Series Start: Managing your tech career

3 minute read

You know how to get the job, but do you know how to keep it, excel, and move forward? All while not giving up your life outside of work?

There is a large amount of emphasis that is put into how to search for and find a job as a software developer, site reliability engineer, and other tech positions. However, finding and landing a job are a very small part of a persons technical career. Rarely do we spend the time thinking or discussing how to manage the other aspects of a career in tech. And, by managing, I mean to take an active role in ensuring that you are looking out for yourself and not just the company. I am not saying that you should not do your best at work, but at the end of the day it is only a job.

This is the start of a series. I was going to make this a single long entry, but as I started working through the list of topics, it occurred to me that there is more than enough information to split up the posts over a series of weeks.

Before diving into the list of topics, let us take a moment and consider why it is that you should take a proactive role in your tech career. Previous generations used to work at companies for 20 to 30 years. I am not saying the people don’t still do this, but from my experience the days of staying at a company or in a single position for 20 years is largely over. This is especially true in the tech industry where I have seen the average time in a position of 3 to 5 years. This is purely based on anecdotal evidence and my own experiences.

Beyond the tech aspect, is the fact that companies are no longer loyal to their employees. I like my current job and my current employer. It is a good match. But, if they had to save my by reducing headcount and I was on the wrong team or in the wrong location, they would let me go and not blink twice. Oh, the managers might feel bad, but at a corporate level, I would just be a number. In the end, we all are.

I do not know about you, but school never taught me much, if anything, about managing my career. There were classes and on campus career services that would hold job fairs and help with writing and reviewing a resume, but that is about it. Just like personal finances, there are no lessons given to help navigate the next 20 or 30 years of your life.

Over the next few posts, I will be talking about a number of topics related to managing your career. These are geared in 1 of 3 ways. The first is going to be general information. This applies to everyone in the tech field, and is not specific to if you are an individual contributor (IC) or manager. The second area is for ICs, and is specific to the items and realities that must be considered. Last but not least is a section for managers. The manager section will shift a bit, part of the focus will be on managing others, but also moving forward in the manager position.

I have put off publishing this post because I was not sure if I wanted to include the list in this post. Right now, I am going to leave it out. Mainly, because I want to ensure that I leave myself room to change topic order and what comes next. Instead of doing sections, I may skip around between IC, Manager, and General discussion.

And, to be fair, I might not put forth thoughts that are correct. They are just my opinion. But, when I start writing, I am going to move forward with my views and go with what I have experienced. Your views may differ, and I understand that.

As a sneak peak, here is topic one. “You are responsible for your career, not your boss or your company”