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How to network with other engineering managers, specifically in AI/ML?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

Hello everyone,

I'm reaching out to this community seeking advice and insights as I consider a significant career transition. Currently, I am working in software engineering, but I've recently completed my master's degree with a core focus on Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Throughout my academic journey, I've developed a strong passion for AI/ML, and now, I'm eager to pivot my career in this direction. While I've gained substantial experience in software development, I believe that transitioning to a team more aligned with AI/ML will allow me to fully utilize my skills and contribute more meaningfully to the field.

I understand that networking plays a crucial role in such transitions. However, I'm looking for guidance on the best practices for connecting with AI/ML engineering managers. I am particularly interested in learning about:

  1. Effective ways to initiate conversations with AI/ML leaders, especially when coming from a different technical background.
  2. Strategies to demonstrate my competence and enthusiasm for AI/ML, despite my primary experience being in software engineering.
  3. Insights into the challenges and expectations specific to AI/ML teams that I might not be aware of coming from a different specialization.

Additionally, I'd love to hear any personal stories or experiences about making a similar transition. What were your challenges, and how did you overcome them? How did you leverage your previous experience during this shift?

I appreciate any advice or connections you might offer. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you're open to a conversation.

Thank you for your time and support!

Best regards

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Strategies to demonstrate my competence and enthusiasm for AI/ML, despite my primary experience being in software engineering.

    Tons of opportunities to do this:

    • Content creation: a blog post, a talk (reach out if you want to do it on Taro), a video. Having a bunch of content shows your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. You don't need some original insight here -- the content you create can be a summarization of what you learned.
    • Individual networking: this is the 1:1 approach, which is more powerful but less scalable than the broadcast approach of content creation. See Alex's answer.
    • Find a side project at your day job: figure out if you can get involved (even tangentially) with some AI effort at work. e.g. could you integrate some AI code review or code generation tool and explain it to your coworkers?

    LinkedIn is often the first thing people think about when it comes to networking, so here are some best practices for LI networking: https://www.jointaro.com/question/43hWWtHiyaWA7FTv97IS/connect-with-senior-engineers-on-linkedin-you-want-to-learn-from/

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Effective ways to initiate conversations with AI/ML leaders, especially when coming from a different technical background.

    Here are the ways I would go through, organized by effectiveness:

    1. Reach out to them within your company - In particular, if they're hiring an entry-level MLE person, this works out as the incentives align (you get to learn from them and they might get a resource for their team). If they're not a manager, a tactic you can try is asking for a friendly coffee chat and literally offering to buy them a coffee (this technique only works if you're in-person though).
    2. Look within the Taro community - Make a post in #member-matching asking if anyone's down for a 1 on 1 chat (there are many AI/ML engineers in Taro, many of whom are in Big Tech). Similar to before, make it clear what value you can add. What interesting experience can you share with others?
    3. Cold outreach on LinkedIn - Cold connect with folks and then send them a DM. An idea to add value is to react/comment on all their posts. In your outreach message, reference their posts. Make them feel special (because they are) so they want to talk to you.

    When it comes to general networking, I highly recommend this: [Masterclass] How To Build Deep Relationships Quickly In Tech

    For resources around the life of an MLE, check these out:

  • 1
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    Eng @ Taro
    a month ago

    Insights into the challenges and expectations specific to AI/ML teams that I might not be aware of coming from a different specialization.

    Although I don't have a background on a AI/ML team, you can ask the EM about the kinds of projects their team is responsible for and what the team KPIs are.

    By getting a history of the team's projects, you'll be able to dive into a deeper conversation with the EM about the particular challenges from that project and the problem that the project was trying to solve.

    I would also advise talking to multiple EMs so you can triangulate the expectations among different teams.