posted on October 28, 2019
In this (first!) blog post, I'll talk about what Developer to Manager is, where it comes from, and what plans we have for the site.
Developer to Manager is a knowledge & career platform for software developers who plan to move to engineering management. We host a set of free-to-access resources for software developers who are either considering making the jump to management, or who are new to the job and could use some advice.
The current main focus of Developer to Manager is building a collection of interviews with engineering managers on how it was like for them to make the switch from software development.
We talk to managers at different stages of their careers, and try to get a sense of how such a transition worked out for them. We talk about about their backgrounds, their advice on how to do this successfully, pitfalls to avoid, and a lot more.
We ask all managers the same set of questions. This is intentional because it allows us to gather different perspectives on the same topic. While customising questions to each person would definitely help us do a "deep dive", I feel that text is not the right format for that (maybe a podcast).
So far we have managers from companies big and small, including Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter, Mozilla, and a few more, sharing their knowledge on the site, and we're adding new interviews every month.
About three years ago, I had co-founded a startup with a few friends, where initially I was the only person responsible for software development. We did bring a few other people on board later who now handle a major chunk of work, but the team is still quite small.
A big part of my job was doing "stuff" that didn't include writing code. This meant looking for new members to join the team, interviewing, making sure the existing ones are happy, communicating with product/sales/biz-dev, estimating projects, and so much more.
I don't know about you, but at least as a part of my CS degree, I didn't learn any of those things!
So I started looking for resources to help me with this transition. I found a couple of excellent books (I like learning from books) on the topic, but what I was really looking for was just to know how others in my situation handled it. Nothing fancy, but just having a few other engineering managers answer a common set of questions about their transitions so I could get a sense of how best to prepare myself for something like that.
At that time, I couldn't find anything like that. So I decided to build one. 🙃
After building the initial version of the site and sharing it on a few social channels, the response I got from the software development community was extremely encouraging.
Quite a few managers reached out via email, volunteering for an interview. And the Hacker News post received slightly more than 500 upvotes and ended up trending on the front page for an entire day, gathering a bit more than 50,000 views within 2 days.
But numbers aside, the main takeaway was that I was definitely not the only person looking for something like this, and that there are a lot of software developers who are looking for advice in this area. Solving personal problems is always good, but it's even better when someone else validates it.
All that encouraging response and feedback is what I use now as a guideline, to almost single-handedly decide what direction the site should take. In my mind, I'd like for Developer to Manager to be the site to visit when you want to learn more about how to become a great engineering manager. At the moment, we do this by interviewing managers. While this is something we plan to do even more of, there are a lot of other things we could do to give readers more value. So over the next few weeks, apart from adding more interviews, I'll be rolling out a couple of new features in that direction.
I'm excited about the future of Developer to Manager. And I hope that after reading this, you're too!