I’m probably just as shocked as you are reading that title. I still can’t believe I’ve receieved two promotions in the past 8 months. I had intended to do a number of posts on what I was learning and the progress of my career into a staff+ role.. But I’ve already made it. So instead I’m going to talk about the last 8 months, what I’ve been up to since my last post, and what my goals are going forward.
I’ve been extremely busy with my new job. I quickly became a top performer on my team and kept taking on new challenges. I’m now on a new team, and I am contributing to several high priority efforts aiming to improve our systems and engineering practices across the board.
My original role and how I got the first promotion
I was hired as a software engineer on the tier 3 support team to provide expert knowledge and solutions for production incidents. This wasn’t my ideal role, as I wouldn’t be writing features and mostly providing operations support. But I was promised we would be creating internal tooling and that eventually coding would be a factor.
No system gets deployed without bugs, which is why tier 3 support teams like this exist. Some companies do a rotation within engineering, some have dedicated headcount for it like my company does.
In addition to the ‘day to day’ problems cusomers experienced, I was heavily involved with every single incident that came in. From sev 4 incidents that only affected a small portion of customers, to sev 1 outages, which affected everyone. I made a concious effort to be a part of every incident, no matter how late it was, or if it was over the weekend. This insight into what issues our system has, getting to a root cause, and finding a solution, allowed me to amass a considerable amount of knowledge into the product we offer.
It has led to just about everyone in engineering, product and leadership coming to me with questions about how something works, or for my opinon on how to improve things. This knowledge provided visibility into who I was, and what value I bring, across the entire company. That visibility and knowledge gave me leverage to ask for my first promotion to senior software engineer back in February.
I had felt that I was incorrectly leveled when I was hired, so pushing for the promotion to senior was a high priority for me. When a coworker of mine left the company, I felt the timing was right to make the ask, and it paid off. Leadership agreed and gave me the promotion to senior.
Why did I change teams?
A few months passed after my promotion and things were going well. I implimented new procedures and setup communication boundaries with stakeholders, which made things more efficient for the team. We also hired some new folks and were placed under the care of a new director. The additions to the team took a lot off my plate, thus allowing me to focus on more challenging issues. So I finally was able to start planning for the internal tooling I was promised around 6 months prior.
After creating some initial PRD and STOP proposals engineering leadership recognized the importance of the project and agreed to greenlight it. However, they took it up a knotch and decided I needed to have my own team to focus entirely on this project. Seemingly overnight I was swapped over to a new engineering team who were being pulled off a different project to work on my proposed project.
I’ve been with this new team for around 2 months now, and we’re about to deploy the MVP to production in a week. I couldn’t be happier with what we have accomplished, and I am proud to work alongside talented people.
The coveted promotion to Staff Software Engineer
Shortly after this new project started, a series of events led to my workload being increased dramatically. I was asked to fix platform wide issues and take a large role in our efforts to migrate off our current hosting platform to AWS.
This increase in responsibility in addition to the existing major project I was involved in prompted me to start inquiring about career advancement yet again. My intentions were only to develop a roadmap for how to move towards the promotion. What standards of work was expected, what kind of projects I need to participate in, what technical design and leadership I needed to display, etc..
I had a few conversations about this with my engineering manager without much progress towards building such a plan. He promised to look into it, so I patiently waited. Then during a one on one meeting he said,
“Congratulations, you’re being promoted to Staff effective immediately.”
The news completely came out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting the promotion till sometime next year at the earliest, let alone a few months after my promotion to senior. So, I guess I’ve made it. This was my long term goal.
What advice do I have for those seeking a promotion
This probably should be its own blog post, but I’ll give you the basic strategy I used. I’m not sure if this is the way everyone should approach it, but it certainly worked for me.
- Care about your coworkers
- Care about the work you output
- Have a strong work ethic – get shit done.
- Gain visibility through inserting yourself into key situations
- Make it known to leadership that you want to grow to the next level
- Take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you
Well.. the goal now is to become the strongest software engineer I can become. Grow my skills, grow my peers, ship solid code, and try to live up to the title bestowed apon me.
I do feel slightly trapped because of this promotion. I don’t believe I would be able to interview at another company of similar or larger size and be leveled at staff. So my goals are to free myself of imposter syndrome yet again and be able to go anywhere.
I like the company I work at, but I know I won’t work here forever. Being able to work without feeling trapped is quite liberating, and I wish to return to that state soon. So, I plan on leveling up myself while documenting what I can here on my blog.