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Joined the Dark Side

When I joined Microsoft I joined as a Software Design Engineer, aka a developer. I had been programming since around 8 and paid professionally since around 17 and loved it. I still do. But for the last couple of years my focus has been diverted to directing, consulting, and writing specifications for features for a important subject few people understand.

In the last few months – not counting personal development projects – I’ve literally written more specifications than lines of code. And they are thorough specifications combing the functional requirements as well as technical designs, some of which I’ve received compliments on.

But even before this, it was appearing like a change was eminent. I was doing more and more management tasks to the point where I barely fit the description of an individual contributor (IC) developer (i.e., not a lead developer with people reports). As I grew I contemplated switching to what I always referred to ask the “Dark Side”: program management – not that I’m the only one that jokes it’s the “Dark Side”.

I met with management over several months and discussed my concerns, my ambitions, and what I can and had been delivering, and as of 2/9/2009 my conversion to the “Dark Side” is complete: I’m a program manager (PM).

Will I still make jokes about PMs? I certainly have no problems with self-deprecating humor. I couldn’t – not after all these years. But I will continue to provide all I can and still write code on the side for the popular Windows Installer XML project and my own project, the Windows Installer PowerShell Snap-in.

All roles are important and now I have a better opportunity to help drive focus between all those roles while filling my chosen role to its fullest. My day to day activities won’t change much, but I shall fulfill them in more of an official capacity conducive of a PM and less so for an IC developer. I believe it’s a better fit, but it’s still shocking to believe I’ve actually switched sides.

Categories: Work
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