Jarrod Loidl has an interesting discussion on the topic Management vs Technical Career. This is always definitely something to keep in mind as a career moves forward, and I think he really does end up hitting most of the milestone points in such a thought process. It’s a long post, but it keeps firing the cylinders even at the end.
I really like the ending tandem points of, “do what you love,” and (in a Wolverine voice), “be the best at what you do.” Combine that with, “don’t be an ass,” and you really have a simple guide to work and life.
If I were to look at my own lot, I’d say it certainly is hard to keep current with the skillsets. I remember starting out my career around Windows XP and I still feel like I know it inside and out. Windows Vista/7? I fully doubt I’ll ever be as intimate (then again, I don’t do desktop support right now). On the managerial side, I feel like I have excellent organization, attention to detail, high degree of problem-solving/troubleshooting skill, and I make accurate decisions quickly (backed by confidence in those skills) when I need to get things done. My downside is that I’m not entirely a people person. Oh, once I get going, I’m fine, but it really takes significant effort and time for me to find my voice socially in a given group, as any introvert is likely to echo.
That said, at this point in my life and career, I could probably swing management, but I get far more enjoyment out of the technical side of the equation, for a variety of reasons that I won’t dump out here quite yet.* Management is one of those things I accept I’ll do someday simply because of the decision-making support and anlysis skills I have, but I have the luxury of allowing that “someday” to not be tomorrow quite yet. Perhaps if I snag some security consulting gigs that would be enough… 🙂
The end thought is one Jarrod mentioned: At least spend the time to do this reflection on who you are, what you are, what makes you happy, why it makes you happy, and so on. Too many people never ask these introspective questions, and they should.
* Updated to add this: This isn’t to say I wouldn’t actually find myself happier in the right managerial position. It’s hard to tell since I’ve not been in a situation other than a team lead/senior sort of role. While I might not look at managerial want ads, that’s not to say I’d shy away from the right one whose doors opened for me.