The Greatest SE Challenge - Your Career
Marshall Mattingly, PhD, CSEP
Feb 17, 2018
I have been thinking about careers a bit lately. My daughters have recently graduated college and have embarked on their careers, landing jobs in the fields of their major studies. Quite an accomplishment these days, it seems! I have also begun conversations with engineers I have the opportunity to mentor and to learn from myself. Many of those engineers ask similar questions: How did you get where you are today? How do I get to be certified in this or that? What steps did you take to get asked to be in this or that program?
I have found myself saying, multiple times, that we spend an enormous amount of time and energy designing solutions for our customers, for our companies, for our programs; however, we spend very little time actively designing solutions for ourselves and our families. This aspect of our lives - our career paths - take every bit as much vision, architecting, design, implementation, feedback, and change management as does the most complex medical, space, social, or defense system. What do I value? What type of person am I? In what situations am I comfortable and do I have strengths (not just skill, not just passion, but both)? If we do not have that type of understanding, we may inadvertently end up in a career path which brings only stress but no joy, or in which we find ourselves bored and stuck year after year after ...
Just like we do for our customers and their problems, we owe it to ourselves to do the same for our careers. Find out who you are, what makes you tick, what you are good at, and what you are passionate about. These become the framework for the vision of your career, the guides against which you can assess the next role or opportunity. Remember, your career has an architecture; do you want to shape it, or let it shape you?