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Senior Mindset Book

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    What it takes to become a senior engineer

    In this The New Stack Makers podcast, guests Swizec Teller, a senior software engineer, Tia — a healthcare company— and author, and Shawn Wang, head of developer experience for microservices orchestration platform provider Temporal.io, describe the mindset and other attributes required to become a senior engineer.

    The New Stack Podcast – Oct 21, 2021

    Talking points

    • Swizec's street cred
    • Importance of learning in public
    • What's luck got to do with your career
    • Marketing yourself as a developer
    • Think of your resume as a marketing tool
    • Advice for junior developers finding a job
    • What to do if you're plateauing at your company
    • Dealing with imposter syndrome
    • Bootcamp vs CS Degree
    • How to easily test if an engineer is senior or mid-level
    • Politics in engineering
    • Leadership vs Management
    • Difference between a principal engineer, a senior engineer and a staff engineer
    • Compensation and cash vs stock

    Quotable Quotes

    "I think it's really important to kind of participate in the community and be out there because. Luck has a lot to do with your career. And I think we often forget how big of a role luck has in our careers." - Swizec Teller

    "The better the stuff that you're doing and the more people that know about it, the more lucky you're going to get in your career" - Swizec Teller

    "A lot of engineers tend towards what they know best, which is building and then they struggle or they're too shy in telling people about what they've done." - Shawn Wang

    "there's an essay called the luck surface area where you say you can view it as the Y axis is building and the X axis is telling people about it. And you have to do both to have the largest possible luck, surface area for things to happen" - Shawn Wang

    "Over 90% of developers understand the value of marketing, but they don't feel like they can do it" - Shawn Wang

    "It's important to market yourself internally within the company and externally with your professional network." - Shawn Wang

    "A good resume is thinking about it as a marketing tool and then positioning it so that it talks to the type of company where you want to be and the type of role we want to do" - Swizec Teller

    "The main thing I think that most juniors forget about is that you have to look at the impact you're having on the organization. Even if you're very fresh programmer, there's probably a lot of value you're providing to the company" - Swizec Teller

    "It's important to ask about that value you're giving to a company, to make sure that you know, because then you can put that on your resume" - Swizec Teller

    "The value you provide to a company looks really good to recruiters. It looks really good to other people." - Swizec Teller

    "We're not like academics, where it's about who writes the most complicated code. It's almost better to write simple code that achieves a lot of business results" - Swizec Teller

    "If you feel like you're plateauing, you've probably started plateauing way, way before you realize that you're plateauing" - Swizec Teller

    "In this market, just change jobs if you feel you are plateauing, especially once you have those few years of experience under your belt" - Swizec Teller

    "A good way to deal with imposter syndrome is to start giving other people on your team praise. And they will automatically start giving you praise as well. And then when you get that praise, put it in a file and look at it whenever you feel like you're not hitting your marks." - Swizec Teller

    "Senior Mindset is not about age, but rather stuff you can only get through experience" - Swizec Teller

    "A lot of the Senior Mindset comes from shooting yourself in the foot enough times to know in advance, oh, wait, if I go down that path, I'm going to shoot myself in the foot." - Swizec Teller

    "A really easy way I found to really test whether somebody is more of a senior engineer or more of a mid level engineer is to ask how they feel about the DRY principle. And it turns out that the more experienced an engineer, the less likely they are to be dogmatic about any of the rules." - Swizec Teller

    "Every line of code does not have the same value it has to be applied towards a useful business proposition" - Shawn Wang

    "The better you are at engineering and the more your PM's and your team can rely on you, the more likely they are to pull you into those important projects" - Swizec Teller

    "My experience, especially in startups, once you have time for politics, that's a really good sign that you should move on because the business is probably failing already." - Swizec Teller

    "If we're all busy, desperately trying to meet the demand for our business, we're not going to have time to play politics" - Swizec Teller

    "The difference between leadership and management is that leadership usually happens without having explicit authority" - Swizec Teller

    "It's a tough line to toe between leadership and management, because management to me always feels kind of like the boring job of cat herding and following up with people" - Swizec Teller

    "Leadership is more like, 'I know that everyone here is an adult. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but hey, here's what I need help with if you want to help'" - Swizec Teller

    "Tax-wise, it just makes more sense to take stock if you absolutely don't need the cash" - Shawn Wang

    "Increasing compensation means increasing ownership as well as increasing seniority" - Shawn Wang

    "Once you have enough cash that your needs are met, that you don't need more cash-cash. It makes sense to go all in with the rest and go for the high-variability high-returns" - Swizec Teller

    "If you're five years into your career, very important to make sure that you have five years of experience, not one year of experience, five times" - Swizec Teller

    "You can ask for more cash. If they don't want to give you more cash, you can ask for more equity. If they don't want to give you that you can ask for a bigger sign on bonus. If they don't want to give you that, and you don't have infinite PTO you can ask for more PTO, there's a bunch of different things you can ask for" - Swizec Teller

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