At this moment, I feel very uncertain about the future of my career. I have visions of where I want it to go, but no definitive plans. Quite honestly, I don't even know if that vision is what I want or just want I think I want. In the meantime, the clock continues to tick...
In March of this year, I stepped outside of engineering at Isilon. Moving into product management has been a very enlightening and enjoyable experience in general, but its also been very difficult - I'm in completely uncharted waters. As an engineer, I wrote code. As a manager, I made sure others wrote code. Code makes things work. When code doesn't work, you point at the code. You can point at that code and say, look - I made that happen.
My world is different today - I deal with sales, competitors, ideas, products, engineers - but not code. I've gone from having "hard power" and being able to produce tangible things to "soft power" - I can influence, encourage, advocate, and dream. I'm much less familiar with the work that I produce; it is much harder for me to recognize it has my own.
The original vision in my head was that this move would prepare me for moving to graduate school and ultimately academia by forcing me into an ambiguous world. In addition, I would once again be an individual contributor, but one forced to learn a new skill set and to see many different aspects of business, not to mention customer's and the industry's challenges first-hand. Obviously, I don't want to leave Isilon yet.
I think it's doing all that. The transition has allowed me to focus more on Jerry and Eriko. I do enjoy being an individual contributor, even if I'm not always sure how to make things happen or what steps to take next.
I know my next move. I have to remind myself again, again, again - Jerry and Eriko. That's why I'm in this transitional state and not just jumping to the next branch. Having to make deliberate, calculated moves isn't a bad things. Learning patience is a good thing.
Change is unsettling! The challenge is that I don't really know if its going my way, even if its going my way... but then I realize that the one thing is that is absolutely true is that I feel very comfortable being a husband and a father - that transition has been far more natural than I expected. I'll know when I've landed on my future career when I feel similar.