Developer at Knewton
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Some possible career goals

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I was thinking about career goals a person could have (as a software developer) this morning, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of possible goals! So I asked folks on Twitter what some possible goals were and got a lot of answers.

This list intentionally has big goals and small goals, and goals in very different directions. It definitely does not attempt to tell you what sorts of goals you should have. I’m not sure yet whether it’s helpful or not but here it is just in case :)

I’ve separated them into some very rough categories. Also I feel like there’s a lot missing from this list still, and I’d be happy to hear what’s missing on twitter.

technical goals

  • become an expert in a domain/technology/language (databases, machine learning, Python)
  • get to a point where you can drop into new situations or technologies and quickly start making a big impact
  • do research-y work / something that’s never been done before
  • satisfy your intellectual curiosity about something
  • get comfortable with really big codebases
  • work on a system that has X scale/complexity (millions of requests per second, etc)
  • scale a project way past its original design goals
  • do work that saves the company a large amount of money
  • be an incident commander for an incident and run the postmortem
  • make an contribution to an open source project
  • get better at some skill (testing / debugging / a programming language / machine learning)
  • become a core maintainer for an important OSS project
  • build an important system from scratch
  • be involved with a product/project from start to end (over several years)
  • understand how complex systems fail (and how to make them not fail)
  • be able to build prototypes quickly for new ideas

job goals

  • get your first job
  • pass a programming interview
  • get your “dream job” (if you have one)
  • work at a prestigious company
  • work at a very small company
  • work at a company for a really long time (to see how things play out over time)
  • work at lots of different companies (to get lots of different perspectives)
  • get a raise
  • become a manager
  • get to a specific title (“architect”, “senior engineer”, “CTO”, “developer evangelist”, “principal engineer”)
  • work at a nonprofit / company where you believe in the mission
  • work on a product that your family / friends would recognize
  • work in many different fields
  • work in a specific field you care about (transit, security, government)
  • get paid to work on a specific project (eg the linux kernel)
  • as an academic, have stable funding to work towards your research interests
  • become a baker / work on something else entirely :)

entrepreneurship goals

This category is obviously pretty big (there are lots of start-your-own-business related goals!) and I’m not going to try to be exhaustive.

  • start freelancing
  • start a consulting company
  • make your first sale of software you wrote
  • get VC funding / start a startup
  • get to X milestone with a company you started

product goals

I think the difference between “technical goals” and “product goals” is pretty interesting – this area is more about the impact that your programs have on the people who use them than what those programs consist of technically.

  • do your work in a specific way that you care about (eg make websites that are accessible)
  • build tools for people who you work with directly (this can be so fun!!)
  • make a big difference to a system you care about (eg “internet security”)
  • do work that helps solve an important problem (climate change, etc)
  • work in a team/project whose product affects more than a million people
  • work on a product that people love
  • build developer tools

people/leadership goals

  • help new people on your team get started
  • help someone get a job/opportunity that they wouldn’t have had otherwise
  • mentor someone and see them get better over time
  • “be a blessing to others you wished someone else was to you”
  • be a union organizer / promote fairness at work
  • build a more inclusive team
  • build a community that matters to people (via a meetup group or otherwise)

communication / community goals

  • write a technical book
  • give a talk (meetup, conference talk, keynote)
  • give a talk at a really prestigious conference / in front of people you respect
  • give a workshop on something you know really well
  • start a conference
  • write a popular blog / an article that gets upvoted a lot
  • teach a class (eg at a high school / college)
  • change the way folks in the industry think about something (eg blameless postmortems, fairness in machine learning)

work environment goals

A lot of people talked about the flexibility to choose their own work environment / hours (eg “work remotely”).

  • get flexible hours
  • work remotely
  • get your own office
  • work in a place where you feel accepted/included
  • work with people who share your values (this involves knowing what your values are! :) )
  • work with people who are very experienced / skilled
  • have good health insurance / benefits
  • make X amount of money

other goals

  • remain as curious and in love with programming as the first time I did it

nobody can tell you what your goals are

This post came out of reading this blog post about how your company’s career ladder is probably not the same as your goals and chasing the next promotion may not be the best way to achieve them.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of my basic goals met (“make money”, “learn a lot of things at work”, “work with kind and very competent people”), and after that I’ve found it hard to figure out which of all of these milestones here will actually feel meaningful to me! Sometimes I will achieve a new goal and find that it doesn’t feel very satisfying to have done it. And other times I will do something that I didn’t think was a huge deal to me, but feel really proud of it afterwards.

So it feels pretty useful to me to write down these things and think “do I really want to work at FANCY_COMPANY? would that feel good? do I care about working at a nonprofit? do I want to learn how to build software products that lots of people use? do I want to work on an application that serves a million requests per second? When I accomplished that goal in the past, did it actually feel meaningful, or did I not really care?”

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bluegecko
78 days ago
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New York, NY
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An Old-School Reply to an Advertiser’s Retro Threat

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Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway has written the best “go fuck yourself” piece I’ve seen in a long time.

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bluegecko
1043 days ago
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New York, NY
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1 public comment
glenn
1043 days ago
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Ah yes Meg Whitman. Killing another tech company while fiddling.
Waterloo, Canada

I, for one, welcome our new robot reindeer overlords

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Boston Dynamics wins the holidays with this trio of robot reindeer drawn sleigh.

Tags: holidays   robots
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bluegecko
1090 days ago
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Well. Glad to see another thing Futurama got eerily right, anyway.
New York, NY
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Git

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If that doesn't fix it, git.txt contains the phone number of a friend of mine who understands git. Just wait through a few minutes of 'It's really pretty simple, just think of branches as...' and eventually you'll learn the commands that will fix everything.
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bluegecko
1145 days ago
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New York, NY
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18 public comments
jhudson
1079 days ago
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yup..
Olympia, WA
jsonstein
1139 days ago
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how it really works
43.128462,-77.614463
rhelewka
1142 days ago
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Xkcd on git and nails it:
ÜT: 43.642301,-79.378671
JayM
1142 days ago
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:)
Atlanta, GA
Brstrk
1142 days ago
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Git is really easy, once everything clicks. I'm waiting for it anytime now.
npiasecki
1144 days ago
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For us crusty old geezers still clinging to Subversion, this translates to "something didn't work, so 'svn update' and try again, and if that doesn't work, save it somewhere else and download a fresh copy" ... it's like the cirrrrrrcle ... the circle of source control
llucax
1144 days ago
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xkcd did it again...
Berlin
jshap999
1144 days ago
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You just need to appease the evil git elves.
ktgeek
1144 days ago
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I have lived this conversation multiple times.
Bartlett, IL
mrobold
1144 days ago
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Truth.
Orange County, California
jepler
1144 days ago
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how did you get this number? stop calling me
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
jimwise
1144 days ago
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heh
kafka
1144 days ago
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True.
Austin, TX
brianhoch
1144 days ago
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I'm not alone!
Spokane, WA
mburch42
1144 days ago
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My life.
GeekyMonkey
1145 days ago
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It's sad, because it's true.

Alt: If that doesn't fix it, git.txt contains the phone number of a friend of mine who understands git. Just wait through a few minutes of 'It's really pretty simple, just think of branches as...' and eventually you'll learn the commands that will fix everything.
Ennis, Ireland
marcrichter
1145 days ago
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Touché!
tbd
alt_text_bot
1145 days ago
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If that doesn't fix it, git.txt contains the phone number of a friend of mine who understands git. Just wait through a few minutes of 'It's really pretty simple, just think of branches as...' and eventually you'll learn the commands that will fix everything.

Important Information About the Anti-Choice Extremists Trying to Destroy Planned Parenthood

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Tonight I'd like to direct your attention to two excellent pieces on the ongoing attempts by the Orwellian "Center for Medical Progress" to destroy Planned Parenthood -- just the latest right wing reactionary attack on this vitally necessary women's health organization. First, a piece at Think Progress by Tara Culp-Ressler: Everything ...
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bluegecko
1245 days ago
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New York, NY
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One Company’s New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year

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Patricia Cohen, reporting for the NYT:

The idea began percolating, said Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, after he read an article on happiness. It showed that, for people who earn less than about $70,000, extra money makes a big difference in their lives.

His idea bubbled into reality on Monday afternoon, when Mr. Price surprised his 120-person staff by announcing that he planned over the next three years to raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative and salesman to a minimum of $70,000.

“Is anyone else freaking out right now?” Mr. Price asked after the clapping and whooping died down into a few moments of stunned silence. “I’m kind of freaking out.”

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bluegecko
1343 days ago
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New York, NY
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1 public comment
JayM
1343 days ago
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.
Atlanta, GA
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