Keeping a Career Fresh

Posted by Kirby Turner on June 7, 2005

Over the past few months I have come across various blog posting where a developer will say something like “I can’t see myself as a developer in 20 years” or “I can’t see myself writing code until I retire.” I on the other hand can’t imagine a time when I will not want to write code and develop software. I’ve done this for 20+ years and I’m hoping for another 20+ years.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I want to sit behind the keyboard every day for the rest of my life. After all, I still enjoy my time riding snow covered slopes. But I do see myself writing code well into my retirement years. For me the trick is keeping the work exciting and fresh.

When I start getting bored I find new ways to liven things up. For instance, over the years I have switched languages a number of times. I was a BASIC/PASCAL developer in the 80’s then I switched to C/C++. A few years later I switched to VB followed by Delphi followed by Java. ASP and a return to VB followed which was later replaced with C# and the .NET Framework. And today I am writing Win32 code using Delphi.

Other ways to make software development fresh again is to pursue new areas of interest. Instead of writing yet another web-based application, find a project that allows you to write a desktop application. If you have been doing in-house development for years consider a move to an ISV. I personally find commercial software development is a different experience and worlds apart from enterprise, in-house development.

Other ways to keep software development fresh that have worked for me:<ul><li>Participate on a standard committee - help change the industry</li><li>Spend the next year focused on a particular technology that is new to you</li><li>Work with a new team and participate in a role that is new you - for instance become the QA manager if you have been a senior developer for the last few years</li><li>Write your own software…and sell it!</li></ul>

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