So I'll be doing my annual performance appraisal in just under a month with my manager. He sent out a spreadsheet with some of the usual stuff on it but what was new to me was the section titled "Career Interest - Please identify both short and long term career aspirations."
The short term section was titled "Within one year" and that's no sweat for me since I've seen it before. I'm a DBA, been in the IT/IS field for about 5-6 years, just started at this company 7 months ago so I'm still learning the systems and such. I know that in the next year I want to have a much more comfortable understanding of the systems, the business and since we'll probably be upgrading to SQL Server 2008, do some training on it and get comfortable with it.
It's the long term goals that I've never seen before, the title is "Within 5 years". Now I can think back to December 2004 where I was fresh out of school, was just about to start my first non-student-placement job as a programmer for a contracting company in Sudbury. Newly married, living in a tiny apartment, etc. I had a rough idea what I wanted in the next 5 years, which was to make a decent career out of all this computer stuff.
Flash forward to today, I'm somewhat recently separated, living in my house outside of Toronto (renting out the one in Sudbury to a newlywed couple), have a great career after changing companies 3 times and I realized I don't know where I want to go from here. I achieved the goal I sort of set back in 2004 and now I should really make a new 5 year plan.
Do I want to be a manager in 5 years? Not really, my technical skills should still be good then and I'm the youngest (28) here with no psychological need to boss others around. Would I like more responsibility? Sure, like managing some projects would be just fine once I get my feet on the ground. But all in all, I'd be happy with the status quo for a bit. That might just be because of all the radical changes from this year (separation, layoff, move, new job) and some desire for stability for a change. I might have a totally different outlook in 6 months or a year.
How do the rest of you pros approach figuring out how to answer the question "What do you want to be doing in 5 years?"