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Soft Skills Engineering

Author: Jamison Dance and Dave Smith

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It takes more than great code to be a great engineer. Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers about the non-technical stuff that goes into being a great software developer.
212 Episodes
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi there Dave and Jamison! I am a tech lead in a small team of 5 people. 4 of them start working at 10-11 AM and one of them likes to start working at 1-2 PM. This person is me. Due to my biorhythm I feel I am the most productive at this time, and I also like to do some of the non-work-related stuff in the morning. Nobody in my team has any objections but as a team lead I feel guilty because it often happens that I block someone with my work schedule. I’m trying to do as much as I can to unblock everyone - distributing tasks in the evening, making it clear everyone knows what to do - but that’s not always helpful so it usually turns out that I am stopping my morning tasks to have a call and explain something or have a text conversation. Tbh it irritates me very much :D Should I feel guilty? As a tech lead, am I responsible for working at the same time everyone does? Hey Dave and Jamison! I love the show, I’ve listened to every episode and your advice has helped me a TON! I started a new job in a different city a month ago and because of Covid-19 everyone went remote, so I didn’t physically move to that city then. Now there are talks of going back to the office, and one of the developers on my team is also looking for a place to live so we started talking about rooming together. It seemed fine to me but then I realized I’d be spending almost ALL of my time with this person who I have not even met in real life yet. Do you think this is a good idea with a lot of convenience or a recipe for disaster? Have you ever lived with a co-worker? Any advice would be great. Thanks!
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: My question is regarding studying and learning new material. Before I got my job as a web developer, I was studying at least 2 hours per night, but now that I have the job (been in the job for 2 years), I want to come home and relax. How much time do you spend reading about new technology or working on new projects? Do you do it while at work or at home at your own time? I plan on getting a new job in the future and I feel I need to start studying again. I need to refresh my skills on different algorithm questions. My GitHub is empty because I haven’t worked on new projects since I got the job. Should I worry about that? How much studying should I do for future interviews? Do I need to listen to hard skill engineering podcasts to be up to date on new technology? If I’m not doing any of these already, does that mean I’m not passionate enough and I won’t do well in this career? I just had a 1:1 with a junior engineer I’m mentoring. He mentioned that he has difficulty compartmentalizing work from his personal life (for example, even when he’s not working, he can’t stop thinking about his code and edge cases and possible bugs missed). Got any life hacks to help him care less?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Is a “glue person” valuable on a software team? Someone who isn’t the strongest developer but is liked by teammates and builds a cohesive team dynamic. A while ago I interviewed with a big company. Right after completing a code challenge, covid-19 got out of hand in my country and they sent me an email saying they are putting the process on hold. Weeks have passed and I came across a job opportunity posted recently by the company for the position I was applying to. I felt betrayed. I emailed the recruiter asking for follow-up and she said that they are sorry about the situation and that they wanted to schedule a meeting. The question is, should I let them know I was displeased by this or is this really a non-issue? Do I risk my chances by doing so? Am I acting like a jealous teenager? Thanks a lot and love the podcast, stay safe!!
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi Dave and Jamison, my name is Bob Marley. I am a senior software engineer at a tech company. How do I deal with a chronic toe-stepper-onner? I have a coworker named Jimi Hendrix - also a senior software engineer - who has a habit of getting involved in and trying to manage my projects. He joins meetings and slack channels, uninvited, and starts asking people for status updates and questions them why things are done a certain way (and not the other), what’s taking so long on unfinished tasks, etc. Jimi basically feels that my projects are his to oversee and manage. So far, my response has only been passive aggressive - e.g. taking discussions to a different slack channel or thread, or meeting the team members offline when he is not around. This is obviously not working out and it is not sustainable so I’m looking for some advice on how to deal with it. It’s not hindering the project so I don’t have a strong reason to complain. Other than the fact that it drives me nuts when Jimi gets involved and asks for a status update on a project which I have fully under control. Should I just do nothing and wait for the problem to go away due to him getting moved to a different project? But how do I keep my sanity until then? And what if even then he finds a way to step on my toes? Have you guys experienced this kind of situation? Is there a permanent solution to it? And no, I don’t want to quit my job. Please help! Yours truly, Bob Marley Hi Dave and Jamison. Love the show. I have been gathering informal peer feedback from my team. I was told I am doing well, and I should be doing “more high leverage work”. I interpret that as coming up with design patterns, best practices, and mentoring other developers. I mentioned that to my manager, and while he agrees, he also said there is no additional head count for the coming year, and knowing that there is a backlog full of features, my concern is that I will be the primary person tasked with writing those features. How could I negotiate/convince my manager to let me do more tech lead work instead?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I’m a senior software engineer at a fast growing software startup. In the past year and a half that I’ve been with the company I’ve gone through 5 reorgs and have had 5 different managers in 4 different teams. Each time I sit down to do a 1 on 1 with a new manager they ask about my career goals and aspirations. Initially, when I joined the company I was a weak and feeble non-senior software engineer. When I was asked this question then, my answer was “to learn and grow, and have more authority and autonomy over the systems that I build, and be considered a senior software engineer”. Over the past year and half I have proven my worth and paid my dues and got the title of senior software engineer, along with the pay raise that came with it. My career development horizon has not been very broad. I didn’t even know there were levels beyond senior software engineer for a long time. I feel like I’m missing out on growth opportunities by not having a clear answer to this question. Please help! Love your show, keep it up. I career switched via a coding bootcamp 3 years ago and have been at my current company ever since. The bugs created by my garbage code from the early days made me a big believer in clean code practices — I now feel strongly about using descriptive variable names, avoiding duplicate code, etc. However, my boss/CTO is on the opposite end of the spectrum. As long as the code works, he doesn’t care what it look like. I want to stay at this company because I strongly believe in the product and I love the flexibility of a small start-up, but my boss and I keep bumping heads. For example, we recently switched over to PRs, and each PR my boss has made included blatant violations of the coding standards document we created together (!). When I request changes on the PR, he says he’ll do it but it isn’t a good use of our time to rewrite it when the code works. My question is two-fold: (1) As the most senior engineer on the software team, how can I go about promoting a quality-driven approach when the CTO doesn’t see the value in it? (2) If all else fails, I’m open to quitting, but I don’t want to end up the same boat. During interviews, what questions can I ask to find out if the company truly values code quality?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Due to corona virus, we had to work from home. But the manager, is checking up on us very frequently. We have to give the day’s plan at 10:00am sharp, otherwise he assumes that we are taking the day off. Also, we have to send an email listing the things we did at the end of the day. This is on top of using jira. I feel he is micromanaging a lot and because of this, the team isn’t able to work efficiently. P.S. Now he wants us to add our tasks to a Google sheet. Hi Dave + Jamison, First of all, thank you for putting on the show every week. It is definitely my favorite podcast by a wide margin, every Monday I just keep hitting refresh waiting to get my weekly fix. I started my job about 10 months ago in a late stage startup. In my last annually review, I was recognized for all my hard work and was made into a “Tech Lead”. I am not sure what this means. There is no “tech lead” title in the company wiki. Everyone title is just “software engineer” with a level. The salary adjustment definitely suggest this is not a promotion, and the all important company wiki says I need to wait to get promoted anyway. What is your advice? What should I start doing now, what does it mean for my career?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve been working in a rising tech company for almost 5 years. I’ve been working on some project and different teams, and it has been more than 1 year on my current team. One day, someone mentioned me that their service is down because of my code from when I was on the previous team and I didn’t even touch that code for almost 2 years. I explained that I am in different team now, so I refer them to the current members of my old team. I also gave some suggestion on how to fix it, but that team didn’t respond fast enough and eventually other person fixed it. Somehow I feel really guilty that I didn’t do anything to fix it. My question is: Until when I responsible for the code I wrote? Is it as long as I’m on the team, or as long as I’m still working in the company? Please advise. Thank you. An external recruiter learned what would be on my technical screen from a previous candidate and shared that with me. Should I warn company X that their technical screen is compromised?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: My whole team recently transitioned to working from home. How do I handle this? The good news is I don’t have a fever. Working remotely, what should you do if either you ghost the company or the company ghosts you? (Ghosting as in the relationship)
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I am worried it is only a matter of time before the growing pandemic impacts the job market. I work for a young start up, and as of yet I am gainfully employed. But if this goes on as long as some folks say it will, I’m just not sure. I’ve heard there was a software job market crash after the dot com boom. What was that like ? What’s the best thing to do if you get laid off in a market downturn? Wait it out? Look for software jobs? Switch industries, temporarily? I’m a technical lead on a small team. Two of my teammates are constantly annoyed with each other and I need to know how to talk them down so we can be a better team. Let me introduce them: Alice (the names are made up), an experienced programmer, who is slower to catch on, keeps dragging old arguments and old ways of thinking in, works very slowly and in her own vacuum, and often comes across as difficult to work with. Alice constantly disagrees with the team on things like naming conventions and solutions to problems. In the other corner, Bob, a 2nd year coder, eager to follow leadership but still learning when to ask for help. He takes criticism constructively, but not from Alice because to him it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. Alice and Bob constantly bump heads. Yesterday, Bob rewrote Alice’s stored procedure because it was slow and he had some ideas with how to reuse some code. Today it was SQL formatting - Bob’s SQL is ugly, according to Alice, who wants to confront him on it. I suggested we create a style guide to settle that argument. This kind of thing has been going on since the team was formed. My question is, what can I do? They both look to me as the leader, and I don’t want to take sides, but we’ve had this problem for nearly two years.
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hey Dave and Jamison. Due to a chronic joint problem, I find it uncomfortable to stand for more than a couple of minutes. How do I talk to my boss about sitting during standup meetings? If I change workplaces, when do I talk about it to a new boss? I look and walk just fine, so people usually don’t realize that there is something wrong with me. I’ve already been to the doctors, and there is not much they can do, so I need to soft skill engineer my workplaces. Hello! I love your show! I am an entry level engineer that had graduated college with a B.S. in Computer Science in May of last year. I was on my previous team for about six months doing mostly documentation and asked for more development work because I didn’t have a lot of experience in hardcore dev work in my past internships. My manager, some of my team members, and the lead systems engineer gave me high props that helped me get onto a new team. I’ve been on the new team for two months but I am having a hard time finishing my tasks. I try to do things on my own before I ask for help, but it seems that I’m always stuck or can’t get the code to work in a reasonable time. My team has a strict deadline at the end of March. I have multiple tickets in Jira assigned to me before then. When I ask for help, it seems like my team members just finish my tickets for me. I feel like a fraud and it really doesn’t seem like I am delivering. People had praised me for my work to get on this new team, I don’t have anything to show for that praise. How did I even graduate from college with a Computer Science degree? Do you have any advice on my situation?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I started a new job 6 months back and a lot has happened since then. I signed on as a junior dev and have since been given more and more responsibility. Including (but not limited to) deploying and releasing after hours, shared responsibility with the resident senior devs for reviewing pull requests, and aiding in the creation of new processes and overall advancement of our company’s software development process and culture. How soon is too soon to ask for a raise after starting a new job? Listener Andrew asks, As a military veteran of 8 years, I have the opportunity to enroll in a masters program for little to no cost, but I’m not sure what kind of program to choose. I’m a web developer and also serve as my team’s ”Agile Owner” (kind of like a Scrum Master) which I really enjoy. In fact, before I got my first dev job, I trained in Scrum to try to get a leadership role in the software industry and use my bachelor’s in engineering management. It seems logical to continue in that vein and choose an engineering management masters program, but I enjoy being a direct contributor and applying my Agile training without any real responsibility as a manager would have. I sometimes think I should go for a masters in computer science and double down as a technical knowledge worker, but I fear I’d be in way over my head since I don’t have an institutional computer science background. On the opposite end of the spectrum, part of me thinks I should get an MBA like some friends from college to hedge my bets for climbing corporate ladders in the future. On top of that, lately I’ve been very interested in learning more about design. I’m just not sure what to do, and I have a habit of making big decisions with my head instead of my heart which sometimes leads to 8 years in military service which I don’t much enjoy, so I’d love any advice I can get. Thanks! Soft Skills Eng is my absolute favorite software industry podcast.
🎉🎉🎉 Celebrating 200 episodes! 🎉🎉🎉 In this special episode, Dave and Jamison share crazy work stories contributed by listeners to celebrate 200 episodes of Soft Skills Engineering Right out of graduate school I was in the process of interviewing and got through two phone interviews to get the final in-person interview at a location-based startup. The office was mostly sales but also had a small dev team. The in-house recruiter gave me a rough itinerary two days before: get there at 8AM, have four hour-long interviews with the team, then possibly a coding “quiz.” I was skeptical of what the quiz was but all she said was that everyone who got through the other interviews wouldn’t have a problem, it was multiple-choice, and it would take less than half an hour. I get to the office 20 minutes early but have to wait 45 minutes more for my first round of interviews because an internal meeting went over; the recruiter apologizes and asks if I want breakfast, and I say I’ll take something small like a bagel; she says okay and disappears from the room never to return with food. I get through the culture interviews just fine, though I thought it was a bit odd that several of my interviewers (including a VP) brought in their catered breakfast/lunch into the room but never offered me to get some and I had to go find my recruiter so I could get a cup of water between interviews. The final interview was with who would have been my boss: the senior engineering lead. She proceeds to ask me the normal bank of engineering questions and then lets me ask anything. She starts sending me the vibe that the engineering team isn’t really respected and that as a junior I’d be expected to put in overtime and be on-call on weekends without comp-time and without being able to have a say in when I would be on-call. Then I get some seemingly weird questions: Do you work well with loud noises? How noise canceling are your headphones usually? Is it okay that I would develop on a Windows machine? The engineering lead takes me to the recruiter’s office so I can wrap up the day but the recruiter had left early and nobody knew where she had gone so I was escorted to the front door by a receptionist and left. I didn’t hear back for a week and got a call late in the evening saying they had moved on with other candidates. A few days later I got an email from the engineering lead apologizing for my experience and that they were revising their hiring process due to my experience. Hi Dave and Jamison, I have a crazy work story to share for your 200th show! In my first role as a developer I was working for a small agency building websites for clients. One day I was uploading a new site, which involved FTPing into the server and doing all the config myself. I didn’t really know what I was doing, all of this terminal stuff was pretty alien to me at the time. For some reason or another I needed to change the permissions on the files for this site, so I uploaded it to the server and ran a chmod, (which was a brand new concept to me - luckily Stack Overflow had my back. OR DID IT?) Anyway, when I ran the command, my terminal went crazy and way more files went flying up the screen than I had for my website, so I thought ““that doesn’t look right””, hit ctrl-c and went to lunch, thinking I’d fix it later. When I got back from lunch, everyone was rushing about like headless chickens. Everything was down. When I enquired, it turned out that for some reason everyone was locked out of the entire server. After several hours it turned out that all of the permissions for every file on the server had been changed and nobody had any access to anything. Also, every client site had been brought down in the process. To make matters slightly worse, when I enquired about backups, it turned out that the main server WAS the backup server, because the main server died a couple of years before and nobody had bothered to fix or replace it. Whoops! I didn’t fess up - I was too scared - but coincidentally, a few days later I was fired. Oddly, during the firing, no mention of this incident was made and to this day I have no idea if the two were related. At the time I was devastated, I thought my career was over and I shed tears over how I was going to be able to provide for my family. However, in less than two weeks I was in a new role with a 25% pay increase, and my career has bloomed ever since. So 👍🏻 I guess! And here ends my tale. I hope you enjoyed it - it was devastating at the time, but now I can look back on it with both amusement and bemusement. Thanks for all of your work bringing this podcast to us for 200 weeks, I hope you continue until you also accidentally lock everyone out of your own servers. This is a crazy interview story. It was with a healthcare tech startup. The building was across the street from the healthcare tech company where my wife worked. After meeting the 9 people on the team and doing some white boarding, I met with the CEO. When he asked why I was excited to work at his company, I mentioned in passing that my wife worked at the company across the street. CEO then says “Oh, wow. They just announced that they are going public.” At this point, the company had not announced that they were going public yet, but my wife already knew about it and told me that it wouldn’t happen for a few months. I demurred, but the CEO pressed more “Yeah, I saw it on the news this morning.” Yep. The CEO of a company that rivals my wife’s was asking for insider trading information. I actually had to rehash my conversation to my wife’s boss to make sure I didn’t give away anything important (which I fortunately did not). After that, I decided I would never work for any company in the same industry as where my wife works. About 7 years ago I was looking for a side income. A fellow engineer I worked with told me that the park he spends his weekends at was looking for someone to build them a website, run some wires and a bunch of other IT odd jobs. I was interested so I made the drive down to the park which further confirmed my suspections of my co worker: it was a nudist facility. I sat in my car for a few minutes to consider my options and walked in. It’s weird how being the only clothed person in the room made me feel so awkwardly naked. I spoke to the owner, shared my resume, and my co worker showed up (naked) to vouch for me. I got the job but only under the condition i ““wore the uniform””. I agreed and worked there over the summer weekends for a few months doing everything in the buff. Being near the beginning of my career I wanted to put this on my resume, but didn’t want to expose the private parts of this job. I ended up listing it as ‘contracter’ with just a note: references available on request. The company I work at is a privately owned B-to-C e-commerce shopping platform. Over the past two years the non technical management has been trying to position themselves to be bought out. Their strategy has been to create a new layer of director level management and hire in candidates directly from FAANG with the specific intent of injecting “FAANG” culture into the company. I guess the thought is - if you want to be acquired from a player like FAANG, then become a mini FAANG. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been working out so well. The 💩hit the fan. The new director have absolute power, and as it goes, ““absolute power corrupts absolutely””. The new Director of Engineering did a culling of senior engineers and managers that raised any questions to initiatives proposed by the director (you know, healthy project analysis probing to make sure potential risks are considered). One day, 15 devs were let go. These were senior engineers with years of domain knowledge. Not surprisingly, the platform started to have issues. Payment processing integrations started going down, checkout processes needed maintenance - but… the domain knowledge was gone. In the usual “throw more people at the problem” approach, everyone was assigned pager duty, even for systems they didn’t know. The system got so bad that the director resorted to shutting off one of the major payment processing integrations since it couldn’t be fixed. This had repercussions of course, and we started losing completed checkout conversions. The rest of the senior engineers were leaving voluntarily at this point. Now that the ship was pretty much on fire, and the engineering department pretty much destroyed, we found out that the director was applying to another job at the new Twilio office in the city 😂. We found out he got rejected because his reputation had preceded him and the recruiters at Twilio had actually heard about the mayhem he was causing at our company. But it gets better! One of my coworkers thought it would be a funny prank to put a Twilio sticker on the director’s office window. Nope, my colleague was promptly fired. We later found out that the director was so pissed that he ended up going through the CCTV surveillance recordings to see which employees had entered the building early to find out who put the sticker on his office window 🤦🏻‍♂️. Had a manager who had transitioned to IT help-desk work from teaching elementary school and then worked their way up to manager over a large development team. They never let go of the elementary teacher mentality. The highlights were: Requiring multiple forced-fun team activities a year, like cubicle decoration contests. Playground level nick-names for everyone on the team. (Think banana-fo-fana level rhyming). All team members got emoji stress balls, and were required to place the ball that reflected their daily mood on the wall of the entrance of their workstation.
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I work at a large public company. Two years ago, they hired a new CEO who immediately started a development center in a different country. Much of the knowledge transfer is complete and this new team outnumbers us by 3 to 1. It feels that we have lost much of our influence. They turn out decent work and cost less than 1/10th to employ. I am ramping up a job search but in the mean time what steps can we take to keep influence and control? Also, is this the future for the industry in the US? Hi Jamison and Dave. Your voices have been bringing sanity into my head for the last 2 years. I’d like to get your thoughts about something that’s driving me a little crazy. I work for a company based in Europe, and work in the Asian office. The Asian office, and only the Asian office, has a fixed time schedule. To overlap with Europe, the Asian team has to be at the office from 2PM to 11PM. However, the European team comes in at 10AM and leaves at 7PM. When our team mates in Europe decide to do overtime, we have to stay later to work with them, often very late in the night but I tolerate it because I love software development. However, whenever we have company “fun” events, the Asian managers schedule it in the morning so that our regular work schedule won’t be consumed. So we’ll do badminton or wall-climbing from 9AM to 12 and then have to do the 2PM to 11PM shift. This is very tiring. The events usually happen every two weeks, but our schedule makes me dread them. It’s even worse if the “fun” events happen on the same day as the overtime. At the end of work, I feel like a zombie! Is this reasonable?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: My manager smells really bad! Sometimes so bad that I can’t bear to be in his proximity. I am not sure if it’s his breath, or body odour (probably both), but the smell is very foul on a daily basis. He has been with us for quite a few months now, but I am not sure if anybody has mentioned it to him, because the situation hasn’t gotten any better. I’ve also retrained from speaking about it with anyone else. He’s a good guy, and a very hard worker. I want to build a better relationship with him, but his smell is literally getting in the way. How can I help this situation? I can never tell him outright, but he’s the worst smelling person I’ve ever met, and have to work with. But I do want to work with him. Help. Hey friends, thanks for such an engaging and helpful show, it makes me happy to see every new episode pop up in my feed. My question relates to the politics and drama of a restructure and whether I should follow the time honoured tradition of ‘quit your job’ or stick this out. Six months ago our new VP of Engineering was hired to work remotely in a city across the country and decided that the first order of business was to restructure our three Engineering teams into one mega team with new management and a matrix structrure. This meant 15 Principals, Senior Engineers and Product Managers decided it was ‘time to move on to a new challenge’ and are now being replaced by the VPs ex-colleagues in the city across the country. All our processes are being thrown away to do things ‘their way’, new Jira boards, new Confluence pages, new file locations, new AWS accounts, new hiring processes, new everything. The new folks are getting the pick of the exciting and high profile projects while those of us who have been around for up to ten years and hold the institutional knowledge are left monitoring and maintaining the fragile work that could really do with some help from the Principals and Seniors. Is this all part of a standard restructure after six months? Should I carry on trying to put on a smile and fall in line or run away as fast as I can?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Help! I have a co-worker who can’t get to the point. They keep rambling, throwing in useless jargon, with veiled bragging of their knowledge and accomplishments, and answering questions that weren’t asked; and all in a very monotone voice. My brain starts to zone out now every time they start in to “explain” something. They also somehow survived at the company for 8+ years and have recently become a team lead. Our paths don’t cross every day because we work on separate products, but I am interested in their team’s product and might want to join them in a year or so. What do I do? Listener Zezima asks, Hi! I’ve been at my current job for about a year and a half now. My boss says we should be getting more money and investors and will soon give everyone a raise. I’ve seen many people being hired and others given a raise but have not yet received one myself. I recently started applying to other jobs. I don’t want to leave but want to learn my market value and get a slight increase. I was demoing some work in a meeting, and sharing my screen to do so. As I went to upload an image…. my RESUME file is open. resume,coverletter,resumeadobe,resumeTesla. I mashed the cancel button and bounced in to panic mode but continued like nothing happened. I hear some typing shortly after closing. Did they see it? Are they talking about me…? Do they know I dont want to leave but just want some sort of compensation? These questions are going through my brain and I have no clue what to do. Should I call up the people in the demo and have a heart to heart?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hi, thank you for the great podcast! I work for a software consultancy as a senior product manager. For 5+ years, our team of 40 designers, developers and QA has designed, built, deployed, and operated a large SaaS platform. We are passionate about evolving the product, know the domain well and managed to improve a lot of processes in the client’s company. We go way beyond “just development”. The problem is that the client’s internal staff treats us poorly, especially when it comes to product decisions. As a product manager, I have all the responsibilities of a respective in-house specialist, but almost no power. When I refuse to prioritize a feature that does not make sense based on data and user research, the client’s customer success reps go crazy and escalate it to the CEO. I have seen email threads where internal employees call us “offshore resources”… How can I change this situation? I don’t want to leave this job because I really like the product I am working on, as well as the team. Thank you! Connor asks: “I recent round of layoffs at my company has me thinking about my future as a software engineer. Every layoff I’ve been through, the more tenured employees are the ones let go. I also, generally speaking, haven’t seen a lot of older software engineers (50+) in the companies I have worked for. I love programming, but can I reasonably expect to stay employable in this field for the next forty years?
We’re excited to have special guest Charity Majors on the show! Charity is the CTO and former CEO of Honeycomb. She has worked at Second Life, Parse, Facebook, and more. She blogs at Dave, Jamison, and Charity answer these questions: I’ve had the role of tech lead informally for the past two years at a fast-growing tech startup. We were a team of 6 developers, and now we are 16. Recently, we had a department meeting in which the Software Development VP communicated that we have 3 teams and I was the tech lead of two of them. I was surprised. He hasn’t mentioned his decision of splitting the teams nor that I’ve been officially promoted to tech lead. I was expecting a one-on-one where he would “pop the question”: Will you be my tech lead? I asked him privately if that meant I would be officially promoted and would have my title changed. He said that he was going to have this conversation with the HR Manager and would get back to me, but potentially. He doesn’t spend time on one-on-ones, nor is he very good at managing people although he’s good technically. How weird is this situation? A manager tells his team that they now have a tech lead along some org changes. I haven’t been informed, haven’t had my title changed yet, and haven’t been offered a raise yet. Hi! I love your show and have been listening to it almost since day one. I was an engineer for about 10 years, and I’ve been a manager for about 1 year, and I love my team. They’re high performers, we have a high level of trust. I also like my boss! But the larger org has some issues, and in time-honored Soft Skills Engineering tradition, I plan to quit. I would like to stay in management. So I have these questions: 1) My employer is a very large public company. How much should I care about negative headlines and Wall Street’s opinion? 2) How long should I stay in my role as a manager before looking for a new job? 3) How do I message this to my team when I leave?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hey friends, thanks for such an entertaining show, I look forward to it every week. My question relates to ‘leveling up’ as a developer. I’ve been getting nice feedback for my work on projects and the blog post updates I’ve been writing along the way. This has been noticed by colleagues, managers and the local meetup organising committees in my city. I have now been asked to speak at a number of events internally and in the community. While I am very flattered they enjoy my writing I am not interested in hitting the local ‘speaking circuit’ and would prefer to focus on building, writing and mentoring without getting up on stage. Is it ‘ok’ to say no to speaking when it simply does not spin my wheels or is this a mandatory ‘thing’ I must get on board with to progress my career? I am a tech lead on a team where, for the most part, people are friendly, optimistic and professional. There is one engineer who is mostly upbeat and has shown real potential but in certain contexts, e,g, retros and the odd technical conversation becomes a crippling black hole of negativity. The person in question is quite young, relative to the rest of the team, has only ever worked at our company, they are well compensated and have great opportunities to work on exciting green field projects, every developers dream right? What could I be missing? I don’t want to lose this person but I can’t help but feel that they need to grow in maturity and somehow, despite pointed feedback, that’s not happening here. What do you think I should do to stop the chronic pessimism, which I’m afraid if not rectified soon will lead to more victims?
In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: I’ve been recently looking for summer internships and I have had a couple of video interviews. I don’t consider myself an interview rookie since I’ve had my fair share but there is one question I can’t understand whether to answer honestly or not so here it goes: “Are you applying to other job opportunities?”. The question is kind of stupid since no one puts all of its eggs in one basket but on the other hand I’m afraid answering ‘yes’ will make it seem as if I don’t care about the company (spoiler alert: I don’t really care :)). How do I answer honestly to this question and at the same time make them feel like they are special? By the way, love the podcast! Hi guys! I just started listening to your show and I already have experienced a steep improvement from a puny 10x dev to 11x one. My question, if you’ll be kind enough to answer is: How do I convince my cheapskate boss to sponsor me flying across the pond to give a talk at a conference I was selected for. Should I sponsor it myself in case of a decline? Should I hint at a possible job quitting if I am declined (I am currently seeking a new job)? Should I go forward with the talk if I do quit and the content of the talk is largely about the job I did there in the last couple of years. Note, I am widely regarded as an excellent employee by my superiors and colleagues. I earn quite a bit less than my current value and I am currently back, looking for a job. That’s it from me, love you guys!
Hey, want to use Dropbox as your app’s production database? Well, check here. In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions: Hello Dave & Jamison, first of all thank you for the show! I recently moved to a tech lead position and as such I will be asked by many people to provide feedbacks for performance reviews and promotions. Do you have any tip on how to provide good feedbacks, especially in the cases where you don’t constantly work with the interested people? Hello, guys! Thank you so much for the amazing content produced. I really enjoy the show. Thanks for the laughs and the knowledge.” I am a backend software developer working on a multidisciplinary team. There’s this other developer that really gets on my nerves. To maintain my sanity I am asking to change teams, and people keep asking me why I want to change. Should I tell my manager the real reason or is it better to say that I want new challenges? Maybe my manager can solve the problem and no one else leaves the team (I am not the first one to leave for this reason)
Comments (8)

Rj Douglas

Love it <3

May 5th


please don't laugh into the microphone. 🙁

Jan 28th

Sonny Darvishzadeh

obnoxiously loud giggles.. urghh

Oct 11th

Sonny Darvishzadeh

those laughter and giggles man.. you need a better post production

Sep 17th

Aaron Deadman

Highly recommended, the hosts have a great dynamic and there is a lot of warmth and humour as well as wisdom in these weekly shows. Worth a listen on the way to the office!

Feb 4th

Kirill Krasheninnikov

This is a unique podcast, very interesting and fun

Dec 24th

Marko Amott Dimebag

It is not is amazing! I tend to smile on the road when listening

Dec 10th

Raghuram Karra

It actually a good Podcast

May 4th
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