Engineering Management Fundamentals 101

Looking for your First Role

Jem Young

Jem Young

Engineering Management Fundamentals 101

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The "Looking for your First Role" Lesson is part of the full, Engineering Management Fundamentals 101 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jem covers the important factors to consider, and the questions to ask when looking for a managerial role. Jem emphasizes the benefits of choosing a role in a similar domain or technology, as well as the importance of a healthy team size and company culture. He also highlights the significance of finding a manager who is willing to invest in and mentor you, and the value of networking to find job opportunities.


Transcript from the "Looking for your First Role" Lesson

>> So when you are looking for this first role, whether it's internally or externally, things to look at to make your life a little bit easier during the transition. A similar domain, similar language or technology will make things a lot easier. If I was to, say, lead an Android team, I don't know much about Android, I'd have to ramp myself up.

That's another hurdle to have to cross to become a successful manager for a team. So it's a lot easier to pick the same language, same domains, same business area, same technology stack, will just help make that transition a little bit easier. You wanna help the team size, Ryan mentioned before he's managed up to 18 people.

I don't recommend that as a junior manager, your first time, that's a lot of people, that's a lot of personalities. That's a lot of Interpersonal things that you have no knowledge of that you're gonna have to figure out really quickly. And then you also have to lead the team, you also have to lead the business side of things too.

So you really want a smaller team if possible, and it'll make your life a lot easier than taking on too much. And that's something I've seen, I've seen people take on early roles and they have 20 people. And I was, man, I feel for you, that's hard, that's a really hard first step.

You want a healthy organization and a healthy company culture? And how do you know, just generally, how do you know if a company is healthy? You don't, say you don't know anything about the company, how would you find out?
>> I asked you about turnover.
>> Great, yeah, great question, asked about turnover.

How long have you worked here, why are you still here? These are very illuminating questions during the interview, what else?
>> There's also no guarantee whether you will get the answer right. Because when people are hiring, oftentimes they will put a spin on it that's better for them.

So just grain of salt, I guess.
>> Yeah, you have to be good at asking the right questions and reading between the lines. Ultimately generally people are gonna see positive things about their company. But you can see cracks sometimes, and you have to really dig in there. Way I like to ask is, what about growth, how have you grown, does your company have a growth plan?

That's kinda an indicative culture, if they are or are not investing in people, that tells you a lot.
>> I think asking specific questions, when is the last time you promoted someone? When is the last time someone left, when is the last time someone took vacation? When is the last time you guys worked over 40 hours in a week?

Asking questions like that, it's harder for people to lie about stuff like that. Certainly they can, you don't know for sure, but if you're asking a specific question, I think you get a better sense of that sort of stuff,
>> That's fantastic, those are very black and white questions.

Yeah, great advice there. I like the weekend one, when's the last time you worked on the weekend? If it's a lot, that tells you something. Maybe you don't wanna be there, maybe you do, maybe that's where you wanna be. Do you wanna find a manager willing to invest in you?

Again, you don't know anything when you're making this transition. You know something, but you don't have the experience. You need a manager who's willing to put in the time to coach you and mentor you, and point out the things. There is no checklist for accomplishments, but a manager can help you point out things that are, hey, maybe you should be focusing on this right now.

Maybe you should get your team objectives for the quarter in order today. It's really helpful, but you've gotta have that manager. A manager is, come in day one, hit the ground running. We expect you to perform, it's gonna put a lot of stress on you, and that can be difficult.

Some keywords to avoid when you're looking for a role, they show up different ways, but seasoned. I see that one a lot in roles. I want a well-seasoned manager, probably not for you, you don't want that sort of role. An experience, you probably don't wanna role that's like you need experience manager.

And Ryan can definitely speak a lot to this, but if you take on something that says, we need an experience leader and they hire you as a new manager. You're gonna struggle, cuz there's a reason why they're looking for an experienced manager. Maybe the team dynamics are off, maybe it's unclear what position in the business they need to play.

It's something but you need to figure that out. Same with the senior manager, if they're asked for senior manager, don't apply for the role. You probably won't do well, or if you do it, you're gonna struggle a lot, just save yourself some pain here. Brian, anything to add on looking for a role?

>> I think one thing that you didn't really touch on too as maybe a tactic is networking, right? Is talking to other companies or people, understand if you are having to look through those external places to find roles I talk to people and like maybe there are available roles for some like brand new manager.

But absolutely internally, I know Gem, you said you talk to other managers, even talk about their transition to management. But yeah, talk to them about, hey, I wanna be a manager at some point, I'd love to hear some advice on that. Now you're keeping top of mind that yeah, that person might be a good person to go talk to later, right?

You're putting your intent out there it can it can go a long way.
>> Yeah, I didn't even put network in there. Networking, It's the easiest way to find a job. It's so you hear your whole career they tell you in college, etc. But the easiest way to find a job, one, is to not apply for one, or to apply but they already know you, they're gonna hire you.

That doesn't happen a lot, but it's the easiest way. Same with internal, talking to directors, senior managers, other managers, and if they have a role pop up, and you tell them your intent of, I wanna be a manager someday. It's good, they don't wanna go hire people, it's a lot more work.

And if you're, I wanna be a manager, you actually fit well in this role. You can make it really easy, but you have to talk to a lot of people to do that. So networking is really, really important.

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