Career Transition from Software Engineer to ???

Hey Elpha community,

It's been so inspiring to read all of the honesty, encouragement, and support from fellow Elpha members. I am currently on the job market and the more I apply to traditional software engineering roles, the more it feels soul sucking and probably not the direction I want to continue in my career. At first I thought this feeling was because of the very intense and competitive tech hiring market, but now I'm realizing that the thought of being paid to just write more code and build products I don't really care about or feel connected to, is the actual problem.

My question is - what lateral career shifts would you recommend to someone with 5 years of software engineering in fullstack and front-end roles?

I love collaborating with people, I am very social and have been told I'd be a great sales engineer, solution engineer, technical account manager, or customer success manager. The thing is, I only understand the job descriptions of these roles, I don't know anyone who actually holds these titles!

If you work in any of these fields, or know of other job ittles that would be a great fit for an engineer who is great in heavily client-facing positions, I would love to hear your advice.

Something that sticks out to me is "build products I don't really care about or feel connected to, is the actual problem."An organization that can't directly align engineering teams to business strategy and outcomes will leave the engineering team feeling this way. I would focus on culture fit first (happy to coach you through that if you want to chat) but if you are genuinely trying to narrow it down, I would look into growth engineering.I will caution, a lot of companies claim to do growth engineering, but don't have the organization structure or leadership to support this model. I would learn all you can about it and be ready to ask the tough questions in interviews.
That line that sticks out to you, is something I've been thinking a lot about. With my time off I've realized that I DO enjoy engineering, but I'm suffering from some burnout and don't enjoy working for companies and building products that just help a company's "bottom line."I don't want to help people already making a lot of money to figure out how to squeeze more out of their engineers and employees. So a lot of this comes down culture, like you've said, and belief in the product itself. I align with the "tech for good" ethos and luckily, there are tons of cool companies out there building products that help people.I like the term growth engineering! That's something I learned in my last position (a digital consulting firm) is very important for happiness, so thank you for that reminder. I was basically working autonomously for clients, hadn't had a 1-1 in over a year, and my "manager" was also the CTO (insert red flag here).In interviews, I typically ask "what does growth in the role look like?" and see what they respond with. If it isn't a thoughtful response with a clear through line to team lead or leadership or they don't mention the flexibility to explore other positions, then I have a clear answer that they are not a company focused on helping engineers grow, they are strictly in a build phase, like you've said!Thanks for validating my thoughts with your feedback. I'll definitely look into growth engineering and make sure I use that term in interviews. I appreciate you!
Hi Paula, I feel how sad you are by reading your post :( as for connection with a company and its products: sometimes it comes to people with time. They would pass the interview to the company they originally interested in and then go through on-boarding process and then finally development. At some point people understand the importance what they do because real people start using it and it affects tgese people’s life ❤️Or your lead/manager will share the insights from customers and give an inspiration to build specific product.As for the list you provided, unfortunately I am neither of that but I think you also can consider career of Product Manager, Project Manager, Automation QA with your background 👌And then, who knows, maybe you come to the company in one role and want to switch to another team there, maybe even development team 😌
Hi! Thank you for the thoughtful advice. You're absolutely right that sometimes the affection grows, so maybe my frustration is a symptom of working for a consulting agency for the last two years!I was working on so many different products that it is probably contributing to my feelings of misalignment. I learned so much being exposed to so many different technologies and tools though, and that was my goal in taking a consulting position for a few years. I wanted to compare working with Product Organizations vs Consulting Organizations. I've learned through this experience that I want to move back into Product organizations. I really appreciate your suggestions of moving into Product Manager, Project Manager, Automation QA with your background - it helps to know there are professionals out there that see the value of hiring a social engineer, like me!
Yes, absolutely! Your skills are valuable for different positions ❤️
I feel the exactly the same. I haven’t figured out any solution yet but I thought I’d mention some other ideas… Another position you might be interested in is “product engineer”. It’s kinda niche still and varies a bit but it’s usually a mix of software developer and product manager. I don’t know if the position had a specific title but Automattic (Wordpress) seems to have some engineering roles that are a mix of product and solutions? My first developer job was at a digital marketing agency. It wasn’t by any means the best job but something I always liked about the particular company was that they primarily did work for regional companies. For example, local urban parks, the nearest international airport, and a variety of local, regional, national, or international businesses located nearby. In this case, the agency and clients were in my hometown, which of course I would like to be a nice place to live. These don’t necessarily fall into “tech for good” but I think there was at least a compromise where there were (or would be) clear ways my work would be doing some good.
Thanks for the tips! I'll add Product Engineer to the mix. Totally makes sense. It's cool that you worked for regional companies, digital marketing isn't always the most challenging but at least it's useful for generating leads and building landing pages. Just part of the way business is done these days! You're right that you can find the compromise in a lot of cases and see how you're benefitting your local community. I'll post on here if I get more ideas too. I've heard Solution Architect could also be a good option.
Hey! Just wanted to say I can completely empathize with this feeling and feel the exact same way. Wish I had good advice - I’m trying to navigate this too! I’ve been considering tech consulting and starting my own thing, but it all feels very lonely.