There’s a strange, often subconscious, view held by most developers – whether they will admit it or not, they tend to see other career paths as less important than what they’re doing at the moment. They might aspire to management at some undefined point in the future, but even that is seen as inevitable rather than something better.
As a developer myself, I have held this same view for most of my career. I’m not sure if it’s a self-preservation thing or just general stubbornness, but either way – I’ve had a deep struggle with the idea of moving on from full time development work.
About 2 years ago I switched from a development role to working as a community manager for the global WordPress community. It has taken me almost that whole time to fully accept that this role change has been a legitimate and valuable move. I’ve had a strong feeling of being less important because I’m no longer writing code for a living, as if soft skills are somehow less useful to the world.
What I’ve finally come round to understanding (as obvious as it may seem) is that the work I’m doing now is no less crucial than what I was doing before this.
I no longer write code to solve problems, but I do work with communities to help solve their relational and management problems.
I no longer build platforms that provide solutions, but I do help people build spaces that provide a place for WordPress to grow and flourish.
I no longer create plugins to grow the WordPress platform, but I do work on programs that support the WordPress community around the world.
This kind of revelation may seem self-evident to some, but I’m glad that I finally see the work I’m doing as legitimate, and hugely beneficial, even though it falls outside the scope of my traditional career path. I’ve always enjoyed this job, but now I feel like I have permission to do so without feeling like I’ve taken a step backwards. It’s refreshing.