To me, the real pleasure is in knowing that what I am doing is seriously helping someone else ... whether that is designing a new application, or the overhaul and repurposing of an existing one. (Usually, it is the latter.) The work may or may not involve me personally writing source-code. I guess that, most of the time, I am the “project leader” that you speak of, and I do of course strive to be decent at it.
Here’s one thought to put into your smoking-pipe ... if you find yourself thinking in this way, then perhaps “a very-strict focus on source-code writing” is not the best career-track for you! There are lots and lots of “angles” in this business, and one of these angles can be very-generally split between a “computer focus” and a “business/customer focus.” Many of us find ourselves routinely wearing both hats, yet we also generally find that we trend toward one vs. the other. (Do you trend toward bits ’n bytes, or people?) The good news is, you work in an industry that’s broad enough to allow you to have such a choice. Think about it ... there just aren’t that many industries that you can truthfully say such things about.
If “what really lights your LAMP” ;-) is “slinging source-code,” then that’s great ... and you are going to be slinging a lot of code that you didn’t originally write. If, thirty years later (ahem ...), you still feel that way, cool also. But maybe you will find that other aspects of the business are even more “fun” for you ... and, most likely, your tastes will change. You may one day find that your core skills are, or have become, something different than where they started.
That, to me, is the real beauty of this line of work ... it never grows old or stale. It also doesn’t seal you into a single box. (OMG! .. I could have been an accountant!!) The pragmatic need for it, in all of its many aspects, is only increasing day-by-day, even as it becomes more diverse. Within it, you can therefore find the niche that you prefer ... and, as time goes by, you can also maneuver to another one. It’s All Good,™ and, “is that cool, or what?”
“Dude(tte), if you are in data processing, in these(!) days and times, and you are not ‘having fun,’ then ... you are doing something way-seriously wrong!”
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