Professional Development
Career development / Events / Leadership / Philly Tech Week / Real estate

How to navigate your dev career, from writing code to management track

"It was a matter of deciding it was a time to be the manager I'd wished to see in the world," Elastic engineering manager Courtney Wilburn said.

(Clockwise from top left) Jocelyn Harper, Eliot Pearson and Courtney Wilburn. (Screenshot)
Individual contributor or management?

One of the most interesting parts of a career in tech is talking about trajectory — how does one join the tech industry and where can your growing expertise take you? has been exploring these pathways in a new series called How I Got Here, a look into how technologists across our markets landed their role and what parts of their background got them there. It was also the discussion of a recent panel of our annual Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast staple, the Developers Conference.

We heard from Wilmington’s Jocelyn Harper, a senior software engineer at Paypal and author of “A Software Engineer’s Guide to Seniority,” as well as Baltimore’s Eliot Pearson, COO of Catalyte, and Philadelphia’s Courtney Wilburn, an engineering manager at Elastic. They each shared where they felt they were now in their career journey, and why.

Some devs, like Harper, are likely ready for a management role but feel like it’s still their time to dig deep into code.

“I need to do the dirty work before I get into management,” Harper explained. “Not to say you don’t code in management, but it is significantly less, so that’s where I’m at right now.”

But others, like Pearson, are driven by the benefits of management — and mentorship. He said he loves meeting recent bootcamp grads and helping them along in their career. It keeps him focused and energized, and he knows he’s training future CEOs and entrepreneurs.

“At the end of the day, I can write code, but it’s always nice to help someone go build the future, and that’s where I am in my career at the moment,” the COO said.

And Wilburn offered another interesting take — she didn’t have a grand plan or playbook to be a manager. It was driven by wanting to the type of leader she’d wanted to had.

“If you’d asked me two years ago if I’d have planed to be a manager, I probably would have laughed at you,” she said. “But for me, it was a matter of deciding it was a time to be the manager I’d wished to see in the world.”

Watch the full conversation below (and skip to 1:24).

Sponsors of the Developers Conference include Comcast NBCUniversalURBN (including its Urban Outfitters and Nuuly brands), Vanguard, TD Bank, Linode, Pinnacle21, Cerner, SIG, Listrak, Burlington Stores, Perpay, Odessa, Inspire Energy, FORT Robotics and Greenphire.

Companies: Catalyte / PayPal

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