Recently I was thinking about my career, looking at where I’ve come from and more importantly, where I’m heading. I’m currently a Senior Software Engineer at a fairly large, pretty Google-esque company in Sydney, Australia. What comes after Senior Software Engineer? Unless there is a Super Senior Software Engineer position, surely the next step would be to become a Tech Lead. Beyond that, the next step would be to move into management. As many career books and podcasts have talked about though, this is just as much of a promotion as it is a role change; you’re no longer an individual contributor and are now a manager and leader.
Naturally, being a manager requires a completely different skill set than being an individual contributor / knowledge worker in any profession, and comes with different daily responsibilities. So moving from a software engineer to tech lead to manager can be though of as pretty much changing jobs entirely. So I asked myself, why do I aspire to become a tech lead and eventually a manger? Why do that when I actually love writing software and being a software engineer? Well, I do enjoy working with people and am a strong communicator, so I think I’d be good at it. But my main motivation is to be able to reach a higher salary, beyond where I think software engineering caps out. In other words, my main motivation is for the money.
Whoah, red flag!
That was my guilty, shameful initial reaction, too. But is it? Let’s break this down. Why did I decide to become a software engineer in the first place?
Firstly, I like writing software. This is of course a key factor in choosing a worthwhile career; you need to like what you do. Having said that, I also like cycling. Why don’t I become a professional cyclist? Simply put, I’m not good enough. So it’s not not enough to enjoy something to make a career out of it, you need to be good at it.
Okay, I’m actually very good at making sandwiches, and I enjoy it. Seriously, don’t laugh until you’ve tried my BLT. I’ll admit though that probably quite a few people are good at this. So why don’t we all quit our office jobs and work at Subway? The answer to this which our egos may not want to admit is, It doesn’t pay enough.
So I think that this is actually a triangle of the three main factors that go into choosing a career:
- Do you like it?
- Are you good at it?
- Does it pay enough to satisfy your financial needs and goals?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more money. That’s why most of us persue higher education and industry certification, and that’s why most of us look forward to advancing our careers. And I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with wanting a promotion or role change, motivated by financial reasons, so long as you continue to like what you’re doing and so long as you’re still good at what you do. And you’d better be, because you’re now getting paid more for it!
Anyway, that’s all from me today. Hope everyone has a great day doing what they love, what they’re good at and what they’re making good money doing! :) Catch ya!