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JC Smiley
JC Smiley

Posted on • Updated on


Tips on planning your career path?

I asked developers the above question, and I was really impressed with their answers. Here is what they said:

Lawrence Lockhart
When I was working my way into this industry, I cast a really wide net and just wanted employment anywhere doing anything. This may not be the most efficient or suggested strategy. Now, 1 year in at my current as I think through 5 and 10 year "where I want to be", I am narrowing down what my interests are, the type of environments I enjoy working in, and the amount of work life balance I require. Oh, and geography is kinda important as well.

Dennis Kennetz
I generally plan for "the next thing". If my current role is software developer, and the next is senior software developer, I try to find what steps I need to take to hit that next goal. I also like to look at the traits of highly successful people. The majority start their day early, they accomplish things before others have had coffee, and they think differently than others.

Corey McCarty
You have to understand how your brain works that sets you apart from everyone else. Then you have to work to focus on that strength. Your brand shouldn't distract from your coding ability, but it should sharpen you as a better resource to work within your team. If you realize that you don't fit well with your team then you should find somewhere that you can bring value with your particular brand.

Joe Fergerson
It used to be about money. I was that guy for sure for a minute. Then it became about the work. Find something your passionate about and never stop chasing it.

Anomyous Mary
This is my focus right now. I've stayed too far within my comfort zone for too long, but I want to push myself towards the role I really want (front end). It has been overwhelming and frustrating (see ) but I'm still hopeful.

Azhya Knox
I had to stop discounting myself so I can get the career that I want. Nothing changes because I think I can do it. I just have to do the work! No more excuses

JC Smiley
This is the career path I envision: front end role, full stack role, team lead, department manager, startup founder, and end with teacher at a local school.

In conclusion

The above comments remind me of two of my favorite quotes:

Preparation + Opportunity = Success

To have a successful career you must prepare yourself by considering what is the next position or area of interest. Then you must work toward gaining the skills, experiences, or knowledge to make that career change into a reality.

You don't know what you don't know

I learned that humbly asking people questions about their career is the best way to learn what is possible. The best place to ask questions is on LinkedIn or a tech focus community (examples is a slack or discord community).

When you are an aspiring developer, any job seems like a dream. But as you work in tech, you realize that there is a thousand different career tracks available. You now have to figure out what type of environment is best for you, type of team, tech stack, company size, what is your passion, etc. All of these can be determined by planning your career.

Please help others learn by leaving a comment on how you are planning your career path. Thank You!!!

Top comments (12)

faunabrecht profile image
fauna-brecht • Edited

I personally don't really have such a planning. I don't have a plan in the technical sense, which shows in my career since I've done way too many very different things. If anything, my plan is to work for a company where:

  • I have the feeling that my work is appreciated.
  • I have the feeling I contribute to something
  • the software the company makes has an impact.
  • what I do makes me happy (education does)
  • I get challenged
  • I do not get frustrated on how things go too often.
  • I don't want to be in a box of doing one particular thing.

I guess I'm part of that purpose driven generation:

I can find all of this at my current job and how I typically look at my future career is that I hope to keep finding this at the company where I work. If that changes my first attempt would be to fix it within the current company. If not I will start looking elsewhere.
In essence, I don't have a grand scheme of where I want to end up in 5 years, I just go with the flow and as long as my work makes me happy, I'm good :). For example, I never envisioned to become a Developer Advocate, it just happened, that decision was taken within one week.

Is this a good idea? Probably not but it worked out fine for me. The downside is that if I am looking for jobs I look for the kind that require you to know a lot of things since I'm obviously not suitable for the kind of job where you need to have 5 years of experience in Svelte (I know, only exists since 3 years, but sometimes the people who write these job descriptions don't know :D). That said, if a specific type of work is your thing and you want to go zone into that one thing, it's a good idea to have a plan on how you will become an expert in it and work towards that while making sure you stay relevant and keep up to date with new technologies.

jcsmileyjr profile image
JC Smiley

Wow, great response

emadsaber profile image

Agree with you, I think you have to seek for knowledge in the start of your career because you are young and have more power. After about 7 to 10 years of seeking for knowledge, money will seek for you, you will become older, try to find a balanced work-life environment with good salary.

Good Luck

jcsmileyjr profile image
JC Smiley

Thank you for your thoughts

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

I don't have that much experience in the industry, but something I realized is that since there are SOOO many things to learn and ways one can specialize in.

Not only is good to have like a list of topics that one wants to dive deeper in but also have a clear list of things that one doesn't want to learn so as to narrow the path further and know what topics are more aligned with one's skills and aptitudes.

jcsmileyjr profile image
JC Smiley

I never thought of having a list of things you don't wan't to learn so you can narrow your path. As you pointed out, there is so many technologies to learn you need constraints. Great advice, thank you.

thegogz profile image
Eoin O'Neill

I've been a developer for more than 10 years but I never planned it and I don't tend to plan my career. I want to do things I like, doing in a role where I feel useful and can contribute.

I've always been a techie, I love messing around with tech seeing what it does, what it can do and what I can use it for. I started in a tech support role and built my career from there. I took opportunities to do more than just support. I learned the programming language the company I worked for developed for their platform. I took an opportunity to move to a different role where I could use some of those skills. I did well at that but after a time I stopped feeling useful. I took an opportunity to try something else, it didn't quite work but I realised that that wasn't what I wanted to do.

Then another opportunity appeared, full time developer at a company with the chance to build a team, I built a great team. I built trust in what they did and I built some cool tech.

I did the same thing again when a new opportunity arose, it wasn't great. the job was fine but the company wasn't... I moved on again to a small company, it was great fun, we built cool things and it nearly burnt me out... so I moved on again to a very large organisation.

Ok that seems like a lot of rambling but the lessons I have learned along the way are

  • You can't plan everything
  • Take opportunities when they present themselves
  • Not everything will work out and that's ok
  • Never take a step down, I did that once and I regret it
  • Build strong teams and be a contributor
  • Don't burn bridges, leave a company on good terms, you never know what will come around in the future
jcsmileyjr profile image
JC Smiley

Thank you for the inspirational comment. It's important to keep going when something don't work out and even more to learn from it. It's all part of an career.

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

I just go with the flow and follow industry trends. I am trying to build a skill set that allows me to be versatile while still remaining enjoyable. Having passion is important.

jcsmileyjr profile image
JC Smiley

At the end of the day, passion is what will determine if something you learn will stick and how much effort you use in creating something. Thank you

jamesqquick profile image
James Q Quick

Get conversation JC!