I recently read a great article covering the retirement of a long-time Microsoft employee, Duane Campbell. Go on, take a few minutes to check it out. Read the comments, too.
I think we should all be so fortunate to have a career, and thus a fitting sendoff, like that. Glowing compliments from former coworkers. Projects and software that you helped create and nurture that changed the way the world works. Choosing to put down your keyboard (at least full-time), on your own terms, in your own time. As a programmer, I don't think you can ask for much more than that.
Now granted, this type of professional success doesn't just fall into your lap. How did he do it? He lists some points of advice in the article, which I'll summarize here:
- Randomly try new things.
- Look for small things that can scale.
- Stand out by being yourself.
- Know what you’re good at, and do what you love.
- Know the code, and always strive to make it better.
- Appreciate the scale and pace of change.
At the risk of making a late 80's pop culture reference, I think some programmers today "wanna be like Mike". They call themselves things like "rockstars", "ninja-neers", "unicorns" and a number of other outlandish monikers, attempting to make themselves appear larger than life, or even somehow legendary. We mere mortals should be so favored as to have one of these unique, graceful, geniuses grace one of our projects with their presence.
Me? I'd rather be like Duane.