How to Produce Impact as a New Engineer
4 April, 2022
Working With Complex Problems
I find that there are many opportunities in solving complex technical problems. If something is easy and everyone can do it, companies will value the work as highly replaceable, and it will be difficult to create a large impact. Whatever work you’re doing needs to add value to the company’s well-being. Also, it has to help you learn and grow. A good read related to this is “So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.
For example, I’ve been a part of the team that works on legacy systems that have been being built since the organization was a startup. Many engineers are scared of these systems and try to avoid them – since they’re old, complex, and problematic to work with. I enjoy this project, however, as it continues to teach me how to manage and control a system without completely modifying it. I highly recommend this book “Monolith to Microservices by Sam Newman”.
Learnings For New Engineers
When joining a new company or team, individuals should be aware of the culture and dynamics. Sometimes the team may work in a new manner, or their mindset may be different. From early on, when I join a team, I focus on how I can contribute to the team and learn from them. I always want to deliver the work better than I’ve done in the past.
No matter what organization you work in, you need to be curious and hungry to learn something new. If you constantly get bored by having repetitive work, I recommend doing each iteration differently. When I use different methods to complete the same task, I remain engaged and up-to-date with new tools, technologies, or patterns. Not exactly related but I transformed my understanding from this book – “First Break All The Rules by Gallup”. I hope others may find it interesting.
When working at a larger organization, growth equals visibility. The more visible you are, the more opportunities you have to work with cross-functional teams to solve wide-scale problems. Before moving up the ladder, I recommend asking yourself a few questions:
- Do I want more responsibility?
- Do I want a new perspective within the company?
I believe that these answers often relate to the seasons of your life. For example, sometimes you may want to simply be comfortable within your career – as you’re focusing on raising a family or personal things. At other times, you may want to explore the career more and branch out to work on new things.
MVP pivots into a tangible product from a concept along with the customers and stakeholders. It gathers feedback sooner. However, I believe in the purpose of an MVP. I don’t believe that the short lifespan of an MVP is beneficial. Numerous times I’ve seen the MVP outlast the real product time. When teams are writing the MVP software, the tendency is to write code dirty and quick. The reality is that when the MVP works, teams end up expanding upon it, which will eventually lead to challenges down the road.
I recommend that teams keep their increments small while using quality code. In the past, this is how I’ve built systems that continue to live for a long time. I also recommend that teams write tests as tools to validate their code.
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