Recently, I resigned from my job. I decided it was time to take a step back and reevaluate what I want to do in my career.
I feel like I'm at a bit of a career crossroads. I have a few years of dev experience under my belt, I've had some technical leadership and engineering management experience, and some community building and public speaking experience.
What should I do next? Senior Software Dev? Technical Lead? Developer Advocate? What space should I work in next? What type of company do I want to work at?
Here's a dump of what I've been seeing and thinking over the last few weeks. Please take "dump" literally as I've only barely organized my thoughts into the sections below!
Some things I'm doing
Reaching out to friends and connections to learn about their roles, their companies, their career progression
I think my favourite part of this so far is simply reconnecting with people and hearing about the exciting things they've been up to. I am really blown away by the amount of support I've received. I've been feeling grateful about the talented friends and peers I have, and the willingness of my connections to share their advice, thoughts, and time with me.
Researching available roles, reading job postings, comparing similar roles at different companies
I'll write a separate post on what I appreciate from the companies I've looked at so far.
There's a lot of layoffs going on and although there are still many open developer positions, it definitely doesn't seem like the best time to be looking for a job. At the same time, the companies that are hiring are probably (hopefully) growing teams that are profit centers for the company, so they are probably (hopefully) stable teams to join.
On a job posting front, some companies are doing an incredible job including lots of clear and helpful information about their company and open roles. Other companies leave much to be desired...but I am seeing a trend of companies getting better at documenting and sharing their organizational values, culture, benefits, etc.. Salary transparency (sharing the salary range directly on the job posting) is also something I'm seeing more of.
Understanding the difference between similar roles offered by various companies has sometimes been a challenge. Many Developer job postings don't say very much about the role aside from their stack; or the posting tends to be general enough that it could be applicable to many other companies/roles.
At this point, I think the company culture/values/diversity is the main differentiator for me. I also appreciate Developer roles that involve some variety in the work and have space for learning. It's a big plus for me if a Developer role includes interfacing with the end user or assisting with community building efforts.
On the other hand, Developer Advocacy (DA) roles seem to have a lot of variance between companies. Sometimes DA is under Engineering, other times Marketing and sometimes in its own Developer Relations department. The responsibilities for a DA role also seem to vary widely and tend to include several of the following:
- creating content/tutorials/documentation/videos
- speaking at conferences
- managing Discord/Slack communities
- planning and executing events
- responding to support/help asks from the community
- managing open source GitHub repos (contributions, issues, PRs, discussions, etc.)
- gathering feedback from developers and relaying it back to the company
- contributing to the development of the open source project(s)
- ...and more!
Some of the DA job postings are quite intimidating as they include what seem like 2+ roles' worth of work. Perhaps the companies are intending to keep the responsibilities broad because they want to communicate flexibility in the role? I'm not totally sure though and I'd probably need to apply and find out. :)
Writing down my thoughts on what I'm looking for
This blog post is an effort to jot down my thoughts and I plan to continue posting some thoughts as I go. I've also got a few Notion pages with various notes and physical notebook scribbles.
I wrote a new blurb for my GitHub page which I also copied over to my LinkedIn "About" box. I'm not really sure if anyone reads those, but I figured it would at least help me get some thoughts down.
I wanted a quick way for people to find my open source contributions, so I figured out that you can use a link of this format
github.com/issues?q=involves%3A<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>+is%3Apublic (the viewer needs to be logged into GitHub first though, otherwise they'll see a
404). Instead of/in addition to
involves, you can also use
mentions if you prefer a different filter on your contributions. You can see my open source contributions here for reference.
I'm continuing to do everything above, but I'll be more actively applying and pursuing interview opportunities. I think I'm leaning towards a Software Developer role as I'd still like to code at least 50% of the time. If there's a Developer Advocacy role that regularly involves coding, that would be interesting as well.
Some final thought dumps:
Top things that are important to me
- The company's values and mission are clear and aligned with my own
- The company makes inclusivity & diversity a priority and actively demonstrates their commitment
- The role involves interfacing directly with the end user
- The role involves community building
- The role includes variety in its responsibilities (day-to-day duties may regularly change)
Snippet from my personal blurb
I'm flexible on the domain of my work -- I think there's always plenty of interesting problems to solve in any space and I'm more than happy to dive into a new stack.
What I really care about is ensuring that whatever I'm building solves actual problems that people are facing. For me, that means I need to be speaking directly with who I'm building for and closely collaborating with them along the way.
Overall, I'm looking to work with people who want to make meaningful change, care about inclusivity and diversity, and weave thoughtfulness into their creative process.
How I assess an opportunity
- Are the culture, values, mission a fit?
- Does the role include the collaborative and communicative aspects I'm looking for?
- Am I excited about the technical challenge?