How I Envision My Future In the Next 10 Years as a 25 Years Old Software Engineer

Planning my future be like…

Twenty-five years old is quite a young age for software engineers. Mostly, 25 years old engineers are Computer Science graduate students who just graduated from university or have 1 to 2 years of experience. So am I. We are still in the early stage of our career.

I have plenty of time to pursue what I like. I have plenty of time to make mistakes and learn from them. More importantly, I have plenty of time to identify what identify what I want and what I don’t in life. Apart from that, a young engineer like me needs to have a role model. Having a role model will give you a sense of direction where you are heading towards in the next five years or next decade. If you examine their history (e.g., from the LinkedIn profile) long enough, you can imitate them and be like them in the future. Indeed, you cannot be 100% like them, but having the right direction means you’re navigating your career path to the right destination.

Let’s make an analogy. Imagine you’re on a voyage, sailing from Europe to Asia. Of course, you would read a map (where the people in the past centuries have gone through) to determine which route to take. And then, you would read your compass or GPS to navigate the seas to your destination. You just cannot be sailing without a map and compass; otherwise, you’d be lost in seas for years before you found your way out. The same thing applies to your career journey. You should know what kind of person you wanted to be in the next ten years’ time and which career path(s) you wish to take to get there.

Do some self-reflection

Nevertheless, it is essential first to understand what kind of person you are before making a decision. If not, you might end up doing something that you didn’t enjoy for the rest of your life.

Fail fast, fail often, fail forward , fail alot — Will Smith

My Background#

I am a risk-averse person. I value my good night’s sleep more than anything else. I’m not willing to trade my night sleep with worrying about the economic downturns, political change, etc..

Our main limiting factor in life is time. I am very selective when it comes to what I wanted to do in my life. All of us have limited time. This means you need to be smart and choose which one suits you and NOT catching every single thing into your bandwagon. It is okay to test the water of each of the choices, but you have to make decisions fast so that you don’t waste too much time doing the wrong thing. If you didn’t try each of them, I wouldn’t know which works and which don’t.

Fail fast, fail often, fail forward , fail alot — Will Smith

What’s my Jam#

These are the areas that I’m passionate about: Web development (Frontend, API Server, and Backend programming), DevOps, Monitoring, Automation, Distributed Computing, System Administration, Design Patterns, Mentoring, Project Lead

What is NOT my jam: Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Mobile App Development, Game Development, Data Science, Low-Level Programming, Online Marketing

My Future Software Engineer Career Paths#

These are the career paths that I’m looking forward to being in the future.

Principal/Distinguished Engineers#

They envision the company they work for and the entire computing ecosystem. They are charismatic and have excellent leadership and mentoring skills. They author remarkable books and papers that revolutionize the industry for years (or decades). Most of them are in their 40s or 50s today and have 15 to 20 years of experience in the industry before reaching here.

Ultimately, I want to be here in 10 to 20 years from now. I love working with challenging problems on a large scale; it makes me think more creatively. Other than that, I also enjoy mentoring juniors and sharing knowledge with my colleagues. It’s still a long way to go. But this is the direction that I’m looking forward to.

Inspirations: Kelsey Hightower, Martin Fowler, Uncle Bob, Chris Richardson, Werner Vogels, Dan Kohn, Jeff Dean, Linus Torvalds, James Hamilton

Awesome Engineers#

They’re just great engineers. They frequently appear in conferences — most of them working at fancy FANG companies and living in metropolitan cities. Millions of users are impacted by the work they do on the Internet. They also maintain several popular open-source projects. They are relatively young compared to Principal Engineers listed above and have 5 to 10 years of experience in the industry.

I admire these people a lot. Their contributions to the community are significant. I will work hard to be in this place and eventually grow to be a Principal Engineer in the next decade.

Inspirations: Ahmet Balkan, Alex Ellis, Caitie McCaffrey, Kent C. Dodds, Dan Abramov, Daniel Feldroy, Jeremy Daly, Mitchell Hashimoto, Jaana Dogan

Bootstrapper/IndieHacker#

They start their own company, stay small & profitable. They don’t favor investors! Other than programming, they are also good at various things like marketing (e.g., SEO), accounting, financial planning, risk management, product design, and, most importantly, enjoying themselves!

I love the idea of having and operating my own small, low-maintenance low-risk online business that I can automate them. I don’t dream of having a multi-million revenue business with thousands of workforce, just a decent few thousands of revenue would be great.

Inspirations: Peter Levels, Tigran Hakobyan, Daniel Vassallo, David Heinemeier Hansson, Jordan O’Connor, Mattias Geniar, Andrey Azimov

Celebrity/Influencer#

They are famous figures, like Kim K, for developers. Other than working as SWE, they are actively sharing their thoughts on social media. They are the trendsetter among the developer community. Being a celebrity gives them advantages in what they do every day because they have a vast audience.

I’m working on building a bigger audience for my Twitter account(@sdil). It would be great if my writings can reach more souls. I would need to pick a niche, consistently tweet about them, and connects with people around them.

Inspirations: Emma Bostian, Mayuko, Daniel Vassallo, Patrick Syu, Shawn Wang, Danny Thompson

Content Creator: Youtuber/Podcaster/Author/Blogger#

Other than working as SWE, they also produce video, audio, or writing content. Some of them earn extra income by selling content online or publish on publishing platforms (e.g., Youtube and Medium) for advertising commissions. Most of them are also celebrities/influencers.

I am more or less here already, but I’m thinking of doing this more consistently and conscientiously. I like sharing my learning and insights on the Internet. It helps me reorganize my thoughts while delivering knowledge. Each time people clap on my stories and respond to them, I feel excited. I wish to write an ebook/online course in the future.

Inspirations: Ahmet Balkan, Emma Bostian, Daniel Vassallo, Mayuko, Patric Syu, Shawn Wang, Nick Janetakis, Jeremy Daly

Disclaimer: All the descriptions are my personal views. I do not have any experience of being in one of those titles.

Game Plan#

These are actions I should be doing to achieve what I listed above:

  • Learn more, especially on the fundamentals (programming, networking, storage, etc.). To be honest, there are many things that I know that I don’t know, and there are even more things that I don’t know that I don’t know. I lose the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals because a lot of abstraction happening because of API. I’m not a genius. I have to work hard for this!
  • Contribute more to OSS projects. I should find a good OSS project and consistently contribute to them. In my opinion, it’s an excellent way of learning when you have great engineers to review your work (Pull Requests).
  • Share more and write even more articles. I’m planning to write about my learning in public. It should give me a lot of benefits in the future. In the future, I would love to produce ebooks/online courses.
  • Talk to more people from around the world, get better socially, and be a pleasant person. To be honest, English is not my mother tongue language, and I’m not really fluent at this; I have to work hard to improve.
  • Participate and give a talk at conferences

Conclusions#

I have made my game plan; I must execute it as planned. Just never stop growing!

Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Those who are high in this field (the Principal Engineers) are not young, but they never stop growing. That is precisely what I’m going to do!

Never stop dreaming!

© Fadhil Yaacob 2021