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I know in bigger companies which I am in today expects career development within few years and they expect developers take additional responsibilities which falls close to product management. Also, it is due to the fact that managers have to follow a mandate to invest in their team's career development. Given this fact, is career development is more prevalent or expected in smaller companies compared to bigger companies? I have no interest whatsoever about career development and fulfilled with the current work I am doing(which is development only and I am a master at it). Should I spend more time to gain more development experience at work and look for a job elsewhere possibly in a smaller company to avoid this expectation?

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  • Good news I guess - The assumptions in your first two sentences are totally incorrect. When you say "Given this fact..." there is NO such fact. Your concerns are non-existent. Both small and large companies will be more than happy for you to continue doing exactly what you are doing! Enjoy! – Fattie Jun 26 '20 at 12:29
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I have no interest whatsoever about career development and fulfilled with the current work I am doing

You're actually in demand in many places. Turnover is high with devs as many want to progress their careers or other reasons.

Many govt and large corporations are quite happy to have someone quietly sit in the same role for a decade and churn out work. Just turn down advancement to other roles. I'm an engineer, not a dev, but I have done so in the past. Just said I want to progress as an engineer, it's what I'm qualified and growing in. I've never had an issue.

If you're as good a dev as you think you are, no one should have an issue either, you're valuable where you are.

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I think the concept are the same with smaller companies. If they see you that you are master with your field, they tend to force you take the management position. Let me explain it just a bit.

These are my experience in small company.

  • Manpower is not enough, so you will become an all around guy. I worked before in a really small gaming company where I was a manager/programmer/tester/sales rep/app publisher and even sometimes a blogger and designer.
  • As I said, since manpower is not enough, so there are times you will get ask to do somethings that you don't know but you just need to do it since they asked you to do. Like, when I was in an small outsourcing company before, and the devops suddenly quit, so I was assigned to those devops task since we are short in manpower. As I said slashes in your title.

For bigger companies, I don't have much since I like working in smaller ones.

  • I was assigned in automation tester at first, then they told me after 6 months I should develop my career in automating performance testing(since they need it), where I only have vague knowledge. After six months, when they saw that I was knowledgeable enough, they put me as team leader of this team but that not what I wanted my career path should be. I want to code more. Even though I told them, they will just tell me to wait until someone takes my place but it never happened, so I ended up resigning and found a job as programmer instead.

My point is that, if you are not ready to hold a management position, you should try saying it to them, that it is not the career path you want to yourself although you appreciates it. If they don't listen, then it's a decision time for yourself whether to stay or not.

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If your current company is pushing for career development then you'll need to make it clear to your manager that's not what you want. There are many places that will be fine with you just staying at your current level. If you are an intermediate (e.g. non-senior) developer then expect that they will like for you to eventually become a senior but again you can stay where you are as long as you communicate this.

It's hard to give an objective answer on career development in large vs small orgs but I suspect there is little difference if you want to stay were you are any org will oblige.

I would point out that if you speak with the company about your intentions about staying at your current level then that is an invitation for the company to give you lousy pay rises. So I would expect that you'll only get cost of living pay rises because you're just doing the same thing as you were last year.

I know quite a few devs in my current job and previous that are/were in this exact same situation. The pay was fine and the just wanted to do their jobs and not advance at all so it's not unusual in any way.

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  • Just as Dave says, if (weirdly) your current company is "pushing you", that is not the norm. Just move to another company. (Small or large makes no difference to this.) – Fattie Jun 26 '20 at 12:30
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Less likely, as there are fewer places to develop into.

It does depend on what you mean by "smaller" but a lot of the traditional career progression is constrained by the fact that there is no "up" in many smaller companies. A friend of mine works for a 5 person startup. There is one person above him, the founding CTO/CEO.

In my 300ish person company with just a small software development team, there is one level above me in terms of career development. You can get raises, but there isn't more responsibility to be had or greater challenges to be earned.

In either case, any career development in terms of title requires a significant departure from the company. Either the person currently in the job has to leave and someone can move up or the person who wants the new title leaves.

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It seems to me, that you're identifying career development with raising to management. But it doesn't have to be. Career development is not always vertical (managing people), it may also be horizontal ("individual contributor") or a mixture of those.

Since you want to avoid becoming a manager, you should consider following the path of an individual contributor. Your career development might then lead you to gain more responsibility in terms of larger or more complex projects/tasks, rather than leading people.

You could then

  1. find out, whether this would match your goals and
  2. check with your manager, how this path can be followed
    (or look for some place, where this is possible)

as a side note:
Forcing employees into a solely vertical career path can lead to:

  • people raising into management positions they're not fit for (see Peter Principle)
  • people getting unhappy and (due to the lack of other possibilities) to quit
  • people underperforming to stay in their current career spot

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