May 20, 2010

Bulk view

Thinking about the path ahead

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Yes, I know, I said I wasn’t going to overthink this career thing. During a bike ride to work, I thought it might be a good idea to graph the different things I’m considering in the medium/long-term, how they relate to my comfort zone, and what kind of growth I see ahead.

Development: I understand this path the most. I have a deep background in it, I know I love doing it, I can list some things I want to learn, and I’m already in a good position to work on projects like that. This path is mainly limited by the movement of development to lower-cost areas, but I have a lot of role models who are IT architects or senior developers, so I can imagine what growth looks like.

Consulting: I’ve done a bit of consulting in the past, and I can continue to develop industry knowledge and learn more about frameworks. I can find opportunities to do this, although it’s not as easy as finding development opportunities.

My current role in Innovation Discovery: I’ve gotten the hang of the routine things I need to do, and push outside my comfort zone by creating new tools and resources to help us work. It doesn’t feel as deep in terms of growth as the other paths do, though.

Supporting and leading workshops might be a good thing to grow into. It’s a relatively big jump from where I am and I may need to have a lot more experience (people who do this are several pay-levels above me!). It’s a subset of consulting. It will give me lighter cross-industry knowledge instead of the deeper industry knowledge that comes from extended engagements.

Communications: I know a little about communications, and I enjoy writing and presenting. I don’t know enough about full-time communications work to get a good sense of whether it would be a good fit, though.

Sales: I don’t have any sales experience. It’s a great life and business skill, though, so I’d love to explore it and learn more about client needs, our offerings, and how to match-make the two. What would I bring to the table? I’m good at finding resources/experts.

Management: I don’t have any management experience, although my experiments with virtual assistance helped me learn about delegation. I don’t know yet whether I’d like this a lot or not. One way to find out is to grow in development until I can become a project manager, and then use that project management experience to figure out if I like contributing primarily through a team (instead of as an individual contributor).

It’s good to have a Plan B, C, D, etc. In terms of flexibility and transferable skills, development, consulting, and sales are great. Communications and management are transferable, but more dependent on the organization. My current role is much more IBM-specific than the others, and the complex parts of workshop leading are also IBM-specific, although the facilitation skills are transferable.

I need to learn more about the other paths to see what they look like and what the opportunities are. It’s good to explore different areas, because that will help me bring the different parts together later on.