I myself studied computer science (software engineering) and then went to work as a software developer. After first learning a lot from seniors, I am increasingly getting the opportunity to put my ideas (architecture, design patterns, etc.) into projects. It’s a super interesting world and fascinating what is possible with technology.
At my employer at that time, I sit on a think tank with the best developers to define the company’s line and am actively involved in knowledge sharing. I get appreciation from my employer and he sees my qualities as a software developer.
This recognition grows self-confidence and, as a result, I started thinking about the future. At the time I thought it stopped when you were a senior developer, now I know it only starts there. More on the software developer’s perspective in the next chapter.
So I thought at the time that there were few development opportunities as a (senior) developer. In addition, I would like to make an impact. I thought this would work better as a manager. By now, however, I know many software developers who make far more impact than most managers. I am now convinced that you can make an impact in both roles.
Another important argument in my consideration has been salary. I am trying to find a job that is fun and also pays well. Whether this is a good argument or not, I have found that it affects my choice. I was of the opinion that a developer could not earn as much as a manager or architect. Today, several companies report that the best developers earn as much as the best managers. This is a philosophy I can fully support!
The last argument that really concerned me was the constant need to keep up. New frameworks, languages, techniques, etc. Will I keep that up to age 67? I find that quite a few software developers struggle with this question, and I find it difficult to answer. At least what I see around me is software developers 60+ who are still incredibly good. Up to date with all the latest trends and certainly not inferior to younger colleagues in terms of speed. Continuing to invest in your profession is a prerequisite, but this is also true if you were to move toward management or architecture. For many of us, IT is a hobby, how hard is it to devote time to it? In retrospect, I don’t think this is such a strong argument anymore, but it did influence my choice.
Eventually I made the choice to become a manager (initially project manager). For me it has been a great choice, because I really super enjoy the profession of manager. It’s just odd that I made the choice based on arguments most of which I now find invalid. With today’s knowledge, I would make the same choice again, but with the argument that management is a fun profession.
Of course there are many other arguments that can be made, the above arguments were relevant to me. One argument that did not factor in for me is “feeling flattered” when you are asked to run for manager or architect. This feels right and of course you want to think about this with your employer. However, that same employer will not benefit if he later loses a good developer and has an unmotivated manager/architect in return.