When entering the workforce, one aspect that can cause a great deal of frustration is the job title you are given. Many software focused companies will have different titles to differentiate developers of various skill and seniority. Junior developer, developer, senior developer all carry with them an expectation of skill. Depending on which title you are given, it can have an adverse effect on how you view yourself and your skill level.
‘Apprenticeship Patterns’ delves into this explaining the common reactions to situations involving being given a seemingly improper title. Those who are given titles such as ‘senior’ or ‘lead’ developer may find themselves frustrated in the fact that they themselves do not feel worthy of such a title. Or on the other side, a person may far surpass their peers in skill and yet be given the same title as them.
Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye reflect upon this stating that a title is merely a distraction from the improvement of one’s own skill. Those with a high position of authority should refrain from becoming complacent and those with an unimpressive title must not let fact cloud their judgment.
The authors explain that the conundrum of titles is a sign that “our industry has a problem” and should be used as a point of judgement for the organization rather than yourself (Hoover, Oshineye pg 51) . Being given a title that seems to be above your skill is often a byproduct of a “shortage of craftsmen in our industry” (Hoover, Oshineye pg51). Being given a title below your skill level can be frustrating but must not distract from your goal as an apprentice. Hoover and Oshineye mention keeping connections with your Mentors (See Last week’s post) and kindred spirits will help keep you grounded in reality.
I myself have felt at times that my contributions at my old workplace far outpace my current job title. As stated in this pattern, I used this as a measurement of the organization I worked for which clearly did not recognize the skills of those lower in the ladder. Others may feel that their current title implies they are capable of more than they are currently feeling anxious of living up to such a title. All of this comes down to a matter of proper recognition and belonging which is sadly pushed aside in todays fast paced work environments. There is no way to change the industry overnight but having mentors who can reassure you in times such as these goes a long way in ensuring you remain focused on your goals of improvement as an apprentice.
Hoover, Dave H., and Adewale Oshineye. Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman. O’Reilly, 2010.