Career Options For Computer Engineers – Over the past five years, I’ve given dozens of guest lectures at many of Chicago’s coding bootcamps.
Some questions always arise: “Which language should I learn next?”, “How can I prepare for technical interviews?”, “Are you hiring?”
Career Options For Computer Engineers
But one question that threw me was, “What if I don’t want to be a software developer?”
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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. After nearly a decade leading production and engineering teams, I realized I was ready for a new challenge, so this summer I started writing my own technical papers. I didn’t know when I got my first client, but I figured it out pretty quickly
This post goes over the many career paths available to software developers, especially recent bootcamp graduates. I explain what each job does, how you can get the job, and the long-term outlook.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative career path because you can’t find an engineering job, or you’ve realized that software development isn’t for you, this guide will help you find a career that matches your skills.
While software engineers benefit from having people skills, some bootcampers I’ve talked to aren’t looking forward to sitting still and writing code all day. If you want a career that offers more opportunities to interact with people, these jobs may be right for you.
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As more companies seek to build relationships with their customers, users, or developers as advocates, the field of developer relations is growing rapidly.
Developer relations specialists (some companies call them developer advocates, developer evangelists, community managers, or “devrels”) help establish and build a community around their company’s software.
He is often involved in building demo apps, writing blog posts, speaking at conferences, and managing social media accounts for technology-focused companies. Many well-known tech companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.) employ teams of developer relations specialists.
If you are interested in this area, read what Mary Thengwal and PJ Hagerty are doing. They are two of my favorite influencers in the space and together they launched the Community Pulse podcast.
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Marketing to developers is especially tricky because we don’t like to be sold to, the more aggressive marketing tactics that work in other markets are taboo here. As someone with a technical background, you will naturally understand the way developers think and have more influence than a traditional marketer.
SlashData publishes a lot of great content on marketing for developers, including a book on the topic in 2018. If you want to start in this field, learn online marketing: SEO, social media, content marketing, influencer marketing, etc. You can practice these skills on your blog to showcase your knowledge before applying for a job.
Many engineers shy away from any job with “sales” in the title, but we’ve all encountered bad salespeople.
The truth is that everyone is in the business of selling. Whether you’re “selling” yourself as a job candidate during the interview process or advocating a new framework within your engineering team, sales matches customer needs with the right solution.
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Sales engineers typically have a certain level of technical expertise. This is a great combination for developers who don’t want to write code all day but understand software engineering.
Another great part of selling is that you don’t need special certifications to do it. HubSpot offers a great introduction to some skills and resources to get you started. As more companies build software tools and services for engineers, sales engineers are likely to be in even greater demand in the coming decade.
I’ve met some honest, genuine tech recruiters (for example, Taylor Dorsett and Matt Hoffman from my hometown of Chicago), but I’ve also met some awful, clueless recruiters who are only focused on finding candidates to meet their quota.
The good news is that with software development experience, you’ll have more empathy and credibility than other technical recruiters. Like sales, this field requires a more outgoing, relationship-oriented personality, but does not require specialized certifications or courses.
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Unfortunately, many entry-level tech recruiting jobs are at low-quality companies, so be sure to check their reputation on Glassdoor before applying.
If you want to stay on the product team but aren’t sure if you want to become a software developer, there are many fields you can transition into. These roles work closely with engineers, so your coding knowledge will help, but they also require other specialized skills.
Although there are subtle differences between quality assurance engineers and testing engineers, both are concerned with testing software before it is released.
If you have an eye for detail and love coming up with creative ways to automate repetitive tasks, this is a great career path. This will probably require some coding and some manual testing.
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Smaller companies have their own software engineers to test with others, so dedicated testing and QA roles are more common in larger organizations. There are many differences between how companies conduct testing, so be sure to ask about the tools they use, how automated their tests are, and how much manual and automated testing your role will involve.
On the other side of the product development life cycle are business analysts. They often work as a bridge between business and technical teams to understand requirements, constraints and deadlines. They can step in and help with testing and QA depending on the team structure, so they should have a wide range of product knowledge.
If you have experience in business, product development or design and some coding skills, you may qualify for an entry-level business analyst role. If not, I recommend checking out some online courses to help you get a basic understanding of the role and what it entails.
The key difference is that project managers usually go deeper into the project. They often define tasks and resources for the teams working on the project and monitor the progress of the project as it approaches release.
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Smaller companies may combine the roles of business analyst, project management, scrum master, and product manager in different ways, while larger companies may define separate responsibilities.
Excellent organizational skills, business acumen and people skills are key to success as a project manager. This role depends on your ability to manage expectations and motivate people who are older or more experienced than you, so you need to build trust quickly. The multifaceted nature of this role is great for analytical, technical people who no longer want to write code.
In Agile teams, the Scrum Master helps ensure that everyone knows and agrees on Scrum theory, best practices, and rules.
It looks like project management, but with a special focus on serving other teams involved in building the product. Again, this is not always his job, but in larger organizations it can be.
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The ability to manage expectations and constraints is critical to your success as a Scrum Master. You also need to know agile best practices, so I recommend finding a suitable course or book on the topic. Agile is widely implemented in organizations of all sizes, so this career will continue to grow in the coming decade.
I spent a lot of time in 2019 working on product management to improve our product delivery process at Grade Network.
Product managers look holistically to ensure a company’s products are desirable (customers want them), sustainable (makes business sense), and feasible (we can build them). This kind of high-level thinking ability is rare, so if you have that and some technical knowledge, you can do well as a product manager.
Entry-level product managers may start with small parts of the product or as project managers in some organizations. This will give you insight into product development and help you build relationships with all the necessary stakeholders before deploying your own product to manage.
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If you come from a design or art background, becoming a UI or UX designer with some coding knowledge is a great way to stand out in your field. This combination of skills allows you to talk more effectively with engineers and create interactive models in HTML/CSS instead of just static image files.
If you don’t have much design experience, enroll in a course and start building a portfolio. Many companies hire people without a degree if they can demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Dribbble is the most common portfolio platform I’ve seen, but you can also use your own website.
The explosion of no-code and low-code development tools in recent years has opened up opportunities for companies looking to build software quickly without hiring a development team. These tools let you build a mobile or web app in hours instead of weeks, and as each year gets better, more companies are embracing no-coding apps.
MakerPad and No Code Jobs are great places to start looking for these types of jobs. Because this
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