As the remark of no career for a colleague made me curious, I had to ask how he defines career. With the answer, I learned that he joined the company (medium sized company) quite a number of years ago, same time with other people still in the company as a summer trainee. He felt he did the same job as programmer then and he does the same job now, whereas the other people who joined (traditional engineers) have had first more responsibilities in design and customer relationships, and later become managers. And he keeps on coding.
This left me wondering how strongly the idea sticks of career ladders always leading to management positions. And, how differently we perceive career - in particular the personal responsibility to one's career instead of waiting for it to land from somewhere outside.
Personally, I've felt making progress in my career for many reasons - ability to learn and to turn the learning into more effective (team)work in development being a core to it. The discussion made me dig out a slide I put together years ago on how I perceived career back then.
For me career is good use of my time - work is such a big portion of life (and fun too!) - in a way that I feel is taking me forward. But the discussion today left me thinking: what if you feel you are not going forward? Is that true (all programming problems are same?) or just a perception? And does it actually rise from the idea of externalizing the responsibility of our career to a manager handed over to us by the organization? And since all my colleagues deserve to be happy and satisfied, is there anything I can do to help them?