I remember the first time I met one of my best friends in college. He was the first one to greet me when I showed up to the campus Muslim students association meeting and he was also the first real friend I made on campus. I still remember how welcome he made me feel and how wonderful it was to not feel like the odd ball out anymore. I was a recent immigrant at the time and my English was a little sub-par but this guy (let’s call him Ahmad because I have not spoken to him about this post) made me feel right at home.
The years passed and Ahmad and I remained very close all through college. We shared many fond memories together such as our first time going white water rafting and many sad ones as well such as the time when I consoled Ahmad when he lost is younger brother in a car accident. Four years went by fast and we finally graduated. Immediately after graduation, I started working as a software developer for a small company in Florida and I left New Jersey. For the first few years, I kept in touch with Ahmad but I moved around from city to city for work, I got married and Ahmad and I lost touch. We still spoke once or twice a over many years but that was about it.
In the last year or so, I have made a concentrated effort in trying to get back touch with the people I lost touch with and I gave Ahmad a call. I had known about some of his struggles after graduation since I did speak to some mutual friends of ours on occasion but I had not really known the extent of the struggles he had gone through. Since graduation, life had not been easy for Ahmad. He lost money in a business venture he started, his wife left him and he had had recently lost his job. He was really struggling with getting back on his feet and was living with his mother. He said that he was going to take a course in QA testing and the training firm would place him in a position after his training was complete. I was excited for him and I told him to pursue computer science as a discipline. He did sign-up for the course and yesterday he called me with a moral dilemma he was facing. He said that his instructor had asked him to doctor his resume to show 5 years of QA and testing experience which he did not have. His instructor had told him that unless he lied on his resume, he would not be placed after he finished his course. He had already paid close to $1300 for the course and he was asking my advice. Should he quit the course? Should he doctor his resume? What should he do?
The honest and ugly truth is that I have personally known many people who have doctored their resumes and gotten placed in positions based on experience that they did not have. I know of at-least one woman personally who worked at a job that she got by lying on her resume and she worked at that position for many years. Here was my friend at the end of a his rope, having invested more than a thousand dollars he did not have in a course where his instructor was telling him to sell his integrity and lie on his resume in order to get a job that he desperately needed and he was asking me what to do.
I told him not to lie on his resume and I told him not to doctor experience he did not have but you know what the wonderful thing was? Ahmad did not argue. He immediately agreed that he would not doctor his resume, he would finish the course and apply for positions based on his ability alone. I guess he knew the right answer all along but he just needed a friend to reassure him. However, after we ended the call, I struggled with this question for a while “Would I have the moral courage to do what he did in his position?” It is so easy to preach about morality and integrity when you have terrific job and a great work environment like I do. But what if I was Ahmad? What if I had lost everything including my wife? What if I was at the end of my rope and devil gave me a quick way out? All Ahmad had to do was sell his integrity to get something that he desperately needed; a little help. What if I was in his position? Would I have his moral courage? Would I cave in to the pressure?
For the next hour, I prayed for my friend and thought about what he was going through and that is how I came to name of this blog. I had been thinking about starting a blog for some time but this story was the perfect first story; Ahmad’s story. Ahmad’s life is difficult but he is not giving in. He is not caving under pressure. He is continuing to learn to grow and to better himself and as I am firm believer in good people triumphing, I hold firmly that if not today, Ahmad will eventually succeed. I hope that some day he is on the QA team that verifies my work and sends me back 20 tickets on all the mistakes I made. I hope the software development community at large is made better by Ahmad’s arrival and I hope he codes too. I hope he learns as I have learned that what we do at work is more than just a job, it in large part defines our character, our values, our morals and who we are. I also hope that someone reading this has a QA / testing position available in and around NY/NJ area and would be willing to give Ahmad a chance despite the fact that he does not have experience. Please get in touch with me if you do via the contact page.
Code is not just what we do. Code is, to a great extent, who we are. It defines our values, our character, our morals and perhaps even our legacy. I hope Ahmad’s legacy is one of integrity and excellence. I hope the same for me and anyone else reading this post. Code is not just code. Code is speech, code is art and code is power. So I hope you join me as I journey through life and coding and you will join me me when I say #CodeIsLife.