« All Episodes

Dev Career Roadmap, Step One: Create a Time Budget

Published 10/14/2016

In today's episode, we talk about step one in the Developer Career Roadmap: budgeting your time.

The Developer Career Roadmap is intended to provide guidelines for someone at any point in their career who wants to become a full-time software developer.

Today's episode is sponsored by Whiteboard. At Whiteboard, we leverage technology daily to accomplish great vision. Come work with us - send us your resumé and your thoughts at work@whiteboard.is, and learn more at spec.fm/whiteboard.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. In today's episode, we are talking about the developer career roadmap, and I'll be giving you the first step in the developer career roadmap. In the last episode of Developer Tea, I let you know that we would be launching developer career roadmap. This is intended to be a step-by-step guide to help those of you who would like to become developers and those of you who are already on the road on the journey of becoming a developer for everyone who wants to end up having a career in software development. That is who this developer career roadmap is built for. We talked about complexity in the last episode. We talked about how important it is to recognize the complexity of the industry. In today's episode, I want to give you kind of a general overview of what the developer career roadmap looks like, and then we're going to dive into step one. Let's start out by talking about the developer career roadmap in a little bit more detail than we did in the previous episode. You know, I want to approach this particular topic, the set of episodes about the developer career, the roadmap that lays out in front of you. I want to approach this as cautiously as I can because everybody has a different experience and everyone's situation is different from the next persons. So what may work for one person may or may not work for the next person. And this should be obvious. Of course, we are all different. We all have different backgrounds, different interests. And what's so cool about the software development industry is that with all of those various backgrounds, the doors are wide open to people with entirely different interests from one another. The developer career roadmap is intended to give you some guide rails, some ways of thinking about your step-by-step process into a developer career. I've picked out a few specific steps that I feel like are incredibly important to complete either in sequential order or in parallel order. And the hope is that each of these steps, if you follow this guide, you will be much more likely. Now, I can't guarantee it, but you're going to be much more likely to be successful in your career. Now, you may be asking, well, if you can't guarantee it, then why would I take your advice at all? The reality is to be successful as a developer, it takes a whole lot more than just an equation. It takes a whole lot more than just following the advice of, well, of me on the other side of this microphone. It takes a lot more than just simply going step-by-step and saying, well, I deserve a job now. That's not necessarily the way that the industry is going to work. So for you to be successful in your career, it's going to take a lot of dedication, it's going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of experimentation. And you can't just follow these steps blindly and expect to come out the other end with the perfect dream job. What I can guarantee you is that these steps have worked before for thousands and thousands of other developers. These steps have worked because they're based on the fundamental ideas and the values that we hold here at Developer Tea and at Spec. The Developer Career Roadmap is based on the ideas of making the most of your time. It's based on the idea of being decisive, based on the idea of hard work, of spending a lot of time and resources, devoting and investing yourself into the learning process. It's based on doing everything you can to get your foot in the door. It's based on the idea of diversity, of diversity not only of the workforce, but the diversity of your particular skills. It's also based on maximizing your social capital, of understanding that having a successful career not only means that you have to develop skills, but you also have to be able to develop relationships. The Developer Career Roadmap is also based on the idea that you have to be brave. You have to take a step out. These aren't just ideas that I came up with on my own. I've talked to hundreds of developers about these ideas. The Developer Career Roadmap is also based on the idea of being devoted to excellent quality, the work that you do, producing excellent quality work. Finally, the Developer Career Roadmap is based on the concept of teaching others, passing your information along, of multiplying the value that you generate in the world. That brings up a very good point about the spirit of the Developer Career Roadmap. If you're looking to have a step-by-step guide on how to get a job the easiest way possible, this is not the career guide for you. If you're trying to hack your way into a high-paying job, if you're trying to cut corners, then this is not the guide for you. The spirit of the Developer Career Roadmap is really to teach you how to set your life up in such a way that you can use software development as a tool for creating value. Let me say that again. The whole point of the Developer Career Roadmap, what I want to do for you in your career, is teach you the most effective ways to set yourself up, to use software development to create new, unique value in the world. As a result of this value, you become high-ribble. You become incredibly desirable by companies who want to create value in the world. I'm going to take a quick sponsor break, and then we're going to come back and talk about step one in the Developer Career Roadmap. Today's episode is sponsored by Whiteboard. If that sounds familiar, that's because I work at Whiteboard as the Director of Technology. And if you come and work at Whiteboard, you'll be working with me directly. Since 2010, Whiteboard has been working to leverage technology to accomplish great vision. Whiteboard designs the world that ought to be. Whiteboard's work can be found across multiple industries and daily effects, the business and the operations of startups, nonprofits, and large corporations worldwide. The people that we have on our team, the expertise that they have ranges from designing and developing high-impact digital platforms to navigating and implementing digital marketing and brand standards. These people are incredible at what they do. And I'm not talking about myself right now. I'm talking about the team at Whiteboard. Whiteboard is currently looking to grow that team, though. We're looking to bring on several new designers and developers. So if you are an experienced interactive designer, front-end developer, or a Rails developer, we'd love to hear from you at work at Whiteboard.is. Send your thoughts to work at Whiteboard.is. You can also find out more about Whiteboard by going to spec.fm slash whiteboard. Thank you again to Whiteboard for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. And really for supporting Developer Tea, throughout the entire process, since the beginning of last year, Whiteboard has been behind this effort. And I really appreciate the people at Whiteboard. So thank you so much again for sponsoring today's episode. So we're talking about the Developer Career Roadmap. And we've been leading up to this first step. And we've talked about all of the reasons why the Developer Career Roadmap exists. The complexity of this industry and how there is no one size fits all plan. But that the point of the Developer Career Roadmap is to give you the steps that many have taken before me and before you and have been successful as a result. And the very first step in the Developer Career Roadmap is quite simply to budget your time. Budget your time. Before you get in over your head, you have to make room in your schedule for your new endeavor as a developer to learn a new skill set. Because learning is the beginning of it all. And you have to make space for that learning. You're not only going to be learning, you're also going to be investing time in developing relationships and doing research to learn about the types of companies you want to work at, the types of projects you want to work on. But you have to have space for that to even be possible. So instead of trying to shove your new endeavor into the cracks, instead of trying to do it only at midnight or only before the sun rises in the morning, you have to provide yourself with the right amount of time for your learning sessions, for your exploration sessions, for you to build a new career. Now, what you need to do is determine when and where you are going to invest in your career. Determine when and where you're going to invest in your career. You may have a couple of places that you want to work. Ultimately, you need to designate a place for you to go to work. If you're going to do this from home, designate a corner in your house or a room in your house. If you're going to do it from a coffee shop, go to that coffee shop each and every day that you're going to actually do this work. The point of this is to create a space, give this thing the space in your life that it needs to be important. So that space is really the time budget as well as the location. So you want to budget your time. In other words, from day one, you're going to determine how much time you can put in to investing into your career. Ensure that your primary bills can be taken care of. This is a minimum requirement in the developer career roadmap. You can't let your bills fall behind or else the financial stress is going to cripple you for the rest of your career perhaps. So the advice that I'm giving you here is don't go in and quit your job tomorrow because you want to become a developer. That's not smart. Take the time and determine how you can keep the lights on. Take the time to determine how you can meet your financial goals and still advance your career as a developer. This may mean that you decide to lower your income. It may mean that you decide to live on a little bit less than you're living on before so that you can create the time and the space that is necessary for you to invest in your career. But what it can't mean is that you take on an unsustainable approach. In other words, you create a short road out in front of you that if you don't get a job by X day, then you failed. You can't do that. You have to provide yourself a sustainable approach. What that means is if you were to continue doing this indefinitely into the future, you can still keep the lights on. You can still pay the minimum bills and buy the necessary things that you need for your family. This may seem like a very simple and obvious step, but this is one of the steps that trips up a lot of aspiring developers in the early days of their career pursuits. So provide yourself the time that is necessary. And what you need to do is sit down and figure out how much time you have left in your time budget. In other words, you need to write down all the things that you cannot cut out. These are the things that keep the lights on as we said previously. But you also shouldn't be sacrificing your health. If you sacrifice your health, that's going to ultimately be more expensive in the long run. You're not going to be able to learn very well if you have to go to the doctor all the time. So you need to create this budget with the mindset that you're not trying to squeeze every single little thing that you can out of your life. But rather, you're trying to make space for the things that you want to invest in. That may mean turning off the TV and instead reading a book about programming. That may mean instead of going to a movie with your friends, you go to a networking event in your area. It may mean that you need to lower your hours at work and then adjust your monetary budget to accommodate for that. Learning is an investment so it will cost time. You can't increase the amount of time that you have. You can only choose what you do with that time. So again, step one. And this is something you can do today. Step one, budget your time. Now, a few more specific details and recommendations that I have for you. The way that I want you to budget your time, I want you to start from the perspective of a given week. In a normal week, not a week that has a holiday or a week that is abnormal and that you're traveling or something like that, in a normal given week. What does your time go to? And I want you to first write down a description of your current situation. Don't be idealistic. Write down a description of where it currently goes to. And then I want you to take that same time budget that you're already spending. And I want you to refine it. I want you to determine which of those things are you willing to cut out or which parts of your free time can you use to your advantage to invest in your future career and software development. So you're going to have two time budgets. One is the one that you're currently spending. This is more evaluation than it is thinking up new ways of doing things. The second budget is going to be the one where you have provided yourself the time necessary to invest in your career. This is the one that you're going to use going forward. And the next thing that I want you to do, I don't want you to change that on a weekly basis. I want you to stick to that time budget for a two to three month period. Now of course, there are going to be interruptions. There's going to be some things that you can't necessarily work around that you're going to have to make concessions for. But ultimately, I don't want you to refine this time budget each and every day or even on a weekly basis. I want you to stick to the same time budget. And the reason for that is because it's going to instill habits in you and your brain is going to get used to this investment in your development career. Once that two to three month period is up, then you can reevaluate your time budget. Another reason that I want you to have a two to three month window is because this requires commitment. This industry requires commitment. So if you're going to create a time budget that is unrealistic or that you can only hold to for one day while you're really excited about this, well, maybe you should rethink that if you are actually going to commit to it for two to three months. So the moment that you commit to this time budget, I want that commitment to last for at least two months, hopefully up to three months. Once that two to three month period is up, then reevaluate, determine if you have overextended yourself or maybe you have found that you actually have extra time that you can devote to your career. Re-evaluate and recreate that time budget. And that's it. Step one is to create this time budget and you can do this today. You can look at a calendar and determine exactly how this plays out. Pretty much every computer, every phone has the tools necessary for you to go ahead and create this template, this time budget today. Now, if you are a developer with a job, if you've been already investing in your career and you've tuned out, I want you to listen up for a second, you can also create a time budget to invest in your career. The reality is everyone should have this conception of time, this understanding that time is necessary and that continuous investment in your career is important. So go and take some time and create your time budget. I'd love to hear how this goes for you. You can email me at developert.gmail.com. I'm incredibly excited to share this information with you all of the developer career roadmap. If you have any feedback, any ideas, additions, thoughts, on the developer career roadmap, you can also send those to me at developert.gmail.com. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. There's a ton of other fantastic content to help you level up as a designer or a developer. Just head over to spec.fm, incredible, incredible content over there. All the shows that we have on spec are just top quality. We're dedicated to that quality to help you level up as a designer or developer. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you again to whiteboard for sponsoring today's episode of developert.gmail.com. If you are an interactive designer or if you are a front-end developer or if you are a Rails developer and you'd like to work with whiteboard, send us your thoughts at work at whiteboard.s. That's work at whiteboard.s. You can learn more about whiteboard by going to spec.fm slash whiteboard. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Make sure you subscribe for the next step in the developer career roadmap and all future episodes of Developer Tea to be sent to your device. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, enjoy your tea. Bye.