My college computer science program was like many others around the US: challenging and sprinkled with professors who cut their teeth on COBOL and Fortran. As a student, I had a difficult time connecting with a few of these professors. Many of them were my three times my age, so there was definitely a generational gap at play.
Oftentimes they would assign the same projects, year after year. Some of these projects' requirements had not changed in nearly a decade. I can remember the frustration I felt with these seemingly impossible assignments.
Now, a little over a year into my professional software development career, I'm reminded of those difficult tasks. I work for a small company, so a large amount of individual responsibility is given to figuring out how to solve difficult problems. In a way, those difficult projects in college prepared me for having to solve difficult problems later.
In the business world, just like academia, people get sick, they take leaves, they quit abruptly. To students, I say: get used to being mentally taxed and seek healthy ways of handling that stress and responsibility. You're sheltered to an extent in the academic world, so establish those healthy habits now. To other professionals, I say: help guide your new hires and encourage them to find healthy outlets. You set the example that they will follow, so set the bar high. If you take walks or shoot hoops at lunchtime, invite them along.
This post was inspired by recent conversations with colleagues and the short TED talk linked below. I'm lucky enough to work with people who understand the importance of finding a healthy and maintainable style of working. Here's to finding that balance!