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Apprenticeship Patterns by Adewale Oshineye, Dave Hoover

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Use Your Title

I’m promoting you from Senior Engineer to Lead Engineer.

The pay is the same but people will disrespect you less.

Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss

Context

As a result of your dedication to learning, you have been hired or promoted (formally or informally) into a position with a title containing words such as “senior,” “architect,” or “lead.”

Problem

Your job title doesn’t match what you see in the mirror. When you introduce yourself in a professional setting, you feel as if you have to apologize or explain away the difference between your skill level and your job description.

Solution

Do not allow your title to affect you. It is a distraction that should be kept on the outskirts of your consciousness. Use your title to gauge your organization, not yourself.

Don’t be fooled by an impressive title. Your mother might think you deserve it, but impressive titles and responsibilities do not indicate that your apprenticeship is over. They only serve to remind you that there is a shortage of craftsmen in our industry.

The other side of the coin is an unimpressive title despite the fact that you have surpassed your colleagues. Like the flattery of an impressive title, the frustration that comes from a lack of recognition should remind you that our industry has a problem. Again, use this situation to measure your organization and its fit for you rather than allowing the frustration to slow you down.

Another variant of this theme is informal versus formal titles. For instance, you may have grown into a position of authority on your team, despite your formal title remaining the same. These informal titles can be hard to ignore, because they are constantly reinforced by your peers, even if they conflict with your self-assessment. During these times, your connections with your mentors and Kindred Spirits will be critical to keep you grounded in reality.

Action

Write down a long and descriptive version of your job title. Make sure it accurately reflects what you really do at work and your skill level. Keep this updated, and from time to time imagine how you would view a stranger who had this job description.

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