January 22nd, 2023

I actually had plans to write an article on a different topic this month; one that talked about what developers need to know to be successful. Maybe I’ll save that one for another month. What changed my mind is my recent thinking of thankfulness of being in the career I, and so many of us, are fortunate to be in. 

Recently the senior management of Solution Street got together for several days, as we usually do every year, to talk about the upcoming year. We hashed through the prior year; things that worked, didn’t work, and how to make things better for employees and clients. I so greatly enjoyed being with my team who are, without a doubt, close friends. Over the years I’m often asked what differentiates Solution Street and I always say the same thing. Sure I can say the basic reality is that we are “great software engineers, testers, and project managers coupled with being great consultants,” but I typically say “we just have a bunch of really nice people.” Coming back to thankfulness, I was thankful to spend the time with senior management this year and thankful to be in a company with people I like and who are kind to each other. 

I often think about “what if” scenarios. What if I was born during my grandfather’s time period, before computers as we know them today, what job would I have had? My grandfather, David, had a completely different life. So much harder, it’s not even comparable or on the same spectrum. David was born in Poland and left in 1921 to come to America at age 14 by himself! Luckily he left his country in the years before World War II, for years later, his mother who remained in Poland was murdered in the Holocaust and he may have been, too, had he stayed. At age 14, David arrived in this country with very little – pocket change, an elementary school education at best, and no English speaking skills. He was even kept at Ellis Island for several days alone by authorities since he was too young. Imagine that? 

David held on arrival at Ellis Island since he was age 14 traveling alone.
David at his candy store (April 1947)

David worked at whatever job he could and later tried to be a police officer in New York but was too short for the job (at the time there was a height restriction). He eventually owned a small candy store in Brooklyn for many years working seven days a week and living with his family in a tiny apartment behind the store. His life and many of my ancestors, as I’m sure many of yours, was so much more difficult than mine. 

What if I was born during his or even my father’s time period, before a career in computer science was an option? I suppose if I was able to have the education when higher education wasn’t commonplace for many people, I would have certainly been a math teacher. My love of math was very strong, although given my time away from math I doubt I can even do the basics of algebra properly anymore! 

I am so thankful for having been born in this time period. I am thankful for having the opportunity for the last 40+ years to work with software, something I love, and have a career in a dynamic industry where I have seen and continue to see staggering growth and changes in technology. Am I worried about AI and ChatGPT taking over my profession? No. I love the changes. I love the ride. I am thankful for what innovation has given us, but most of all I am thankful for my grandfather, David, and all of my other ancestors who had worked so hard, focused their lives on their children, and ultimately me, providing us with as many opportunities as possible. Because of them, I am able to work in a career I love and with others who I respect and am grateful to work alongside.