Gaining Management Experience As A Junior Engineer

Gaining Management Experience As A Junior Engineer

After experiencing a year of being a junior software engineer I set my sights on what it would take to operate at a higher level... Management experience. To me becoming "Senior" means more than just having increased technical knowledge. Skills in leading people, directing conversations, and contributing to a positive work culture amplify your impact at a company and can get you closer to being that fabled "10x" engineer. Since we weren't hiring anymore juniors to work below me I decided on two methods of achieving this. First was moonlighting at a Bootcamp for UCSD and second was starting an intern program at work. TA'ing a bootcamp gave me some beer money and boosted my confidence in the fundamentals and mentoring skills. This allowed me to practice outside of my company and flowed nicely into my next method (If I could handle a class of 20, 3 interns at work should be a cake walk).

The idea for working a bootcamp came through a LinkedIn message and was appealing since I get to work on React which was something I didn't do at work. I had good working knowledge of most of the other tech they were teaching but I actually went through a React course after hours to familiarize myself with it before my interview. It was pretty easy to ace with light review of each topic and so long as you had a strategy with how to approach teaching, I can't see it being difficult.

6 months and one cohort later, I learned that my knowledge of software engineering had more more depth than was originally estimated. Dealing with a variety of personalities and getting teams of an eclectic bunch also gave me the real life scenarios that couldn't read about. Conflict resolution and delegation were definite key take aways. Bolstered by this experience I asked my boss about the possibility of hiring interns for our upcoming summer. The timing could not have been better as the we were just about to launch a company wide internship initiative. Combined with the growth our team was experiencing I pitched it as a way to increase exposure of the company to new budding talent while gaining extra hands to deal with some tech debt.

Following some screening and interviews I ended up with 3 awesome interns (one from the bootcamp!) and was able to onboard the TA from the bootcamp as a full time software engineer. During this time I was able to hone my abilities as a mentor and guide them in a professional setting towards work that would eventually make its way into production. Designing an intern program from scratch would prove to be another beast of it's own (post about this TBD) but the end result was that I now had a program to demonstrate and display my management skills which made it easier for me to get promoted.

The total time it took for this was approximately 10 months if you count the summer internship term and it was well worth it as I was promoted the following year to Software Engineer II. The methods here are just two methods of advancing yourself but there are surely plenty! How have you leveled up?

Bonus: One other notable mention that I did not get to pursue was side hustling for a company named Karat where you act as an outsourced technical interviewer for leetcode style problems. I hadn't done much interviewing at that stage of my career but is another option for others to gain some ground as more senior engineers. is also a great site to see some of these technical interviews play out if you're looking for practice.

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