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How does technical onboarding differ as you go up the ladder?

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Senior Software Engineer at Grab2 months ago

How does it differ from an entry level engineer to the head of engineering level at each of the levels, given the scope grows as well at each level?

  • Software Engineer
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Tech Lead
  • Staff Software Engineer
  • Principal Engineer
  • Head of Engineering
  • Director of Engineering
  • Vice President
  • CTO

How do each of the levels ensure they are onboarded as quickly as possible to have maximum impact ?



  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 months ago

    First, I highly recommend going through our masterclass on succeeding in a new environment. A lot of it is targeted towards software engineers, but I would say most of it applies to everyone, namely the materials around building relationships and asking questions.

    For my initial comment, I'll just go through my high-level take on this: The more senior and closer to people-management you get, the more relationship-driven your onboarding will become. This means:

    • You're going to move farther away from the code and understanding the nitty-gritty of technical systems
    • You're going to have way more meetings
    • You need to be extremely precise around identifying crucial stakeholders for your work and quickly befriending them
  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 months ago

    Software Engineer

  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 months ago

    Senior Software Engineer, Tech Lead, Staff Software Engineer, Principal Engineer

  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 months ago

    Head of Engineering, Director of Engineering, Vice President, CTO

    • This one I have the least visibility into as I was never remotely close to this level, but I'll take a stab at it. 😜
    • At this level, you shouldn't be getting involved with the "on-the-ground" details about the codebase. That should be delegated to front-line managers and tech leads. You should only understand broad strokes engineer problems like, "Since we're currently a monolith, our system reliability is poor. We need to migrate to microservices."
    • You're going to have a lot of meetings, and you should really get to know the people reporting to you as your entire job is to exert your influence through them to carry out your version and solve org-wide problems.
    • Something I noticed several folks at this level do at this onboarding was do a round of intro meetings with folks "on the ground" to build trust and get concrete data on what problems they face. When a new Senior Director of Engineering joined my org at Instagram, they did a lunch with every team in their org. During that lunch, we all had a friendly chat, they would ask us about what challenges we were facing, and we could ask them questions back.

    Hopefully someone who is at this level can leave a much better answer than me 😅

  • Rahul Pandey
    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 months ago

    One way to think about it is, how many people are you influencing? An entry-level engineer might influence 1 or 2 people, but the CTO should influence the whole company.

    Now, based on that, the people you talk to and the context you try to gather in onboarding should match that.

    Mo talks about the expectations at each level in his talk: https://www.jointaro.com/lesson/Tr3bHl6mIVsmZZ6BAQLc/session-9-how-to-become-a-data-guru-as-an-engineer-w-senior-director-of-ds-mo-shahangian/