I think we software developers get a bad rap. We are portrayed in the media as being antisocial and introverted, unable to carry on a conversation at a party. In my experience, these stereotypes do not hold true. Okay, maybe it holds true for some of us (like me) but most developers I meet don't fit into that stereotype.
Software developers don't easily fit into any stereotypical mold. We come in all shapes and sizes. When I teach a class of professional software developers at one of the leading companies around the world, I'm typically the only middle-aged white guy in the room. This wasn't the case when I started teaching professional software developers over twenty-seven years ago. In those days, the US-dominated software development, largely due to geeks like me.
But today software has a worldwide presence and even developing countries are turning out professional programmers very quickly. What was once a skillset largely confined to the US and UK, software development is now a popular profession in every country, especially developing nations where the cost of entry is affordable. The required financial investment is low compared to other careers, and the potential benefits are huge.
One of the top developers I know grew up in Nepal under extreme poverty but he was able to work his way out and finally get a job in Australia where his genius was recognized. From there he was able to become a US citizen and get a very senior position at a respected company.
The need for software has been growing rapidly and so has the number of people graduating college with degrees in computer-related fields, both in the US and abroad. This trend will continue for many more years as we're still recognizing the need for new software and realizing that existing software requires ongoing maintenance for fixing bugs and adding features. People all over the world are realizing that developing software not only pays well, it can also be very creative and engaging. This is attracting a large diversity of people, which is helping our industry become more stable and more valuable.
Software developers are among the best communicators I know - and we have to be. After all, software development is primarily a collaborative effort. There is an enormous amount of detail required when building a system in a team, so our job often demands communicating complex concepts to each other.
Not all software developers may be good at making small talk at parties, but that's not the kind of communication we thrive on. We thrive on high bandwidth communication, and most of us love our work.
So the next time you see a nerd sitting alone at a party, go up to him and ask him what it is he loves to do. You may find it difficult to get him to stop talking.