ChatGPT - How Long Till They Realize I’m a Robot?

I tried it first on December 2nd... ...and slowly the meaning of it started to sink in. It's January 1st and as the new year begins, my future has never felt so hazy. It helps me write code. At my new company I'm writing golang, which is new for me, and one day on a whim I think "hmmm maybe ChatGPT will give me some ideas about the library I need to use." Lo-and-behold it knew the library. It wrote example code. It explained each section in just enough detail. I'm excited....It assists my users. I got a question about Dockerfiles in my teams oncall channel. "Hmmm I don't know the answer to this either"....ChatGPT did. It knew the commands to run. It knew details of how it worked. It explained it better and faster than I could have. Now I'm nervous....It writes my code for me. Now I'm hearing how great Github Copilot is - and it's built by OpenAI too...ok I guess I should give it a shot. I install it, and within minutes it'

Grow Your Career, Be A Senior Engineer

My personal experience with navigating a career in software engineering has been dotted by fits and starts.  9 years into my professional life I can look back and see what worked, what didn't, and why.  I want to share that knowledge so other young engineers can do more with their first 9 years than I did.  Plus it's just fun to reminisce and will help me visualize the next steps in my career.

To be clear, the north star goal in my career is and has always been to learn and grow towards more positive impact on those I serve.  If you have the same or a similar goal, this article will be useful.

I wrote up a simple formula which I think can help any aspiring engineers out there.  It can be used as a template for a career plan.  When you're thinking about how to get to the next level, make sure you're putting equal emphasis on all these categories.

1.) ACTION from you, despite imperfect information
2.) COWORKERS whom you respect
3.) MENTOR(s) invested in your growth and success

1 is the only absolute essential in this formula.  Nothing happens without it.
2 and 3 will mean nothing without 1, but the presence of 2 and 3 will magnify 1.
3 is easier to find if you already have 2.


Action entails the time and effort you put in to improving the skills you use to do your job.  Action must happen at work, as you do your job every day, and also outside of work when you 'Sharpen the Saw'.  If you receive feedback from your manager that you need to do a better job to communicate your designs, your Action could be to do a presentation on them during a team meeting.  If you feel you need to improve your C++ skills, your Action might be to join a weekend C++ class.

Action is the category you'll spend the most effort in - this category requires nothing else, but with information/feedback from high quality coworkers and mentors, the Actions you choose will be better targeted and personalized for your own growth.  There is no substitute for Action - even with the best coworkers and mentors, you will get nowhere without it.


You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  If you're like most people, those 5 are likely to include at least a couple of Coworkers.  Coworkers shape the way you think about problems you're solving.  They influence how you frame the questions you ask, before you've even thought about asking them.  Quality coworkers will get to know you, make you feel welcome and then, most importantly, give you clear, actionable feedback.  This feedback becomes more and more valuable over time as you start to see patterns in your own behavior.  Over time, your strengths become clearer and clearer and your weaknesses too.

This category isn't something you 'do'.  It's something you assess over time, and decide to change if/when you need to.  By staying on a team where you don't feel growth and where you're not becoming more valuable to your customers (the people you serve) over time, you are sacrificing the multiplicative effect that good coworkers can have on your Actions over time.  Do yourself a favor and assess whether you're on the right team every 6 months or so.


Your coworkers give real time feedback, but because they work with you every day often on the same goals, they aren't strongly incentivized to help you grow in your career.  That's where Mentors come in.  Mentors help you build the muscle of looking at your career from a wider view and asking larger questions.  They also can connect you with opportunities outside what you currently have.  A Mentor must be someone you greatly respect because they need to be able to influence you to make changes and take action while at the same time making you feel optimistic and excited about your career.  You also need to find someone with more experience and who has a similar career path to what you're hoping to achieve.  If you do that, you'll have incites from your future self and you'll be able to make progress to becoming that person sooner.

A lot of times, Mentorships are formed organically - perhaps from a former coworker.  This may be because you've already built rapport with the person, but it also might be because they understand the challenges you face and know how to help.  In any case, Mentors can be very hard to find for some, so don't feel worried if you get time from them rarely - the bits you get can still be quite valuable.

This category is another one that you don't 'do', but instead you'll have to be on the lookout for good mentors and put yourself in settings where you're more likely to meet them - conventions, meetups, even events your company holds for networking.  It's not that you put a great deal of time into it, but instead just maintain good relationships with those you meet who have aspects of a career you want to emulate.


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