more elegantly. But it certainly takes creativity to solve it, right? And your style and personality will be showing in the way that you did it.

Optimising code requires a good amount of creativity too. First, the code has to work, but once that’s done, you can figure out tricks and techniques to make it run faster or to make it consume less memory. You can also take things to the next level, and consider how other people will view your code. Writing beautiful, easy-to-read code is an art of its own, and it’s a highly creative activity.

2. Programmers know everything IT

Many people think that because you are a programming specialist, you know everything there is to know about computers. If you spend so much time next to a computer, you must know all the secrets of this mystical machine, right? Well, not really.

Sure, as a developer, you know how to deal with computers. And you’ll likely know some tips and tricks to fix some issues. But you’re not even close to an electrician or an engineer. However, when people learn what you do for a living, you might be asked to fix some cords, look into buggy apps, or try to fix old, overheated PCs.

But even the allrounder IT guy who can just fix everything is a myth. Less and less generalists exist in the IT sector, and programmers are usually more steered towards one type of specialisation as well. You can be focused on web development, app design, or test automation. There’s likely a field where your knowledge is more vast than your peers’, and that’s a wonderful thing.

3. Programmers just write the code and then they're done

People tend to think that a programmer can write a code, hit send, and rest. But delivering the product is just the beginning. As with any job, there’s so much more to a programmer’s daily work than just the coding.

To complete projects is a challenge for programmers, because programming is never really finished. There are bugs to be fixed. There are iterations that you’ll likely have to make. The timeframe of programming is a vague thing, and there’s always some uncertainty around when it really ends.

Testing if the code works fine is just as important as writing it. Programmers can therefore spend a lot of time updating current programs and running tests to find bugs, just to see if everything runs smoothly. So to say that they are done when the code is done, is just a myth.

DevOps specialist programmers are also into promoting and maintaining the software, and have control over the full software development cycle.

Plus, a programmer will spend significant time on staying up to date with technology. They can be researching, exchanging ideas, going to conferences or contributing on open source projects. As technology continues to grow,  programmers need to keep up with frameworks, tools, and libraries, because these become outdated pretty quickly. As a programmer, you have to do your best to get used to these changes fast and efficiently.

4. Programmers are antisocial

When people think of a stereotypical programmer, they picture a guy who doesn’t talk much, and just sits at his desk all day. But it has always been necessary for programmers to have great social and soft skills.

Networking, collaborating and presenting in front of people are just a few things a programmer has to do in order to build a solid career. While programmers do really sit a lot at their desks, they do a lot of social things while they’re there. They work together with a number of different specialists and teams to understand a business problem, or to work out a product’s development timeline. They do collaborative problem solving on a daily basis.

At Codecool, we understand how important it is for students to prepare for the demands of the current job market. We actually started our school to bring education closer to workplace demand and culture. Our students work in groups and on their own, too. At Codecool you can experience what it’s really like to work in agile teams, get used to collaborative work with others, and presenting in front of clients.

In terms of soft skills, we put a lot of emphasis on refining presentation and project management skills, as well as communication and planning skills. While most universities or bootcamps aren’t putting much focus on these skills, we’ve made them an integral part of our curriculum.

5. Programming is men's business

Women can become great programmers, just like men. What’s more, sometimes women can be even more empathetic, creative, and collaborative than men. So they can make a perfect fit for any development team. 

While tech is still a male-dominated industry, there is a big shift happening in the backstage already. More and more companies are realising the benefits of bringing women into tech, and encouraging initiatives to allow girls to enter into the world of IT.

With the CoderGirl Scholarship we want to give girls and women a chance and the confidence to start learning tech.  At Codecool, they’ll get the chance to learn multiple prog languages, work on lifelike projects, develop valuable hard and soft skills, and will be able to start a new tech career.

We hope you now have a better picture about what it’s really like being a programmer. Probably more fun than you’d have imagined, right?

If you like what you learnt, and you want to find out whether or not programming is for you, let’s get in touch.

At Codecool, we can take you to a guaranteed tech position in a year with our full stack dev course, and will be there supporting you all the way.

Sounds exciting? Please reach out!

We’d be happy to answer any questions you have, and help you make an informed decision.

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