First of all, I would like to ask you a question, what is it like to be a programmer in general not depending on the place or country (planet?) you live? The first answer that generally comes to my mind is a “person who writes code is a programmer”. But can your code be misused and cause more harm than good?
In my case, I start to think about this question after several occasions that happened in my life and I start to realize that it is more responsible and important than just to write code and achieve the given tasks by the management or a client. Don’t worry, I am going to describe below what happened and why I started to think about the stuff behind a code.
I hope to influence programmers to think about their code first and how it could affect others. If you in some way recognize yourself in the above text then stay tuned and be strong!
Can your code be misused?
At the start of my professional career, I didn’t think much about the repercussions my programming could cause. I was just happy and relieved to spend all my days’ coding and completing the tasks without actually thinking about what is behind my code or how it could affect other people later on? I always thought that there is no way to abuse or hurt someone through my code as I just completed the task I was told to do due to the deadline. Even if there would be any troubles I am not the one who is responsible for these, I just follow the orders. Actually, sometimes there’s no time to think about other things than just to complete your tasks on time because those could be so challenging that you could lose your sleep, which is absolutely terrible.
You should always analyze the given tasks and immediately express your feelings and doubts. Don’t feel shy or be afraid to ask ‘why?’ or say ‘no’. By using these words you insure yourself to make no harm to yourself or to your project. However, if you are just afraid to say these two words which are especially common among foreigners then you have to comply with not always reasonable goals and workloads of the client. In some specific cases, given tasks can violate the ethical rules and even harm someone and you will be the one person to take the burden and live with it. Could you live with it? If the answer is ‘no’ then it is time to act! Start to be an active part of the human community and take care of others as others will take care of you. Humans are social beings and we gather together into groups and communities as it’s our natural instinct. In that way, we are stronger!
Do not afraid to express your opinion and act
I didn’t act myself on time and I feel bad about it. I wish I had enough strength and strive to change it in my past working place with a terrible experience. It was 5 years ago and it was my first job in Finland and I faced the true injustice against me and other foreigners who worked there. I should say that my employer was also a foreigner. He used us to work for him twice cheaper and without medical insurance, unlike the Finnish citizens. It did not affect the working environment. I think it is because we were all passionate about the same thing as programming and did our job because we liked it, however, we all have bills to pay. In our case we have to earn enough to cover bills and be eligible to get a visa, otherwise, we will be kicked out of the country. Stressful, isn’t it? I would work there for a long time just to stay in this beautiful country.
The fear of losing my job drew me until I started to get to know more people and learn Finnish law. The natives shared their working experience with me and I shared mine in return and that is how I start to realize that something is wrong with my working place and the job I did. I realized that I should stop working there no matter what because I don’t want to support that employer and bring him benefits by exploiting me. I quit my job and applied to another job and of course, it took some time for me to start working at a new place and I stressed out, but I felt much better in a new working place and it was totally the right decision to change it. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and don’t let anyone exploit you and report immediately if this happens to you. You will find a better place if you are truly passionate about your work and if you’re a good specialist.
You should know that in Finland, all employees are protected by the unions and in case you have some troubles at work with your management crew, you should report to unions about any violations that happened to you at work. I hope I knew it from the beginning but it is better late than never.
Another thing I want to point out is even if you don’t face anything up above but your management asks you to do something inappropriate like collecting users’ data without their consent. You should refuse immediately because it’s a crime toward other humans. For example, big companies like Facebook and Twitter are famous for doing that, and if from first sight it seems these companies are great places to work at since they offer you a good salary and fun working environment but do not get fooled by it!
You should answer yourself if you work to help and protect others and what kind of impact are you creating? So when you are looking for a new working place you should explore the company’s background first (I mean not only the companies main web page because they know how to sell themselves) and then apply there if it suits you in ethical and other ways.
It is now literally everywhere and almost everyone now speaks about tolerance and ethics. The books about ethics are free to take on both floors of Gofore company. It is amazing! I believe that every person that respects his/herself will read it and will spread it among others.
However, I would like to talk not only about the Gofore community which is perfectly acquainted with ethic’s code but about people who work in other companies, about foreigners who found their first job and will do whatever it takes to keep it, about young people who are naive and blindly believe to the management and scared to lose their visa. The unions will protect you and moreover you could also apply to the unemployment benefits in case you are sick of the unethical behavior at your current job. Just take your time and improve your professional skills along with your portfolio but not spend your precious time working on the bad guys and getting the bad working experience. I have been there and honestly do not recommend it to anyone.
I would like to be honest with my current colleagues and help everyone to realize that if you are honest to yourself and to others you have nothing to worry about. Do not let ambitions blind you and always remember that all your actions lead to impact and making a positive impact is the best way to contribute to the community that you are living in.
I hope that this small blog post would help junior foreigner programmers not to be afraid of anything and do things that are right to do and not that you were told to. We are in 2020 and we have passed already a lot. We should learn from our mistakes and don’t get benefits from other people’s misfortunes. You now could answer yourself if you are an honest programmer and if it is something more for you than just the long lines of code and endless edits and tasks? Don’t trust anyone blindly. First, check then ask then make if else then don’t. I know it is obvious but forewarned is forearmed.
Always remember that we are creating products and services that will define the future.