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The 5 Existential Crises of a Senior Developer

6fd16b1b6a307ca583526e2ec4dab52d?s=47 tehviking
September 18, 2018

The 5 Existential Crises of a Senior Developer

Have you ever felt like you are in the passenger seat of your career? By simply looking around and seeing how few 20+ year veterans you work with, you're actually staring our industry's sustainability problem right in the face. But the software industry needs you still contributing 20 years from now! Fret not, we can start fixing these problems, right now, in your own job.

Using in-depth research across companies of all sizes, you'll come away with a plan to start designing a sustainable career track to help you grow in skill, influence, and income now and long into the future.

6fd16b1b6a307ca583526e2ec4dab52d?s=128

tehviking

September 18, 2018
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Transcript

  1. The 5 Existential Crises of a Tech Employee

  2. None
  3. None
  4. First: A Warning

  5. Second: A Spoiler This is actually a message of hope.

  6. Brandon Hays. developer-turned-manager? @tehviking manageveloper? ummm… ex-developer?

  7. None
  8. Co-founder/CEO (quit) Software developer (meh) Marketer (failed) Network Engineer (failed)

    Video editor (failed) Graphic designer (failed) Manager (TBD)
  9. C A R R E E }Meta-Career?

  10. 5 Existential Crises

  11. None
  12. ERRor ERRor ERRor ERRor ERRor Our calculators are broken

  13. 1. Breaking in (OH NO!)

  14. [Breaking into the industry] sucks, and I’m sorry. - @tomdale

  15. None
  16. “I don’t have all that so I won’t apply”

  17. The soul-crushing interview

  18. None
  19. Got my first dev job

  20. 2. Where is my Obi-Wan?

  21. None
  22. But you keep calm and carry on

  23. 3. Am I a real contributor yet?

  24. None
  25. What even does “senior” mean?

  26. 1. Do a bunch of work 2. ??? 3. Voila!

    Senior!
  27. I don’t know what “senior” means but it’s in my

    LinkedIn profile
  28. 4. Groundhog Day

  29. New job, new shiny stuff! Stressful, but learning! Learning slows

    down Leave, find a new job No learning, just stress :(
  30. It’s… unsatisfying

  31. 5. Total existential meltdown

  32. 5. Total existential meltdown hashtag #farmlife

  33. Why the hell is this happening?

  34. ERRor ERRor ERRor ERRor ERRor Broken calculator formulas

  35. Broken calculator formula 1: “I’ve got 10-15 years in this

    career, tops”
  36. No 20-30 year veteran role models I only have 10-15

    years, I better learn fast The new folks are getting good faster than me I don’t have a place here, I’ll take that manager job I have kids now, I can’t keep up with OSS anymore
  37. Gymnast vs. Marathoner

  38. Broken calculator formula 2: “I should be more like Industry

    Hero X”
  39. What constitutes heroics?

  40. HERO

  41. If becoming a parent wrecks someone’s ability to perform “heroic”

    feats of technology, we have failed to properly define the term.
  42. Broken calculator formula 3: “The new disruptive tech is the

    most valuable”
  43. That Elm’s so hot right now

  44. “Programming is a pop culture… pop culture holds a disdain

    for history.” - Alan Kay
  45. Broken calculator formula 4: “There’s no track for me past

    Senior Contributor”
  46. -Lester Freamon “Follow the money.”

  47. None
  48. We don’t need more 10x problem- solvers solving the wrong

    problems 10x faster.
  49. We need folks that know which 9 of 10 problems

    don’t need to be solved in the first place.
  50. None
  51. This adds up to subtle (and blatant) ageism

  52. None
  53. “…So I’m just gonna take the ‘promotion’ to Manager.”

  54. But we need you

  55. Maybe turning our mega- senior contributors into junior managers isn’t

    the only path
  56. And we can fight this

  57. The 6-Point Plan™

  58. 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 We can fix ‘em!

  59. 1. Take a breath.

  60. Allen Wirfs-Brock Created early Smalltalk implementation Wrote the ES2015 (ES6)

    Language Spec 45 years of sustained, industry-shaping work Cool guy
  61. “For the first 15 years, I was just learning how

    to be an engineer” “The next 15 years, I learned how to apply what I’d learned” “The next 15 years, I tried to learn to have industry-scale impact” 15 30 45
  62. A 45-year view means you have room to breathe

  63. 2. Find your board of advisors

  64. It helps to have smart friends

  65. It helps to have kind and honest folks in your

    life
  66. 3. Design your map

  67. None
  68. Keynote Speaker Chief Architect Principal Engineer Evangelist Author/ Speaker Junior

    Contributor Team Lead Product Manager Freelancer Solopreneur Startup Founder Small Business CEO Founder, 3rd company Chairperson of the Board Director of Product Engineering/ Dept. Lead VP of Product VP Eng CTO contributor Manager Entrepreneur Founder, 2nd company Senior Dev Mid-level Dev
  69. None
  70. Is there a better term than “individual contributor”?

  71. A Path to “Senior Level” & Beyond

  72. There’s no such thing as a “Senior React Developer.”

  73. There’s no such thing as a “Senior SCSS Designer.”

  74. There’s no such thing as a “Senior JIRA Project Manager.”

  75. There’s no such thing as a “Senior Rails Developer.”

  76. None
  77. 12 traits of senior contributors

  78. None
  79. Work produces artifacts (or for you Brits, artefacts)

  80. It’s about the muscle, not the concept

  81. Technical Capability Curiosity Rigor & Discipline Fearlessness Propensity to ship

  82. Curiosity Junior: Just enough to Mid: Deep exploration of 1

    toolset Senior: 2+ toolsets Beyond: Synthesis advances state of the art
  83. Technical Capability Curiosity Rigor & Discipline Fearlessness Propensity to ship

  84. Rigor & Discipline (for instance, documenting their work) Junior: Very

    bad or no documentation Mid: “Good enough” documentation Senior: Great documentation & feedback Beyond: Redefines approach to documenting
  85. Technical Capability Curiosity Rigor & Discipline Fearlessness Propensity to ship

  86. Fearlessness Junior: “Isn’t there a framework for this?” Mid: “Imma

    write a framework LEEEROY JENKINS” Senior: “Let’s not write a framework” Beyond: “I can fix the framework we already have”
  87. None
  88. None
  89. Fearlessness Junior: “Isn’t there a framework for this?” Mid: “Imma

    write a framework LEEEROY JENKINS” Senior: “Let’s not write a framework” Beyond: “Let’s fix the framework we already have”
  90. Technical Capability Curiosity Rigor & Discipline Fearlessness Propensity to ship

  91. Propensity to ship Junior: Nothing to show just yet Mid:

    A graveyard of abandoned projects Senior: Maintains a few long-running projects Beyond: Has projects with industry-wide usage
  92. Leadership Owner's mindset Communication & Persuasion Purpose “Next right thing”

    focus
  93. Owner's mindset Junior: The technical problem is plenty, thanks Mid:

    Can explain the business impact of their work Senior: Sacrifices preferences for biz impact Beyond: Started/run/failed/succeeded in business
  94. Leadership Owner's mindset Communication & Persuasion Purpose “Next right thing”

    focus
  95. Communication & Persuasion Junior: “Communication is prolly good lol” Mid:

    Adapts communication to situations Senior: Defuses, turns around tough situations Beyond: LOL thought leadership
  96. Leadership Owner's mindset Communication & Persuasion Purpose “Next right thing”

    focus
  97. Purpose Junior: Happy to be on the team Mid: Acts

    on extrinsic purpose Senior: Acts on intrinsic purpose Beyond: Compelling vision & followers
  98. None
  99. Purpose Junior: Happy to be on the team Mid: Acts

    on extrinsic purpose Senior: Acts on intrinsic purpose Beyond: Compelling vision & followers
  100. Leadership Owner's mindset Communication & Persuasion Purpose “Next right thing”

    focus
  101. “Next right thing” focus Junior: Needs lots of help breaking

    down work Mid: Unintimidated by blank codebase/page Senior: Unintimidated by big refactors/editing Beyond: “How the hell do you get so much done?”
  102. Connectedness Community-orientedness Mentorship Empathetic work Courageous honesty

  103. Community-orientedness Junior: Little/no community involvement Mid: Meetup talks and/or blogs

    Senior: Conference talks, organizing events Beyond: Industry-impacting community work
  104. Connectedness Community-orientedness Mentorship Empathetic work Courageous honesty

  105. Mentorship Junior: Looking to be mentored Mid: A couple folks

    call them a mentor Senior: Several owe their careers to them Beyond: Large-scale influence on devs’ growth
  106. Connectedness Community-orientedness Mentorship Empathetic work Courageous honesty

  107. Empathetic work Junior: Gets that users & teammates are people

    Mid: User-centered development Senior: Also coworker-oriented Beyond: Large-scale impact on the way we work
  108. Connectedness Community-orientedness Mentorship Empathetic work Courageous honesty

  109. Courageous honesty Junior: Overly polite Mid: Needlessly blunt Senior: Life/business-impacting

    critical conversations Beyond: Sees patterns & establishes processes
  110. Courageous Honesty == Radical Candor

  111. None
  112. Community-orientedness Mentorship Empathetic work Courageous Honesty Curiosity Rigor & Discipline

    Fearlessness Propensity to ship Owner's mindset Communication & Persuasion Purpose "Next right thing" Junior Mid Senior Beyond Connectedness Technical Capability Leadership
  113. No one can focus on all 12 things

  114. 3 strengths per weakness

  115. Combine your strengths

  116. None
  117. 4. Pitch your plan

  118. How do I put this into practice?

  119. Spreadsheets.

  120. Spreadsheets. No, Seriously.

  121. Spreadsheets. No, Seriously.

  122. One size DOES NOT fit all

  123. 5. Plan your exit

  124. Know where the track runs out

  125. 6. Change your plans

  126. #goals

  127. Back to the crises

  128. Only now, with a new inventory

  129. 1. Breaking in

  130. 2. Where is my Obi-Wan?

  131. 3. Am I a real contributor yet?

  132. 4. Groundhog Day

  133. 5. Total existential meltdown

  134. None
  135. None
  136. None
  137. You are right where you need to be on your

    own personal path.
  138. None
  139. None
  140. None
  141. None
  142. None
  143. None
  144. None
  145. None
  146. Never underestimate the power of making small improvements over a

    large amount of time.
  147. Patience, persistence, and love

  148. I love you and I believe in you.

  149. None
  150. Thanks. <3. Hugs. @tehviking brandonhays.com

  151. image credits Lego Duplo by Arto Alanenpää https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Lego#/media/File:Lego_dublo_arto_alanenpaa_5.JPG Minifigure by

    clement127 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clement127/ Ouchi by Pascal https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/ Do You Remember … The Future? by JD Hancock https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/ Lego Brick in Sand by vpickering https://www.flickr.com/photos/vpickering/ Windmill Blueprint by Mark Bridge https://www.flickr.com/photos/markbridge/ Kool-Aid Man breaks through the wall by Anna Creech https://www.flickr.com/photos/eclecticlibrarian/ Official Old Ben by Thunderchild7 https://www.flickr.com/photos/thunderchild5/ the gymnast from Team GB by julochka https://www.flickr.com/photos/julochka/ LEGO Manitoba Marathon 2012 by Salvador Maniquiz https://www.flickr.com/photos/pong0814/ "I ain't crying!" by true_brick https://www.flickr.com/photos/truebrick/ lego warhol by john gordy https://www.flickr.com/photos/johngordy/ github shower by @stepchowfun https://twitter.com/stepchowfun/status/738231117933776896 foolish lego by dwaas http://www.foolishlego.com/?p=5469 lego computer programmer (nerd?) (series 7) by julochka https://www.flickr.com/photos/julochka/ Murmeli - Groundhog by Eero Okkonen https://www.flickr.com/photos/kumipallomaa/ Sugarcane Farmer by Jared https://www.flickr.com/photos/jared422/ Gewichtheber by kosmolaut https://www.flickr.com/photos/helico/ Strong enough? by clement127 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clement127/ Wood-stone buffer-stop by Karwik https://www.flickr.com/photos/karwik/ Scared Minifig by z Q https://www.flickr.com/photos/sixthlie/ [ExoSuit}- On Mars by clement127 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clement127/