I have recently gained some clarity about my own career aspirations. Ever since I learnt that I do not enjoy managerial positions much I thought that my only route is to become a Software Architect. Or Systems Architect. Or something in that area. I even worked as one for just under 2 years. I thought that Architect's job is to design a resilient system and help engineers to build it.
I was wrong.
All you need to build good software is good engineers. A team of smart engineers is perfectly capable of designing a good system on its own - they won't need any guidance. Smart Architect would rely on the decisions this team makes, not argue with them. In modern day reality, Software Architect is the guy who explains good architecture not to engineers, but to the executives. She is the person drawn to endless meetings forging The Vision, to slam the reality into their dreams. She is the person to defend that tiny budget for refactoring, without which software crumbles under its own weight in no time. She is to draw countless diagrams and flow charts, that have only distant correlation with the facts on the ground. She is indeed a person to which Engineers come with hard problems, only rarely so. And it is easy to see that when this happens - it is the highlight of the day.
That is why any good Software Architects clinches to the committers rights they have and does write the code daily. Otherwise they would hate their job.
After enough soul searching I figured that tiny portion of the job that I am not doing yet, and which I would love to do. I think that must be the definition of the career progression desire.
In just one word: Mentoring.
I love working with junior engineers. I believe that I have enough patience to listen to a no matter how convoluted question, understand it and offer a solution. Which at times may be as simple as suggesting a different way to ask that question. I accept that mentoring involves a fair share of hand holding and I have done it. I have been instrumental to several to-git migrations in which teams of smart people were introduced to the concept of a DVCS - and they loved it in the end.
There is one big challenge ahead of me on this particular path. Mentoring is too often seen as a Plum Job for a retiree. It may be not easy to find understanding to my sincere aspirations to teach.
But if you hear about a (part time) mentoring opportunity - give me a shout. Cheers.