I had my mid-year review today, which is to say it was more of a baseline setting event since I haven't been there for very long (three months as of last Tuesday). The idea though is to let you know where you stand in the organization, and how far away you are from your next promotion. Obviously I won't be moving up this year, but it's conceivable I could in the summer of 2011 (end of year is the fiscal year).
But it all depends on how quickly I can grow my skills and what kind of career path I evolve into. My manager asked a series of questions about what kinds of things I could see doing, and what I wouldn't. Things that don't interest me are anything shrink-wrapped with long development cycles (Windows, Office, etc.), though I suppose if it were something interesting enough I wouldn't pass it up. IT, operations and testing also don't interest me. But there is a wide range of things that I encounter all of the time that are pretty interesting. Obviously the community apps we're in are a plus, but I'm also interested in some of the more fast evolving frameworks, the XNA game submission stuff, Xbox, Silverlight, some of the Bing UI stuff (images, maps, non-search stuff), and oddly enough, the new mobile platform (you'll have to wait a few weeks 'till Mix10 to find out why). There are a lot of really exciting things going on around the company.
Beyond that, I can't say for certain if my future is hands-on coding in the long run. I actually hope it's not. I like leading a team of people, or like coaching them to achievement and delivery of something, if you will. But even if I land in some kind of program manager role at some point, a title that can have endless variations, I'd still like it to be fairly technical, with an opportunity to get in front of customers as well as the teams making whatever it is. Otherwise, some kind of lead/senior gig would be a lot of fun.
It's still refreshing that, for the first time in my professional life, I'm working for a company where there's truly no limit to what I can do. I've worked with rock stars before, but in small companies, you can never get to where they are unless they're hit by a bus. In a big company, or in this case a huge one, they want you to evolve and go bigger, if that's your thing. Maybe that's within our group, but maybe it's not.
Microsoft is huge, yes, and it deserves some of the criticism it gets. But wow, being inside and seeing the bigger picture, seeing the future, and being surrounded by so many smart people, it's hard not to really be into the place. I don't know where I "see myself in five years," but at this company, I can see that it's probably somewhere in Redmond.