Don't kid yourself. Things Suck. And Things are being Sucked ever closer to the swirling maelstrom of Suckitude with relentlessly increasing speed. I know why you're here, You bright-eyed smiling whippersnappers with your faces towards the Sun. You're here to help the great wheel Technology save the world, and while you're doing some of the pushing, you're hoping a Condo will fall on your lap along with attendant swimming pools and a luxury Sports Car. Right? You're not here to spend contiguous, sleepless, showerless days peering at Kode on faded CRT screens eating Cafeteria Poutine until your sweat pores reek of cheese and gravy and potatoes. Let's get one thing straight, since Things Suck, you get to do the latter. A lot. And this doesn't stop once you cross that podium and get your head knocked by whichever fossil is President of the University at the time. Note: Exceptionally Bright-Eyed, Glass-Half-Full People call that Working Hard.
Thankfully, there are precious few of those around otherwise the rest of us would have hijacked a Nuclear Missile and launched it somewhere already. Listen, even assuming you're one of the few Country Hick Makes Good stories that ends up driving rare Italian Sports Cars, when you're spending all that time in front of your computer screen, your rare Italian Sports Car will be spending a lot of expensive time in a Garage. So let's walk through the Litany of the Good Life shall we?
|Girlfriend||Forget it, no one wants to date someone smelling like cheese, with or without the accoutrements of a Successful Programmer.|
|Boyfriend||With the Lamentable Representation of Women in the department, the number of sweaty guys with needle-nose pliers in their pockets trying to smile at you should have already scared you off into an Alternative Lifestyle.|
|Spouse||Unless you can get your hands on one of them shady Eastern European brochures people keep on whispering about, you're Shit out of Luck.|
|Kids||You could adopt, but they'll hate you.|
|Big House||It gets lonely in a Big House.|
|Expensive Hobby||There's a very good reason why Computer Programmers have Expensive Hobbies and lavish unreasonable amounts of whatever little free time they have on them. Three guesses, the first two don't count.|
Still don't believe me? Okay, well, you're too bright-eyed for me, get out of here, and hopefully when the Grim Reaper of Broken Dreams comes and gets you, then maybe you'll come crawling back to me. Those still with me are probably chattering their teeth on bleeding cuticles by now and need some sagely advice from a Krusty Old Geezer. You've come to the right place.
The Myth of the Easy Lay
There's no such thing as an Easy Lay. Or a Free Lunch for that matter, although I'm still biding my time for the NDP to be in power. Yes you're right, Jimbo, I'm not talking about Picking Up at Gert's here, it's a metaphor for the Computer Programmer Rite of Passage. If you thought that a degree in Computer Science was a Magical Portal to the wonderful Land Of Plentiful Employment, well you're half right. The other half is that The Path is lined with Thorns and Falling Boulders and People With Rocket Launchers.
These aren't generally a bad thing and have their uses, most notably if you want to Extend your Educational Experience, but the Karmic Toll these things extract on you cannot be valued. Look, when you get out of here, how quickly you turn in mid-air and Rocket an opponent at his/her feet while Grappling for the other side of the chasm is a Negative, not a Positive thing. If that's all you do and talk about, you'll be Ignored at Parties and practicing your Conversational Skills with a Stucco Wall isn't gonna get you anywhere. That's assuming you get invited to Parties in the first place, which is extremely unlikely. What's that old adage? It's not where you go, but how you get there. And if you can manage to find your way to the Exit Sucking Less than The Norm, then you're getting there in Good Shape.
Tread Warily, Little Grasshopper
B.Engs Drink, B.Coms Drink, B.Scs Drink Occasionally while Boning Up on their MCATs, B.As Drink Occasionally but usually make far more Interesting Conversation. B.Scs and B.As in Computer Science, instead of Drinking and Carousing, get themselves addicted to spurious computer-related activities and end up pallid, pathetic examples of these Social Creatures known as Homo Erectus. Listed here are some of the more Significant Perils:
|Quake and Clones||If you've ever played 12 hours of Multi-Player Quake you know how addictive this Shit is. Prolonged exposure induces Paranoia and a peculiar Strafing style of Corridor Navigation to avoid oncoming Rockets.|
|IRC/ICQ||Internet Relay Chat, by which Thousands of Lewsers chat with Thousands of Other Lewsers never, ever meeting in Real Life. ICQ is another Internet Chat System. Okay sure you're conversing, and sure it's other people out there but if you have to hide behind the Mask of a Computer Screen to socially interact, then You've got some problems.|
|MUDs||MUDs are even worse, being Computer-Based Multi-Player Role-Playing Games. People actually Live, Breathe, Date, Have Relations, Marry, Have Children on these things, all the while Slaying Dragons. Most new Multi-Player RPGs like Ultima Online© have their roots here and are much the same thing. It's like AD&D except you can Do It in the privacy of your own room, or the semi-privacy of a Funky Computer Lab, and when I say Funk, I'm not talking about the Bootsy Collins variety.|
|Netrek||Probably the oldest, Real-Time Multi-Player Action-Simulation game still existing, it is also the Demonic Satan Child. Thankfully there's a Steep Learning Curve and few people with Patience, otherwise the Computer Industry would have ground to a halt years ago.|
So there you go. Now, being the Inquisitive Little Bastards that you are, I figure you're all going to get Hooked to them anyways. Please don't. Apart from the obvious point that Job Interviews very rarely ask you what Level you got to in ShadowMUD, normal people at Restaurants and Bars don't either.
"When I Was Seventeen...."
So, My Young Acolyte, you ask, perhaps a little bewildered, "What should I do then?" Well, lemme tell you, the Biggest Problem in The Industry right about now is the Lack of People with Good Communications Skills. What are those? The Abilities of Speaking, Writing and Schmoozing without sounding like you picked up a copy of Social Interaction for Dummies at the local bookstore. This is Very Important. Now, you may ask me, even more confused, "How can I learn this Skill if I can't buy a Book for it?" The answer, Young Apostle, is in Practice. Practice Makes Perfect. The more Practice you can Get, the Better. And the best place to do this is at Bars with Lots of Alcohol.
Yes, that's right. Alcohol has many benefits: it loosens your Inhibitions; you become more Gregarious and Extroverted, and thus are able to Carry on Conversations which during the Damnéd Curse of Sobriety you would not have been able to Pull Off before; it makes you forget about the Project you have Due the Next Day. Honestly, where do you think the World's Larget Deals are Cut, in some Boardroom among a bunch of Power Suit wearing Executives? Get serious, that's just a pretense that the Powers That Be want you to believe; sure the same people make the deals, but they are cutting them in Beach Resorts drinking Piña Coladas and Gin and Tonics, with friends they made Yachting when they were Fifteen in their Parents' second Summer Home.
What do you have in Common with these Power Brokers, you ask yourself. Rugged Good Looks from years spent eating and drinking the best Protein Supplements money can buy: scratch. Glib Conversational Skills that allow one to sail the Choppy Seas of Personal Diplomacy, forged from years of Country Club Socialization: scratch. Blue Blood: scratch. Well, one thing: they may have Yachts and rare Italian Sports Cars which they have the Time to use, but you can, given enough Practice at the Arts of the Silver Tongue, buy them an Expensive Scotch, and Grease the Wheels of Success to Work for You. With ample time spent in Bars this will Come Naturally.
Oh yeah, smoke Cigarettes, they make you Look Cool.
Do Drugs, these are bad for you but help you Live With Yourself while you Lie and Cheat and Smile your way through Life.
Stay In School
Let's face it, four years is not enough time to learn these Practical Skills of Life; One cannot reasonably expect someone to turn into a Well-Oiled Schmoozing Machine in this short period. You have to figure out a way of Extending your Educational Experience so you can Drink and Smoke and Do Drugs with as many Different People as possible, at as many Different Social Settings as possible. Grad School, you say. No. Grad School turns otherwise well-adjusted human beings into Drooling Piles of Subservient Professorial Posterior Worship; what you want to do is to stay an Undergrad for As Long As Possible. Fail a few well-chosen Courses -- very easily achieved with any of the Abovementioned Perils -- or Get Creative: Claim Insanity or catch Mono. Anything which allows you stay around Campus and hang out at Bars whether or not you are taking Classes is good.
So the big day arrives, you manage not to trip over your Graduation Gown despite being a Giant Klutz, and there's a big Piece of Parchment that claims inexpicably that you have "Diligently" performed your Studies and They'll be sending you Alumni Donation Cards soon, the Ride of the Valkyries, the Smell of Napalm in the Morning, Your Graduation. If you've been listening closely, you should have a GPA of about 2.35, a Liver Near Death, and Track Marks down both forearms, but you should be able to sell a Car without an Engine Block to Dear Mrs. Roper down the street in exchange for her First Born Son without even a Strain of Pathos in your Ebon Heart. This is a Good Thing.
This is a Good Thing because the moment you Stride into your Real Life Job Interviews in front of the Solarflex Set, for the first time in your life not begging to Deliver Pizzas or Pack Boxes for some Greasy Manager or Factory Foreman with a Hairy Back respectively, you are well armed: the Glint on your Newly Capped Teeth, your Words Gentle and Caressing as the Summer Breeze. The Next Thing You Know, you'll be sitting at your New Mahogany Desk with the Window View, Laughing Scornfully at those pathetic Quake Monkeys you knew in University, scurrying about among their Pens in their Open Plan Office.
"THE TURKEY'S A LITTLE DRY!"
If you didn't pay attention to my Advice, and end up writing an Unending Ream of For Loops and Object Oriented Kode twelve hours a day for some Faceless Mover and Shaker who is probably enjoying him/herself on some Yacht in the Carribean, then there's only one thing you can do. Drink Yourself Silly. Everyday. Programmer Burnout happens at age 29, so by then, if you haven't got Chronic Alcoholism down Pat, your Days will be one Torturous Reality Burn after another.
Let's Have Another Round Then
By the way, if you ever want to have a Beer or Two, I still need more practice at this Socialization thing.