Codecademy for Business and our friends at Code Climate have been meeting with engineering leaders to talk about their career journeys, leadership tactics, and their advice for the next generation of engineers in an interview series, 1 on 1 with Engineering Leaders.
For this week’s interview, Code Climate’s Hillary Nussbaum spoke with Anchal Dube, a Senior Engineering Manager at Zocdoc. In the portion of the interview here on the Codecademy blog, Anchal shares advice for those considering careers in engineering or engineering management.
For more from Anchal, including the importance of approaching a manager role with appropriate expectations, and the similarities between managers and tug boats, head over to the Code Climate blog.
Q: What interested you about engineering when you were just starting out?
A big part of it, I think, is cultural. Growing up in India, you're really looked at for either being an engineer or a doctor. So that's just definitely a big part of it. But I think where I really got interested was back in high school when I was just learning my first programming language — this was Visual Basic back in the day — and getting my first program to work.
A lot of high school students will typically start off with a basic program. But, for whatever reason, my teacher at the time had us build out a tool that would spit out Fibonacci numbers, essentially. Just building that out and kind of going into a relatively advanced concept for somebody who is like two weeks into programming and dealing with borders and such, was challenging at first. But the gratification of seeing that work and validating that for each of the inputs that I was giving it, it was spitting out the right results, to me really just got me hooked in a way that was incredible and really hard to pass up on in the future.
Q: What advice do you have for people who might be considering a career in engineering?
The path to success for engineering really is problem-solving. If that's the sort of thing that someone enjoys, I think it's definitely a path that they should consider and I think that they will enjoy.
I personally have always loved all sorts of puzzles or really just any kind of obstacles to navigate. And so I think that has been a little bit of a canary in the coal mine for me to know that engineering is something that I would be interested in.
Through my own journey, I've also come to understand and appreciate the importance of having the right mentor. And so that's something that I would recommend, not only for people who are in the engineering space, but really anywhere. If you can't imagine something, you can't necessarily become it. And so having someone that you can look up to who can be an example to you for the kinds of problems that you might encounter and need to navigate is super, super important.
Q: What advice do you have for engineers who are considering management one day?
Adjusting what your expectations of this role change might be is super important. My biggest piece of advice is to recognize that the transition to engineering management is not just the next frontier in growing as a software engineer, but really a pretty drastic shift in what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis.
It's something that is absolutely worth trying out, but at the same time, it's important to take advantage of a lot of programs that tech companies offer now for people to kind of try that type of roll out in sort of a safe way. Most companies now have this notion of the team lead, where you can take on more leadership responsibility without necessarily getting inundated with everything that comes with the engineering management role. And so I think using that to kind of test the waters and figure out whether or not that's something you enjoy is a great way to figure out whether that's a path you want to pursue long term.
For more about Anchal’s career journey and leadership strategies, head over to the Code Climate blog.