Currently, I hold a high senior position (~ L6) within a large tech company. At this point in my career, I often find myself grappling with the decision of whether to focus on advancing as an individual contributor (IC) or transitioning into a management role.
Although I genuinely enjoy mentoring junior engineers and helping them grow in their careers, I have a strong aversion to certain aspects of management, such as the frequent meetings that come with it. Given my introverted nature and my passion for staying closely connected to technology, I don't believe that a management role would be the best fit for me.
Conversely, the idea of progressing as an IC to roles like Principal or Senior Staff can be quite daunting. I grapple with feelings of imposter syndrome, wondering if I can meet the necessary standards and I am concerned that it might negatively impact my work-life balance.
I would greatly appreciate any advice or insights from the community regarding this situation.?
Imposter syndrome and high expectations are not limited to the IC track, so I wouldn’t weight that too heavily when deciding
Adding on to Ryan's point, I don't think being an introvert disqualifies you from the EM track. The majority of an EM's interactions should be in 1 on 1 and other small group settings, which is what introverts are (supposed to be) good at.
If you don't like having a ton of meetings though, that's definitely a bad sign for being an EM as every EM will have a crazy calendar. However, engineers at very senior levels (Staff+) tend to have a lot of meetings as well.
All that being said, mentorship is what I consider the fun part of being a manager. There are dark parts like dealing with low performers (you may need to fire them), resolving disputes between people who don't play well together, and managing politics behind promotion/assigning scope. To make a fully informed decision, I highly recommend going through this playlist: [Taro Top 10] Software Engineer To Engineering Manager (IC -> M Track)