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Best advice for engineers to advance their careers

Hey everyone!

I'm a senior software engineer and I'm currently researching a tech talk about growing as an enginner.

The goal of the talk is to make the audience consider different ways they can have impact (craft, business impact, culture), and how to grow that impact intentionally over time. I want to show that technical excellence is only one piece of the puzzle to grow as an engineer, give practical tips on where to start, how to set goals, what other skills are important, and how to utilise the people around you on that journey (importance of feedback, mentorship, sponsorship, …).

I have my own experiences and examples and I've interviewed several engineering managers and staff+ engineers at my company as well, but I want to try and include even more female voices: if you could give software engineers one piece of advice to grow their impact and advance their careers, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! In any reasonable workplace, asking questions benefits everyone. Knowledge is shared, someone learns something, a crisis is averted, etc. As a more senior engineer helping a more junior one, asking the right questions can help guide mentees in the right direction while letting them learn for themselves. And everyone always has more to learn, so no one should ever feel bad about asking about something they don’t understand! Sometimes the reason you don’t understand is that you have actually found a mistake, and it’s always better to discover mistakes sooner than later. Other times you simply get to learn something you didn’t know before.To relate this more directly to career growth, I will point out that being open about asking questions helps your voice be heard. Your career cannot go anywhere if no one hears from you. The more your voice is heard, the more you can help people and projects.
I LOVE that! It also helps with creating psychological safety to show vulnerability to openly ask for help when you don’t know something. I have a hard time “admitting” when I don’t know something I feel I should, but I know how powerful it is when someone I look up to is open about not knowing stuff. Now I’ve made it a habit to do the same, even if it feels uncomfortable.
I agree with @jwolcott ! Don't be afraid to be visible and receive support.
Get involved / organize at least one event to help the cause of women in tech in your organization.I founded the Women in Tech ERG (Employee Resource group) along with 2 amazing women in my workplace. There's so much growth that comes from leading an event or a group like this one. If your organization does not have a group, start one.
I’d love to hear more about this — how has this contributed to your growth? Through networking? Making it easier to find sponsors and mentors? Or a different way I am missing? :)
I would say helping us to get out of the comfort zone and help other women connect to each other. More about serving a community who needs support and then let that fuel your growth. It’s kind of like volunteering without an expectation of returns. The other woman who was founder of the ERG became a ENG manager a year after. Same with another who is the current chair.It boosts one’s confidence as you get to interact with people who you may not have otherwise.
@irisschaffer is this question still relevant, or the talk is over? :) I have some ideas but don't wanna invest time in writing it if I am late to the party hihihiAlso, would be great to hear how did you talk go in the end, and what did you choose to focus on :)
I’m giving the talk in June, so definitely still relevant!And happy to share the talk once the video becomes available, so far the structure I have is:* intro* IC path vs management path (you don’t have to become a manager if you don’t want to)* you can grow by increasing your impact and by developing your core skills* different kinds of impact (mastery, business impact, cultural)* core skills (focusing on communication, accountability, and decision making right now)Then the talk goes into how to achieve goals:* setting a vision* importance of networking (in particular mentioning sponsorship and openly telling people what your goals are and how they can help you)* finding goals to work towards the vision* focus on things you can practice at work rather than just reading the theory (70-20-10 rule)* find actions that are impactful, to get managers on board (in case they aren’t)* follow up on your goals regularly, create accountability to your growth* importance of feedbackAnd then, in the ending, I mention how important it is to also give back to others, mentor and sponsor them, ask for their goals to help them growAnd the conclusion is basically that l, once you take responsibility for your own growth, there’s almost nothing you can’t achieve