A Career in Transition
For nearly 15 years, I’ve called myself a web developer. The twelve years of this blog’s existence is a testament to that. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts that document my trials and tribulations with web development.
In those 15 years I’ve had job titles like Technical Architect, Project Manager, Lead Designer, and even Director of Technology. Underneath it all, though, I just built web sites. Ask me what I did and I’d tell you that I was a web developer, fancy job title be damned.
Over a month ago, I took a new title: Product Manager.
When I accepted the new position, I still thought I’d spend time coding and designing and… well, being a web developer.
What has transpired, however, was something quite unexpected.
From customers, to support, to our team, to other teams, managing a product requires a great deal of coordination. I’m contributing on the forums, I’m assisting with blog post announcements, I’m writing emails keeping everybody abreast of how things are going, and I’m talking to everybody to get their feedback into what we’re building.
It also requires plenty of research. We have a data team that I can request this report or that. We do A/B testing. We do user experience research. Plenty of reports to scour over. It’s quite fun to dissect problems based on numbers.
But I’m not coding anymore. And I’m feeling a little uneasy about it.
Now, my life certainly isn’t devoid of development. I still hop into code reviews. I frequently use the SQL console to whip together queries that join a half-dozen tables to piece together what I need. I’ve been able to commit a few small pull requests. And I like to push myself with a personal project from time to time.
But my day-to-day life is not coding.
Why does this make me uneasy? Because I’ve always shared my experience as a web developer and I suddenly find myself wondering how long I can continue to do that. I am, after all, speaking at a number of conferences this year on web development.
I am, however, enjoying my role as a product manager. I’m excited to see what will come of it.
It’s a career in transition.