Full-stack? T-Shaped? Comb-Shaped? Developer or Engineer?
Whenever I come across a form field that asks for my occupation or profession, I hesitate before answering. I believe my official documented role title with CodePen and Active Theory is/was “Engineer”, but I’m pretty sure that was just what it needed to be to satisfy the US Visa requirements they hired me under.
I think that software engineer probably describes what I do now and so I use that title in my bio, but I feel weird about it because I literally dropped out of a software engineering degree when I was 19. I dropped out because I thought it was “too hard” and I wasn’t “smart enough”. I was so very wrong on both points, but that decision still haunts me when I consider claiming the Engineer title.
Recently I learnt about the concept of the T-Shaped Developer and I thought hey, that sounds like me. But then I gave it some more thought and still wasn’t sure if that was right. Even though I’m strongest in client-side tech, I have been writing the code for the CodePen backend for years, so am hardly a novice in that area.
So then after some more research on this topic, I discovered the comb shaped developer: who has “the breadth of a generalist and multiple specialisations that they’ve gravitated to throughout their career”. Finally, this feels right. I am a comb. I am also, most definitely, overthinking this job title thing altogether.
I’m assuming as I’m thinking about this there’s a whole group of people walking out of 6 month dev boot camps, slapping on a full-stack software engineer title, and moving on their merry way, with nary a thought to whether that is appropriate. I should take a leaf out of their book. Instead, I’ll be here having an existential crisis the next time I’m asked to list my occupation on the patient intake form at the Dentist.