Job Title: Programmer
Type of Company: I work for a large and well-known medical software company, which provides a variety of software packages to hospitals and other medical facilities, from admissions to stockroom to payroll and more.
Education: attended, UMass-Amherst BS, Math & Computer Science, Bridgewater State College (Bridgewater, MA)
Previous Experience: I temped for ten years while pursuing a career as an actor. I have worked in a wide variety of jobs. I went back to college in 1993 in order to change my career path and my degree led to my current job.
Job Tasks: As a programmer, I write the code that makes our company's computer software work. I work in the development division, which means that I create new computer programs or modify existing programs in ways that add new functions to them. Development is different from other divisions of my company, where the programmers might simply maintain or deliver software to our customers. I also help to repair old programs that don't work correctly. When my work is done, my code is used by the rest of the company and all the sites that bought our software.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I like a challenge and programming to someone's design can be a nice one. I also work in a job with lots of stability. Programmers are always in demand and so are jobs related to the medical field. The job also works with my personal philosophy: I create software that helps people. I would not like a job where I created weapons or something harmful like cigarettes. The company I work for is also very devoted to its long-term employees, (I have been employed here for twelve years), and is very liberal, which suits my personal point of view. The worst part of the job is the frequent pressure to create programs in a small amount of time, and also my long commute (fifty miles).
1. Know your stuff. You cannot fake programming. Either you do it right or do it wrong. It is a job where you don't have a lot of leeway. You usually need to produce a desired result.
2. As a programmer, it is good to be brainy, but that should not exempt you from also learning communication skills and learning about other things that may make the difference between a career as a company employee versus just a job writing code.
3. Stay on top of the latest trends in programming. Languages and methods change all the time.
Additional Thoughts: I was surprised that the slow and steady attitude of my company has paid off in the long run. It isn't a crime not to make the huge bucks on the first day. In this economy, I still have a very secure job like I thought I would. It pays to plan ahead and think about how things like the economy are constantly changing.
I think a successful career lets you work with people you like and gives you time to have a life outside of work, if that's what you need.
I think people have a mistaken impression that any kind of work must be horrible. Work has its ups and downs like everything does.
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