Have had a dev job for 3 years - finding it difficult to grow

Hello!

I think I’ve tried every way to grow as a dev and advance my career but my current company’s environment makes it hard to get ahead.

Got hired three years ago to be a developer however the path has not been so much a true developer’s path but a tech person who wears many hats & touches many different technologies never really being able to specialize in the tech I was hired for.

My first team experience was on a team where senior devs were too busy to offer mentoring and the other devs were a completely different technology. So, for a couple years I only got to work on maintenance type work where what I learned in bootcamp quickly evaporated. I did self study for a long time outside of work hoping that I would one day be able to use this knowledge in the chance I would actually be able to touch code. Unfortunately, I never really had that opportunity.

Finally, I did get on a new team. I felt if I could change teams where there were several other similar devs that I could parler with daily that this would help me grow. So far I feel kind of mixed on this new team experience.

Some bullet points for my experience the last months on this new team :

-sporadic meetings throughout the day : agile ceremonies, random team meetings, being asked to be on meetings that I don’t get value from.

-supporting a tech that is not my tech causing me to lose a weeks worth of sleep every 6 weeks.

-working with a contractor company who is embeded on our teams but operating in ways that don’t jive with our company’s way of doing things causing more work for folks that have to support prod.

-frequently not getting assigned coding work in a sprint (how do you learn to code when you don’t consistently work on code?)

-communication overload through Teams channels and email and zoom

So, I guess my question is, for other devs that have been out there working for while, how does your experience compare to mine?

How does one concentrate and learn in this type of environment where it is really not possible to get a solid 30 mins to just dig into code and try to learn without getting pinged or zoomed or emailed?

Or :smile: is this just the reality of most tech jobs? This is the one and only tech job I’ve had so just curious about other’s experiences.

Anyone care to share their experience?

Id say it really depends on your company culture, and role. Some companies hold large amounts of meetings to “plan” and “organize” work, but spend a large majority of that time planning, rather than actually executing. There are multiple ways to prevent this from happening, and it usually always starts with identifying how much work is actually getting done.

It’s possible the work you accomplish isn’t actually programming. Hopefully it isn’t 100% just meetings with no code. However 3 years of “non developer” work is a little suspicious. It’s possible you’re working on non-development stuff, but still important work. If you really are working on nothing, then this is not good for a company as a whole.

If your actually working on stuff outside of a bunch of meetings, but that stuff isn’t development work, then I’d bring this up to your manager about it and try to get involved more in actual tech initiatives.

Furthermore there usually isn’t much stopping someone from getting more familiar with the code at least on a “read” level, where your internal company code bases should be accessible, along with whatever contributing docs. With this, you should be able to get at least some depth and idea of how development is working for your company.

There’s really 2 ideas:

  1. Block time - IE disable notifications by setting a meeting for yourself and ignore everything for that time block. Its usually easier said than done, but I’d communicate your worries and suggest this approach. Obviously you want to communicate this is a time block where you can’t be reached, and there should be a plan to reach out to a co-worker during this time, or a special channel you can escalate to.

  2. Do more in your own time - I usually use a percentage of my day, from 10-20% to not work on what I’m assigned, and focus on learning/improving/just-being-curious. This way I can expand what I currently know and just not 100% work without growing or learning. This is usually called the “20% rule”, that some organizations actually promote.

2 Likes

In situations where I’m not learning/advancing, I would just leave.

Some people just want to work/not learn or advance and that’s fine but for people who want to grow it’s better to leave.

Thanks for taking the time to give your insight.

Yes, over 2 years of me making of doing non-code work such as security updates, production password changes and legacy framework production testing.

For carving out more learning & focus time, I’ll get with my leader to see if they will allow me to block some time during the day. I will admit that part of the problem is me dropping from zoom meetings when I sense I’m not getting much of a value from them. FOMO I guess.

I also plan on getting with our scrum master and architect so they understand better what I’m currently capable of in regards to code. I’m not opposed to taking on work outside my comfort level but sometimes I get roped into work or answering questions that are way out of my league.

Thanks again!

Thanks - at the minimum I’ll grow as fast as I can on this new team and if the environment / culture persists I’ll hopefully feel more marketable by that time.