Career Paths: Do you have one?
I recently had to write up a short description of my future career path at my company. Every time I it entered my mind, a small wave of anxiety came over me.
It isn’t that I’m unhappy with my job or my career – I’m really happy with everything right now. It’s just… I don’t want to decide what direction I want to go. I always hate the act of choosing, because I really just want the chance to do everything! Clearly one life is not enough for that!
The two main paths to choose from are technical and management, and honestly, I want to do both. This isn’t uncommon – many people switch from one to the other, and no one (at my company) is going to give you a management job without a good technical background anyway.
Just looking at the technical part isn’t easy either. I have some skills and areas of expertise, but I’m not sure how I want to grow and build them. I definitely do want to keep learning, and my new project is growing my knowledge, I just don’t know exactly what I’m targeting. And I think that is OK. I’ve always figured things out as they’ve come along, and maybe it isn’t the most efficient path, but it works for me.
I talked with my manager about it, and after 15 minutes, he had said a few things that made enough sense to me that I had a vision of a path. Not necessarily “the path”, because I don’t think you can plan everything, but we talked about what things might look like over the next 5 years or so, and from there I’d be well positioned for either the jobs at my company. It is amazing the perspective someone who has been around for years can give, especially someone who has seen many careers grow!
(Note that there is a chance we’ll have to move, and I’ll find a totally new company. Or maybe I’d leave for other reasons. I just like to operate under the assumption that this won’t happen, because it is much easier!)
Do you have a career plan? Or do you at least have an end goal in mind?