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Your job won't fix your career

Alex Woodhead
April 1st, 2020 · 2 min read

I came to a realisation recently. The business you work for is not responsible for your career. That doesn’t mean that they won’t put a whole bunch of things in place to make you feel valued, but fundamentally this is not their primary function. Their primary function is to make profit for their owners.

I worked for a business for a little over 7 years and loved my time there. I made great friends and learned A LOT.

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to move on. Not primarily for monetary reasons, but for skill reasons. I realised that my company wasn’t looking after my career any more. I looked around for a while, not sure what I wanted, but settled on trying to work for an IT Consultancy. Why? Because this would afford me the variety that I felt I was lacking at my current job.

So I handed in my notice having received a job offer for the sort of exciting role I had dreamed of. The role had it all, the chance of a steep learning curve into languages and eco-systems my career had so far not afforded me. 7 weeks notice awaited, during which time I allowed myself to get excited and started to mentally prepare for the change of pace, saying goodbye to my comfortable job.

Then COVID-19.

Two working days before I was due to start my new job, I received the call I was fearing I might take. The consultancy were rescinding their job offer. I obviously tried to regain my old position, but to no avail. My old company were going through financial difficulty and decided that they couldn’t afford to have me back. I realised that both of these businesses were just fulfilling their primary function. They needed to ensure that they maintained their profit levels amidst the uncertainty that the virus was having on the global economy. I was just stuck between a rock and a hard place.

This is not intended as a pity piece, nor a particularly cynical take on the world, but a warning to 9-5 developers, who, like me, have felt that their job is responsible for providing the experience that furthers their careers.

Our jobs do afford us the opportunity to express our skills, but that is probably 10% of the learning opportunity that you have as a dev. It’s what you do outside of your job that really matters. Take what you can from a job, push for change where appropriate, but don’t expect that you can always work on the latest tech, because that’s what the job advert said, because the project priorities come first, and these won’t always align to your learning aspirations.

Software development is all about continual learning. If you rely on your job to provide it all, you will fall behind, because your job will not give you everything on a plate. You have to chase the skills and technology you want to learn.

This is why I am starting this blog; it will keep me learning, keep me documenting my experiences regardless of what job I am in and whose profit margins I am contributing to. I am in charge of my career, what I learn and how I want to contribute to my eco-system.

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