When you start out in tech, you see people in all these different roles, but you don’t really see how people move throughout them. So since transitioning into engineering management about six months ago, I’ve had a few people reach out to me curious about how someone moves across the mysterious line into “management”.
As one friend put it, pretty straightforwardly:
What made you want to do it? And what is the best part of the job?
I was interested (and got the opportunity to) since a lot of my skills as an engineer aligned with the materials for a potential good manager – successfully tech-leading projects, mentoring people, focusing on the connection to business impact, etc.
Another big factor was wanting to try something new and grow more quickly. I’ve gotten to basically be a beginner at a job again, which means I’ve been learning and growing pretty fast in areas that I hadn’t touched before, like learning how to hire someone, how to plan a quarter for a team, how to motivate people, how comp and calibration work behind the scenes, etc etc.
There’s also definitely some influence of other feelings, too. Ambition is one – I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t enjoy changing my Linkedin title to “Engineering Manager” at least a little bit. (Of course, that feeling doesn’t nearly outweigh the stress on its own… but more on that another time.) The desire to have a clean start while staying at the same company was probably another.
Finally I felt pretty good about doing it after reading Charity Majors’ The Engineer/Manager Pendulum, which made me feel like it wasn’t a one-way door and that it’d make me stronger whether I eventually return to IC work or continue managing. (This article, incidentally, is probably the most useful and widespread bit of thought leadership among the 5-to-10-years-of-experience-engineer set that I’ve seen…)
Overall it’s been a good, if hectic, first six months. Onward!
(and p.s., I’m hiring!)