Over the past couple months, Codecademy for Business and our friends at Code Climate have been meeting each week with an engineering leader to talk about their career journey, leadership tactics and advice for the next generation of engineers. This week, we hear from Andrew Heine, an Engineering Manager at Figma.
Here on the Codecademy blog, Andrew shares his advice for those considering careers in engineering or engineering management. For more from the interview with Andrew, head over to the Code Climate blog.
Q: What interested you about engineering when you were just starting out?
I did struggle with my career path a lot when I was younger. I had a lot of interests and didn't want to pick one thing, but engineering always came out as one of the most rewarding things.
I'm pretty impatient and just being able to do a lot as an engineer, particularly a software engineer, made that a really competitive interest. I really liked the fast feedback loop of being able to be directly the person building things. The virtuous cycle of being able to make things really quickly as an engineer, just beat out all the competition for my competing interests.
Q: What advice do you have for people who might be considering a career in engineering?
I would recommend finding a good mentor. In my first job as an engineer, I became really good friends with the smartest person on the whole floor because of some stuff unrelated to engineering. This is somebody who had like 10 years of experience — just an amazing engineer, and I became such a better engineer just by being his friend.
I could do projects all day, but having him give me feedback on them, having him give me ideas, and hearing about what he was working on helped me grow and improve. I became so much better by investing in our friendship. Building good relationships gives you the opportunity to learn.
Q: What advice do you have for engineers who are considering management one day?
It kind of varies per company, what opportunities there are for you to get a taste of management. So my first piece of advice would be to ask your manager — they'd probably be excited to get a little bit of help! They'll be able to point out areas that they think you can grow in or that they might see a gap in before you can be a manager.
You can also test the waters by practicing building good relationships. For one, you can support new hires. You can be there for them and mentor them. You can also get good at working cross-functionally. Go above and beyond, reaching out to product and design teams to resolve issues. You can also get good practice by being a strong owner of a feature that you’re working on.
A lot of things about management, you will just have to learn on the job. But first, you’ll need to make sure you're interested enough to make the transition, and you can do that by trying out a little pieces of it. There's a lot of little things you can do, but most importantly, try to get the support from your own manager.
For more about Andrew’s career journey and leadership strategies, head over to the Code Climate blog.