NYC Alt .NET: Managing Your Technical Career


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NYC Alt .NET: Managing Your Technical Career

  1. 1. + Alt .NET November 2012 Managing Your Technical Career on a Sea of Analog Advice
  2. 2. + Your Issues  How do you get promoted when managers are no-longer hands-on and they dont understand the complexity of technology?  How do you find the right balance of technical skills along with project management skills?  Is it ―better‖ to remain an independent consultant, work for a consulting firm or look for another company?  Competing against younger, ―smarter‖ newcomers and being able to get a foot in the door is a Catch-22 situation: Prior experience in a skill area is required but I cant get the initial job to gain that experience. What can I do?  How do you spot a job that you shouldnt take?
  3. 3. + More of Your Issues  How do I work on exciting new technologies when my company is not keeping their stack fresh?  How do I transition from a consulting or company IT role into an engineering leadership role at the same level?  How do I summarize my many years of experience with many different technologies into a great resume?  How do I position myself as an ―old school but new cool‖ developer - almost 40 years old – in the job market? Is relevancy passing me by because of my age?
  4. 4. + Even More of Your Issues  How do you manage relationships with colleagues who dont understand the concerns of good software development and management practices?  Does creating a technical career require you to trade-off personal and professional growth? What situations would transcend this?  Do the race and gender demographics within the technology sector impact the creation of sustaining mentor relationships?
  5. 5. + My Thoughts  Give me commitment to a lifetime of self improvement and professional passionate over perfection  Technical experts are usually shielded during downturns and rewarded during up-cycles  If you’re not a tech expert, consider adding another area to your repertoire  Technical skills can be trained; critical thinking and analysis skills are much tougher to develop
  6. 6. + More of My Thoughts  Once in ―management‖ very few I’ve ever known would say that they would prefer to go back to a technical career  Spend 10-15 years in a highly technical role before switching to management – sadly many companies use management as a ―raise‖ carrot  How can you go ―there‖ is you don’t know where ―there‖ is or how to get ―there‖?
  7. 7. + Common HR Maxim “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will believe that it is stupid” …or how HR teaches most managers to assess the performance and potential of their team Side Topic: Do managers of technical people remain technical enough to assess the skills of the technical people?
  8. 8. + What Can You Do When…  You realize that you’re not as technical as you thought you were and to close the gap really makes you nauseous?  You realize that in your team of quasi-dysfunctional developers you’re by far the most organized – perhaps even OCD like - even if you truly prefer the technical elements of your job?  You realize that you’ve been attending far too many Alt .NET and related Meetups and hackathons and are ignoring the other people (or pets) in your life?  You’re fast approaching 30 and saying ―Dude‖ is actually beginning to sound funny?
  9. 9. + Unscientific Self Test  Have you learned something new during the past 30 days?  Do you volunteer on some committee?  Have you been working on the same stuff over the past 3 years?  Would you rank any of the people where you work as some of the best in the industry?  Have you met at least 2 people over the past 30 days who made you think, ―Wow!‖?  Have you been contacted by a non-recruiter during the past 6 months about a potential job?
  10. 10. + Be a Better…  Developer:  Thinker: Expand interests outside of technology  Leader: Manage tough situations  Communicator: Write and Speak  Builder: Create a Community  Owner: Manage your career
  11. 11. + Be a PEST: Tracking the Globe Keep your eye on the changing landscape areas other than technology; these always impact career landscapes  Political (e.g., changing party policies)  Economic (e.g., global debt)  Social (e.g., class movement)  Technological (e.g., new collaboration tools)
  12. 12. + What will it take…?  For you to actually earn more money?  For you to move to another group?  For you to move up to the next title level?  For you to become a manager?  For you to become the head of software development?  For you to become the CTO?  For you to move over to product development?  For you to be recognized as a (vomiting in my mouth as I type these) Ninja, Guru, Samurai or Expert?
  13. 13. + Eventually…  You might want to ―graduate‖ from writing code to solving a larger business problem – one that is closer to the revenue stream…  You might recognize how much you truly dislike being managed by someone whom you believe to be less technically proficient than you…
  14. 14. + Then again…  You can become especially great at solving technical problems then become a contractor…and earn CTO money (and likely have little time to spend it)  This means that you’ll have to continue to broaden your skills base to be viewed as an ―edge changer‖ – and become more involved in marketing your abilities
  15. 15. + What happens when…?
  16. 16. + Talent Facts  Don’t knock management until you’ve tried it for at least 2 performance cycles  Rotate jobs to develop breadth that can be used for both your technical and leadership voices  I like to recruit people (many recruiters don’t) who offer many different types of work environments – these can be internal and/or external  Develop your leadership skills away from work  Do what you love – even if it makes you lose your hair (makes for great blog fodder)  In real life you aren’t given Blue Ribbons for an 8th place finish – be the best and try to finish first…
  17. 17. + Career Management Tools  LinkedIn profile (SEO focused)  Code repo (e.g., GitHub, StackOverflow) – with collaboration  Success journal  Blog  2-3 meetings per month  Accept 1 volunteer leadership role annually  Attend 2 conferences annually (Exhibitors Hall at Javits)  Participate in 1 Hackathon annually  Look at computer science research at Universities
  18. 18. + Be a Savvy Career Shopper  Reach out to folks who’ve left (―Previous‖ job on LinkedIn profile) - find out why  Ask for specific examples of career-pathing for technical employees  Ask ―how would you react to me (doing something)‖  People most often leave the supervisor because of behaviors they wish they had known  Google two-year old or three-year old press releases on projects/strategic alliances, then do some follow-up research – did it end up going anywhere?  Things not to do? Rely solely on Glassdoor
  19. 19. + More Savvy Career Shopping  If you find red flags, raise them during the interview, and pay attention to both the words and body language when the interviewers are responding  Hiring Managers often ask candidates about their best and worst boss to gain insights into what motivates and demotivates them — Flip it: Ask a similar question of the Hiring Manager (re: best/worst employees)  Read software reviews for good/bad product features; follow company’s social media feeds to see how they respond to customer and developer requests
  20. 20. + Questions for Me