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Why you need a developer career development plan and how to write one

Published in the Random EN group
Have you noticed that planned activities and tasks are faster and better? By writing down what needs to be done during the day in a notebook, you most likely will not forget about this task. In addition, transferring to paper helps to structure thoughts and come to the right decision. Including career plans. Let's imagine this situation: you graduate from CodeGym, but don't know what to do next. You have a certain pool of skills, but lack confidence. A career plan can help in further development. We asked Elena Ivanchikova, a career consultant, about why it is needed, and CodeGym graduates told us if they made a career plan."Plan Kapkan": why do we need a career development plan for a developer and how to make it - 1

Why you need a career plan

A career plan is a strategy for achieving a desired goal in the form of a specific position or salary. I am convinced that building a conscious career is impossible without a career plan. If a person follows a career without understanding what stages he goes through, such a career is spontaneous. In this situation, you can accept an offer from a company that does not really match the goals of a person, make a mistake in choosing the direction of career development. For example, people can develop vertically (leader's career - ed.) , although if they took time to a career plan and considered what they really want and what they have inclinations for, they would prefer a horizontal career (increasing a person's expertise - ed. .) .

What are the career stages?

I am guided by this position in the stages of a career:
  • The first stage or preliminary. Lasts up to 25 years. This is the time when a person tries / feels various activities and finds the most suitable for himself.
  • The second stage or stage of formation. Lasts up to 30-35 years. At this stage, a person acquires skills. It does not matter what position it occupies and how it develops - horizontally or vertically. He confidently sits in his position and begins to delve into the finer points of the profession. This stage includes the maximum number of trainings. If at the preliminary stage, a person studied in order to find what he likes, then at this stage he consciously “gets” the knowledge that he lacks.
  • The third stage or stage of awareness. Lasts from 30-35 years to 45. Many refer to this stage as a period of career growth. This is the time when a person clearly and consciously moves along a career path, depending on which one is chosen - either horizontal or vertical. During this period, people are already more confident in their choice: they have already doubted before, decided on the vector of interest and are moving forward.

    At this stage, a person becomes a confident specialist. This is the self-realization that everyone is talking about.

  • The fourth stage or stage of logical completion: from 45 to 60 years. A person is gradually ending his career and preparing for retirement. But I want to say that at this stage (about 45 years old) I see a large number of people who go through career guidance: people understand that they want a new challenge, and their career gets a “second wind”. According to the classification, this is the stage of completion, but I would say that this is the stage of completion of a career round: someone completes it, and someone starts a new one.
However, even considering this classification, everything is individual. Someone understands from his youth that he will be a doctor, enters a university and enjoys working as a doctor all his life. Another person may not decide even by the age of 40. I have seen quite a few such resumes, when people not only changed companies quite often, but also had a so-called zigzag career, when they constantly changed the development vector. For example, they could be within the same logical category, but within it they constantly change specialties.

How to build a career plan

  • Plan no more than 3 years. My recommendation: do not make global strategic goals for a long period. It used to be quite common to set goals for 5-10 years. In the unpredictable world in which we live, a career plan should be painted over three years. To make the goal as precise as possible, I recommend setting an end goal in the region of three years.
  • Set intermediate goals and adjust if necessary. When drawing up a career plan, we always have the main global career goal that we set. It is, as a rule, for 2-3 years, as well as intermediate goals, which we already focus on within six months. You can set for each year (out of three years) a goal, whether it's training, whether it's a new position, other criteria that are important to you in your career. For example, in the middle of this plan, you will realize that you are not moving in the direction you would like. It is okay to change the remaining goals before the end of these three years to fit your new vision.
  • Write a goal using the SMART method . It is necessary to analyze the goal: how relevant, realistic and important it is for you. If you cannot objectively assess the current situation, it is very good to contact a career consultant, mentor, personal leader, who should be interested in your career advancement.
  • Do not spray. A specific plan is signed for a specific goal. If there are several goals in the plan, there will most likely be a defocusing of attention. Therefore, one plan is one global goal.
  • Set yourself deadlines. Objective deadlines must be set. Do not increase them in order to reach the intended goal on time and do not underestimate, otherwise you can come to frustration, complete disappointment and loss of motivation - this happens when you demand a lot from yourself, but forget that there are other tasks in life. As a result, you didn’t have time, your hands drop and you don’t want anything.
  • Harmoniously compare career plan with other responsibilities. In such a case, the career plan will be realistically achieved. The job should not squeeze all the juice out of you, otherwise it will be the first and last career plan.
  • When drawing up a career plan, it is necessary to take into account the types of career. A horizontal career is when we develop within our specialization, it is also called an expert career. A vertical career is a career of a manager when there is a desire and ambition to move up and take leadership positions. A zigzag career is one where you change careers to learn something new, often from a related industry. For example, moving from sales to marketing.

    To understand what kind of career is yours, you need to understand what drives you and what is important to you at the current stage of life. It can be material motivation, when the main criterion for a successful career is a salary that meets your expectations. This may be a motivation for self-development, when it is more meaningful for you to develop within the company in your position. Why do people sometimes go to charity projects? Because their motivation in activities is the value of service, that is, the need to help. Understanding your motivation, you will think about what position, in what company and in what area of ​​business you can be most useful to people around you. This is also an important criterion when drawing up a career plan.

  • To determine a person's value system, I often use Edgar Schein's Career Anchors test in career counseling .

    This test helps determine what a person is focused on in their career. It can be professional competencies when we want to be an expert in our field. This can be a management orientation when there is an ambition to manage processes and people. This may be a focus on autonomy and independence - the main criterion for freelancers and people in self-employment, where there is no work schedule and corporate restrictions. This may be a focus on stability, when it is important for an employee to have confidence in the future. Value may lie in service, when it is important for a person to help people, to make the world around them better. There is a challenge orientation, when a person likes to walk "on the edge of a knife" and take risks, and, finally, there is an orientation towards entrepreneurship - one's own business and business. This test can be taken

CodeGym Alumni Experience

We asked several CodeGym students if they had a career plan.

Alexander Kopaygorodsky:

My plan looked like this:
  1. Understand the theory and get the first skills;
  2. Write the first pet project;
  3. Find at least some work related to programming to gain commercial experience;
  4. Prepare for interviews in large companies;
  5. Gain experience in a large company by working there for 2-5 years;
  6. Save money from my time at work and start my own business by making a product that I expect to write while working at the company.
Wage growth was not included in the plan. The growth of money is a consequence. The reason lies in how well and how much you can do in a unit of time. What plugs for each level of the programmer and so everyone knows for their region. At first I was making $8 an hour, now it's $13 an hour. I was looking for my first job for about a year. In the end, he opened a department in the company where he worked at that time. That is, now I am in the phase of work “at least somewhere by profession a programmer”.

My career planning tips:

  1. Abstract from money. And seriously think about whether you are ready to strain your brain so hard every day for at least 10 hours. Programming is an amazing world that can captivate you or become a nightmare. It depends on whether you like to think a lot and have time to study. If you think about money, force yourself to learn something, get a job, get it, relax, the system will spit you out anyway.
  2. Start thinking more specifically about what you want. For example, to get a job in a young promising company, the reward can be very high. Or you will realize that you want stability in a big company so that you can safely save money by investing in the stock market, real estate, and retire early.

    There is another option for the completely crazy - this is your own business with a group of enthusiasts. Here you will find investments, and work on prototypes, and a lot of troubles.

  3. Combine goals in a plan. Looking at my plan, you will see my combination, make your own.

Dima Mersiyanov:

Initially, I had a plan to start making money doing what I like, that is, programming. The idea was to find a company with a team that you can learn from, and then move up the developer career ladder with an increase in income in a couple of years. I was looking for the first job for about 3 months. Somewhere they refused me, somewhere I refused when I realized that the company was unpromising even for a junior developer. When looking for my first job as a programmer, I wanted to earn no less than my salary as a tester, which is about $ 1,000. After 5 attempts, I managed to find such a company and pass an interview there. Further, every year I set myself the goal of increasing earnings by a certain percentage and think about how to strengthen my competence in the field in order to qualify for a salary increase. My advice when drawing up a career plan: do not chase money, but try to get the maximum experience even for little money, after 1-2 years of work it will pay off.

Misha Krokhmal:

My plan for learning programming was for a year. When I graduated, I was looking for a job both as a front-end and back-end developer. I went through interviews both in my hometown and in Kyiv, and eventually got my first job in my city. If I had not got a job then, the money would have been enough for 2 months at most. There were such thoughts: either I find a job, or I start living in debt. But it took a little over a month to find the first job. After 2.5 years I changed my job, and a year later I accepted an offer for the position of a senior in a Kyiv company.
When planning my career development, I expected that I would be able to reach the maximum salary for my position in 4-5 years. At that time, for my city it was 3 thousand dollars, for Kyiv - 4 thousand dollars. Whether I have achieved this goal, I will evaluate in a year: according to the plan, this will be the 5th year of my career. If I don't, I'll rethink my plan. So far, everything is going as it should. My salary started at $200 because I didn't know how much, the next month I was paid $300. Now I get 2800 bucks. My plan was a little broken, because in my hometown I expected to work for only a year, and then move to Kyiv. But it turned out to stay longer in the first company, because there were interesting projects and a good team. I think that sometimes you can sacrifice a plan for the sake of your comfort and quality development.

My career planning tips:

  1. In the early years, get the most experience. I don't recommend changing jobs too often in the beginning. I have friends who had 8 jobs on their resumes in 2 years. As practice shows, it did not end with anything good. In the first few years, it is better to focus on gaining experience and working on good projects.
  2. Don't stop learning and planning. It turned out that I started looking for a job a little earlier, after 9 months of training, and gradually the plan added records of where I submitted my resume, where I had interviews and similar information. Then I began to write down training plans already in the process of work, and after 2.5 years, again looking for a new job, and so on in a circle.
"Kapkan Plan": why do we need a developer career development plan and how to make it - 2