Career Development in Web Development
I've been a web developer for over a decade (feel old yet?). Over my career I've gradually moved from an entry level junior at a web agency where I learned not to drop tables, jQuery (yes) and the woes of supporting ie6 even!
Over the years I've grown in experience and have been focused more on becoming a well rounded frontend specialist, having adopted the Vue.js / Nuxt.js tech stack for the past four years and considered expert enough to been invited to speak at conferences and writing a book.
Lately though, I've found myself more and more transitioning into a lead role. And I've noticed some key differences in my day to day activities and responsibilities. To help you, fellow developer, navigate your own career path, I think it makes sense for my to write about my journey.
Now my journey has not followed a predetermined path or goal. I was happy starting out where I did. The only constant was that once I reached my personal potential within an organisation or project, I started to look at different opportunities. Those new opportunities would be tied to a certain step up: in compensation, benefits, topic and new growth possibilities. I did not set out to become a lead developer at Jumbo!
I have been lucky enough to always been able to find something that aligns with where I was at that point in time. It wasn't the most efficient path, to be honest though. The most strides I think I made at my current organisation, where I started as a humble frontend developer (with seniority) but was also given the space to tap into my other talents.
Being given space is only part of the equation: you also need to use that space! I've been actively collaborated on the founding of some key projects at Jumbo, because I expressed interest in doing them and by being visible within the organisation.
Visibility is key
This is a lesson I learned while I was working as a consultant. In order to grow in a consulting organisation: you need to actively work on self promotion. Just doing a good job at a client is not enough. Especially in large organisations. If people don't know you exist, you will not be considered for any opportunity. It's as simple as that. So that means actively contributing to the organisational proces. You can do this in any way that suits you, as long as it connects you to peers or (even better) superiors. As part of an organisation, you are a tool or product that helps facilitate the primary business proces. By connecting, you become a more valuable thing in an organisations' inventory.
Taking that knowledge with me has helped me in actively promoting myself in any other project or organisation that I've worked with. It's not about pretending, but about highlighting your qualities and aspirations.
Goals and KPIs
I don't like personal development plans. What I do like is a long term vision with clear short term goals. I believe you should be able to set and reset goals on, say, a monthly basis.
In order to lay down goals, you need a long term vision for yourself and align it with organisational goals. For me, a long term vision has always revolved around creating visibility and engagements about my work and the organisation I'm working with. This usually ties in nicely with promotional and hiring goals of an employer. If those are aligned, you can create a space for yourself to expand in a certain direction.
This is why I have been doing public speaking events, collaborate with educational institutions. I apply that experience also to internal connections and collaborations. All these activities, that are not part of my primary role, I get to do in agreement with my coach/mentor/manager, because I can show that they contribute to my long term vision.
Growth is usually measured in achievements and compensation. I tend to plan quarterly meetings as performance reviews to discuss the things I've achieved in the past period. I always keep a record of my activities and the outcome. Usually, I set the agenda for these meetings and provide the points I want to discuss upfront as well as the outcome. This helps me to structure the conversation around the things I want to address.
Make it your own journey
In many organisations there are clear and formal definitions of what you need to achieve for any role. You can use these to map your short term goals and milestones. I would recommend though, to look at a long term vision for yourself. Something that can extend your current position and organisation your working with. If you have that, you can validate if any of the steps in between contribute to that vision. I think that helps massively in growing yourself.