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Need help in deciding a career path

 
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Hi,
I am going through a very confused phase of my software career. I have around 10 years (9 years and 9 months to be exact) of experience as a Java Developer (Front end, middle ware and backend) and I really like programming. My mind keeps wondering that shall I continue working a developer or shall I start looking for role of a Software Architect ? This is more of a fight with myself where I see people making the move or fellow colleagues asking me why don't I start looking for roles up the ladder and this is when I start asking myself these questions as well. Frankly speaking I don't like stuff which managers/architects do like talk, talk and talk, chase people, fight with business.

Please advise what shall I choose ? Is it beneficial to stay as a developer/senior developer in the long run.

 
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In the software industry, if you aren't growing, you are dying. The easiest way to make yourself obsolete is to do the same thing day after day for years. Sooner or later, someone will find a way to do your job in a better way, or find a way to automate parts of your job. So, if your question is "Should I look for new roles?" Yes, you definitely should!

However, the big question is "As what?" One thing that is constant in all software engineering roles is that the role can became very tiring if you don't like it, and can be a breeze if you love it. And if you hate your role, you are going to leave it. It doesn't matter what it is. So, one thing is for sure, don't take a job that you know you are going to hate.

So, what kind of job should you take? You might need to do a little more introspection here, and you might want to do more research into your job ecosystem. There are various ways one can grow in software industry without becoming an Architect. One way is to become a contractor and work short term gigs. However, you will need to understand what you are getting into. There are pros and cons in every job.

Personally, I've taken challenges that I have opened up. I haven't really a plan for my career. I just go where I find something interesting. Yeah, after 20 years, I'm not a CTO of some company. But, I've had interesting experiences, and I have made lot of money.
 
Kumar Sonu
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:In the software industry, if you aren't growing, you are dying. The easiest way to make yourself obsolete is to do the same thing day after day for years. Sooner or later, someone will find a way to do your job in a better way, or find a way to automate parts of your job. So, if your question is "Should I look for new roles?" Yes, you definitely should!

However, the big question is "As what?" One thing that is constant in all software engineering roles is that the role can became very tiring if you don't like it, and can be a breeze if you love it. And if you hate your role, you are going to leave it. It doesn't matter what it is. So, one thing is for sure, don't take a job that you know you are going to hate.

So, what kind of job should you take? You might need to do a little more introspection here, and you might want to do more research into your job ecosystem. There are various ways one can grow in software industry without becoming an Architect. One way is to become a contractor and work short term gigs. However, you will need to understand what you are getting into. There are pros and cons in every job.

Personally, I've taken challenges that I have opened up. I haven't really a plan for my career. I just go where I find something interesting. Yeah, after 20 years, I'm not a CTO of some company. But, I've had interesting experiences, and I have made lot of money.



Thanks Jayesh for the valuable advice. When you suggest contracting you mean that by taking up contract roles I would be able to explore different roles and hit fresh challenges ?
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Yes. I've met several people who take short term (6-month to year long) contracts. Usually, companies hire them because they have an expertise in a skill that the company wants to develop, or they have expertise in a skill that the company wants to use but doesn't want to hire long term. Sometimes, companies do this because hiring employees is costlier in the long run. When you are a contractor, you move from contract to contract every year or so. You won't get additional responsibilities, and you will get exposed to lot of differrent technologies. To be hired, you will need to know the technology well enough that you can do the work without training. THis means you will be responsible for your own training. The hardest part of being a contractor is that you will have to continuously learn new things by yourself. Also, some companies tend to overwork contractors. Some people don't like this, because you might end up spending 12 hours at the job + 2 hours training yourself. This leaves you 8 hours for sleep and 2 hours to eat and get dressed. You may not get time for hobbies or family. Some people are made for this lifestyle. If you are the kind of person who is glued to his computer all day, then this is perfect. You are basically making a lot of money for something you are going to do anyways. Many of these people end up taking a 2 month break between contracts just so they can relax. You come in, understand what they need, work hard and deliver. Recharge for 2 months and then get ready for next round. No other political or management bullshit. Wham bam, thank you ma'am. It's not bad, if you have the aptitude.

There are a lot of people who do this in my area. I live near Washington DC, and the government is a big employer here. It's a lot costlier for the government to hire employees than to hire contractors, so a lot of government jobs are done by contractors. There are a lot of companies whose main job is to hire people that can be contracted out to the government. The government has preferred contractors that they work with. Of course, it is difficult to become a preferred contractor, and a preferred contractor can't find everyone, so the preferred contractors contract with sub-contractors, who contracts with other sub-contractors. There's like a whole supply chain of contracting going around here. This is my job ecosystem. You might need to explore your job ecosystem to understand this better.


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Or alternatively, you can look at startups. usually, startups need people who can roll up their sleeves and get the job done. Since the entire company will probably be a 2-pizza team, there's probably going to be very little bullshit. You work there, get to them the point where they get funding to get to the next level, and take your exit to the next startup. You will probably be paid more in equity than in salary, and you will be taking risk. If the startup tanks, you won't get paid. You can say you did some cool things, though. You will have good stories to tell your friends. You should do this only if you can afford it. Agian, it depends on how many startups are there in the place you work. Very easy to do this in San Francisco. A lot harder in Podunk town
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
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