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Follow up to: How do I handle a solo developer position as a junior developer in a start-up?

(If you are wondering what decision I have took regarding the above questions, I remained in the company)

I am in a difficult situation where I need to take decision in the following six to twelve months about my career advancement.

January 2018 I am going to complete my three years apprenticeship as a Backend Web Development in a startup. I am currently the only real developer working for the company (99.9% they are going to renew my position with a full-time indeterminate contract).

I currently maintain a total of approximately 30 repositories, each representing either an entire project, or small libraries shared across the repositories.

The company is going really well as of recently, however I feel like I could be improving a lot more if I had a senior as a tutor.

I feel like a rally driver without a co-pilot.

I am confident a senior would help me get better with design patterns, making sure I design softwares properly, in order to prevent issues down the road, long-term.

I have a few options, which are the following:

  • Continue in the current company, and hope to see a senior within the following 12 months.
  • Begin to look around for new opportunities, in my country.
  • Begin to look around for opportunities in Europe or U.S.A.

If I stay in my company, and all goes well, career advancement in this company is almost ensured, however I am not even sure if I'd accept to climb up the ladder knowning I wouldn't be actually worth for it.

What are your suggestions?

Thank you.

  • I think the best answer you're going to get to this question is "figure out what you want and decide for yourself." – Ant P Jun 15 '17 at 11:14
  • @AntP It's hard, I am afraid to take the wrong decision, and I have only one shot. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 11:15
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    Three YEARS as an apprentice? Good god, I hope that isn't normal anywhere in the world. – cbll Jun 15 '17 at 11:28
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    @cbll That's how it works in Italy, unfortunately. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 12:07
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    How can you be an 'apprentice' if there isn't someone that you're apprenticed to who is showing you how to work as a professional? – PeteCon Jun 15 '17 at 14:11
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however I am not even sure if I'd accept to climb up the ladder knowning I wouldn't be actually worth for it.

You're worth whatever people are prepared to pay you. You ARE the senior in this position because it's just you and you know the work intimately. If everything is running smoothly enough after almost three years you have done very well. You can teach yourself anything required, as you obviously have been so far.

There are plenty of people with a decades experience who can't boast of your accomplishments, if one of those came in you'd be training them forever.

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    You're worth whatever people are prepared to pay you. I use this line in similar discussion frequently. – Mister Positive Jun 15 '17 at 12:29
  • As much as I love your answer, it does not really answer the question :( – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 12:46
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    @GiamPy there is no definitive answer in terms of leave or not. That's purely up to the OP, I'm just trying to focus his/her question into reality and clear up misconceptions so he/she can make up their mind with a better idea of what is actually happening. Rather than answer a question who's basic premise is shaky at best. – Kilisi Jun 15 '17 at 12:55
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Being mentored by a senior in your team can be a great way to build your skills up, but it's far from the only way and it's also not that common to find - in my own career I've had very, very little experience of that, in fact the time I've spent being the mentor probably outweighs the time I've spent being mentored by a factor of 10! There is much you can do to fill that gap yourself - self-learning, joining in on open-source projects, courses etc. I wouldn't throw away a secure job where you are happy, with a good advancement path to go hunting for something that is pretty nebulous and you have no guarantees of finding somewhere else.

  • I kind of agree with your idea, however let's say that the current situation does not change even in two years. What am I supposed to do? I think that, as time goes by, leaving as a lone developer will be harder. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 12:47
  • Try not to worry too far ahead, you could simply say to yourself that you'll re-assess every year or so (and the important part is to actually DO that) and in the meantime you're not "off the market" - you can keep one eye on job boards etc and if something comes up that genuinely interests you more than your current role then you can weigh your choices then – motosubatsu Jun 15 '17 at 12:52
  • Three years passed by already (you can refer to the question I linked at the beginning), and no sign of change has been seen. For less than 12 months, last year, a front end developer assisted me with the work to do, however he quit and I remained alone, with a codebase that's also out of my scope (single page applications), even though it's not really a problem learning it. I don't want to remain in a company for 10 years, that's a mistake I do NOT want to fall in unconsciously. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 12:54
  • I may be a little off base here since I'm not familiar with Italian apprenticeships but are those 3 years really the same as a "normal" 3 years of employment? I understand what you're saying about not wanting to stay somewhere for 10 years (some people would want to but that's a personal preference thing).. but that's in another 7.5 years time so I wouldn't say it's a decision you need to make right now, take your time and make sure that you move because you really want that new job – motosubatsu Jun 15 '17 at 13:06
  • Essentially, yes. It's just like working, with someone above you that legally acts as a tutor. And you need to make like 120 hours of class lessons about general culture, split in three years, legally mandatory to those who are apprentices. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 13:08
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I feel like I could be improving a lot more if I had a senior as a tutor.

It won't happen. That's wrong.

Set that idea aside because, very unfortunatyely, it's wrong. There are 1,000 questions on here saying "I thought I had a mentor/teacher/senior but they do nothing / don't teach me / know nothing." In software, any idea that anyone can help you, is unfortunately a dream. It won't happen.

I am confident a senior would help me get better

You are

Wrong :/

unfortunately. You're about to waste a huge amount of time and emotional energy if you go down that false track. Nothing awaits but disappointment. You'll be back here in 12 months posting: "I thought I had a mentor/teacher/senior but they do nothing / don't teach me / know nothing." However the question will be closed as a 1000x duplicate!

Continue in the current company...

If you do that you need to quickly make more money, so as to quickly push ahead to new career positions where you will be challenged. To me it seems like everything in your career is going great, except you have the common (totally normal) problem that you have massively grown, but unfortunately your payment has not grown. In a few cases you can fix that problem by just demanding more pay. Usually you have to change jobs to get more pay.

hope to see a senior within the following 12 months.

regarding that, unfortunately it just won't happen on two levels:

1 - They won't change. It won't happen. "12 months means never"

2 - If they miraculously did, the "senior" will be useless. You'll be back here posting "I thought I had a mentor/teacher/senior but they do nothing / don't teach me / know nothing."

Regarding building skills, that will happen in two ways:

1 - take more and more challenging jobs. Always try to change programming languages and environments.

2 - read all the classic books. Which classic programming books have you studied? If the answer is "none yet" I've given you all the "mentoring" you need for the next 36 months.

One point, regarding your next opportunity. You pose the question, which part of the world? Simply, don't look at it that way. Just look at "the whole world" and pick the opportunity for you. These days the best, most amazing challenge can be anywhere. Sure, way down the line it will be good if you can say "I worked in XYZ major cities for ABC years." It's a non-issue for now.

You've "aced" your first job, now go get your second. But first go get those books.

You say...

It's more of a "hey I wanna get better" but at the same time I feel like I reached a point where details matter, and those details are learned through seniors, and their experience, instead of web guides or self-learning.

so,

those details are learned through seniors

that's wrong. I wish it were true, but it won't happen.

and their experience

again unfortunately that is wrong, and won't happen.

Your position is (tragically) simply the same as saying "it would be great to win the lottery". The answer can only be "sure, it would be great, but it won't happen."

web guides

Never, ever, ever look at web guides. Ouch.

self-learning

Again this QA is suffering from lack of specifics.

Do you have a copy and have you totally absorbed:

The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie

Link to buy for a few euros.

enter image description here

For free and instantly, one can find a priceless list thanks to SO .......

https://stackoverflow.com/a/1713/294884

If you totally absorb merely the top four, you will be so far ahead of the game you won't know yourself.

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    While I agree that the notion that finding a job with a mentor is rare and certainly not something to count on. I'm not sure where the talk of "drastically more money, starting this week." comes from, the OP doesn't mention his wages at all in his question? – motosubatsu Jun 15 '17 at 12:04
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    Regardless of your level as a developer, working with the right person who knows more than you can be of ENORMOUS value. When I read this answer it comes across as very condescending. – Mister Positive Jun 15 '17 at 12:28
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    @MisterPositive agreed - while I've had it only rarely in my career when I have it's helped me enormously, and that's been throughout my career even at quite senior levels. Without sounding immodest I think that when I've mentored/advised people that I've given them a good leg up too! – motosubatsu Jun 15 '17 at 12:38
  • Salary could be higher but I do not think it's the game changing fact. It's more of a "hey I wanna get better" but at the same time I feel like I reached a point where details matter, and those details are learned through seniors, and their experience, instead of web guides or self-learning. – GiamPy Jun 15 '17 at 12:50
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    You must be joking. K&R C hasn't been current for decades. That book is from 1978. ANSI C was formally standardized in 1989 and changed quite a bit of C's prior syntax. Then you have C95 (1995), C99 (1999), C11 (2011) and now upcoming C17 gradually expanding the language. It's very interesting from a historical point of view, but you really need a strong foundation in modern C because otherwise it's going to teach you a whole lot of bad things. Basically, giving someone K&R C is like handing them a CP/M manual: both are of historical interest, but neither should be relied on today. – a CVn Jun 15 '17 at 13:25

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