I have a dirty little secret: I want to be a junior dev again

05 August 2019

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I have been a professional developer for 20 years. Actually, I have been writing code for much, much longer than that, but I have only been getting paid for it for the last 20 years. In recent years - especially the last couple of years - I have noticed my days filling up with other tasks.

I go to work. I review a build plan for a new feature to a new website that is actually being built out by an outside design firm. My employer cites a lack of enough internal resources to handle this big project. I comment on the build plan, pointing out missing pieces of functionality and asking questions about spots where I have been burned before because I have built out this functionality in a past life.

I do not write code.

I perform user acceptance testing on code written by this design firm and spend hours in Jira filing bug reports, careful to note steps to reproduce issues. I write detailed rationale as to why the bug should be fixed and take screenshots (and in some cases video) of the issue. I look up WCAG guidelines to back up some of my rationales, since these issues are accessibility concerns.

I do not write code.

I code review other people’s code, providing comments about code styles and algorithms, all the while jealous of the developer who submitted this code for me to review.

I do not write code.

I go to our daily stand-up meeting, listing all of the things I will do that day. I include development, as a hopeful side note.

I do not write code.

I sit in meetings to discuss workflows and process. I sit in meetings to discuss “the future” - where we see our websites and infrastructure six months from now. A year from now. Five years from now. I hold architecture planning meetings where we talk about how to get from our current state to “the future”, all the while just trying to keep our current systems afloat.

I do not write code.

I go home. Some would ask me why I don’t write code in my off hours. I cite everything I have written above, which is, frankly, a mentally exhausting day already. Besides (and more importantly), I want to spend time with my kid when I get home.

But more to the point, I shouldn’t have to write code in my off hours to feel satisfied as a developer when I already have a job as a developer. This venting of a post, I’m sure, reads like a series of gripes against my current employer, but I have been down this road before time and time again with a number of past jobs. The problem is with the concept of being a senior developer or, in some previous cases, being promoted to a (gasp!) manager. As a developer gains experience and seniority, we are pushed towards oversight and planning and away from actual code.

This brings me back to my dirty little secret. I want to be demoted to be a junior developer again. I want to go from talking about all of the meetings I went to yesterday and today and tomorrow, to talking about all of the cool stuff I wrote and created. I want my developer job to be a developer job again.