On February 20th, I shared my career journey for the first time to a large audience. I gave a Ministry of Testing Masterclass called “Not All Who Wander Are Lost: A Career Experience Report” (a recording is available for Pro Dojo members here: https://dojo.ministryoftesting.com/dojo/lessons/not-all-who-wander-are-lost-a-career-experience-report-with-hilary-weaver-robb).
I’ve had kind of a wonky career path, and have at times felt some shame for “going backward” from a test lead to “just” an engineer. Now, though, I feel pretty good about my journey – I wouldn’t be who I am today, or where I am, if not for those experiences.
One lesson that I touched on, but I’d like to reiterate here, is to be honest with yourself about what you want to do.
I’ve had testers come to me and ask what their career path should look like, or what they should be aiming for. “What should my end goal be?”
Your career goal is for YOU to decide! Don’t let others make your life plans for you!
For sure, ask for advice about others experience. You don’t have to be a manager. You don’t have to be an architect. You DO have to be happy and fulfilled and grow and learn and get value and give value in your role. I can’t tell you what that looks like for you. Hell, I don’t know what it looks like for me! I’m taking my career a day at a time!
It’s great to have goals, but please, keep your goals flexible! If you realize on the way to becoming a manager that you really want to stay hands on, do that! It’s not the time to stick to your guns like “well, I wrote this down, I have to do it”. Your career should make you happy!
Every day, your experiences change you. You are a different person today than you were when you started your career.
Be honest with yourself about what you want from your career. You might wander a bit, but you won’t be lost as long as your true goal is happiness.