Two people who I think are smart and good both said things that I bump up against [1]:

"The software industry is rapidly converging on just three languages: Go, Rust, and JS. It would be smart to learn one of those really well, and have at least a working acquaintance with the other two."

Lately, “Design Engineer” has felt more and more like a good fit for me. Perhaps because it is deliberately cross-discipline. It satisfies my deep-seated feeling of “don’t put me in a box” while also satisfying my belief that one narrow discipline can’t produce everything necessary to create a great experience on the web.

I do not think it's coincidental that the best (smartest, most productive, have generated the most enterprise value for their employers) engineers I know describe themselves as "Developer", "Designer", "Engineer", or some other vague, generic, one-word name that belies no hint of their seniority or position in the org chart or stack of choice. (Or you can go even further, Xerox PARC-style, and call yourself a "Member of Technical Staff" — same idea applies.)

Job titles, strong opinions on technical stacks: all of these things are necessarily restrictive. If you want to succeed in your career, you need to shift your way of thinking away from framing of your work in the context of the genre of artifact you produce and towards the context of the value you produce.

Spend time with every single other department at your company; spend time with users (as much as possible); spend time reading everything that comes across your desk. Get really really good at asking clarifying questions and combining disparate threads. Then write some code — and what you write matters much less than the outcome of its deployment, because despite what anodyne publicly-posted job descriptions might tell you your job is not to write code — it is to produce value for the organization.

  1. I am being very deliberate with choosing "bump up against", here, because I don't think they are necessarily wrong nor do I think they are being prescriptive. So please don't interpret this as "these two are dummies, here's what you should do". ↩︎

Lightning bolt
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