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I have worked as a software engineer (.NET) for 2 years.

Our job is easy and it doesn't require a lot of technical or conceptual knowledge. In fact, we always use console apps with XSLT and basic C# programming. The work conditions are good: good colleagues, acceptable salary, flexible job time, a lot of spare time. However, we don't use any agile methods at work, we don't do conception.

I have mediocre competencies. I have no idea about new technologies in .NET, such as Entity Framework , MVC 4 , ASP.NET, WCF, WPF (I know just the names).

I'm enjoying my comfort zone and laziness, but deeply I feel scared about my career and my future. I try to do some tutorials when I have time but I haven't the will. Am I destroying my career?

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closed as off-topic by Dennis S., Raystafarian, Jeanne Boyarsky Apr 13 at 13:55

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If you are enjoying the laziness so much, its very likely that you would bring that horrible work ethic to your new job. Perhaps you should enjoy it there until you figure out what you really want to do with your life. –  paqogomez Apr 12 at 4:08
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about career management, software development skill development, or both. Interesting though it is, and regardless of the number of answers attracted, it isn't a personal productivity question. It would be a better fit on workplace.stackexchange.com. –  Dennis S. Apr 12 at 13:22
    
[this might be more a Programmers question, suggest migration?] a key aspect of IT and dev work is that (1) the field moves/evolves very quickly, maybe not quite as fast as it used to eg around dotcom period, but still very rapidly, its a race at times, and (2) dont put all your eggs in one basket as far as technologies, dont get "married" to one language or dev style or company etc, no "be-all end-all", be open, be flexible, be willing to experiment & try new things, its that old expr "to rest is to rust"... but also strive for work/life balance, no matter how cool, work isnt everything! –  vzn Apr 12 at 23:42
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11 Answers 11

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Am I destroying my career?

Yes you are... UNLESS you gain knowledge outside your current job you will become quite value-less to other companies. You have to keep yourself current. I worked as a SENIOR software developer for 11 years and when I changed positions I was clueless as to all other technologies and methodologies. I had no idea what Scrum was until 2012. If I had not started my own company in software development and took the time out to re-familiarize myself with software development I would have been useless to any company seeking to hire me.

I would personally suggest starting your own software company, as a side venture if you have the time, and slowly adding in team members so that you have project management, configuration management, unit testing and software development "in the bag".

Then? You'd be unstoppable and WAY ahead of your other colleagues.

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And as @Ryan mentioned, you have to be passionate about what you do, you have to Love what you do or there won't be any incentive to change. –  Sharron Denice Apr 11 at 13:04
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I agree with Sharron and understand your position. I was at a job for 5 years. Went from being a nobody developer to running a team of 15 people. my problem was low pay, and no advancement of skills. I got an amazing offer, and my company countered. I took the new offer for the dream of learning new things. It paid off. Do not get stuck doing the little tasks you are doing. Expand yourself, and make yourself a better developer by any means. You will be happier in the long run. –  mmeasor Apr 11 at 20:21
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I am not sure that jumping into starting a software company is the best idea for someone with 2 years experience (in total?) and who enjoys "comfort zone and laziness" (well at least don't quit the day job). Obviously you need to make sure that you have sufficient capital to survive as it will most likely be a long time before money comes in. More experience in the world of software engineering will also help a lot. But most importantly you need to be very passionate about coding because there will likely be many late nights. –  row1 Apr 12 at 2:34
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I'm sorry, your advice to the OP is to quit their current job and start their own company?? Isn't that just a tad bit extreme? I mean, holy shit, if they don't feel comfortable looking for a new job due to inexperience, and don't have the motivation to train themselves to be more competent in new technologies, what in the world makes you think they can start their own company from nowhere? –  Doc Apr 12 at 19:06
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What @Doc said times 1000. Not to mention, there's this very American fiction that everyone should be self-employed (not sure how we think that's supposed to work), but the fact is there's a LOT to running a business that not everyone — heck, relatively few people, in fact — is cut out for, or remotely interested in! If "start your own company" is the path to any sort of professional success, we're pretty much doomed. –  FeRD Apr 12 at 23:59
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I've been a .NET developer for going on 12 years and I'm still as passionate today as I was on day one.

If you're stuck witting console apps and don't have much variety in your development work this can be difficult. I think I would probably feel the same as you in this position.

The thing that has kept .NET interesting for me is learning all the new technologies built on top of the CLR - recently MVC, WebAPI, EF, Azure, etc.

To work on technologies you find exciting I would suggest the following:-

Learn other areas of .NET that interest you in your own time and be an advocate for using these technologies within your company. Show your boss the benefits of technology X over technology Y and how it would improve his / her bottom line. Show how it would save you time in development or allow you to scale more easily.

If this is not an option consider creating a software product or API that would help you with something in your daily life using a technology you find interesting. This is a great way to learn a new technology and who knows it may lead to a new business or product your company could use internally. You also then get the opportunity to work on something your passionate about and use the technologies that excites you the most - two birds - one stone.

If you're not passionate about .NET development anymore maybe consider pivoting your skills. For example would you find front-end web development more interesting? This moves along at a quicker pace then .NET development and I know creating visual experiences rather than back-end plumbing code can be more rewarding at times.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

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I think this is a better answer - starting companies isn't for everyone, but rather - ultimately it comes down to the passion you have for development. That will drive your career. –  Mendhak Apr 12 at 18:22
    
Agree with @Shah. The currently top-voted answer that suggests starting your own company is an extreme move that should only be undertaken by individuals with appropriate confidence and capability. It's a very easy way to destroy your financials. –  Doc Apr 12 at 19:07
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You have an advantage in your current position in that you have time to actually research and apply new technologies to what you are doing thanks to the pace in your environment, and you will get paid to do it. I would take as much advantage of that as possible to sharpen your skills.

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only if the company lets them branch out. I was in a position where we weren't allowed to try new things. If the have autonomy, and can try new things, then take the comfort and push yourself. That isn't always an option though. –  mmeasor Apr 11 at 20:23
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Your problem is "good colleagues", they're the ones that keep you at the level you are right now… if you want to do something get out of their lengthy lunches, long walks, useless chats. This will make you uncomfortable with your current state, but that’s the idea!

As long as you stay with them, you'll be like them, don’t make friends in office just keep colleagues...compare yourself with them first & your name should be in the top 2 knowledgeable people....then compare yourself with yourself every 2 months & see if you are a better person now than you were 2 months back.

Keep office to what it is meant to be, a place to work, not a place to hangout! Follow this & you'll know what to do.

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You can improve your skills AND keep your job. You have spare time to learn - use it! Read up agile methodologies. Write unit tests. Introduce bug database. Etc. Read up Joel Spolsky advice: 12 Steps to Better Code and Getting Things Done When You're Only a Grunt and more.

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Use your free time to get certifications in things you're interested in. The goal of certification will drive you and will make sure you're actually thorough. Or change jobs - I quit a very cushy and mostly enjoyable job because I had just been doing the same thing too long. 9 years in my case.

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Yes, you are destroying your career and you will struggle when the time comes to find a new software engineering position.

In my experience, positions at the more interesting companies (above average salary and working conditions) are interesting in seeing your GitHub account to gauge your skills as a coder as well and demonstrating your enthusiasm in software engineering. A lot of the times the companies don't mind if you do not know technology X as long as you can demonstrate the willingness and ability to learn it.

So I would recommend picking a technology that you are interested in learning e.g. ASP MVC 5 and then come up with a basic idea for a project and eventually add it to GitHub for the world to see. The project doesn't have to be a game-changer, just something to showcase your skills. The great thing about an ASP project is that you can build up on your skills and technologies as the project progresses e.g. add JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, etc. It would also be a good idea to apply a methodology such as Test Driven Development.

So you can stay at your cosy job while you work on this project in your spare time. Then when you feel your skills are sufficient, you can either try to apply them at your current company or look elsewhere.

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If you want to stay at the top of your career you will need to work hard, take courses and learn the latest and greatest technologies. If you are fairly gifted and are willing to sacrifice a lot of time and effort and if you are lucky you will be promoted to management. On the other hand if you like a decent wage and would like to balance that with a decent life, and enjoy coding, consider that organizations have antique software running on emulators of antique hardware and have maintenance programmers (antique term for software engineer.). This is not a bad option for a certain personality type. Most of this type of work is found in insurance companies, government of all levels, utilities, etc. The longer you stay with one org the more valuable you become. Not glamorous perhaps but steady.

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About your skills

You probably are not mediocre. Check this slides from a presentation about the impostor syndrome.

Not knowing about a specific technology or methodology is not deadly by itself. You could alway learn about the new shiny buzzword when you start feeling less comfortable with your current job. Also, if you pick something that interest you (for a specific project, for example), you will have the will to learn it.

About the future

If your goal in life is to work in a high profile to make big money, then yes, lazyness and confort reduce your chance. But it do not seem to me that is what you want.

If you look more for a simple life or to found a family, than no your current choice are not destroying your future. Job security will probably be better than money.

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Will it keep you happy? You might want to consider doing a degree or other higher-level course to keep you learning. Ask your company to pay for it and give you time off to revise for example, after all they are likely to gain from your training and interest.

If your company does invest in you in this way then give them (mucho) credit for it when you get itchy feet and are thinking of moving on - better still you might well explore if alternative employers would be as generous. There is more to a job than salary and the latest tools. You could find yourself stuck with the latest tools from when you joined the firm, with no help in furthering your education in another post.

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Yes, you are destroying your career. I think you have two options:

1- See if you can advance within your company OUT of software development and into the business side of things. Your knowledge of the software will be an asset. And your lack of depth won't hurt you since you won't need it anymore. A lot of advanced developers end up doing that anyway when they move into management.

2- QUIT, but not before you have a job offer elsewhere. I was in a similar position as you, spending years doing the same thing. People can tell you to learn things on the side and read books, etc, but if you lack the motivation, I'm not sure that will help. What happened in my case was I got another job and all the doors opened for me. Being on a REAL project where REAL skills are needed was the real motivator, ESPECIALLY since I found myself around a lot of experienced developers, always learning from them. Forget books and self-motivation. Sometimes people are the only thing that can advance your career.

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