How did you determine which career path to choose in software engineering?


I consider the question itself flawed, but that could be my decades in IT talking. The mere notion of a "career path" is nonsense given the rate at which technologies and needs of the industry change.

The mere notion of setting out on a single path with a single focus is foolhardy given the sheer number of new paths that show up every few years, and the number that die off.

It's like programming itself -- it isn't something you 'learn once and are set for life' -- it is something you have to struggle at and continue learning and growing across your entire work career.

... but that's not what "Career educators" sell their students on to put buns in seats, so we now have an industry where the majority of IT grads end up flipping burgers or working at Walmart by the time they hit 30 wondering how in the blazes they're going to pay off a lifetime worth of student debt. Only a handful of the passionate, the devoted, the determined are able to stay in the field for very long.

Well unless you count the just plain ass-kissing suck-ups who always seem to magically fail upwards into middle-management.

It also leads to the problem we have right now of overspecialization, where most people working in a specific field end up unqualified to do so. At the extreme you have the people so specialized they magically think they're SO great at their one thing they don't have to know anything else... like the alleged SEO "experts" who don't know the first damned thing about HTML, or the PSD jockey artists under the delusion they are "designers" when they don't know the first damned thing about UX or accessibility.

But it plagues other aspects of development too... The front-end developer who knows nothing about art or accessibility nor understand how to lessen the workload of the back-end dev. The back end developers who don't know enough about the front end to even know if what the "specialist" gave them is any good, much less how to slice up what they are given.

Or even the jokers who claim to be network administration "gods" but have to call tech support to come over to hook up a monitor for them and/or can't even figure out how to connect to an already running server via serial. (True story bro)

As such IMHO planning a 'career path' is foolhardy nonsense. It's ok to learn a specific thing and to get good at it, but start learning what goes above and below it in the "stack". Keep learning. Keep researching, and be ready to change path at any point since what you end up wasting money and time on could go the way of the dodo at any time.

See my oh so useful list of certifications like "MacOS ACSP", "Digital Equipment Accounting Certification", "Paradox Professional", and of course "Certified NetWare Engineer"

To go with all that time I spent learning 8 bit machine language, IBM SNA, DiBol, Fortran, Smalltalk, Token Ring, and of course OS/2.

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Jason Knight Hmm I guess things just work differently in different parts of the world. Sounds bad there, fortunately it doesn't sound much like here.

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