The Question that Made My Whole Engineering Career

Close to the beginning of my career as a software engineer I got some incredible advice. I wish I could give credit to the wise person gave me this counsel. I owe them greatly.

When you meet someone you admire at a job you would like, ask:

What do I need to learn in order to come work with you?

It's a great question.

It is a solid start to a friendship. It asks for a small favor that doesn't require a huge commitment. The answers to this question help you tailor your skillset for the jobs in your network.

After the unremembered saint gave me this advice, I starting to ask this question of folks I respected. Depending on their industry or role I got specific answers, often tech particular to their company.1 The intersection of all the answers made an amazing list! It guided the class enrollment and focused my extracurricular learning for topics college didn't offer. 2

I have lost the original list, but I am planning on posting a new tech-agnostic version from my perspective. I chose only the parts I remember being useful and are common traits of developers I still look up to today.

If you have insights or arguments on what should make the list, feel free to comment on twitter and I'll consider updating this post.

  1. Lots of PHP frameworks that have since fallen out of favor, and of course, Ruby on Rails, which I did pursue. ' 

  2. My college experience did not include any useful source control practices or strategies for working in legacy codebases, it was very academic-focused. 

  • 2022-06-08 11:31:29 -0500
    Rename articles

  • 2021-01-20 08:52:13 -0600
    Adding `work` tag

  • 2020-06-18 14:26:02 -0500
    Move everything to CST

    Don't know why I didn't do that before. It caused _no_ end of

  • 2020-05-07 14:58:07 -0500
    Show the quote as a blockquote

  • 2020-05-01 21:08:40 -0500
    Add twitter link

  • 2020-05-01 21:06:20 -0500
    Post: The Question that Made My Career