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Burn Your Life Down

Posted by editor on August 3, 2007 at 7:20 AM PDT

Where's your career going?

For my 40th birthday, my wife got into my e-mail address book (yes, we know each other's passwords... no keeping secrets around here) and recruited some of my friends from high school, college, grad school, and work to send in pictures for a Shutterfly photo album. As we went over it here at my parents' house, they asked what each of my friends was up to, and one of the interesting recurrent themes is how wildly variant most of our careers have been.

One high school friend worked in Sony's legal department, built up a war chest, then left to go back to music/film school to switch careers to TV and film scoring (he's currently doing music biz consulting on the side while he tries to get a foothold in the scoring industry). My predecessor here at, Daniel Steinberg, has been a radio DJ, a college instructor, a contract programmer, an author and editor, and now has a hugely successful podcasting career going (among many other gigs, he produces the Java Mobility Podcast). Heck, exactly ten summers ago, I had just abandoned a writing/producing career on the CNN Headline News evening shift in favor of trying my luck in the market for Java programmers.

It seemed like there was only high school friend I could think of who was doing the old-fashioned career of going to a big company when you're 23 (General Motors, in this friend's case), with the anticipation of staying there until retirement.

So, given that change is the only constant, where's your career going? Specifically, what do you want to be doing in the future, and what are you doing to get there? Ours is an interesting industry in that the demand for highly skilled programmers is at least as well-compensated as management, if not more so (surely I wasn't the only one who noticed this while listening to last week's Java Posse podcast, with Joe Nuxoll talking about his new sportscar, Carl Quinn talking about his on order, and Dick Wall boasting of a custom recording studio being built in his new house... "Filthy Rich Clients", indeed!). And because of the perpetual demand for developers, we have the option of sticking with development as long it suits us.

And all this career thinking and planning leads us to the latest Poll, which asks "What would you like to be doing in five years?" Cast your vote on the front page, then visit the results page for current tallies and discussion.

Our latest JavaOne Community Corner Podcast is j1-2k7-mtT06: The JENI Project by Frans Thamura.
Codenamed JENI, JEDI Indonesia is an integrated service for University students to learn, share and develop solutions using Java. The project includes implementing JEDI as the default curriculum with the addition of other popular frameworks. JENI is a project of the Ministry of Education, and supported by Indonesia Go Open Source (IGOS) Team, the Indonesia JUG, and Sun Microsystems. For more information, visit

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