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career advice (again?)

I'm facing the following: I'm 27, and spent 8+ years at a company, worked from 1 to 26 month projects. With extra hours it's 12+ :) -- anyway.

I decided to move on, however I' facing the problem to choose development / management. Same old issue.

In my 8+ years I went thru all typical stages. Lowest level developer, senior, QA, Lead developer, project manager, presales. Right now I'm able to manage 8-12 people in 1.5 year long projects. Also in development my productivity is 3x as the rest of the team.

The problem is that I know that if I choose development, within a few year I will lost interest to always keep up with the latest technologies (actually I'm already at this stage), however choosing management also has a problem that I don't feel that I actually created something and I feel that I have less control on the outcome of the project (I cannot hit developers to think cleary / work faster, where faster is my normal speed).

Of course in management I know that I could have better money and can stay in business for longer period. I know that at age 35-40 probably nobody will want a programmer who asks too much. I also know that lot of the activites (sales, client management) will have a good value later in my life. However, again, it's not something that I can touch, it's not something I created.

Do you guys have some comments on this? How would you decide? Rationally (go to management) or emotionally (go to development)?

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

" I will lost interest to always keep up with the latest technologies (actually I'm already at this stage), "


In this situation I'd go to management.  Theres more to development than a paycheck and if your heart isn't into it then you'll get bored quickly.

apw
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Once you get your first "Thank You" email from a client and you pass the praise on to your developers, you'll realize that your not as disconnected (ie not in the trenches programming) as you thought.

apw
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I received several thank you mails already. However it doesn't mean too much after a while, it was just another project I knew that I'll be able to finish.

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Sounds like you've already accomplished more than some developers ever will.  So why not set yourself an impossible goal and try to reach it?  (=

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Go to management, keep your income $$. Remember ice age 30+ is comming. :-)

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

One point...

Remember that a good manager who is experienced, wise, and intelligent -- even if they are not "up" on the latest technologies -- is a greater asset than a manager who has no idea about how software fits together.

I guess the question is why can't you get your developers to think better and work faster?  That's one of your jobs as manager -- to coach and develop your underlings.  To tell them "You know, I was looking at your code and you are habitually doing X, and then creating bug Y because of that.  Have you ever considered doing Z so that you won't create bugs like Y any more?" for example.

I mean, I feel accomplishment when the flowers in my garden bloom and look pretty.  Did *I* do the growing?  Not really.  But I made sure that they were watered and fertilized and pruned off some dead leaves and provided them with a supporting environment, so I still feel accomplished.

My greatest accomplishment lately was having one of Flamebait Sr's laws of coding reverently quoted back to me by a more junior co-worker.

I'd say you need to examine your motivations before you make a decision either way.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003


I was in the same mental place as you a couple of years ago. Took me a bit longer (I'm late 30's) but...

That "fear" of moving from development kept me from making the decision as well. My advice is don't worry and make the move to management.

I've been through at least 3 major "paradigm shifts" in my career: RDBMS, OOP, and web development. It really was becoming ho hum for me. I just can't get excited about the latest new thing which in the end isn't really all that new anyway.

However, managing a team is a real challenge. I have fun doing it. And along the way I've added agile methodologies and a much deeper knowledge of user interface usability issues.

It's unfortunate that so many in our industry, including developers who should know better, equate developing software with banging on a keyboard. There's so much more to it than that. If you think you're not contributing because you're not coding as much, you're dead wrong.
Your experience is only valuable if you actually take the time to try to pass it on. It's a lot harder to do that if you're chained to a keyboard (not impossible, but harder).

anon
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

"managing a team is a real challenge"

It's even more challenge when you do not have complete authority and your boss (company owner) steps in and then steps back randomly.

Anyway, at least I'm good in whining

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

You are 27 years old, the 8 years experience, trying to decide to go into management or not.  Boy tough problems. 

tough problems..
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My former CTO went for 2 years w/o finding a management job.  Dude had 20 some odd years of management experience and had started and sold a tech company in the past (pre bubble).  Finally got cisco certified and landed a networking job.  Of course, he wasn't willing to leave our mid-sized city either, and I'm not exactly in a tech mecca.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

re: "tough problems..."
be a more explicit pls, even if you're cynical

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Are you actually getting management offers with that little of experience?  Or are you just planning for the future?

is this really better than being unemployed?
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

planning the future

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

i would just be flexible enough to do whatever pays the most. whether that be development, mangement, starting a fish farm, rock band, etc.

rz
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

If you are 27 and get an offer to take a management position, I say do it. 

The only thing is no matter what you decide, you still have to keep your head in the technology.  I will be 30 this year and haven't advanced beyond the architect level, but I've been in this industry for 10 years now, and at some large well known companies, and some small unknowns. 

I think the managers that really drove their departments off a cliff were the ones that didn't keep up on the technology, or were too arrogant (or afraid) to go to their top technical guys for advice.

tough problems..
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Or technical gals...

tough problems..
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Go sales.  Most orgs are sales driven and that's where the people are rewarded most.  I read somewhere that most CEO's are promoted from the sale's side, and that's been my experience.  I work in IT though, not a software company. 

staying power
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Isn't it funny how 90% of programmers think they are 3-5x as productive as everyone else on the team?

Hmmm.

Robert
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

yep, 3 to 5, measured several times. handout projects to members, and then you do it in silence as well. measure it dude.

na
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I had the same opportunity couple years back, I was 29 with 5 years dev experience.  I took the position.  Didn't really like it much but I would blame that on the lack of upper management.  We (the other dev managers) didn't have a boss.  So it was decision by comittee.  Not much  got done.  When a new up management team was brought in I requested that I be placed on a dev team, giving up the management position.  I would do it again (as long as I had a direct boss)

apw
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Find a company that develops their managers. There seems to be a lot of variety out there from the GE way to the "fend for your self" way. You need a good mentor to get you going. Good luck.

m
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

--
yep, 3 to 5, measured several times. handout projects to members, and then you do it in silence as well. measure it dude.
--

Is that an accurate measurement? If you are involved with the definition of a project you have an advantage when it comes to implementing the project.

Also, have you taken meetings and other things into account when you measure the other members?

NathanJ
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

What about starting your own firm?

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, October 07, 2003

"My greatest accomplishment lately was having one of Flamebait Sr's laws of coding reverently quoted back to me by a more junior co-worker."

Just curious - can we hear it? :)

na, do whatever you want. I can't interiorize your doubts since I think being a developer is far more interesting than being a manager.

Daniel
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Quoting the law, good sir, would hurt my sense of anonymity.  ;)

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

My 2c.

I've not nearly the experience of the more senior members of this forum (including the poster), but I'm a developer with only a little management experience, a while back.

You'll have to make the decision yourself, but let me just share a couple of points that I've thought about lately, from my own perspective.

1.  I tend to be a generalist, for better or worse.  I like *everything*, which makes it hard for me to become a real expert in anything.  I do pick up things quite quickly.

2. I have recently realized (related to my comments in another thread) that I only have 24 hours in one day.  I have a lot of room for productivity improvement, but there's a finite limit there on what I, personally can get done.

Leading a team, though, I can leverage my skills and get *more* done that I could have otherwise.  There's no real limit to this leveraging, though of course you have to deal in increasingly greater abatractions.  And, now that I think about it, the history of computer languages has been one of increasingly greater abstractions, too--just to bring up a point.

-Rich

Rich
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I am definitely in the "fend for yourself" category now.  Having read "Built To Last," I find this troubling. 

tough problems..
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

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