Apprenticeship Pattern – The Long Road

The apprenticeship pattern “The Long Road” is a pattern for those aspiring to become master software craftsmen. For these people, the path that should be taken differs from what is expected from them. Rather than trying to climb the wealth ladder by taking every promotion you can get and enter a less programming-oriented role, you should continue walking on “The Long Road” by focusing on learning and long-term growth.

This pattern is really interesting because it’s a path that focuses entirely on honing your craft rather than salary. I’m sure most people would jump at every opportunity that offered them more money, regardless of what the job actually entailed, so long as they considered it a “step up.” This is a different, legitimate path to take, but it won’t necessarily be the same path as the one to master software craftsmanship. It’s entirely possible that in the long term, focusing on learning and long-term growth would get you “further” down the path of mastering software craftsmanship.

I’m still not entirely sure if it’s the path that I want to take, as it’s difficult to pass up short-term gains. It’s easy to say that you want to walk the long road, but when facing a fork in the road it may be hard to continue. Although, I’ve heard many stories of people who took a higher paying job only to end up regretting it due to lack of growth, poor work-life balance, boring work, etc. That being said, I don’t think that I’ve experienced the industry enough to decide what path to walk. So it’s difficult to say whether I agree or disagree with the pattern, but focusing on improving yourself would likely not lead you down the wrong path.

Imagining strange roles that you could be in 10, 20, 30, or 40 years from now and what you did to end up at those points is an interesting exercise that I think would help people figure out what they want to do in life. Obviously it’s not necessarily guaranteed that you would have a breakthrough from just thinking about it, but you might realize that you don’t like the path that you’re on right now or maybe your dream role has an entirely different starting point from where you are now.