Career Goals Goal Planning Personal Goals | 2017-01-10

What's the road between a Senior Developer and Mid level

Summary: In the past year, I’ve started to have one-on-ones with my manager and I’ve found this an essential thing to have to grow my career. It’s 30 minutes a week, usually we talk about how last week has went, how my quarterly objectives are going, and any personal projects / random topics that I want to talk about. Yes, it’s nice being heard, but more importantly my manager helps me get over hurdles.

A few things come to mind

  • Ability to pick up a different language very quickly and build something with it
  • Daily work: move on from blocking items quickly, don’t let simple questions others have stop your line of thinking.
  • Little supervision, try not to ask questions “what do I do” unless I’m absolutely stuck and ran through every scenario.
  • Proactively work through stories and expand on questions while working on each story. Ask for background, slow down and try not to singularly focused. Find if we can improve or upgrade a page / model it’s using. Point out when stories suggestion is wrong.
  • Curating quarterly objectives and proactively working towards helping your team or issues you find
  • Build something in your spare time (this is a tough one) and talk about it during weekly check-ins
  • During weekly touch bases, talk about things I’m excited about outside of work. If I don’t have too much, I talk about any concerns, even issues at home if it has been preventing me from performing at a high level. Use this as an opportunity to build your relationship with your manager.
  • Go to meetups once a month, meet a couple people and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself to them. Consider presenting your daily / side work to one of these events.
  • Write a blog post once a week about something I’m working on.

Other ideas to always consider

  • Keep up the focus
  • Own the project
  • Address priorities in correct order (production issue, story, defect of another story, regression defect)
  • Show desire to learn
  • Learn complex business issues and how to address them
  • Do my own QA -> What would they look for?
  • What could I do better?
  • Check stories for potential blocking items first
  • Switch between stories quickly, always be working on a story

Things I do strongly and should continue

  • Release management - smooth and carefree for the client
  • Grooming (AC, Locations, what would Dave say? Don’t be afraid of inspecting elements during meeting, understand pain points)
  • Smooth gap between PM, Dev, QA
  • Understand the teams’ pain points
  • Contribute to team using stories to learn

Getting side tracked

It’s so easy these days.. I do my best to be as productive as I can, but it’s challenging when someone asks a question un-related to what your working on. Two things: Ask if you can help them in a few minutes, wrap whatever your doing up. If you need to help them right away (aka they are standing right by you), quickly comment on what your thinking about, highlight the section of code your working on, write your progress in the story, etc. Have somewhere to look and get back to it as fast as you can. Do what works for you.

Quarterly Objectives

Love em or hate them, most companies have you think about goals each quarter. Some managers have loose goals like “write quality code” or “contribute to team”. Others have more specific, measurable goals. A few example of my past quarterly objectives are

  • Increase performance in SQL ID 100191
  • Teach team React
  • Increase volume of work by 25% (from 8-12 points to 15-20 points per sprint)

Over fifteen months, I’ve learned that having a Personal Development Plan can have two different game plans. During work effort and your side husstle. This is because many jobs won’t let you work on a new JavaScript language if there isn’t a need for it. For example, the team your working on is heavy into .NET because of it’s maintainability. My goal for “teaching team React” was nice to show them a different langauge, but it’s usefulness stopped there. Teaching yourself languages that don’t apply to day-to-day work, during work hours is tricky. Some, like Boag Web World say that it’s necessary. I feel that it’s hard to contribute to the team and become senior when focus is not on the team / clients refactoring wishlist.

Tailoring objectives make working on them during the day a little easier, it allows you to talk to your manager about the topic, what’s stopping you, what you’ve been working on, what your next thing is on your list.

Versions of objectives that I’ve thought about

  • Learn Angular and teach team
  • Watch video and read articles about Angular Performance and provide feedback on two of our heavily hit pages on how we can improve or upgrade more easily.

Difference between them? Number 2 already shows what you'll do with this information. Now I worked work with my Manager on deciding where this fits into other technical debt. Is it stopping users from performing actions? What is the benefit?

You can probably tell that I like the outcome of SMART goals. Plus, it’s easy to put these on a resume or talking points on a presentation.

Other questions to ask yourself

  • What level are my team members at?
  • What are they doing that I’m not? (Sometimes, progressing through a company means standing out against your peers.)
  • How much work do they get done in a sprint? What do they do as a “side hussle”?

2017 Goals I will continue striving for

  • Increasing work to 25-30 points every sprint, ( move on from blocking items quickly and always be working on something)
  • Build something in spare time
  • During weekly touch base meetings, talk about things I'm doing outside work. What interests me. Article about xx and how it would reduce technical debt.
  • Go to Meetups once a month, I'm headed to Google, Twitter, and New Tech meetups to learn about what tech they use and are considering. To join in on conversations, not to butt in, but to listen and meet a few people
  • Write blog post once a week (kind of already doing this)

How I'm going to get there

  • Regularly go to bed at a decent hour
  • Get up and out of bed faster. Alarm at 5:30am and rising at 7:30 isn't an option (or 6am and waking at 7:20am). Do it because very few people do. Holidays and weekends are hard, but focus on what’s important.