Tag Archives: career

Level up as a Software Engineer

I have been team lead for last couple of years. After team lead, you usually need to decide if you want to grow in people management path or follow individual contributor’s path. However, both of these paths mean writing less code and working at abstract levels. I am happy writing code. It still pays pretty well and it is very satisfying at the end of the day.

I have been hooked on problems at LeetCode.com, it feels great to relearn various algorithms. Of course, LeetCode.com is used primarily by job seekers but it is good site to level up as programmer. And it doesn’t hurt that it will prepare you for whiteboard interview questions.

Another area I have been interested in is Data Science. At work, I have asked for data science projects and also using for building some basic algorithmic trading strategies. I will probably sign up for DataCamp or some other Data Science course soon.

I think a software engineer with data science skills will be interesting next step in my career.

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Unlike engineers, engineering managers have no natural source of power. In previous lives many of them ran the machines themselves, but there came a time when they’ve traded their role as craftsmen for the management track. Sometimes it’s because they weren’t good craftsmen in the first place and knew it limits their earning capacity. Sometimes they were good craftsmen who were seduced by the siren song of social status among the normies. Sometimes they genuinely wanted to support engineers in their work. But in every case, they can no longer fix the machines. Their power has to come from elsewhere.

Source: Parallel tracks – spakhm’s newsletter

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Here are some things to consider about consulting:Sales/Selling is the last thing on your list and salesperson is only a maybe. Reverse all of your priorities because selling and relationships are the most difficult things to master for a consulting company and you will die without those skills.In consulting, tech talent < sales/relationship talent. In fact, if you’re great at the latter go ahead and get started now because there are lots of great tech people who don’t want to do it and will come work for you on a nice contract rate.To give you an example of this I once worked with a consultant who was a technical rock star, and another consultant who was supposed to be technical but was actually pretty below average. The below average guy was more successful because he was great when talking with the customers and they loved him. He knew enough to talk through problems at a high level, explained things well, and made them feel comfortable that things we’re on the right track. If he didn’t know something, no problem, he just went and found someone with the answer.Besides those soft skills he knew how to set and manage expectations. You may be used to the best results winning, but if you don’t manage and then exceed expectations it doesn’t matter. People love you when they expect 80 out of 100 and you deliver 88. They will not be happy and often fire you if expecting 100 out of 100 and you deliver 92. You will wonder how you just lost to a competitor who is not “as good” as you.Even if you have pretty good soft skills, do you want to spend time constantly using them? I thought you liked the tech side? If you like both then great because someone has to spends tons of time doing it to sell, maintain, and expand the work and your success depends on how good they are at it.For many people this will all be hard to believe, or they think it’s exaggerated, or that it’s easy to just hire someone to do it. That’s fine, I hope you have great success. Drop me a line in a couple years to say how things turned out.

Source: Ask HN: How do I start my own consulting firm? | Hacker News

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I was thinking about career goals a person could have (as a software developer) this morning, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of possible goals! So I asked folks on Twitter what some possible goals were and got a lot of answers.This list intentionally has big goals and small goals, and goals in very different directions. It definitely does not attempt to tell you what sorts of goals you should have.

Source: Some possible career goals

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Welcome to geezer town, junior. While researching my recent article, “Age discrimination and Programming Jobs” , I discovered a 1998 Op-Ed piece from The New York Times that cited some startling statistics from the NSF and Census bureau about the longevity of a software engineering career. [S]ix years after finishing college, 57 percent of computer science graduates…
— Read on improvingsoftware.com/2009/05/19/programmers-before-you-turn-40-get-a-plan-b/

Unfortunately, age discrimination is a real thing that I never thought about before. As I am approaching 40, I am getting more aware of it.

Programming is such a unique profession in that people expect programmers to give up programming eventually and move into management. For a while I believed that and moved into leadership position as Dev Lead. But I hate it and probably will move back to pure programming job.

No one expect doctors, lawyers, writers, artists, etc to eventually become managers.

I guess it is because as programmers get older, they get expensive and acquire work/life balance while don’t provide enough value to justify their cost.

My Plan B is basically real estate license and real estate investments. This may generate enough money and give me enough flexibility to work on my programming side projects.

Developer Hegemony by Erik Dietrich

I am not sure how I found this book by Erik Dietrich. Maybe Google or Amazon recommended it. But I found it very inspiring. There are so many things in it that I agree with and so many new things that I am still having hard time believing.

As a developer, who is having a hard time figuring out his career, this book provided an interest perspective. The basic idea in it is that in any big corporation, developers are unlikely to find fulfilment. They may truly believe in their employer’s mission and try to climb corporate ladder. When they do that they will get stuck in middle management. They will keep working hard, hoping to move on to executive roles but very few would do by believing and hard work alone.

Those who move to executive roles are different type of people. He basically based his idea of corporate hierarchy from The Gervais Principle. I am not sure if I agree with this 100% but I can see some of famous CEOs who would be very close to sociopaths or have other personality disorders. But for me the useful information was that at executive level, it is your political skills that matter. If you want to move to executive roles, don’t waste your time mastering new technologies. Instead attend right networking events and make right friends.

Finally, at the bottom of hierarchy is developers who actually get the work done. They will happily code and at the end of day will feel accomplished. Only problem is that they don’t realize their business value and they are shortchanged. But they have life outside of the organization and enjoy their lives.

Author recommends that developers should start their own companies, either consulting or product-based. I see real estate as a good option to diversify my skills, especially sales skills. These skill will help me if I start my own consulting company or I might just build products for real estate industry.

I will be re-reading this book, I found it very helpful.

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