Episode 229: Other people's code and moving into product management

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

Questions

  1. I have been working at a large tech company for two years now, after I graduated college. My job title is ““Software Engineer””, but I have barely written any code on my job in the past two years. I’m on a product team that doesn’t own any infrastructure, and when the product managers want us to build something, we find out which teams in the company own the infrastructure and stitch a product together. We often get push backs because usually the infrastructure we need to build a product belong to some entirely different team who do not have stakes in the product we’re building.

    I am worried that my coding skills are deteriorating, since most of my time at work are not spent on coding. For example, meetings where people hash out how to do something in a system none of us are familiar with, chasing down people in other teams to ask them to squeeze out time from their busy schedule to help my team, and completing process paperwork. On the rare occasions when I do make code changes, it’s been copy-and-pasting another section of the code/config and changing a few parameters.

    It seems to me that success on this job depends mostly on knowledge of the different internal systems, as well as the social capital of knowing people on different teams. Is this normal? Is this what software engineering is about?

  2. Hi there! Love the show and your fun but useful answers.

    I have a career question and would love to hear what you think.

    I’ve been an Engineer for several years now and was recently asked if I’d like to move into Product Management. At first this sounded great. I’d get to set the direction of the product, get involved with strategic planning and roadmap meetings, and generally have more input into my squads work.

    The thing is … that isn’t what it is at all. Most of the time I am fielding requests from marketing and sales people for sales collateral, sitting on customer calls, and digging through dashboards to find enough ‘evidence’ to prove why we should prioritize the backlog the way I have in mind, and I have even become the ‘bad guy’ when the squads ideas don’t line up with the Product team.

    Have I made a terrible mistake? Is Product Management really a good move for Engineers?

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