Mitch Pronschinkske at DZone has interviewed four working developers for insight into how they came to software development as a career. Arian Celina, a software developer and course instructor at the American University in Kosovo, notes the importance of both learning and teaching in career development:
I think the biggest factor that helped me reach the position I am in today is teaching. I have taught programming for four years now. Teaching has helped me in two ways: 1) It pushes me to learn more in order to teach students better 2) I believe in the philosophy that sharing is how we learn more ourselves.
Jeremy Likness, a principal architect, also notes the importance of learning on the job, even in unexpected ways:
I recognized early on that the web was going to be very important so in the mid-nineties I asked my supervisor to transfer me to a small team working on web-based software. I was a development manager and the change was considered a demotion, but I knew I had to move from mainframe computers into web development. I made the shift and was able to promote myself back to my original position in a few months, only then I was writing web software using Microsoft VisualBasic, JScript, COM+ and XML.
See Mitch's post on DZone for more career-building insight from these developers. Also see the JavaWorld Programming Careers series collecting stories and tips from successful developers who have built their career on Java.