When you finally do find a company that is a home, it's important to recognize that and invest time with that company.
As I detailed in the first part of this series, there are many benefits to jumping from company to company, but there are just as many benefits to staying with a company.
Early on in your career this won't be much of an issue, especially since the criteria for junior, mid-level and senior developers differ greatly from company to company and you can pretty easily jump from mid-level to senior just in the process from switching companies. For me it became an issue at my previous company when I started to look at how I could transition from technical manager to a director level position.
I found that most companies wanted to hire someone who was already at director level. There were no entry-level, associate director positions, that I could find. The only way I saw to get to director would be to get promoted from senior manager to director. The only way to get promoted, especially at that level, is to invest time with a company and prove yourself by taking on more and more responsibilities.
Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement usually comes with a stipulation that you need to pay it back if you leave the company before a predetermined set of years after the company has paid out the benefit. That stipulation makes the benefit prohibitive when you stay only a year or three with a company.
When you settle in with a company for the long-term you get a chance to take advantage of this benefit, and improve your marketability and value to the company at the same time. If you never got your degree, take the time to do it now without having to worry about student loans. Spend the time to get advanced degrees, which will only help you so much more later down the line when you are looking for move into a larger leadership position.
The time will be passing no matter what you do, it only makes sense to make the best use of it while you can.
Some companies have a vesting period for their contributions to your 401(k), others immediately vest 401(k) contributions, but have a vesting period for stock options or pension plans. Investing time with a home will allow you to take advantage of the company's benefits that require vesting. In the long term it's these benefits that really pay out.
At one of the companies that i worked at, years ago, there was a VP whose salary was in the $130k range, but who had received over 2 million dollars in stock options.
Stock options and 401(k) contributions are all part of the income package that a company can offer you, outside of pure liquid income, but if you don't stick around long enough you forfeit this income.
But really the main reason to settle down once you find a home is that you are lucky to have found somewhere that you enjoy working and now that you know what it's like you'll notice how much you don't enjoy working at companies that don't match your own criteria. For a number of years I regretted leaving Music Choice, because the subsequent companies weren't as fun or exciting and the work wasn't as challenging - until I found a new home in Comcast, which maybe speaks to the real benefit of finding a home when you are mature enough to appreciate what you've found.