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Bruno Pérez
Bruno Pérez

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I am a senior developer. Now what ?

This post reflects my current personal thinking.

I have been working for 13 years as a developer. I consider myself a good developer. Not a genius-rockstar developer, but rather someone wise enough to take good decisions.

Growing up as a developer and as a person was amazing. Fighting against my own insecurities and getting better was not easy, but it was worth it. It was more than software development, it was a life journey to get there.

So what’s next now ?

I am not talking about which pompous job title I can pretend to. I mean what is going to drive me in the next few years ? What will be my inspirations and motivations ? My goals ?

During my career, I remember meeting many middle-aged developers, narrow minded and without enthusiasm, reactionary and cynical to any new hype in tech. I get their point, and even agree on many topics but nevertheless, a voice kept saying in my head “Don’t finish like them”.

Now that I am close to 40, I fear that I can easily head down on the wrong path if I am not careful enough.

Is coding still fun to me ?

In my opinion that is the first question to ask oneself. Some people get tired after some years of coding. Good news for them is that “seniority” opens many doors in other disciplines like management, directorship or product development.

For me, the answer is Yes, I still enjoy coding. That also opens doors, especially one: create my masterpiece. Let me explain.

On my junior dev days, I remember struggling to install tools found on Github. I was barely able to understand how to make them work, so I looked upon the creators as if they were living gods.

Now, I understand their work (with a decent amount of time), but I also may even be able to contribute to it. That means that it is the perfect moment to create something. Just because now I can. Obviously developing Open Source Software seems a great choice, but there are plenty more opportunities.

The time to give back

If you have benefited from others, and you finally made it, maybe it is the time to help others and give back.

A senior dev has so much knowledge to give and experience to share. Teaching, sharing or managing are some of many great ways to transmit knowledge and experience. It is incredibly enriching to work with younger generations, energetic and less formatted minds.

The time to change ?

Nowadays, it’s common that people live several professional lives: consultants become florists, former engineers open restaurants and so on.

It is a good thing, people get bored and change. Moreover, it is positive for companies to hire people knowing several industries, the lack of experience in a branch is compensated by a different perspective and skillset. The senior developer has surely enough to give to occupy a position in many areas. Or even better to create his or her own project.

As you can see, I did not answer the question, I just shared my thoughts and clues I found. Are you asking yourself the same question ? Or did you already find your own answer to it ?

I would be glad to hear your story 💬

With my team we are currently working on our "masterpiece": CASE JS is an Open Source app builder for simple CRUD apps. Give it a try a give us your feedback if you have time to discover something cool !

Top comments (10)

eljayadobe profile image

I've been programming for 48 years now. (Oy vey, that makes me feel old.) I've been at it long enough that some of the programs I've worked on have probably been used by most of the people on this forum.

So far, there's always more to learn — more that I want to learn than I have time to learn, so I have to pick-and-choose.

As a craft / art / technology / science, we're still a very, very young profession. And it's had exponential growth in the last 7 decades — the demand for coders, programmers, and software engineers is enormous. Although we don't have licensure as a professional engineer (or at least it isn't an expected/demanded by any employer I'm aware of) — despite several attempts that have gained little traction. We don't have "standardized parts", yet. Most programs are all bespoke, and built on top of primitives and sandboxed "standard" libraries. (I put "standard" in scare quotes, because what's standard for C++ is different than what's standard for Perl at the meta-level. The "standard" libraries upon which things are built are not interchangeable. In a thousand years... who knows.)

I look at the recent newcomer languages (Odin, Zig, Nim, Jai, Mojo, Hylo, Vale) and I get enthused all over again.

bd_perez profile image
Bruno Pérez

48 years of programming is incredible ! I hope to get there too and still have that passion.

mortylen profile image

I am in a similar situation, I have been developing software for industry and internal enterprise applications for many years. I don't want to do another position, I enjoy software development, management and project management wouldn't fill me up. Therefore my mental encouragement is to learn new technologies and develop small opensource projects in my free time. Now I am trying to write articles and hopefully I will find enough time to share my experiences.
Enjoy your code writing.

bd_perez profile image
Bruno Pérez

Write articles is fun too and a great way to "give back". I should do that more.

anasqiblawi profile image
Anas Qiblawi

now you have to start helping young people find jobs, like myself 😅

virtualmachine profile image

Saw this on my Google news feed with the banner pic and I couldn't help but think this:
Title: I am a senior developer now what?
Me: The council will now decide your fate

matkwa profile image
Mat Kwa

Interesting insight for me as a self-taught developer with just a few years experience.
If you have some capacity left besides your own open source project I'd love your senior input on something I am currently building.

bd_perez profile image
Bruno Pérez

Yes I would be glad to hear it ! And I am self-taught too 😁

matkwa profile image
Mat Kwa

Cool that's nice to hear! What's a good way to get in touch? I'm not on Twitter...

deserat profile image
Vance Dubberly • Edited

I would note that there is no end to a Sr. Developer, if you really feel the need to for tittle progress there is always Principle Engineer, Architect, and other spaces to grow into. But really, "Why?" is a more important question. Why did you learn to code? What were you hoping to do with that skill?

Sr. Developer is alot like Sr. Hammer user. It means you are good at using a tool. Granted a programming language and the environment it works within are more complicated than a hammer. The real question is, "Now that I've gained this skill, what do I want to use it to build?"

The answer can vary widely. For instance if you learned to code because you wanted a good paying job ( the worst reason ), now you are open to engineering manager or some other step on the dollar tree. If you learned to code because you were interested in topics that are to complex to be done by hand; engineering, simulation, game development, those disciplines will provide many domain specific opportunities. If you just enjoy building rule based systems, well there are a myriad of languages that approach problems differently and will help you expand your idea of what "rule" and "system" are.

But there is another aspect to this, you can also help bring others up in the world and in our discipline; team leadership, donating time to stem and steam organizations, etc...

Sr. Developer isn't the end of anything, it's just a jumping off point. The middle age folks who where un-enthused ... well they are the ones who didn't figure that out.