jay's old blog

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explaining to mom what I do for a living

'Process and data modelling' image from wikimedia. link
Everybody has to do something for living. I of course, also do a lot of stuff for a living, and you can find more details here. Unlike other industries, the software industry is very...young! People have been building houses for centuries (civil engineering). Machines have been built in one form or other, again, for centuries. Same goes to chemistry and even medicine. Perhaps the most recent and relatively young industry would be automobile development, which is perhaps a couple of centuries old.

This creates a lot of problems, especially folks like me who not only write code but also design systems, propose solutions and keep on the edge of new stuff. When non-IT folk ask me what I do for a living, I can simply say 'software developer' (which is not entirely true because I do a lot more that just develop software) and get away with it. However, when old friends and mom asks that question, I cannot just say the same and get away with it. Such an incident happened recently, and suddenly, I was back in a class room and I was explaining software development using stuff that she would understand. Yes, I used cooking as an example. Come to think of it, cooking and coding are not that different. You are taking stuff that is in raw form, and giving it a shape that makes it easy for folks to consume.

After an hour, when i was done explaining, she seemed to get the gist of it. Perhaps, if I was only a 'basic developer' the explanation would have been simpler. I am anything but that, and that made way for complicated explanations. When it is not my mom, but my friends (who have education level similar to mine) things are easier but no less complicated because none of them are in IT. My small collection of friends (which keeps getting smaller every year) are business degree holders and although their paycheck comes from IT, they themselves dont know much about software development. Still though, they try.

Interestingly enough, I still remember like it was yesterday that my mom, despite her limited education is the one who taught me the 26 alphabets. She is the one who paid for my first computer, and she is (at that time) the only one who was happy I chose computer science (everybody else wanted me to take electronics). She was also the one who gave me the seed money (along with one major benefactor) when I decided to go all entrepreneur on my career. Heck, on many many occasions, she was the only one who stood by me, when everybody else was convinced that I am smart guy who always takes poor decisions.

Overall, yeah, thanks mom!

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