Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Career Plan for Software Engineer

I'm confident that every smart human being on Earth should have own plan for life. Also, as many of us, work hard we spend almost half of the life or even more working. Did you ever think about that? We spend hours working on some projects, solving some problems, interacting with people, creating and modifying things. Are we dedicated to what you do? If no, then I have a question for you: Why do you work on that? Really! You may say that you could possibly work with more pleasure on another job. If that is truth why don't you plan to change your job?
But if you are dedicated to your work, I assume that you want to grow. Right? Do you have an idea how you should proceed to reach your goals? Do you know exact steps to take and your knowledge gaps you should overcome? No? How then can you be sure that you will grow to some position, where you will be recognizable?
I always ask people, what motivates them and what they would recommend me to do to motivate others. Answers I get differ in formulation, but they all have the same ideas behind: possibility of career growth, recognizing, achievements, possibility to chief.

Main question is:

What do you do to reach your professional and life goals? Do you have a plan?

If you are not sure about what you do or about what you should do it is exact time to build your career plan.


Career Plan

Career plan is list of positions and actions you should perform in time to reach your short- and long-term career goals.

Why do you need your career plan?

First of all building plan is process of establishing steps you should perform. After you have some preliminary plan you can refine it by removing not important items and by adding some additional steps. Also you can rethink some things and then rethink and rethink once again. In the end you have some kind of more or less good plan. But do not expect it to be you final plan. I would say that you should always take a look on it and consider if you still can improve something.

Benefits of having Career Plan as per me are:
  1. Clear vision of the path you should take
  2. Possibility to track your progress
  3. Thing that you can use when you are trying to establish priorities
  4. Helps you to recover after bad mood because of problems at work
  5. Way to communicate with bosses ideas on your career and get feedback
  6. Extra confidence in your life

You are now different!

After you have Career Plan you will be different from your co-workers whom continue to work blindly. Some of them might think that simple hard work will lead them to success. Hey, guys don't think so. - Yes, you are right that hard work is needed, but there are definitely some other things you have to add to bake a cake!
(I'm not talking here about those guys, who work just to get money enough for living, that is not my case, and hope not your case, since you are reading this blog.)

How to build your career plan?

You should know where you are right now, where you want to be and what are your  abilities/skills.  Answers for those questions are prerequisites for building a good career plan. If you have no clear vision on where you want to be, don't be upset. Work on that: try to write few nouns that describe you after you've reached your goals. They might change in future, but at least for now you should have some kick-off list. For me it is something like "MVP, Consultant, Architect, Author, Community developer" own company? another country? manager? etc?
Once you have established where you want to be it is time to build the path.

The Path

Usual positions path for Software Engineer is:
  • Junior Developer
  • Intermediate Developer
  • Senior Developer

...so that was the most general path I see in all companies. What do we have after that? It really deviates in different companies, but generally speaking this depends on the factor of your interaction with other people, with technology and with the company.

- The more you interact with people the more you become leader of team, say Team/Tech Leader. The term might differ, but I like this one "Technical Team Leader". Even more if you would like to take more responsibilities you can switch to managing positions and become Project Manager right after TechLead or after Senior Developer, depends on the level of project.

- The less you interact with people the more you become Expert (it is even possible to have such position) in tech. The person with whom people consult and get information on approaches.

- The more you interact with company the more you become CEO, but depending on your company's size you might have few more steps here and of course position's title can differ.

Summarizing further steps are:
  • Tech Leader - way to project manager
  • Expert - way to consulting and architect positions
  • Company's leading person

Why did I say "positions path"? Because this is not whole representation of the path, a good path should also go through you own personal ambitions related to your job to lead you to the established goals. What do I mean by this? Since I want to be recognizable community developer and known over the world, I should commit lot of efforts in maintaining this blog, in taking part in some events, etc. This has no explicit impact on my career growth, but believe me it has huge and tremendous indirect impact. Also I would love to have my own book that is why I also planned to work on writing book. I still do not have clear idea on what about that book will be, except of maybe that it will be either on tech or on success. But I planned it and I'm proud of it. Some remark here: I talked with my friend on this and he was laughing at me that I want to write a book and planned it but I do not know what about. I can express my arguments against it here, but would love to hear from you if he is right and why.

Big piece of My Developer's RoadMap

My company as one of the leading outsourcing companies in Ukraine is trying to make employees happier with helping them in their careers. They build more positions and they establish processes that allow us see where we can move. (I hear you complains here...) It is well known that one of the biggest motivation engines is visibility of the career growth.

Since I'm looking as perspective employee (at least they think so), me with my company almost built my Career Plan, which is the path with steps I should take to move from one position to another. Of course company doesn't care about other of my needs even if they are dedicated to my personal improvement. That is the reason why company has only official positions and latest position they've prepared for me is being one of the tech chiefs of one of the divisions. Of course that is great positions which includes lot of interactions with clients and huge responsibilities in developing and reviewing solutions to the problems, that my company solve. But it doesn't include any of my desires to become community developer and stuff I would like to do to achieve my goals.

So here I will represent my own Personal-Career Plan that also includes lot of other things.  I would recommend you to build something similar. On the left you can see path I built combined with some positions, certificates (officially needed for those positions) and also other things. On the right side you can see my table of "Where do I want to be in a year". That list of  "where I want to be" is really cool toy I discovered for myself. (here is list for 2010 & here is list for 2011)

Personal-Career Plan

Click the image for being able to read from it

You might be thinking now: "Boy, hold-on, hold-on! It is way too optimistic path. Are you kidding?". I would answer "Shut-up! I know my path and will do the best to be stick to it. Btw, do you have your path?"

Even if there is some overestimation of my possibilities/abilities/efforts I still would love to think this way, because thinking this way is movement to Success!



[Edited on Jan 10, 2011 with correcting grammar and adding links to year plans]

18 comments:

  1. Yeah, it is way too optimistic path:) But anyway it is hard to achieve anything without great desire. So good luck on your carrier path! ;)

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  2. Good luck man! see you in 4 years :) have fun!

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  3. Thank you, guys! I will definitely have a lot of fun.

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  4. Good Article !!! Cherish your thoughts on the Success RoadMap

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  5. This point become reality : "Might happen: company or location changed" ))

    Thanks for your blog, continue to do your growth in such a brilliant way and please do not forget about your family because it is important as well.

    And the question : What tool did you used to draw the "Personal-Career Plan", thanks.

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  6. Hello.

    Thank you very much for the comment. You reminded me that I need to hurry up, as this plan is more aggressive than my current pace.

    I'm planning to buy cheap car and visit family time to time as it is only 800 km from home.

    As far as I remember I used Microsoft Visio, but it could have been some other UML tool.

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  7. Yup, I've checked and the elements you used are from Visio.

    Oh, and were is your Aveo now? It will stay in Ukraine?)

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  8. Do you want to buy it? :)
    Haven't decided completely, but most likely it will stay here.

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  9. nope, thanks, just wondering :)

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  10. Such a great article I've read. Thanks for your sharing

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  11. Nice Roapmap!! Thank you for sharing :). Wish you a very success on your plan.

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  12. @Andriy Buday
    Your road map is very impressive thanks a lot for sharing.
    Dream only lead to sucess.
    Could you please again share your road map after you practically crossed these 3 years.

    Cheers
    Bimal

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  13. great article..it also showes the certification needed to just show the calibre at each level...only day dreaming does not work...and after certain level of skill its just personal relations and how you interact with other people..good roadmap though.

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  14. thank guy. it help me to find out my path clearer.

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  15. Excellent plan.. I'm also gonna plan something similar for myself now. However, I would like to know where you are now?

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    1. Well... married :)
      I'm not MVP. But I'm not sure If I want to be one.
      I have released small e-book.
      I'm self-employed and work for UN. Hopefully will have some more contracts.
      I've relocated to Austria with family.

      There is much more to achieve. Things are moving slower than I expected.

      Good luck for you.

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    ReplyDelete