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Craig Nicol (he/him)
Craig Nicol (he/him)

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Ask Your Mentor These 40 Questions : success (Q11-20)

Lifehacker suggests 40 questions to ask your mentor. So that I don’t have to repeat myself, I’m posting the answers here in 4 chunks.

  1. What decision netted you the most success in your career?

I quit my job. I was unhappy but I didn’t realise it at the time. I had nowhere to go but no-one was being highest with me. So I looked. For about 2 years. I tried to change my role in the company, or look for a promotion, but no-one was ever clear about what the gap was from where I was to the next step up. So I quit, helped build a fantastic team, and saw a great uptick in my salary.

  1. Is there a particularly effective strategy for achieving success in this field?

Have broad knowledge. T-shaped, if you like that term. Know enough to understand and explain technical problems to your peers, even if you leave design, architecture and implementation to others. Know what their constraints are because it will make your job a lot easier. More than anything, hone your bullshit meter, because everyone you meet is biased, and chances are a few will be liars and charlatans.

  1. Which people do I need to stick around to maximize chances of success in this field?

Anyone outside your group. Find a technical architect or a marketing person you can learn from. Find people who will broaden your horizons.

  1. Where should I be networking?

In the TCP stack.

For connecting with people all bets are off in this pandemic, but connect with people the same way you would outside work – find common interests, maybe technical, maybe a hobby. Find people that you have the knowledge or connections to help.

  1. Have you ever made a single change that led to tremendous success?

I stopped trying to keep up with every new framework and language. I’m happy to be a leader in different ways.

  1. How can I be more strategic in pursuing my career goals?

Know what you want. Do you want t to be a domain expert? Do you want to be an architect? Do you want to lead and mentor? What will make you excited to get up for work.

Pursue that.

  1. What traits do I need to exhibit to stay ahead of the curve in this industry?

Understand how to solve problems and the limits of computers. Read Turing.

Understand people. They’re the ones you need to communicate with. Your job is to be an interpreter.

  1. At how fast a clip can one reasonably expect to climb the ladder in this field?

It’s faster in a start-up, with a lot more breadth. It’s more structured and supported, but slower, in a bigger company. Which suits you better?

  1. What should success look like at this stage in my career?

Are you interested in your work? Are you learning something new?

  1. What should I be focused on right now to smoothly transition into the next leg of my career?

Understand the business. Debug how the processes really work and who has the keys to your next job.

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