“I don’t know what’s next in my career” is a sentence I hear frequently from senior engineers.
In fact, I hear this question so frequently that I decided to write this series of articles to address it.
When I ask those senior engineers how they have approached their career planning until now, what I hear is “I thought if I just worked harder and wrote more code, eventually someone would notice and I’d get promoted to staff engineer.”
Unfortunately for so many senior developers, this type of thinking is a major misconception on so many levels. Just writing more code isn’t going to get anyone promoted. Just waiting to be noticed isn’t going to get anyone promoted. Also, there is more than just the individual contributor or managerial path as possible career paths for engineers. And finally, getting promoted—like other forms of external validation—shouldn’t be the ultimate goal in anyone’s career, because it’s not fulfilling.
In this article, I am making a recap of the most realistic career moves from the senior engineer position. I’m dividing the possible moves into the four categories from the diagram. For each category, I will cover what it’s all about what it would require to get there.