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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Career Paths for (Not Only) Developers

My last public speaking event was about building career paths for developers. I was talking on Krakow .NET Developers Group so on the audience there were mainly developers (more than 60%) and the rest were people from related positions. During the presentation I run a little poll with two questions:

1. What role you’re fulfilling now?

2. What role you’d like to fulfill 5 years from now?

Although I had some guesses where the results can go I was curious to see the answers. My guesses were:

Most popular choices for developer will be team manager (most likely program manager) or architect.

There will be very low number of developers who want to choose business path.

There will be reasonably low percentage of developers who want to keep the position if 5 years of time.

The results have been a bit different. The most popular path of career for developers was a role of designer/architect chosen by one fourth of them. On the other hand only 6% wanted to choose vertical career path with team manager role as a goal.

25% of currently active developers wanted to stay with developer/lead developer role. That’s more than I expected, although I think less that it should be. I think there’s quite big, and still growing, number of positions for experienced developers, but that’s the subject for a separate post.

It was close to 20% of developers who want to go into consultancy path. None of them has chosen clearly business position, although project managers (13%) or analyst (6%) are positions joining both worlds: technical and business.

Including all who answered the poll definitely the architecture path is the most wanted with 31% choosing the role of designer or architect. And all of architects in the room wanted to stay on that position. I guess that’s another interesting thing to write about a bit more.

12% of people would like to establish their own company and I think it’s quite high percentage. Although people like Paul Graham strongly encourage you to start a startup I still think it requires guts to do that.

Another interesting thing is a list of positions which people want to keep. As I mentioned architects leads here, enjoying what they do. One third of team mangers and a quarter of developers are also on the list.

A thing which drawn my attention was that none of project managers wanted to keep position, although there were some fresh blood expecting to take over the project management role. I think that’s a confirmation of the fact that project management is hard work and it burns people out.

Generally most people expect to develop their careers – only a bit more than a quarter wanted to keep the same or similar role in 5 years from now. However, from my observations I see colleagues consciously managing their careers rather rarely. They either tend to sit safely wherever we are and wait for a miracle or make a lot of different incoherent decisions moving them anywhere but forward. The middle filled with those who plan their careers isn’t very numerous. That’s why I think the subject of the presentation was a good idea. How was the presentation itself I still don’t know – I haven’t received evaluation results yet.

in: personal development

1 comment… add one

  • Mike Ramm July 17, 2007, 2:00 pm

    Hi Pawel!

    Your poll is a great idea! I will make the same poll through Bulgarian developers. It is very interesting for me to see how they think about their future career.

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