There might be other related questions but let me describe my situation:

  1. I moved to a new country.
  2. Worked in a very good company for 10 months.
  3. Left the company to pursue Masters By Research. During this month I worked for a small company where the boss was a typical Nazi officer.
  4. After 6 months, I realized research isn't for me.
  5. Then I joined a big publishing house as a developer. It's pretty laid back corporate office. Nothing high tech or trendy stuff going on here.
  6. I got an offer to be the only developer in a non-IT company. The company is supposed to grow and down the line, I'll be leading. I'll be the only person who knows about programming/IT. My boss will be my supervisor.

I'm almost 30 and I've been programming for 6+ years now. Would this be a good career choice?

My concern is that there will be too many things I need to do in the new company as a sole developer and would eventually fail.

  • I fear this is off-topic, Nevertheless, only you know what you want to acheive professionally. No one can help you with that. The downside of being the only IT guy is, you will be responsible for everything. Upside, You will learn much new things and maybe can build your own little IT department over time.
    – jwsc
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 6:17
  • 1
    Yes, as it stands, the question is off-topic. Asking "What should I do" does not work well here (see [Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions ](meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/2693/…) ). That said, there may be a good question in there. Could you rephrase it along the lines of "Only developer in a non-IT company - what should I watch out for?" That could narrow the question down enough to be answerable.
    – sleske
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 6:56
  • 1
    Very personal questions, no one knows what you need or want from your professional career. You say you're worried and feel it's a bad move, well, if you are not confident to begin with then why are you asking? Need some reassurance from other people? Reassurance from people who don't know you or your situation won't help you do the job better. You've been programming for 6+ years professionally so you should have all the experience and knowledge to know what would be the best route and it sounds like you realize one may not be - nobody can make this decision for you better than yo.u
    – user37925
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 7:05
  • Can you elaborate more about point 3? Especially the last part.
    – Nras
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 7:15
  • Point 3, Second part - No music allowed, even with headphones. No websites/emails allowed except office email. No non-office related chat. Even short ones. You get screamed at (with foul language sometimes) if he finds bug in code. No kitchen, fridge etc. No water source, only some mineral water bottles - which when you grab one feels like you're stealing money out of his pocket. Says "This is not place to show your innovation, just copy paste what is already there". Not allowed to write new type of code. Stick to old VB (goto) codes. etc etc etc..... Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 2:14

2 Answers 2


Direct answer: why not? Everything is experience and experience is never bad. Unless there is some real alternative that would give you even more experience.

Being in such a role is lots of fun. Refer to @Paul answer to see that interesting things you may expect - these are true, these are difficult but assuming the minimal expected background, this just makes you better specialist.

Just do not expect to become a boss in this company in the future. Big bosses do not grow within the same company where they become the big bosses. They move between companies all over the world, gradually getting higher positions.

From experience, this may fork in the future in a few different ways:

  • The company succeeds only moderately; they do not grow much and maybe hire a few more developers without the need of the big hierarchy for such a number of people. At least one additional developer is expected ASAP just to have a replacement if you are on vacation or leave this job. This is probably the best you can expect and this is really not bad.
  • The company fails, you stay with a few years of interesting work experience.
  • The company succeeds and grows; the boss hires a supervisor with blindingly great CV for you. First thing to do this supervisor insists on complete rewrite of your software (does not matter it works well and actually brought the success).
  • If the company is very much into some other business than IT, sooner or later they may find a suitable off the shelf commercial replacement for homegrown software and switch into it. The risk of this very nasty turn depends on how much specialized and unusual the software is required to be.

However, you can always look for another position. And another. And one more, staying a year or two in every job. Working hard to learn technologies and relations between people.

Do not feel guilty for that. Not a problem. This is the way to become the big boss.

  • 2
    "Why not?" - try to go on a holiday if you are the single developer for something business critical (the phone will ring). Plus having a single developer in a company might show a lack of foresight (what if the single developer gets hit by a bus) ? That doesn't need to stop the OP, but it's still something he should be aware of. Plus being the lead is only fun if you actually get to lead somebody, being supervised (per my dictionary "observe and direct the execution of") sounds rather like the opposite. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 8:14

I am 42 and recently moved from research (I have a PhD) into working as the sole developer in a non-IT company. It is a big change from previous roles where I enjoyed being in a software team, where people have clearly defined roles, to being a "jack of all trades". Here are some things you might like to consider:

  • You are likely to end up responsible for the full software life cycle: design, coding, testing, documentation, project management etc.
  • You will not have colleagues you can fall back on for help. Sites such as stackoverflow are a godsend.
  • Few people will involve what software development involves. They may not give you a quiet work environment. They may not appreciate how software projects are managed. They may not understand that software needs to be tested.
  • People are likely to view the specification of requirements as "IT" and "Technical". They may not have thought through what they want and it is likely to be up to you to do this work, as well as implementing it. This may require extensive business knowledge.
  • Since others won't understand your work, you are likely to be given lots of autonomy: its up to you how you design the software, what coding standards you use etc.
  • In a small company, as someone who is perceived as a "techie" there is a danger that you will get involved in non-development tasks e.g. IT support. Some people won't understand (or care about) the difference between developing software and systems administration, for example. If you don't want to do this sort of work you should make it clear from the outset.

Some people have a broad skillset and have all these skills; if not, they are good at developing them. Other people are really coders or testers at heart and they would struggle in this environment or be frustrated by the lack of focus on the specific activity they enjoy.

It also depends on what you want and what stage in your career you are at. If you want to become a software development manager, some experience in all stages of the life cycle could be good. Having lots of autonomy over your work is also very satisfying for some competent developers.

Finally, be wary of promises that the company will grow. If it does, it could work well for you - but also you could end up three years down the line still being the sole developer. Whether you should take this risk is your decision.

  • 1
    Thank you for the wonderful answer ! It all comes down to what I want and am I ready to take risk. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 2:09

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .