I exchanged email with a graduate student recently, who’s just starting to think about what she wants to do when she graduates. Since she’s about a year away from graduation, this is a great time to start thinking. She originally thought she might want to work with teams who maintain software systems. I commented that I didn’t think new development was all that different from maintenance for software. We briefly discussed different kinds of work, and she’s off thinking about the job she wants to create for herself.
The same titles mean different things in different companies. If you want to be senior principal widget-builder, that’s great — but what does that really mean? Could that be the same thing as a consulting widget-builder? Could it be a widget-builder master (as opposed to apprentice)? Could it be a staff widget-builder? You can’t know what a title means until you learn the roles and responsibilities behind the title. So whatever you do, don’t let titles limit your possibilities when you look for jobs.