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I am a software developer with 1.5 years of experience and for various reasons ranging from leaving for remote work to neglecting the development of certain hires, my team has dwindled down to just myself and my team lead. My team has a funded size/authorized size of 7.

Now, I am also considering leaving because of this, but that is not what this question is about. If I stay, I think I could ask for exposure to certain things and for certain mentorship. I am not thinking in terms of compensation and stock either but rather skills and ownership.

You more experienced software developers might know best. What kind of things might be worth asking for?

Some of the things I am considering:

  • Asking to get to interview new developers.
  • Asking to be designated the technical lead on my project (which I have been de-facto for the past two months anyway).
  • Asking to manage one of the co-ops which we plan to hire into the future.

You people have more experience than I do. What should I ask for if I want to be a team lead one day?

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  • Does you manager know your ambitions? Jun 23 '21 at 6:23
  • @GregoryCurrie kind of as we had a goal setting thing 5 months ago but I set more technical goals as I had a lot of people in front of me then and didn't want to seem too greedy/aggressive. Jun 23 '21 at 6:34
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    I think that, more than anything else, you need to have a 1-on-1 with your manager and make sure they understand your ambitions. Jun 23 '21 at 6:51
  • "If I stay, I think I could ask for exposure to certain things and for certain mentorship." Couldn't you ask for these things even if your team hadn't disintegrated? You seem to be suggesting you want to use "I'm the only dev left" as leverage; I'm not sure how wise that is. But certainly, if you are the de facto technical lead, ask to be officially recognized as that -- that's completely justifiable.
    – B. Ithica
    Jun 23 '21 at 11:13
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All your points seem fine to me. I wouldn't formulate them as specific, I would focus more on "what do I want to aceive", not demanding specific changes. Always to make sure that your manager knows exactly what you want career-wise.

  • Asking to get to interview new developers -> "I would like to participate in the forming of our team". This may be the most controversial demand, as it is not really advantageous for the business or your manager.
  • Asking to be designated the technical lead on my project -> "I want to take on more responsibility in the X project". I think your manager will like that, if he finds you capable enough.
  • Asking to manage one of the co-ops which we plan to hire into the future -> "I want to step up in a more managerial role". This heavily depends on what your manager thinks of you, and if he thinks you are ready for that responsibility.

Expect to be turned down on some requests. If so, ask for reasons, ask for a roadmap how you can make it happen, and listen closely.

Personal anecdote:

We hired a new colleague, he started in the general software dev team. Shortly after he joined, our team lead changed. The new team lead assigned a lot of GUI tasks to that colleague. He performed very good and everyone was happy. Half a year later, that colleague quit. In the exit interview he mentioned that he hates GUI, he much rather wanted to be a backend developer. No one knew, because he only told the last team lead in his interview.

Funny thing: We had a shortage of backend developers. Had he spoken up, we would have granted his wish immediately.

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Start with thinking "what is your target". Is it a team leader or a technical lead? Each might require a different set of skills and experience.

For example, a team leader must know how to:

  • well communicate with the customers (internal or external)
  • prioritize tasks and resources
  • tackle different obstecles

So have a dedicated sessions with your manager, explain were you are aiming for, get his feedback on that and build with him the path towards that.

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