You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Career Growth 101 for the ColdFusion Developer

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career, and inquired as to how I got to the point I am at on my own. This is a subject generally reserved for informal chit-chat among developers at conference social events and after user group meetings, and is one that is very important to each of us.

It also brings up the fundamental question of whether or not there is a proven, easy-to-follow formula for career success as a CF developer.

The truth is that there is not any set formula to achieving success, as we each define success differently. Success for some is measured solely by their financial compensation and status. For others, success means happiness on the job and with their life - perhaps they place more emphasis on the people and environment they work in every day as well as on their vacation and other "personal luxury" benefits. Still others describe success purely by notoriety and demand - on both their achievements and their reputation.

For most of us, our career objective is in reality a combination of all or some of these goals. Obviously, everyone values their paycheck and most of us are hoping to see our salaries increase over time. Of course, money does you no good without a personal life and liberties to enjoy that hard-earned money outside the workplace, so some emphasis must be placed on quality of life. For many developers their job is just their job, and they don't take any interest in public reputation or pride in their achievements, so long as the money and quality of life is satisfactory. Those who do measure success this way most often do so knowing that a good reputation and great achievements shown on paper also translate to better pay and negotiating power when discussing compensation with employers and prospective employers.

Though the goals and path necessary to achieve these goals may differ from developer to developer, I do have some sound advice and career exercises that will aid you whatever your goals may be.

Financial goals are best determined by evaluating where you are now, and determining where you want to be in, say, five years. If what you want is to retire in five years, then you need to do one of two things. You can work for a company you believe is going to go public, get bought, or do so well publicly that the pay-off will be enough to retire on. You also need to assure yourself that you have an employment contract with a company like this that guarantees you enough interest in the company that your interest will be worth enough to retire on. If you are fortunate enough to find a company and position like this, you are on your way. The other approach is to develop a commercial product yourself in the form of off-the-shelf software or a Web site that will generate revenue through advertising, membership/services fees, and/or being bought.

This is a lot easier said than done, but if you have a good idea, the payoff could be substantial. With either of these approaches you also need to put a value on security. Consider yourself blessed if you are employed by and have interest in a company that not only has a good chance at being bought or going public, but that also offers job security. A very large percentage of these companies are at a higher risk of folding and never realizing their dream. Developing your own product or Web site is an even higher risk if you're completely self-employed, and a good approach would be to keep your day job and work on said project on weekends and evenings until you feel comfortable that the project will succeed.

If your expectations aren't so high that you are planning retirement just yet, there are several ways to improve your worth and command a better salary. In today's job market, a ColdFusion developer who knows object-oriented programming concepts and how to apply them in CF is worth quite a bit more and is in more demand than a developer with twice the experience but who doesn't have OO experience. Learn about OOP and master CFCs and the techniques for developing OO CF apps, and emphasize this on your resume. Knowledge and experience with a framework(s) carries weight with some companies and is another thing to highlight on your resume, though most companies that are looking for a "framework developer" tend to accept inexperience with a framework if the hire knows OO. Learning Flex 2 or Java certainly also helps to make you more marketable - in particular the market for CF developers who also know Flex is a rapidly expanding one. ColdFusion Developer Certification doesn't generally carry much weight in my experience, but it does look good on paper and some employers and contracts do require it - and getting certified doesn't take too much time, effort, or money. Aside from having decent knowledge with whatever database an employer is using, most of the other technical skills that set a developer apart from the pack are more related to management. Knowledge and experience with a source control system like subversion tends to carry weight with employers, as does (in fewer circumstances though) experience with Ant for deployment.

Speaking of management, being in a tech/team lead or architect role generally comes with a higher salary, as well as more responsibility. So does project management, though emphasizing project management and/or looking for project management positions does mean that you are committing to a career path that will most likely take you away from day-to-day coding and into a path of management and executive management. If that is a career path that you find appealing, by all means pursue it - there will always be a demand for PMs, and their pay tends to be really good. If you have experience leading/managing projects or development teams, definitely emphasize this on your resume and in your interviews.

If your goals are more focused on quality of life, by which I mean vacation, low stress, etc., it's a bit more difficult to state a formula for achieving your goals. Be aware that working for an employer as an internal employee who builds internal applications certainly does tend to mean more moderate hours and less stress surrounding deadlines than working for a solutions company where you are developing applications for clients. This is on an employer-by-employer basis, but is a practical piece of advice. Be aware that pay is not always as good in these positions, but again - that's on a case by case basis. Whether your goals are solely financially driven or include aspirations toward public notoriety and other noteworthy achievements, the best way to attain either/both is to work on large, complex applications. Applications that require a large team, that have high public visibility, and/or that require pushing ColdFusion to its limits tend to be the ones that developers learn the most working on, and also carry a lot of weight with employers. Who you've worked with (i.e., being on a development team with a reputable developer) also tends to carry a lot of weight and gives you an outstanding reference. Other credentials that impress employers include community activity - speaking at user groups and conferences, teaching classes, having a popular blog, and writing/tech editing for magazines (CFDJ) and books. When I explained this I was immediately asked why teaching and community activity makes one more desirable to employers since it doesn't really mean you know more. The truth is that I'm not sure (unless the employer values these things) but it does look good on paper and it lends credibility...and for many employers it's a clear sign that you have good written and oral presentation skills...something that many companies look for in their IT staff but is very hard to find. I definitely advise developers seeking to make themselves more marketable to write and present, and if you are offered the opportunity to teach or to become a certified instructor, definitely don't pass up the chance unless you really have no desire to be an instructor.

More Stories By Simon Horwith

Simon Horwith is the CIO at AboutWeb, LLC, a Washington, DC based company specializing in staff augmentation, consulting, and training. Simon is a Macromedia Certified Master Instructor and is a member of Team Macromedia. He has been using ColdFusion since version 1.5 and specializes in ColdFusion application architecture, including architecting applications that integrate with Java, Flash, Flex, and a myriad of other technologies. In addition to presenting at CFUGs and conferences around the world, he has also been a contributing author of several books and technical papers.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Eddie 05/09/07 05:47:39 PM EDT

This is a great editorial and contains some very useful advice. I love the CFDJ and hope to see more articles regarding work/life balance issues, career growth, even a "death march survival guide".

One particular thing that was touched on is the growing divide between Object Oriented CF developers and old-school procedural CF coders. As someone who wears both a coder and manager hat (depending on the day), I would love to get some advice regarding strategies for converting older apps to a more accepted OO/CFC design methodology such as Mach II.

I personally inherited several large scale CF apps with thousands of templates, many of which have gone largely untouched since they were written in the late 90s using CF 2 or 3. It would take many months if not years to rebuild these apps with CFCs given our organization's staffing situation so I would love to hear how other people have pulled this off and sold it to the higher-ups. These apps work fine in their current form so it is hard to justify the time and expense it would take to modernize them.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.