How Do Software Engineers Want to Change the World for the Better?

For many software engineers, working isn’t just about the money or perks. A sizable percentage have entered tech because they want to make the world a better place. But how do they actually want to change things?

Hired’s 2022 State of Software Engineers report offers a bit of insight into that crucial question (it’s based on a survey of more than 2,000 software engineers, along with data from 366,000 interactions between companies and software engineering candidates). The top three ways engineers want to make the world better through programming: public health, education, and the future of work. Check out the full chart:  

Smaller percentages of technologists see cryptocurrency, transportation, and spaceflight as ways to improve the world—and there are prominent companies working on all of those issues in a for-profit capacity. For many of these other issues, though, technologists may find themselves gravitating towards nonprofits designed to tackle issues such as food scarcity and public health.

Working for a nonprofit is a very different experience than a typical corporation. For starters, many nonprofits don’t boast the budgets necessary to maintain a sizable tech stack or kick off next-generation initiatives driven by bleeding-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (A.I.). Second, they’re not driven by the same product and release cycles as the for-profit world; those technologists entering the nonprofit world for the first time might be surprised at the pace.

At certain nonprofits, much of a technologist’s time might be spent simply maintaining the tech stack and/or pre-existing initiatives. However, others may have a budget commensurate with what you’d find at a large for-profit company—and within those institutions, a technologist would have the resources and space to launch something intensive, such as a data-science program.

Of course, there are lots of other ways to help save the planet with your tech skills. Government agencies are always on the lookout for tech talent. In order to burnish their reputations, many companies are also launching charitable and “world saving” initiatives. Whatever route you choose, your creativity and skills can make a difference.

One Response to “How Do Software Engineers Want to Change the World for the Better?”

  1. RE: Government agencies are always on the lookout for tech talent.

    No, they are not. During my final year in grad school, I went to university-sponsored seminars that promoted working for the federal government. They pushed that anyone that is a college graduate with a BA or BS degree in _anything_ was automatically qualified for any position as a GR-5. And anyone that had a Master’s could start at the GR-7 level. They also provided ‘codes’ for getting better job listings, and job listings by discipline. Both my BS and my MS is in Computer Science. Using that great government website for federal government employment, jobs involving any form of IT were few and far between. There were a handful of locations within the continental USA that were hiring for a single position for someone to maintain/install computer workstations, but that is pretty much all there ever was. Oh, I applied for those, never got hired for one. Probably never considered seriously since I’m not the son of an oligarch with connections.

    State government is just as bad. I temped for the state of Colorado on 3 different assignments (an assignment was 6-months on then a minimum 6-months off for temps). During this time, we had supervisors saying ‘scan the internal job listings daily that come into your work email, and apply for any and all of them. Your supervisor will let you take time off for the specified exams that go with the specific position. I went to many exams. And to a few interviews. At one point, the state had an ‘official’ statewide hiring-freeze, but still advertised an opening for a computer programmer as it had a prior approval for hiring. I took a new round of tests. There were a lot of people in the same room taking the tests. Listening to some of the small-talk before and after the tests, a lot of them felt they had done badly on the test, even though they had been gainfully working in the field for a long time. When I received my results (they used USPS for notifications), I was told that I had the highest ‘A’ score from the test. I was interviewed right-away, given a short tour of some offices, and told they would notify me. I felt pretty good about the interview. Several days later, I received a letter in the mail that said they had decided not to hire anyone for the position, and wished me luck on my future. My co-workers, both temp and permanent, tried hard and unsuccessfully to cheer me up.

    That job would have helped me save my house. As it was, I was passed-over for even the mundane jobs at convenience stores and fast-food outlets. And anywhere else I could think of trying. My current status officially is ‘retired’ since I am 65 years old. I live with my elderly mother who has been widowed twice, doesn’t want to live alone, and doesn’t want a 3rd marriage.. Because I live below the poverty level, the sliding-scale for my outstanding student loan debt is 0. But as soon as I make $1.00 above poverty, that sliding-scale will start at $1100 per month for that student loan debt. And the ‘loan forgiveness’ proposals that the politicians espouse won’t help me, and will just be eaten-up by future interest charges.