Service or Work

The question often comes up in either paid employment, as an entrepreneur, or volunteering, is it better to consider that service or work? To do well, there is quite a bit of work to do. But if we consider the primary purpose is to serve others, we will make different decisions and be more satisfied in what we are accomplishing.

Retail Service

If we work in retail, seeing a happy customer is a delight. Being a clerk can be a boring job if we do not find some means to make the job interesting. Going out of our way to do something special, usually does not take that much time, but can make the customer very happy.

Software Development Service

Writing software is a lonely occupation, unless we consider the effect it may have on a customer. I was in charge of the library interface for the SoftBench Encapsulator when I worked for Hewlett-Packard. It was an interest assignment, but when it became exciting was when I found out that software engineers were using my interface to create an air traffic control system in Zurich, Switzerland. I just wish I became involved earlier, because of the way the team wrote the code it was tied to Zurich’s airport. It was not general enough to implement for any other airport in Europe. It was a beautiful system, but too tied to one airport.

Serving through Education

Teaching is definitely not as lonely as designing and writing software. It has its own challenges. I am primarily here to serve the students and help them learn how to accomplish tasks on their own. Serving students, to me, is giving them the tools to determine the best way to do a task and complete that task in a way that is pleasing to all involved. The internet has been a blessing to teaching good coding practices and developing good algorithms. A major part of teaching software engineering is teaching how to use the tools available, including those on the internet.


If we consider how we can serve those around us, all work becomes more rewarding. Thinking about how what we do impacts others leads to us doing a better job. There is always an opportunity to serve, no matter how we spend our time. Looking for these opportunities makes our life more enjoyable and brings joy to others. We need to look for ways to serve whatever we may do as employee, Entrepeneur, or volunteer.

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