How tech professionals can benefit from trying new team roles
Whether you're considering a career change or simply curious about the pros and cons of changing roles, this article provides insights to help you make informed decisions about your career path. It highlights how to find the best role for you, and how to relieve stress during the process of changing roles.
The author of this article is EPAM senior software engineer Bohdana Pylypets.
When we are beginning on our career path, we usually don’t know if a particular position is likely to become our dream job and if it will meet all of our expectations and reveal us as good professionals. We might start developing our skills in one direction and then, after several years, realize that our chosen position is not really the area or role that we want to work with further. I believe that there is only one way to find the position that fits you the best and I want to share my personal experience in changing roles and explain the benefits and drawbacks in my approach.
Personal experience of working in different roles
After two and a half years working as a back-end developer, I understood that it is interesting to me to see how a product is designed, discussed, organized before developers start their work. I started learning business analysis and it appealed to me because I saw the usual processes and activities that I engaged in as a back-end developer from a completely different perspective. I understood the needs, values, and possibilities that these processes and activities offered. I found how much work should be done during the analysis and design phase. All this information helped me to see and appreciate product development more deeply.
I started working as a business analyst and I saw how the thinking style of developers differs from the thinking style of management and the business team. Developers usually try to find some logical explanation for problems and to suggest good technical solutions. The business and management teams focus more on the business goals and outcomes of the project, rather than the technical details. Having experience as a developer definitely helped me combine these styles, because I had to think like a manager, but I still considered the technical aspects of the work. That was my benefit and my drawback at the same time.
Benefits of trying new roles
Comprehensive thinking and an enhanced skillset
Working as a back-end developer, I used to write various kinds of SQL queries every day. I worked in Visual Studio and ran code locally on my laptop. I worked with Azure services. Can that background be helpful for a BA role? Definitely!
These simple but important skills can help you avoid wasting time for routine tasks such as finding information or generating a report for customer from a database. You will not need to disturb developers to check data or settings in Azure, because you can do it yourself in just a few minutes. Having a technical background makes you very flexible and enables you to cope with such tasks more quickly.
People who move from technical positions to management can usually deal with documentation and task description incredibly well. Having a development background, they can anticipate the questions that will be raised by developers when they read a user story or encounter a bug. They are also in a position to provide technical details or even give advice in a comment.
Also, during the analysis phase, specialists who have been developers in the past can likely predict some of the technical limitations or issues that might appear during development or testing and perhaps even prevent the problems.
The reverse is also true. Becoming a developer after you were in a management team can be difficult in the early stages of the transition, but your background will still be very useful. Your experience might lead you to pay attention to details that are not noticeable to other developers and enable you to provide good ideas from a business perspective.
Relaxing by changing your position
It is not a secret that burnout is a significant issue in the IT industry. A study by the platform Yerbo found that two in five workers are at high risk of burnout. There is a school of thought that says the best way to relax is not to stop work entirely but to change your activity. Doing so allows your mind to take a break from its usual patterns of thinking and can result in a fresh perspective.
Changing your position can be an excellent preventive measure to help you avoid burning out. Instead of wasting half a year or perhaps a year's vacation, you can instead keep earning money, develop new skills, expand your opportunities for your future, all while relaxing and recharging as a result of the change. If you are really tired from writing code or from your management routine, you can switch to another role and try something new. You will be excited and interested in the new area, new activities, and new routine tasks, which will help you relax from your previous routine.
I know many people who started as developers and came to realize that they are really more productive and successful in a QA or PM role. The main benefit of the changing position approach is that you may find your dream job.
Many companies recognize the value of allowing employees to explore different roles, so they provide opportunities for career development and growth. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple all have employee programs to encourage career growth and they provide opportunities for switching roles within the company.
Switching role drawbacks
Blurred expertise area
Rather than being a leading expert in a single, narrow field, you become a versatile expert with broad knowledge across multiple areas. While this can be beneficial for personal growth and development, it may also come with some drawbacks. It can, for example, be harder to stay competitive in the job market with a diversified background rather than deep expertise in one area. In some cases, employers prefer to hire specialists with deep knowledge and experience in a specific area, rather than a generalist with broad but less focused knowledge. It's important to consider these potential downsides and weigh them against the benefits before making a decision to switch roles.
Loss of seniority
Every team understands the risk of taking on juniors in some positions. This hesitation is absolutely normal because juniors are just starting their career path. Similarly, when you switch your role, you should understand that even if you were a senior in your prior position, you will suddenly become a junior again. You definitely have a lot of knowledge from your previous position, but still not as much as a senior in your new area does. You simply don`t yet have experience in solving the problems that they solve.
Sometimes, this lack of experience in the new position can influence your salary, and for many people this factor is critical. That’s why I think that trying new roles is good for people who are in junior or middle positions. Some companies, however, offer the possibility of switching roles without salary changes, and this encourages people to not be afraid of trying something new.
Changing roles in IT can provide many advantages, including personal and professional growth, development of new skills, and a broader perspective on the industry. It can also lead to increased job satisfaction and better career prospects.
The decision to switch roles in IT should, however, be carefully considered. You should weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks, and make an informed decision based on your individual circumstances and goals.
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