What does the title of Principal imply?

I brand myself as a Principal. What does that mean to me? More importantly, what does that mean to other people?

It turns out that being an independent consultant is a perilous career choice. It closes a hundred doors. Everyone wants a full-time engineer. Nobody wants a fluke.

Why do I position myself as an independent? There are several questions which I am unable to answer, when interviewing as part of a larger organization. Why do you want to work here? Why are you looking for a job? Since I can’t answer these questions, I pursue opportunities where answering them is not required.

As a Principal, I have to take on responsibility. I mentor junior members, I share my knowledge, I propose architectures, and I demonstrate work ethic and discipline by working very hard.

Technical interview questions are actually relatively easy: all you need to do is have a fundamental understanding of computer science. That is learnable in a matter of weeks. It’s not more difficult than a GRE or a standardized test. In fact, a lot of interview challenges are quite standardized.

Velocity (“cadence”). It’s hard to get going, but once you do, it’s easier to maintain the pace, and it becomes a “virtuous circle” – where your previous successes elevate you higher, and allow future successes. This is the opposite of a vicious circle, where being shit makes you more shit. Virtuous circle means that if you are on the path of bettering yourself, later steps become either easier or more impactful than the earlier ones.

Overall, being a Principal necessitates taking responsibility for the actions and development that I take. I have noticed that I’ve actually not done that sufficiently. I haven’t publicly spoken about my achievements; I don’t effectively advertise, and I do very little networking. I should step up my game by a lot, to consider myself an independent Principal.

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