Today our coding teacher/professor/maestro asked us a simple question, “What’s next?” We are in our sixth of eight weeks of coding bootcamp, so naturally it’s time to start thinking about what exactly is next. The problem is that I’m not quite sure what is next for me.
The question itself generates anxiety in me for somewhat dichotomous reasons. First, I am anxious because there is an impact I want to make, projects I want to work on that give back: ones that matter. Perhaps the best question is how does one get there? Above all, I’m anxious that learning to code has opened up so many potential pathways that finding which is best for me will be the most difficult part. So I've been told- and starting to believe- these are “good problems” to have.
I’d ask you for advice, but you might be in the same boat. Even more importantly though, we can never really know what is best for someone else. For me, I know the key things that have driven me to career happiness are:
- Work that has impact
- Positive work environment
- Work-life balance
Work that has impact drives change and genuinely helps someone. Similarly, a positive work environment looks like people around me who also want to drive change and see issues not as problems but as opportunities for improvement. Finally, work-life balance is potentially a fallacy in real life, but for me at least, it means not working a traditional full-time job. I’m a highly productive worker, but that also means a highly intense worker. I am both happier and more creative when my dedicated work hours are not 50.. 60… 80 hours per week which is what the land of most corporate careers have turned into.
So we come again to the question, “What is next?” For now, I’m pondering creating a web development social enterprise that helps new coders break into their new careers through sourcing work from local non-profits, small business, and other social enterprises while providing shared mentorship from more experienced coders. I’d also like to take my new abilities and establish a coding club at one of the local public charter schools here in New Orleans. Both of these candidates could have impact and involve work with really great people. They also don’t rely on a set structure of work defined by the industrial revolution. I see coding as a creative field. Without unstructured time to ponder, we can never really come up with the greatest ideas.