Don't get stuck

Note: this post is about a previous job, not my current one.

Both managers were looking at me in disbelief, they seemed to be stunned for a few seconds. I just told them I had decided to resign. One of them quickly recovered, smiled, and said he regretted my decision; though he also realised it's expected in our line of work: people usually don't spend more than a few years at the same company.

I didn't want to chit-chat much longer, so I nodded, apologised (I'm not sure why), and told them I'd be checking out the paperwork with the office manager later that week. I left the room, went back to my desk.

I received a mail from the other manager over the weekend, the one who didn't say much during our conversation. He wrote he was perplexed, didn't see this coming, and regretted the decision tremendously. He told me if there was anything he could do to change my mind, I should tell him.

My decision to leave was final though.

Mind you, it wasn't a financial one; in fact I was just about to get a significant raise and more responsibilities. It also wasn't a relational one, I really appreciated all of my colleagues back then; I'd even call some of them good friends.

I decided to leave because I got stuck and there wasn't any room to grow anymore. The perspective of being a developer who's 5 years behind of modern day practices made me miserable.

Even though I'd been advocating within the company to make significant changes, both on a technical level, as well as on the management side; it didn't seem achievable. We were still struggling to deliver the quality we promised our clients, we were using out of date technologies, I went home feeling down and depressed almost every day.

I wasn't the only one, by the way. During the 3 years I worked for this company, 8 out of 25 people left, and around the same amount were hired; always young developers, straight from school, just like I three years before. Every time this happened, it was described as "the normal flow" a web development company has to deal with, just like our manager told me during my resignation.

I've since realised that this manager was wrong: it's not normal to switch jobs every 5 years, to have a third of your company come and go, and be replaced with inexperienced developers. And mind you: there should always be room for those juniors to grow, but who will teach them if most of the experienced developers left?

No, these kinds of things are only "normal" when your company fails to invest in people the way it should. And that, it turns out, is very common indeed.

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I don't regret having worked for that company: I did learn valuable lessons there. It's ok to be at a place where there's little or no room for growth, as long as it's not too long. You've got to watch out, and critically assess your situation from time to time; you might get stuck without even knowing it.

My advice? Either try to change your position and responsibilities within the company or, if that doesn't work, change jobs. I realise that's easy to write, like I also realise it's not as easy as it sounds. Personally, I noticed being stuck after two years and it took me another whole year to find a place where I believed there was enough room to grow.

Whatever turns your path takes, knowing you want to go somewhere and not stand idle is the most important first step.

Thanks for reading! This post is part of my "Dev Diaries" series where I write about my own and personal experiences as a developer. Would you like to read some more?

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