As with any profession, beginning a career in development can be daunting. Being a developer is less a job and more of a vocation. There are few industries that move at a faster pace than this one and as a result, there’s always something new to learn. However, this can make progression even more challenging.  

For most developers a “traditional” career path no longer exists, nor do many developers want that. What businesses and agencies look for is rapidly changing and many developers feel that a certain set of behaviours and attitudes are expected regarding career progression.

Throughout this blog, we discuss how employer needs have changed and how this has opened new opportunities for developers to help you to carve a path that’s right for you.

In this blog we will cover:

  • Progression opportunities for developers 
  • The changing needs of businesses 
  • The importance of personal growth and development 
  • Choosing the right business for you 

Different paths

When it comes to technical roles like development, if an individual is good at what they do, they’ll more than likely be given the opportunity to manage others. However, there’s a risk of putting someone in a management position who simply isn’t suited to managing people. Not only this, but in doing so you also lose one of your best resources and could leave that person feeling trapped, unhappy and like they’re not doing a good job.

A career in management isn’t the only option for developers to gain recognition for their efforts. There are several other options for progression available including:

Technical specialist 

You can continue within the development team, while becoming a technical specialist in specific technologies such as Kentico Xperience or Kentico Kontent, for example.

Responsibilities usually lie with leading the organisation down a particular technology track. This role will provide recognition of your expertise within the technology arena, which could lead to a growth in your reputation in the industry and opportunities to be a speaker on panellists too.

Systems architect 

This role requires a greater degree of interpersonal skills, allowing you to work closely with the customer to craft the development solution for tasks that are considered more technical.

A system architect may lead a project team of senior developers who will help to carry out your recommendations to meet the specification. As such, you can enjoy autonomy and responsibility without becoming a manager.

Technical architect 

As a technical architect, you are the link between development operations and the developers. By being involved in how deployments are structured and how things are automated behind the scenes, you will help to craft solutions for the benefit of clients and the overarching development eco-system.

Research and development

Joining a research and development team means you are pioneering new technology at the forefront of adoption. With this role, you would need a real interest in this space while being capable of analysing project requirements and making recommendations for new technology. You may even end up becoming a leader on those projects.

R&D is an essential function for many businesses and this role helps organisations to remain competitive by launching new solutions and improving existing ones.

Team leads 

This role gives more senior and experienced developers the opportunity to lead on projects. There is a big difference between doing a job and leading a team. You’ll need to support more junior members of the team while being a point of contact for others involved in the project. Nevertheless, this role has the benefit of sharing experience with others and the opportunity to lead without being a manager.

Life events impacting your career choices 

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to reach a management role to progress your career and support changes in your life. Yes, management roles usually mean higher pay and you might perceive it to be more stable, but will managerial responsibility make you happy? No matter which career path you choose to take, having specialist knowledge is equally valued by businesses and you will be rewarded either way.

The impact of being happy at work trickles down into your personal life and there will be many life events which employers will need to recognise. Like in any role, developers face life challenges such as leaving university, buying a home, starting a family and health and wellness goals. Each event has the potential to shape your next step and employers need to create the right ecosystem for new developers to flourish in the way they want to.

Choosing the right business to support your development career 

Choosing a business that will kickstart your experience is an important decision. We understand that onboarding a new developer requires commitment to training, but this isn’t just for beginners and junior roles.

In the ever-evolving world of website development, technologies, programmes, and processes are continuously adapting, meaning your development teams will always be expanding their knowledge.

Type of business 

Firstly, you will have to choose what type of business is the best fit for you from in-house, software house or web agency. In a traditional software house, it tends to be a case of climbing the corporate ladder. Working in-house you’re naturally exposed to less experiences and opportunities so it can be difficult to progress in the same way an agency offers.

Unlike in-house, at an agency there are hundreds of businesses with different objectives that we have the opportunity to meet and work with. This means you’re more likely to be working with the latest technologies and a greater variety of challenges which gives you the chance to develop your skillset. But agency life isn’t a one-way ticket to success. You’ll need an employer who can support you every step of the way and who will:

Invest in your development 

Investing in training and development is an essential consideration in this line of work. With the mindset that dialogue with clients is helpful, not harmful, it is our expectation that senior developers are in a client facing role.

We believe it’s always beneficial to undertake presentation training, shadowing and learning from colleagues before taking an active role in meetings. Support from account, sales and project managers provides a level of comfort so you can focus on what you know and the expertise you can offer to the project. You should consider:

  • Your employers should have an appreciation for the most recent technologies.
  • Investment in training courses and materials, such as short courses, online or self-paced learning.
  • Graduate programmes and development programmes to support junior developers.
  • The success of others who have come before you
  • The development of your interpersonal skills

Encourage open dialogue 

Ensure there is the opportunity for open conversations between you and your employee. To discuss progression opportunities and ambitions properly, there needs to be a level of trust and a good relationship.

As an employee, you need to feel that your employer will be honest, know your strengths and what they are aligned to so they can effectively guide you. It’s important that you are part of a business where conversations regarding different progression routes are being discussed at a senior level.

Recognise the value of different paths 

These different paths are accompanied by the requisite pay and recognition of the value your role is providing the business. Paying for the specialism and rewarding is a great way for you to feel like your employer values your input and your progression. 

Flexible to your needs 

You will want to choose a company which is knowledgeable in progression options and can discuss these options with you. The next step would be that as a business they will be flexible to those needs to let you grow and advance in your career, however that may be.

Appreciate when it’s time to move on 

Sometimes the skills you grow may take you away from a business and a good company will accept when you need to move on for your own benefit. You don’t want to be caged by a business, and while it can be sad, it’s always a strong point when a business recognises that this decision is the best thing for your career development.

How we can help

During our 25 + years of industry experience, we have worked with, nurtured and progressed numerous developers. In many cases, these individuals have joined us as graduates direct from university and we have witnessed them advance to become solutions architects, lead UI architects and platform MVPs. 

Our dedicated team of developers have been with us for six months up to 15 years. Working with an agency like ours can support you in becoming a better developer. Want to find out more? Take a look at what life is like at NetConstruct.

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