# Making the leap to Senior Engineer

Learn how to become a senior engineer

In a prior post, I flagged that many companies consider a mid-level engineer somebody who can work on features independently / with limited guidance, while a senior engineer is typically somebody who supports a handful of other less experienced engineers in their work.

That is, with experience many engineers transition from working on projects/features individually to leading several engineers on shared goals.

Typically this is done to multiply your impact - the team or your manager has decided that your guidance for other engineers is valuable.

So keep this in mind when reading the rest of this article - your mindset should shift from how to ensure my project is successful, to ensuring the team is successful.

... shift from how to ensure my project is successful, to ensuring the team is successful...

Watch the explanation on Youtube as we take a look at 3 different dimensions where your approach needs to change as a (soon-to-be) Senior Engineer:

# Ownership

You are increasingly expected to "own" some part of your team's output. This may mean setting the engineering roadmap (or at least being a strong advisor here), to objective setting, and technology choices.

Ownership means your responsibilities have changed compared to when you were an individual engineer:

  1. Timescale - you should be involved earlier in planning and decision-making. You should be thinking beyond the immediate bugfix, and looking ahead to see what potential challenges there might be in the next month, quarter, or year.

  2. Non-technical aspects - you will increasingly need to rely on communication and project management skills. This will be because you are increasingly responsible for product or business goals, not purely technical implementation.

  3. No excuses - your role now means that you are responsible for making the team / project successful, and you should be proactively taking steps to ensure this. As a Senior Engineer, you are expected to tackle common reasons for unsuccessful projects (eg unclear requirements, technical design flaws, partner communication, etc).

# Skills

You will also likely need to build on the skills you have developed so far. In particular, these will become critical:

  1. Communication - part of your role will include discussing your project/feature with internal and external parties.

  2. Project Planning - seek to reduce risks for your project, and communicate early and often about the status of your team's output.

  3. People - even if you are not directly a manager, it's likely you will need to balance some form of people management as you are (probably) responsible for a few other engineers.

# Time Allocation

Lastly, how you spend your time is evolving. You should expect your day-to-day work to change in terms of:

  1. Planning - expect to spend more time planning, both at the feature/project level and at the quarterly/yearly level.

  2. Reviews - you will probably be spending 10 - 40% of your time reviewing work from other engineers.

  3. Forward Thinking - dedicate some time to thinking about blockers and improvements in your area of responsibility, before you get bitten.

Last Updated: 10/16/2021, 7:15:31 AM