Which Number Career Are You On?

I had lunch with a colleague today. We spoke about his freshman-in-high-school age (14?) child who was studying Computer Science. The student is actually solving problems with code (Python) and showing his work to others. I didn’t ask if he was working in a team, but he probably is.

I didn’t take my first Computer Science class until I was 19, my sophomore year in university. We used Fortran as our programming language and we definitely worked alone. I only worked in a team my senior year. (I had plenty of experience with assembly language at school, as well as digital design. Yes, I still have a soldering iron.)

My, how things have changed!

That got me thinking about my career. Much of the activities of developers, testers, and other technical staff do is similar to what we did years ago.  How we do it is very different. We don’t worry about hardware. We tend to work in teams. And, we often work with people who don’t sit next to us. None of those facts were part of my work context when I started to work.

We still continue to work. We change what we do and how we do it.

I wonder if instead of thinking as career ladders, we might think of moving across.

I’ve been a consultant since 1994. I’ve changed my focus several times since then. I never thought I was creating a new career for myself. I thought I took advantage of other, new possibilities. I’ve been moving across, not necessarily up.

Often, that’s because technology has allowed me to take advantage of new possibilities.

I never thought I’d be a writer. Even back in 1997, when I started to write more often, I never thought it would be an integral part of my career. Now, writing is a huge part of my career.

Up until 2011 or so, I’d never considered publishing my own books. Now, that’s my default.

Up until 2014, I’d never considered offering online workshops. Now, I’m working hard to get “all” my content up. (That’s much more difficult for me than I expected!)

Up until 2016, I’d never considered writing fiction. Now, I’m practicing and publishing short fiction. (Short fiction offers me faster feedback loops.)

I’m not sure which number career I’m on. I see my life as one continuous “career,” where I select various options as I see them.

I’ve seen people try to plan their entire career. I try to plan more for the results I want, not how I will achieve those results. I suspect that my focus on outcomes helps me weave a new career—or, at the least—a new possibility.

I love the idea of more possibilities. It’s the way I feel about a full gas tank. I have more options for wherever I want to go.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my ability to create, see, and exploit more possibilities, to create more careers for myself. I hope you too, can create, see and exploit your possibilities for more careers for yourself.

That is the question this week: Which number career are you on?

4 thoughts on “Which Number Career Are You On?”

  1. I went to a pretty forward-thinking public high school in the early 80s: it taught both BASIC and Pascal to students who wanted it.

    There are two easy ways to break down my career. The first way is the individual contributor era and the management era. The second way is the technical writing era, the test automation era, the build-test-teams-from-scratch era, and now the engineering era.

    But I feel like now I’ve proved everything I’ve ever set out to prove, experienced everything I hoped to experience. As I weigh the next phase of my career I am finding myself open to a very different adventure. I just applied to be a Happiness Engineer at WordPress. An old boss, someone I liked working for, is hinting that he might want me back to run his infrastructure team. Man, I haven’t thought about hardware in ages.

    1. Jim, how exciting! I hope whatever is next works out well for you.

      I am old enough that when I was in high school, only some businesses had computers. Academic institutions and government had computers, too. But, the PC didn’t start until 1985, well after I started to work professionally. I hadn’t thought of the hardware changes, either, for my career. Mainframe, minicomputers, personal computers, now cloud. Huh. Yup, lots of changes.

  2. mariarodriguez811

    Hola Johanna!!
    Soy Maria de Argentina.
    Me siento muy identificada con todo tu comentario!!
    Escribo en español, porque seguro podrás traducirlo. Y temo que si lo hago en inglés, no pueda expresar todo lo que siento.
    Gracias por tus notas, tus artículos y tus libros!
    Me inspiran!
    confio conocerte y asistir a tus conferencias!
    Un fuerte abrazo, y que tengas un Feliz Dia de Acción de Gracias! :)

    1. Hola Maria! You are correct, I did use Google translate to translate your comment. Thank you so much. I hope to meet you in person sometime, also! I’m delighted you enjoy my writing. Thank you. Big hugs back to you.

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