Software Developers Journey Podcast

#228 Jennifer Wong was not impressed by the civil engineering pace


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Jennifer Wong 0:00
If you're doing it just because you're unhappy at your current role, I don't think that's the right reason. Like I think you need to know what you want to focus on in your next step or the next step in your career Next, step in your path. Take everything as it comes, every opportunity is going to give you some amount of lessons and learnings that will help you build up yourself whether it's in management or whether as an individual contributor, as an engineer, just keep moving. I as Dori the fish likes to say, I think you know, you'd go with the flow and you know, you see where it goes, I think you if you really feel that you're at that breaking point, then make that list and then make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Tim Bourguignon 0:52
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the broadcast bringing you the making up stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host team building your own this episode 228. I receive Jennifer Wong. Jennifer is a self taught software engineer and engineering manager at CrowdStrike. She spends her days growing and enabling teams helping reports navigate their own careers and challenges. And that rings a bell and attempting to shorten our ever growing never shrinking metros list of things to do, which rings bells as well. Jen, welcome to dev journey.

Jennifer Wong 1:36
Thank you for having me, too.

Tim Bourguignon 1:37
Oh, it's my pleasure. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info, and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. So again, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your directory?

Jennifer Wong 2:29
Yeah, I think the start of my dev journey is probably learning Fortran in college. Oh, so I was Yeah, I was. I was studying to be a civil engineer. And that class was both a Fortran and MATLAB class. And I absolutely hated it.

Tim Bourguignon 2:48
Both of these or specificly. One, all of the all the other.

Jennifer Wong 2:52
I just hated that class in general. Okay. Yeah. And so, you know, at that time, I thought, why do people want to go into computer science, I don't understand this. And so that was kind of the beginning of that. And I would say the next step was when I was in grad school, I was studying mechanical engineering. And I was taking mechanical electro systems. And so that's electrical driven mechanical systems, during which we had to program microchips to drive mechanical systems. And I found it all really fascinating and fun. But mainly, I really enjoyed building out the circuits. And I had a, my poor lab partner, he was really good at programming. And in that class, we were using embedded C to program. And I also really hated that. So I thought, yeah, I, I could never see myself going into software engineering, or sitting computer science. It just wasn't for me.

Tim Bourguignon 4:02
But you place this as the start of your dev journey.

Jennifer Wong 4:06
Yeah, it was just when I was becoming familiar with what it meant to code or what, what coding looked like to me at that time. It it's very different from when I actually made the leap into web development myself. So I'd say the next step was when I got tired of being a civil engineer and decided I wanted to move into an industry that was more fast paced, something that was more interesting, and you didn't have to wait 10 years to see your project completed in. And I thought, well, that's tech. And the way that I thought I could get into tech is by starting in customer support. So I started in customer support. I was working at meetup at the time, and I made really good friends with a bunch of the software engineers primarily actually back end engineers as well. And so, at that time, what software engineering and computer science looked like to me was Python. And so I personally started to try to learn Python. And again, I just, I didn't, I wouldn't say I hated it. But I just didn't find that it was for me. I felt it was a little bit difficult. And I think the main reason why was just because I'm a very visual person. And I would say, I found that out, because I was talking to a friend of mine, who's actually a fashion designer. And she had built her own website, using HTML and CSS. And I just thought was so amazing. I was like, Well, you're a fashion designer, and you're building websites, and how do you even How do you even do that? And so she talked to me a bit about it, how if she had done some self learning, and I ended up taking a HTML and CSS class, at a place called Third Ward and Brooklyn, I was living in New York at the time. So it was about 12 hours of class over four weeks, in which we just learned to build the most basic website with HTML and CSS. And I would pin that as the first time where I felt like I actually enjoyed web development. And eventually, you know, software engineering, as I moved further into, like learning JavaScript and such I remember talking to some engineers at the time and asking him, you know, like, what's the next step? Like, how do I make things happen on this website, instead of just having the static page and some of the engineers, you know, I worked with at the time, we're like, you need to learn JavaScript.

Tim Bourguignon 6:40
Awesome. Did you realize right away that this, this visual part, unlocked some things? Oh, that that's it? Now I see. Or did it take years to finally reflect back on that?

Jennifer Wong 6:54
I think it was, it was fairly immediate, I would say, I think it was just, it was something so different. And the way that I was using JavaScript when I first started, you know, anime things. And then also learning jQuery at the time, I realized that that was what made it interesting to me was that I knew I had a problem that I wanted to solve. And that involves making things interesting happen on the page, instead of managing data or doing calculations, like was expected when I was learning Python, or back in school where we were learning Fortran in order to run, you know, civil engineering calculations. And for that, I found that, for me, personally, it was quite dull. So yeah, seeing the visual things happening on the page is like, wow, this is it's a whole new world for me.

Tim Bourguignon 7:42
Yeah, I come personally from the more of a back end profile. But I remember when I started really using the unit test very heavily, as as a feedback mechanism as a mean, to see what's happening, and really not just know that I'm doing the right thing. But really getting this this very fast pace feedback, seeing this, this this red green loop and really seeing the dominoes falling in my hand. So that was probably my try in having something visual for exactly the same problem. As you say, I didn't fall into the web Devilman. early enough. Did you come back to Python and some some more more back in the making some air quotes here? Yeah. Interestingly,

Jennifer Wong 8:22
so I worked as a web developer for a few years, I think it was probably around three years, two or three years, I actually made the transition from customer support into web development within the same company. And I was working there for a bit and then I worked at another startup. And then I started working for Eventbrite. And I would say most engineers at Eventbrite, especially at that time, were full stack in quotes. I'm doing air quotes right now, for anyone who can't see, you know, people tended to be focused more on the front end or the back end, but had some understanding of both parts of the stack. And so being there, I started to learn Python again. And I would say again, you know, it's a bit of a revelation to, for me, I was learning Python by using Tracy Osborne's making your own web app book. And so learning about Python learning that Django in conjunction with actually building my own portfolio, which is still in Python and Django today, okay, very, very old versions, I need to update everything. But yeah, so eventually, I got back to Python and Django partially driven by my job, which was great because it was a great motivating factor and I felt that rebuilding my portfolio with an actual database would really helped me learn a lot more and give me good motivation to keep learning those things as well.

Tim Bourguignon 9:56
So you went back to some some visual aspect as well, and that It was enough now a few years down the line to bridge this. So this initial rejection, can we say, say rejections may be too harsh, but let's put in rejection. We've been a bit fast in the fast forward, I would like to come back to something you said. So you worked in customer support, and then you switched to a developer role in the same company? How did that go?

Jennifer Wong 10:21
Yeah, so I was working at meetup for a little while. And that's when I was learning HTML and CSS. And eventually, I quit that job. And I actually moved back to San Francisco to be closer to family. And I took another role as Customer Engagement Manager, which was essentially a person who was in customer support. And that was at a company called rent juice. So they're the customer support team is really interesting in that we were very much enabled. And I say that, because for example, we had read access to our databases. And so when we were interacting with customers, we could actually see, was it an error on our end? Or was it an error on the customers and, and that really enabled us to give the correct and more educated guesses as to what was going on. And I credit my manager at that time, because he, he had learned SQL and all of us were learning SQL as a result of that. And that made me just more interested in going into web development and partially like getting more interested into back end and understanding databases, which for me, are kind of visual, like having a table base database is very visual for me. And so at that time, I was like, I think I think I want to be a web developer. I think I want to be on the engineering team. And at that time, I was wondering, like, how do I get there, so that at that company, there was an engineer who was mentoring me, and he was really great. And he is one of the people who suggested I learned JavaScript. So I took a weekend workshop with Girl Develop It, Girl Develop It, which is a meetup. We have meetups all across the world. And at that time, it was, I think it was $100 for the entire weekend, which included lunch, and eight hours of courses on Saturday and Sunday. So really affordable. And it was a time when boot camps were becoming much more popular. And I just was like, I just can't afford something like that. Because I, I still need to pay rent, and I can't afford to take three months. So yeah, and so girl development seems seems like the way to go for me. And I think it really was because I learned kind of the basics of JavaScript and jQuery, and was able to apply that to small, I always call them small dumb projects, because they're a bunch of like silly websites I was making in my spare time, and going to, you know, hack nights or hackathons and trying to help out there. So I was doing all of that and tried to make the transition at red juice. But I don't think they were quite set up to hire a junior developer at that time. And then the company was acquired by Zillow. And Zillow else also acquired another startup called hot pads. And so when we all moved into the same office, I just kind of walked across the hall is like making friends with people at hot pads. And then at some point, I was like, Hey, do you think you all would be interested in hiring a junior web developer and the two co founders and the director of engineering, they're like, maybe you Why don't you send us your portfolio? And so I did. And I had all all by dev websites on my portfolio. And I had built my portfolio site at that time with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And they're like, Yeah, I think you could make that transition. And so it was it was a little bit of a process. And that's a first I started, I think, 20% of my time working in web development, but quickly, within like a month or so moved to that web dev team full time. So working on front end there. And that's how that happened.

Tim Bourguignon 14:27
That is pretty cool. That is pretty cool. And did you remember how that happens? Were you the one driving Okay, here is how I like to learn and here is how I think it should go. Were you driven? How did this this transition from 20% to 100%. In a new company, or health new company, work?

Jennifer Wong 14:47
Yeah, I think I to be honest, I was when I first heard the 20% time suggestion, I was like, that's just done. So I definitely was To get to 100% as quickly as possible. And with customer support, there isn't too much of at that time, there wasn't too much to transition in terms of responsibility just because there weren't any super specialized things that I was working on. So it's very easy to just, you know, it meant more workload for people who are there. But because they're hiring more folks and customer support, I think it was pretty easy to just move over full time to web development. But yeah, I would say I definitely pushed on it.

Tim Bourguignon 15:32
Okay, how long did you stay with this was first company or did this first role as a developer?

Jennifer Wong 15:38
I think Hotpads I was there for close to two years, maybe about a year and eight months or so.

Tim Bourguignon 15:45
Okay, and what motivated you to to find a different position, like find a different company and your job?

Jennifer Wong 15:52
Yeah, at that time. So I think being the first junior developer was a little bit difficult, especially someone who, amongst all of that engineering team did not have a background in computer science didn't have a traditional background, I think it was, for me very difficult to learn in those circumstances. Also, the, there was a very delineated and clear split between front end and back end. And I was interested in learning more about back end. But a lot of the times, what would happen was, I would need some piece of data, I would need something manipulated in some way. And I would have to wait for backend engineers to come back. And they would fix things, they would change things from API. And then they would just hand it over to me. And I wanted to learn more about that. I didn't want to just be handed things, if that makes sense. And so I thought it was time to find, yeah, I was like, Well, I think it's time for me to find a space where I can learn more, I can be enabled to learn more, and have more support to do that.

Tim Bourguignon 17:05
Okay, and now, how was this? Now first job search? Because the first one well, you searched through the owl, so it was what job should search but but sending out resumes are really trying to find a different company. How was it for you?

Jennifer Wong 18:08
It's honestly a little bit hard to remember now, but definitely very difficult. Very, very difficult, I think, because I was so new to web development, you don't really know what you're looking for, if that makes sense. And you don't know how to promote yourself in the right way to get the type of job that you want. I think having just your first role in web development, it's hard to be able to compare companies, company sizes, company cultures, and really get an understanding of where you fit in. And I learned that very quickly, because the next role I had, I only had for four months. So at that time, I really thought I wanted to work for a smaller company. I thought that a lot of the issues I was seeing at Zillow were due to the size of the company, when in fact I think it was just that specific engineering team. Like that engineering team was going through his own transition of having their first product manager having their first designer, so a very different experience than what I've had since then working with product teams. Yeah, so I went from, gosh, you know, Zillow at that time was probably 1000s of people. And Hotpads I think they had 35 people, most of whom were engineers. And then I went to a place that was by no, I was their second hire, or third hire. So there were six people at the entire company.

Tim Bourguignon 19:39
Okay, very small startup. Yes. Was it to be in such a small startup you're probably doing everything in its country. So as a as a junior still, pretty much in your cell. How did you handle that?

Jennifer Wong 19:54
Yeah, it was it was tough. It was really interesting. I think, you know, I At that time, I really wanted to focus on being a web developer, I was expected to do more, I was expected to do some of the marketing, including some of the blogging, it worked a lot on those marketing web pages, it was an email based startup. And so doing a lot of email templating, which is actually partially how I got the job was my first role at Hotpads was working on their emails, and improving your emails to be mobile friendly. And so that really gave me a leg up to find this second role, which was at an email startup called Nick snacks. And, yeah, I think it was, it was tough, because you have to be such a self starter. And you have to do all of your own self learning. And at that time, for me, it was, as you mentioned earlier, when we were chatting like, knowing the unknown unknowns, is very difficult. As a new person, you just don't know what you're supposed to be overturning at that time. And especially as a self taught engineer, it's just like, there's so many gaps in my knowledge that I don't know how to fill or what to fill them with. So yeah, it was very tough. That's, that's the short answer.

Tim Bourguignon 21:18
I kind of want to stay with you. That's, that's a question. I really like to ask how this this start happened. Because that's, that's the, the, the pinnacle of not knowing what to expect, you don't even know the basic terms of what you're getting into. And so you cannot even search for that later on. And it still still happens to me every day, searching for a term dog having the technical term, but I have 20 others that kind of relate to it, and they can narrow it down pretty fast and find the right term, and then I get the results. But the beginning what what do you type when you don't even know if it if there is such a thing. And so this the very the very start is always very, very interesting. See how people handle and handle this, this this, this unknown territory jump jumping in cold water. So the German saying says, I'm going to do something, this is something in the English neglect being thrown into cold water or something like that. We

Jennifer Wong 22:16
say deep water actually are thrown into the deep into the deep end of

Tim Bourguignon 22:20
the pool. The German guy but cold water. Okay, so you remember a few a few months at this company. And then came to Eventbrite, which we talked a touch base on before, right? Yeah, correct. Okay, so this second job search was a better than the first one.

Jennifer Wong 22:42
That one Yeah, that one, I would say was pretty close, or pretty much the same. I think it was the split from mix, Max was sudden. And so I was probably slightly more panicked. I would say, in my second job search, although when you're when you're looking for a new job, and you don't have a job, that means that looking for a job is your job. So in some ways, it's like it's a benefit, because I had all the time just to dedicate to looking for a job and interviewing. And it was still definitely difficult because the skill set I had was very specific to you know, I'd say the very front, front end of the stack. And my specialization at the time was probably CSS, to be honest. And I, I feel like I'm a little bit lucky in that Eventbrite was very much looking for a CSS expert, they were looking to fill that CSS gap. And so I was able to land a role there, which I was pretty excited about. And I think I definitely learned a lot there. Because the engineering team was really well established, folks were broken up into product teams. And that was something I had never experienced before, at least as an engineer. And I think it really helped a lot because there was so much structure to what you're building. And there were enough engineers, many engineers from alternative backgrounds, that we were all kind of helping and learning from each other at the same time. It was a really healthy environment to be learning in.

Tim Bourguignon 24:33
I see. Would you mind expanding a little bit on this on this product centric structure and how it helps you get gets faster on your feet?

Jennifer Wong 24:42
Yeah, I think because we each had our own product team. So for my team, I started on the event listings page. So if anyone is familiar with Eventbrite, you will have probably seen that page because it's where you go to purchase a ticket to an event and I think having the structure of knowing exactly what you're building exactly who your customer is, because I had been a customer of Eventbrite already. And also, having a product manager drive priorities for us was really helpful, because we knew what to focus on, we knew what to prioritize. Whereas when I was working at such a small startup before there was you just had to do everything, there was just so much and trying to know, what I needed to prioritize at that time was just very difficult as an engineer. So yeah, I think having that product team structure really helps a lot. And also having you know, an engineering manager, having a designer having folks in QA, you could really focus on building things, but also working together to understand that all of these other pieces of that product team puzzle, are roles within themselves. And it would just be so difficult as an engineer to even take on a piece of that yourself. You're basically doing a zillion different things, which means you're doing many jobs instead of just the one.

Tim Bourguignon 26:10
I remember when, when I first experienced this, and then look back at what I had done before and former companies Oh, now I understand what I should have been doing. What professional development and testing and, and more should have been. Oops. But when you have limited resources, you do what you have to do. If you have five hats to wear, then you wear all five and do the best you can with it. But interesting times did you realize that this was helping you right away?

Jennifer Wong 26:43
No, I had no idea. I think I had come to this new company. And every new company I went to at that time, I was just like, oh, this is just the way they do things here and something new and interesting. And I guess I'll learn about it. I don't think I quite understood that having that structure really makes sense, I guess, come bearing back to when I was at Hotpads. And Hotpads is still going to that transition. I was like, Oh, this is what they're trying to get to. Like that was the main comparison that I had was like, oh, you know, at at the time at HotPads, I think there was some animus a little bit of animus where people are like, Oh, no, this product manager is going to come in and start to control what we're building. And we don't want to cede that to someone else who's coming in. And then going to Eventbrite, where everything is kind of established and understood how product teams work. I was like, oh, yeah, it can, it can actually really work really well. And I think that's what Hotpads is building towards, but hadn't quite got there yet.

Tim Bourguignon 27:51
Hmm, interesting. Interesting. I've seen it well, I worked very well as well. And I've seen companies overshoot and really drive the pain away to fall down. And then there was somebody really saying, we're going to do this, and you don't have a seat in it anymore. And that really was a pain point as well. But when you do it, right, this product driven, or product centric organization really works very, very well. So again, I came in the same, and it's I'm glad to hear that even right, got it right enough so that you really could could thrive with it. That is 33. Cool. So obviously, you remained open bright for 10 or 20 years, and you're still there.

Jennifer Wong 28:29
Yeah, that's exactly what happened.

Tim Bourguignon 28:32
As I read in your bio, the beginning. So it's obviously not the case. At what point did you decide? Well, I need to move on now. I need to quit this fantastic product centric organization.

Jennifer Wong 28:45
Yeah. I think this this one's a little bit complicated. I it was not necessarily a choice. It was kind of a mutual decision, I would say. Right. And so I would say, to be honest, it was an issue with my manager at that time. If you don't want to? Well, it was, it was yeah, it was very interesting for me looking back on it, because as an engineering manager, now, I it was actually helpful situation to be in. Because I could really, I would say all the managers I had had up until that point, or they were either great managers, or they were more I would say, I guess, not super present. If that makes sense. There are managers who are more hands off and kind of let me build my own career build. Do you know what I wanted to do? And just kind of enabled me from the background. And so I think having managers who are a little more hands off you don't really Get a sense of what they're doing that helps you. Because you don't get to really see it. And so I think having a bad manager actually really helps a lot. Because you know, what, what not to do as a manager. And it doesn't necessarily help you to know what to do as manager, but it helps you to know what not to do as manager

Tim Bourguignon 30:22
that helps that helps you to find enough of these and then you have the full spectrum of what not to do. So okay, but you realize, or is it? Is it? Is it recent? And you realized what those other managers we're doing right, through this bad experience? Did you have to really explore a bit more?

Jennifer Wong 30:43
Yeah, I think reflecting on it a lot, actually, recently, and I think having a little bit of that hands off mentality and allowing for people to explore and to think about how they want to build their careers. And to enable them from the background is actually quite an effective way of managing. And for sure, there is some engineers want a bit more guidance in how to get to those next steps for them, or, you know, what are the right next steps for them and understanding that, but yeah, reflecting on what past managers have done, that I haven't been able to see is really, I don't know, I think being a manager myself, I've really opened my eyes to that, where I'm like, Oh, I think I do that where my engineers might not understand what I'm doing in the background every day. They don't necessarily know who I'm talking to, or what decisions I'm making or where I'm pulling different strings to get them on to the right project. They just see kind of the outcomes of it. And I feel like I've learned some of that just, I accidentally, via those past managers that I've had, yeah. Yeah, I guess one other thing with I'll go back to Eventbrite really quickly. One other thing I will mention about the transition was, I think I felt a little bit pigeon holed at that time, like I was definitely hired as that CSS expert. And I think, I don't think I know there are a lot of engineers out there who can relate to this, where they're a bit pigeon holed into working on that very front end of things where they're working on HTML, CSS, and more interactive rather than web application JavaScript. And I didn't have as strong an understanding of API's or the data layer of front end work. And I also didn't have a lot of experience working in front end frameworks at that time. And so I got very pigeonholed into doing CSS and I had taken on some of the web accessibility responsibilities. And I wanted to kind of move beyond those things, but wasn't getting an opportunity to do that. Because someone needs to do the CSS, someone needs to make sure web accessibility is being handled across all of the different teams within a company. And I didn't want to be that person. But someone needed to be there. And I was kind of expected to be that person. And so that was another reason where I was just like, I think it's time for me to move on to the next thing.

Tim Bourguignon 33:39
Yeah, that backfires. Always, when you try just to keep somebody you were there currently, maybe saving the world, but if they want to move and you try to keep them there, they're gonna leave. It's inevitable. Yeah. Okay. I see. I see. I see what convinced you to, at some point, embrace a more managerial role, even though I don't know how hands on the definition of an engineering manager at CrowdStrike is, but up to take on the management hat as well.

Jennifer Wong 34:07
Yeah, actually, I started thinking about it. When I was at Eventbrite, I was really interested in going into management. And I think, I realized I really enjoy talking with people I really enjoy trying to understand and help them with their issues or their problems, or pointing them in the right direction, and having them meet up with the right people to help them solve any problems that they're having. So it was something I had actually started to investigate when I was at Eventbrite and, and then departing there. So I worked at two other startups in between them at Eventbrite. And now at CrowdStrike. I was trying to improve my technical skills, but then I just found myself. I kept going back to working on process and talking with people. And when I left my last company, I was just like, I I think it's time to really start pursuing engineering management. Because that was the work that I was really enjoying doing. So actually, I started at CrowdStrike as an engineering manager, and it's, it's my first engineering management role. So that in and of itself has been really interesting as well.

Tim Bourguignon 35:20
And it's been a couple of years already, hasn't it? It's been,

Jennifer Wong 35:23
I think, a year and eight or nine months now. Okay, so

Tim Bourguignon 35:30
have you been tempted tempted in a calling former engineering managers that you you you met along the way, and even you ask them questions or, or congratulate them on something they did back then, and you only realize the value of

Jennifer Wong 35:46
I, I've definitely still kept in touch with some of the engineering managers that I've had. And yeah, I've definitely talked to them about the difficulties of being an engineering manager, and all of the things that I didn't see that they were doing good or good. I was just gonna say there's, you know, there's one engineering, my most recent engineering manager, manager is definitely one of my mentors. And so I talk with him pretty regularly about different issues, or you know, how things are going at CrowdStrike how things are going in engineering management in general. And it's, it's great to have his insight, because he's been doing engineering management for longer than me. So a lot of the situations I've been in, he's already experienced, and can give me advice on

Tim Bourguignon 36:35
it's always, always good to have people you can you can throw ideas onto and see see how they react if they've lived through that already, if they have some pointers for you, and then go back, probably with a few questions. There, I'm thinking, especially one of my former managers, and I regularly think, oh, oh, I wonder if he was thinking this when he did that. And then I ponder on it, and then at some point, talk to him. And quite often, it's even something different that I hadn't envisioned at all yet. But that's, that's always interesting, then I had a question. I forgot what it was. It will come back. It will come back. And yes, you said you said there's difficulties of being an engineering manager, what what would you say all the the hardest things you discovered since you became one,

Jennifer Wong 37:23
I think the number one thing is time I, you mentioned that in my bio, where I talked about my manager's list of things to do, which it only ever gets longer, even if you've actually done a significant number of the things on the list that you just can never, you just keep adding to it. Because there, there's no time to do the things that you need to do, which are of course, the things that produce artifacts that show that you are doing work, whereas a lot of the engineering management work, don't produce artifacts, it's more about how you've worked with people to enable them or influenced people to help your team or to help themselves or, you know, to also, you know, people that you've helped yourself as well, all those things are, it's very hard to show that you it's dependent on those people to tell other people about those things. So I think time and your work product is very different from being a software engineer.

Tim Bourguignon 38:33
I think I told this, this story yesterday or the day before and so so people who listen to the previous episode will recognize this. We had a we had a hackathon very recently. And I was able to code for a full week and I almost cried double that was so great, getting those those reinforcement feedbacks every 20 minutes saying oh, it works and then for 20 minutes, it doesn't work. Oh weed works and isn't going to hope it works. That was fantastic. That was not at all my daily job. My day job is wondering, Can I do something else with this person? Maybe it will trigger something in the next days or weeks and maybe in a few months we'll see the effects of what I did that's pretty much it's the whole day that the beginning of the week I said some some some targets and say well, maybe this week I'll be able to do this, this and that. And most often and at the end of the week I did something else entirely.

Jennifer Wong 39:28
Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 39:32
Did you Did you brush over over it and now say, okay, that's that's life. Did you fight against this?

Jennifer Wong 39:38
No, I would say I've, I've come to terms with it. I think that's that's just the nature of this job. And I I think it's just funny because I'm thinking back to the way in which we got in touch was one of my tweets about being an engineering

Tim Bourguignon 39:54
was indeed

Jennifer Wong 39:57
saying that, you know, engineering man It is generally expected to do two out of these four different things that are responsibilities, which is, you know, taking care of people managing process, keeping up technically. And I forget what the last one was, which I put on to the list. But people Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 40:23
But that was very true.

Jennifer Wong 40:24
Yeah, I think people, you know, they're like, Okay, you know, you're able to do two of these things. But really, you're expected to do all four. And it's just, it's very much a balancing act between all of those things, and you really don't know what you're going to be able to prioritize, which is, it's funny because I feel like I've come full circle, whereas like, talking about as a web developer, not knowing what to prioritize, being at a startup, and now I'm an engineering manager was like, I still don't know what to prioritize.

Tim Bourguignon 40:54
Now, you're helping others find that out? Yes. Did you see yourself doing this on long run? Or do you want to come back? Or do the engineering minute pendulum like, like, charity majors like to say, I'm going back to a two more IC role, and then moving back again, to a more management role and going back and forth like this?

Jennifer Wong 41:15
Yeah, I think I see myself as staying on the management track. And I say that aloud. And I say that on a podcast, and that really worries me.

Jennifer Wong 41:31
Right, I moved out of being an icy engineer, because I think I'm just much more effective. As a manager of people helping with process and enabling other people, I would be worried for whatever team wanted to try to hire me again, as an icy engineer, to be honest, because I find myself much more productive in this role. And so I think, for me, it's really tough because I'm coming to grips with the fact that I might not ever do that pendulum. And I know, a lot of engineering managers do. So it's, it's really scary for me to say it aloud to be honest.

Tim Bourguignon 42:14
Can you put some words why it's scary?

Jennifer Wong 42:17
I think it's, it feels like it's going against the grain a little bit. Like I, for me, yeah. Personally, I haven't. I haven't been a sock. I hadn't been a software engineer for that long. I had been doing web development in software engineering for about seven years before I went into management. And that feels short to me. Even though when I first started to look in engineering management, I had only been doing it for four years. And I was like, I'm ready to be a manager. But it's funny reflecting back on that now, it's been like, seven years feels too short.

Tim Bourguignon 42:56
But it still appears it counts. Like like dog years. You have to multiply it by seven. Yeah. Well, I guess I guess it's it's a personal story. I've I fought against that as well for for a while and really wondered, should I shouldn't I should I go to management or not, and then transition back and forth. And at some point said, you know, I think I think it's the right time now and moved on. And so we'll have to find when the right time, if it's the right time, if it's already, then I guess it's fine. I guess it's really fine. But you said you feel like you have more of an impact where you are now soon? Hell that that's the best feeling to have. That's right, that one.

Jennifer Wong 43:38
Yeah, I will. I will try to I'll try to be less scared. It is. I mean, I guess, being an engineering manager, it's still very new for me. I'm not too far outside of my IC career yet. And so maybe the further I move along as an engineering manager, the less I feel this fear of being away from it.

Tim Bourguignon 43:58
Maybe, oh, maybe that was very cool. Would you would you have another piece of advice for someone who is doing making this transition, saying, well, I might I see now, and I'm not sure if I should step into management when you tell them?

Jennifer Wong 44:17
Yeah, this actually came up yesterday with someone that has been interested in management, both is still unsure of it, and started to look into management roles, but ended up continue on as an IC. And he was thinking about, did he make a mistake by staying as an IC and maybe you should move back into looking into management? And I was like, well, you really need to assess what your reasons are for moving into management, like make a list of like, why you're motivated to do those things and make sure that you're motivated for the right reasons. Like if you are if you're doing it just because you're unhappy at your current role. I don't think that's the right reason. Like, I think you need to know what you want to focus on in your next step or the next step in your career or next step in your path. I think that and then also, take everything as it comes, I think every opportunity is going to give you some amount of lessons and learnings that will help you build up yourself, whether it's in management, or whether it as an individual contributor as an engineer. And so I think, just keep, just keep moving. I, as Dory, the fish likes to say, I think, you know, you'd go with the flow, and you know, you see where it goes, I think you if you really feel that you're at that breaking point, then make that list and then make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Tim Bourguignon 46:00
Amen to all this. Thank you very much, Jen, where would be the best place to to continue this discussion with you?

Jennifer Wong 46:10
Yeah, probably on Twitter. My handle is my blue wristband. I'm also on LinkedIn under Jennifer E. Wong. And then my website is mochi machine.com.

Tim Bourguignon 46:24
And I'll add all the three links in the show notes. So you don't have to write them down. Just scroll down and take anything else you want to plug in before

Jennifer Wong 46:32
we close today. No, nothing for me. Then,

Tim Bourguignon 46:35
thank you very, very much. It was a very interesting ride into the startup world and going from from one place to the other, and ending I think at a very nice place for yourself. At least it sounded like this in your voice. So thank you very, very much. Thank you. And this is another episode of therapists journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on our website, Dev journey dot info slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Will you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how will this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.