What’s Next?

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection and reflection lately (using my internal Reflection classes, of course), and thinking about what comes next for me. I *should* have gone through that exercise before I jumped over to this job. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet — in a job interview this week, when asked what my career goal was, the famous “where do you want to be in 5 years”, I answered honestly: For the first time in my career, I really don’t know.

If that cost me the job, that’s OK. I had another really offer in-hand, so I had enough security to be honest. Maybe too honest.

I said that at my last job, I feel like I did the best work I’ve done in my career, and produced some great value, and got a lot of recognition for it. But how do I top that?

I see a few paths I could pursue. I could go after a few advanced roles:

1) Lead — a people lead, heading up a team, as opposed to a technical lead
2) Specialist — obtain deep knowledge and expertise with a specific product or technology
3) Analyst — get more into the business of gathering requirements and developing specifications and technical design

1 & 3 just aren’t me from a personality point of view. I can play those roles in short bursts, but I don’t have the people skills — or the stress management — to handle them. However, I can dive deep on individual technical issues, and although my short-term memory is bad, if I focus on consolidating and reinforcing my memory, I am good at discovering and communicating complex behaviors of technical systems.

Now, the other wild card that came out of that interview is that there is another possible path — the path of a high-power consultant. I hadn’t considered that. I love contracting, and have great success, and enjoyment, acting as a tech-for-hire. I think it would be a good next step to take that up a level.

I might have to start wearing slacks instead of bluejeans. But I would survive that.

But the other thought I have is, my girls are still little, and that places a lot of pressure on me outside of work. Maybe my best bet is to just play it safe for a few more years, then I can worry about getting fancy. Provided I’m working with people who I enjoy working with, that’s a really good place to be.

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