A software developer’s career path – always a straight line?

  • Scope:
  • Culture and People
A software developer’s career path

For us, people are always first and foremost – we believe in their judgment in terms of projects and self-organization, but also when choosing their career paths in software development. Meet Jeremi, who started from iOS development to go through data science and try multiple technologies to find his own way in the IT reality

At Tooploox, we have a strong focus on development – and that’s both software development and the personal development of our employees. But what does development mean, exactly? The Merriam Webster dictionary states that development can apply to various meanings, depending on the context: 

  • to make active or promote the growth of
  • to acquire gradually
  • to expand by process of growth
  • to cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind

These definitions show that development is clearly about growth and the unleashing of potential. But also, it is sometimes about simply being different. At Tooploox, we perfectly understand that and attach great importance to learning and self-development initiatives, but what is crucial is that we don’t impose directions or methods of development.

For us, people are always first and foremost – we believe in their judgment in terms of projects and self-organization, but also when choosing their career paths in software development. At Tooploox, employees can develop the technical skills they already have or deepen topics they find future-proof in terms of their work, but they can also choose to learn new things or even decide to completely change their technologies or job positions.

Some time ago, we presented the story of Maciej Roguś – an in-house lawyer who decided to become a project manager, and today we want to share the story of Jeremi Kaczmarczyk – a developer who has experience in not one, not two, but three fields of IT- frontend, backend, and AI.

Jeremi joined Tooploox as an iOS development intern and over time met various people and worked on multiple projects. But his path was far from straightforward, with several turns and major pivots throughout. 

Q: What were you doing for a living before you came to Tooploox? What were you looking for in terms of your career path?

After high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I studied both electronic engineering and architecture and urban planning as I thought drawing and computers were the things I was best at. As it turned out, it was hard to study two subjects at the same time while enjoying my student life, so I had to choose one. 

I graduated with a degree in architecture, but I did not start work as an architect. I had some experience with coding – I spent some time on it in high school and at university, but I didn’t know at the time that I would find my future in programming.

Q: Why Tooploox? How did you get here?

It was Tooploox who found me. I was at Bootcamp and the organizers gave Tooploox my contact info. Tooploox wanted to hire me for an internship and I took the opportunity! It was my first job as an iOS developer.

Q: You started your career as an iOS developer. Did you think at that time about changing your career path and choosing a different technology stack?

I didn’t have much professional experience or had even completed my education in IT, I was simply interested in everything Apple produced, so I decided to participate in the Bootcamp. The internship gave me the opportunity to get to know technologies and – most importantly – people. My coworkers showed me the possibilities in the IT world and supported me in developing my skill sets. At that moment, I started to be interested in AI. 

I had the luck that Tooploox was one of the few companies that were working with AI at that time, but it was still a relatively new technology, and learning it was a bit challenging. Thanks to the support of my coworkers and the opportunity to learn, a year later I was part of the Tooploox AI team, and I was working on extremely interesting projects and solutions. 

The next step on my career path was to work on the backend and in data engineering. This wasn’t exclusively my choice – we simply needed people in this field, so I decided to try it for myself. 

Q: How has Tooploox helped you in developing your skill set?

It was a few years ago, so Tooploox wasn’t such a big and well-developed company as it is today. We didn’t have days for self-development or a budget for learning, which we now have, but people were always very supportive and willing to help. Without all of this, it wouldn’t have been possible to go the whole way from a simple Bootcamper to the AI team, which works on big and innovative projects. The interesting fact is that my first AI project was a hybrid – AI and iOS, so my iOS development background was ideal there. 

Q: Are you happy about the direction of your career path? Were projects you worked on satisfying for you?

Absolutely! I started work at Tooploox as an iOS development intern, but as time went on, I realized that I didn’t feel very good working on frontend and that backend tasks suited me better and Tooploox gave me the opportunity to choose a different path – I could change technology, not the company. It was a perfect decision to start working on AI, and it’s great that I could do all of this in one company. 

Q: After six years at Tooploox, you have experience with three technological fields – frontend, backend, and AI. How many people like you exist in the IT market? 

My experience shows that big corporations promote one technology approach – they are looking for employees for particular projects to do specific tasks. But startups need something of the opposite – they usually do not have many employees and the projects still have many unknowns. In this situation, it’s perfect for a startup to hire two or three people with comprehensive knowledge and experience with more than one technology, who can see challenges from different perspectives and will be able to propose more complex solutions.

Right now, there are more job offers for people with seniority in one technology, but I think it will change soon. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many startups from silicon-valley have opened up for remote work, so the startup approach, in which one person has experience with working with more technologies, is being seen on the wider IT market and this demand will increase. 

I can say, in my experience, that I don’t have seniority in every technology I have worked with, but I understand them – I see dependencies and connections, which is helpful when working with more extensive applications. 

Q: From the perspective of time, do you think the career path you chose was good for you?

A few years ago, I didn’t earn as much money as people who worked only with iOS and have had experience only in this field, but my experience and knowledge are very unique, and I think companies can appreciate that. I perceive my whole career path as a long-term investment in myself. Right now, I don’t see a difference in rates between me and people who started their careers at the same time as me and gained seniority only in one technology.  

What’s more, I think the approach I chose – to work with more than one technology – is more resistant to changes in paradigms and technologies. For example, even though iOS development is a big thing in the IT market, it depends entirely on one company and its condition. With a wider range of experience, I’m more open to changes, even those which do not depend on me, and I can work on every technology I know as a mid-level developer. Additionally, I think it is easier for me to switch to technologies I don’t know yet, and thanks to that, my career perspectives are broad. 

So yes, I think the career path I chose was, and is, good for me. 

Final words

The story of Jeremi shows us that there is no such thing as one best career path for a software developer and that this is always unique to the individual. The concept of it can constantly change depending on the appearance of new technologies, clients, and market needs, but most of all, the employee’s enthusiasm for the work. 

So how to choose the right career path in software development? Just listen to your needs and be open to changes as they come. 

Do you want to develop your career at Tooploox? Apply or just let us know if there is no current open position that interests you.