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Vadim Kalinin for Studio M - Song

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Where is the end of a software engineer’s career?

In various ways, we’re all striving for a better future as engineers, and one of the instruments we own to get that future is a ladder, which leads us to various career opportunities of our dreams.

There are many opportunities to pick from.

For many newcomers, it’s a hard choice to make.

Frontend, Backend, Mobile, etc.?
Which programming language to start with?
Consulting or a product company?
Enterprise or startup?

Mostly, the decision should be based on what makes us feel right, though wage (for obvious reasons) also plays an important role in it.

To better describe the case, I take my personal example.

More than 7 years ago, when I was just starting my career as a web software engineer, I picked Frontend because it was an attractive and emerging field in web development. At that moment, I was dreaming of becoming a Senior and having all the knowledge my higher-ranked colleagues had.

A few years later, when I became an expert in one already obsolete MVC framework (trends in front-end development used to change faster than we could keep up with), React and UX/UI principles, I realized catching up on backend would come in handy. The reason was that I could eventually make smarter decisions and not move everything to the browser-side just because I knew it better. This and many other decisions, together with reflections, then led me to the current position – Senior Software Engineer.

Your way is apparently different from mine, maybe more straightforward or more crooked, but ultimately it makes each of us unique on each stage we reach.

Senior position is a sweet spot in my opinion. The requirements to senior position might differ from company to company, but generally speaking, a senior engineer is capable of: solving most of the imminent technical challenges in many types of projects, can clearly and reasonably explain their thoughts, guide their junior colleagues, and (what’s also very important!) learn together with them. Senior is equated with a Swiss-knife, fitting almost into any project (very convenient for talent acquisition).

In my experience, the job title doesn’t usually change that often for a hardcore techie after reaching a Senior position unless they start managing or leading. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean the wage stays steel, acquiring new tech skills also brings you further up the ladder, and there are really lots (Blockchain, IoT, AI, etc.) to choose from nowadays.

Although there is still lots to learn in this position, this is not the end, right?

I noticed people start being very creative about their next opportunity at the senior level, maybe because thanks to their experience they can act almost standalone. Some people turn to freelance to get better payment and/or personalized work conditions, some decide to go for their own business, some switch more into management and leading, others get inspired by tutoring, public speaking, or technical writing and seek their fame there. I can list many more examples where the journey might continue but will let your inner force decide this on its own.

And even though the seniority system might slowly disappear, for me it was never about the caste system, but about the mindset, experience, and common skills valid for various technologies and industries. Reaching these qualities as I discovered is far from being a peak (or an “end”) but rather opens new horizons.

No matter your position or role, at this point, I encourage you to admire yourself for the goals already reached.

What were your goals when you started (if not a secret 😉)? What will be your next step up the ladder? And which skills you suppose are necessary to reach that step?

I'm excited to hear your stories in the thread.

Yours truly

Latest comments (5)

josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr

Since I more or less stumbled into working in tech through a coding bootcamp, my only goal was to get a job where I could continue learning - ideally one that paid my rent - and keep it. I got hired as a Junior Frontend Developer and have been working as such for 18 month now. It's only very recently that I start to even think about what else is out there in terms of career development. Really interesting to me that other people start with a 'high' goal in mind and work towards that - personally I at most think of the immediate next step (which in my case would be a mid level position)...

vimkin profile image
Vadim Kalinin

Thanks for sharing your story 🙏🏻 Frankly, as a person who spent 5+ years in the university and then needed to learn practical skills from scratch, bootcamps are delivering pretty well! Moving in smaller, more realistic steps is much healthier for the mental health and sleeping schedule after all 😄

It'll be exciting to hear how you will reflect on your path when in the senior position.

Best of luck with the promotion 🤞🏻

sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

Where is the end of a software engineer’s career?

Hm... I'm afraid, in the grave...

vimkin profile image
Vadim Kalinin • Edited

Haha, good summary, Sandor 😄. However, I'm not aware of any evidence yet, maybe software engineering is also around in a spiritual world, thus make sure you read this article thoughtfully to make the most of the present 🙇‍♂️🙇‍♀️.

sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

OMG, I didn't think about this, but it's probably true! Those devs who don't write clean code go to hell. There they have to maintain legacy code! Written by themselves!

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