As I was driving home from Orlando one night, I had a revelation. When I came to grad school, I felt like I had no plan for the future after school was done. Graduation was this big brick wall and there was nothing after that. This past year, I’ve seen a lot of my attitudes change. It hit me all of a sudden that I was in the midst of a three-year process. I don’t know particularly where this idea came from, but it no longer feels like there’s nothing after graduation.
The process I mentioned has three parts (combining elegantly with the three years). The first year is a process of finding myself professionally. This has been happening over the course of the past year. I started the school year not sure that I wanted to be in testing or even software development. Now I have a much better sense of who I am professionally. I’m not simply a tester nor am I simply a developer. I’m an amalgamation of the two. But even that does not cover everything either. I’m also a trainer. I’m extremely interested in a bunch of open source and free tools – tools like Eclipse, xUnit, Ruby, and tools of that sort. I’ve decided to start a business focusing on developing, giving, and consulting on testing with these tools. My interests have also lately expanded lately to include blogs and RSS feeds. I have a plan and am beginning to pull together the skills and resources to accomplish that plan.
Before it can come to full fruition, however, there are two more process phases to go through. Year 2 involves finding my voice in the community. Growing up, I always felt like people weren’t interested in hearing my opinions and thoughts. I dealt with this by learning to listen well but not sharing much myself. I never developed the skills or trained myself to do this. Since accomplishing my career goals requires knowledge sharing and contribution, this is a skill I need to develop. This coming year is the time for me to work on my skills and find my voice. This will take the form of blog entries, conference presentations (with papers associated with them), and maybe even articles.
Phase three combines a knowledge of myself professionally with the knowledge of voice professionally. This phase is where I solidify a leadership position. I’m less sure of completely what this entails. I know I’m definitely not thinking of a management position. I think what I want is more of a thought leader/industry leader type thing. I’m also not sure exactly what the steps are to get there. Obviously, part of this is figuring out how to have original and useful thoughts.
It feels like I’m being conceited to say that two years from now I will be an industry leader. I think this is a attainable goal. As I work towards it, I intend to use this blog to document the process.