Howard Dierking

On Change and Career

I originally wrote this as talking points for a conversation I had with my team and wasn’t planning on sharing it more broadly. However, as I’ve been watching this crazy industry of ours over the last several months, I think that these thoughts apply to many more people than just those on my team and I hope that at least one other person finds them useful.

So first, a bit of context…

Here in the Pacific Northwest, if you’re a software developer, life is pretty good at the moment. It seems like there’s an order of magnitude more work to be done then there are people to do it, and it seems like a developer can’t even sneeze without a recruiter being there with stacks of bills to wipe their nose.

I’m incredibly passionate about hiring people who are new to the field - particularly those transferring into the field from other careers via schools like General Assembly and Code Fellows (roughly 1/3 of my team came through that path), and as a result, I have a large number of people who are at the beginning of their careers as software developers.

My thoughts here are largely in response to the massive churn of people happening within the industry at large as well as some recent turnover within my own team.

(and although I suspect you already know, they are my thoughts and do not represent the views of my employer)

I want to take a moment to pause and acknowledge some changes that have been happening over the last few weeks.

You’ve probably noticed - either from people trying to actively recruit you or just from reading on the interwebs, people with your skill set are in really high demand right now.

I’ve always wanted for our team to have a culture where we are open and honest with one another - and this is no exception.

The simple fact is that things change all the time - it’s just the world and industry we live in.

Sometimes, the changes are organizational - sometimes, they’re individual.

And here’s what I want for you to know - it’s perfectly normal and perfectly fine.

I have always and continue to believe that every person on this team has incredible potential - and from the moment you all joined, I have known that at some point, you will outgrow your project, your team, and eventually this company.

Again, this is perfectly natural.

That said, if you’ll indulge me a moment, I would like to share one thought that’s been on my mind throughout many of the recent changes.

When making a career decision, there are 2 categories you should consider: short term and long term benefit.

Short term considerations are typically related to the next job and include external motivations like salary, sign-on bonus, stock, etc.

Long term considerations have to do with your career.

So my request of you then is simply this: take both categories into account.

You can always find a job that will pay you more money - but that needs to be matched with experiences that will set you up for the next job - or even the next 2 jobs - after that one.

To put it another way, I want for you to have a great career, not just a great job.

So, when you get to that point where you feel you’ve outgrown what this team or this company can offer, please come and talk to me or any other of the senior leaders on the team.

We won’t get our feelings hurt - we really want to help - even if that means helping you find the right opportunity outside of the team or even the company.

Because again, change is simply a fact of life - especially in this industry - and I’m sure the changes won’t end with the recent ones we’ve experienced.

So, final thoughts: I love having each and every one of you as a part of this team, and I want to make this team a place where you’re able to accomplish all of your short and long term goals.

However, I know that’s not always possible, and so when you think you may be getting to that point of change, please know that I’m here to help in any way possible.

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