A Career Conundrum

Well, as you read this entry, you find me at a career crossroads.  I’m going to apologise in advance if I’m sounding a tad bit melancholy, but at this very moment I really can’t define what I’m looking for.

One of the greatest deficiencies in the IT industry, in my humble opinion, is career guidance and talent cultivation.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many companies who rightly identify technical talent and do a great job at helping to groom those lucky few into much larger success stories.  However, in general terms, I think the industry is a bit of a career minefield with just as many pitfalls as successes.

If you are extremely lucky, you’ll acquire mentors and peers who can help you to navigate this tricky field.  Of course, at some point, you’ll likely end up in a situation similar to mine.  Unable to define your ideal role.  An odd situation; for years I had a very concise picture of my perfect job, but now I find myself either unqualified or unsuitable for what I’d prefer to be doing.

My question to you, the audience, is: how does one gain any position without relevant prior experience? 

I mean, nearly all technical leadership roles (Development Manager, CTO, CIO) outside the “team lead” type positions require or demand prior experience.  How does one acquire this experience without getting one of these roles in the first place?  Does there exist some kind of management or leadership role akin to a “development manager” which could be viewed as a intermediate level?

What is daunting to me at the moment is my hesitation to embrace (yet another) strict development role.  I’ve found through (often) bittersweet experience that the outcome of small, medium and large enterprise projects can be hugely influenced by how a project is created, managed and delivered.  Software development sits in the latter part of that equation, and I’m not ready to sit back anymore.

I love to write code, and I love to develop highly scalable, robust and secure architectures.  I also love to interact with clients, customers and project stakeholders, I’m quite adept at requirements gathering and project forecasting.  In the past five years (in particular), I’ve lead, managed and helped to deliver all manner of different solutions, working with some of the best in the industry.  I’m guess I could be considered a poster child of an IT all-rounder, I’m an apt and able consultant, but I’m looking for a role with more substance, more responsibility and more stability.

This is going into my fifteenth year in the IT industry (and eleventh in commercial software development) and I can’t find a role which I can identify with.  What I can do is to articulate what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of.  I guess you could say that I’m waiting for a real challenge, and I’m willing to go wherever that may be.

There are a couple of rather large and daunting roadblocks, many of which are timing related (curses to you, “holiday season”).  What I find particularly irregular is that with the whole world as (virtually) an option, I’m having no measure of trouble trying to find where the opportunities are!

So.. in the middle of the night, I’m appealing to the vastness of cyberspace.. can you give me any hope?

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