re: Get to know a database integrator / Ask Me Anything! VIEW POST

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You mention you would like to stick to being an individual contributor rather than heading down the management path. Do you have a role you are aspiring to or a set of technical skills you are learning to keep the momentum going?

Here's the environment in which I learned to program on the job:

  • Lone wolf "computer woman" / "keeper of sacred mysteries" embedded among business users
  • No one cared if "production" systems went down over a weekend, as long as we had it back up and recovered by Tuesday
  • Failures were highly recoverable, because most systems were "convenience portals" on top of underlying other portals
  • Only a handful of people cared about the systems

I knew that eventually, my ability to make a career out of being a "developer" was going to hit a wall without team-coding experience and "OMG hair on fire" production-coding experience.

I thought about leaving my current employer to go build apps in the private sector or something as a junior developer, alongside people straight out of CS degrees and bootcamps.

Luckily, I was able to be "adopted" at my current workplace by an integrations team that had some of the types of work I was learning to gain experience with:

  • Multiple people sharing a codebase
  • Systems that thousands of people can be impacted by downtime from if they're not fixed the moment they break
  • Systems where a fix can involve the hassle of coordinating US/India time zones

I've just begun an adventure into a good 3 years of sharing call, coding according to styles that match other people's code, figuring out how to be an efficient problem solver in a short timeframe so I don't lose too much of a holiday to a downed system, etc.

Luckily, that "holiday" thing doesn't happen too often, but it occasionally has and definitely could again.

I may have had a chance to level up my Salesforce experience instead. (I didn't inquire, but the Salesforce team could always use help, so I presume it would have been okay to ask to join?) Although I would have experienced an increase in "production hair on fire" and "team development" there, the level would have been slightly lower than on the team I just joined.

I chose the "junior developer surrounded by seniors" opportunity because I thought it would be harder to find again without a pay cut than a re-immersion deep into the world of Salesforce would be.

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