I am generally influenced by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and have illustrated below what a typical journey of a Software Engineer would look.
I have a feeling that the societal culture plays a great role in this journey not only in the field of Software Engineering, but also in any branch of Engineering. To become and stay as a master is a lifetime journey and not many people who start out reach there. In my view, very few companies even permit this journey in their respective organizations.
Let me defer this argument for now. I will just give a brief overview of what each stage looks like.
Here you have just entered the field either owing to your own vocation or just by chance. I think people are more and more entering a field of their vocation and it is a very healthy sign. This is a stage where you would possibly learn the nuts and bolts of bringing something out that is consumable by others.
At this stage you are kind of getting into cruise mode. You might not have figured out everything yet, but you are competent and confident of delivering what you have been assigned without much guidance. This is a state where you are still courting the profession.
This is a stage where you have made a choice that engineering and quite specifically software engineering is your profession. This is where you have kind of reached the “T” skill, where you are extremely good at some couple of skills and are reasonably adept at other skills. This is a stage where you have made the choice to marry the profession.
This is a stage where you are recognized as someone who has the reputation of having delivered stuff that has created value for a larger section of people. You will have built a tribe that is proportional to your exposure and you are consulted on ‘How to deliver stuff’ repeatedly. This is a stage where you exercise a lot of indirect influence and your impact zone becomes higher. You will unwillingly and subconsciously start doing things that are right for the profession in general and your outlook will be always about creating a higher impact for the maximum number of people.
This is a stage where your entire focus possibly is to change the current status quo of your profession to deliver the highest impact for the people in the profession and indirectly society at large. You will be seen as a seer in your profession, wield tremendous responsibility. It is possible that you are worshipped at certain quarters as well. This is a stage where you will be working towards transforming society at large through your chosen endeavour.
Software Engineering is a profession where you may have all this kind of people in your individual organization and it is entirely possible that you may not recognize them at all and that is possibly one beauty of these breed of people.
They reach these stages because they want to and not because they have been asked to. That is also the reason why you will find very few of these as you move up the hierarchy in every organization.
Software Engineering is no different than any profession. To attain a master status requires couple of decades of sustained effort, but if you do make the effort, then you will enjoy what something I have quoted in the past from Joseph Conrad
“I don’t like work–no man does–but I like what is in the work–the chance to find yourself. Your own reality–for yourself not for others–what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
If all this looks like drifting from where I started, I think it is important to set context. The road from Novice to Master is filled with different kind of potholes and for you to navigate this journey you need a lot of ingredients.
I shall cover the first one in my next edition.
Can you guess what it would be ?
I will give you a clue.
ISRO destroyed this cliched sentence few days back. ‘It is not rocket science’. They set a world record.
What is the first emotion they would have felt ?
What is the first emotion you felt ?
That is what I will take up as the most important ingredient in the evolution of Software Engineer
Till then, Keep Guessing.
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)