Rings In a Tree

As I was building a Python notebook in Databricks, I started thinking about how much Python work I’ve been doing since I went out on my own. That got me thinking about all of the SQL I had been doing the last couple of years at my previous role, then the Javascript before that and the .Net before that, and so on.

I realized that, in terms of coding, my career has definitely had phases and I thought about them like rings in a tree. There may be more effective ways to visualize the concept, but the rings stuck with me, so I put together a quick visualization showing roughly proportional rings indicating how long I’ve spent in each phase. Damn, I did .Net for a long time.

Obviously, my career has not been so rigidly segmented. I still do a lot of SQL (see the aforementioned Databricks) and Javascript. Since the introduction of .Net Core a while back, I’ve even done a little .Net on my Mac and Linux machines and I recently kicked the tires on MAUI. So, like everyone else, my career phases tend to blend together.

I could take a cut a doing a similar analysis across other technology verticals. How long have I spent primarily using one operating system or another? Or database platforms? Or various kinds of GIS tools? Technical/leadership/project management/business development? I wonder how they’d align with this view. Maybe my .Net time coincides with a lot of time working on Windows with Esri tools. Maybe more desktop than web during that time.

I’m not sure if I’ll do those other visualizations, but I am finding that independent consulting puts me in situations where I am explaining my experience and skills more often. This type of exercise is surprisingly helpful for clarifying such things and helping me be tighter in my descriptions. It’s important to quickly establish credibility and move on to getting the work.

It’s easy to think you understand your own career path until you look at it in detail, as I did when I wrote a detailed career narrative for myself (about 24 pages), or if you look at it in summary like I did here. Though C# and Javascript are different, maybe all that time in .Net explains my preference for curly braces vice significant whitespace. Maybe all of the embedded SQL implied in all of those .Net and Node applications explains why I’ve been gravitating more to data over the past few years, rather than software.

A little self-reflection is good – the seventh habit is sharpening the saw, after all. Understanding your own path may just better help you guide yourself to the next destination.