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How do I know what I'm great at?

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Junior Software Engineer at Series D Startup6 months ago

I'm pretty early in my career (~1 YOE), so I'm still trying to figure a lot of things out. A lot of the advice on Taro is around finding your strengths and investing more in those, but I'm unsure on exactly how to do that. I feel like I'm just going from ticket to ticket and am quite busy in general, so I don't know how to think about all this. Any tips?

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(2 comments)
  • Lee McKeeman
    Staff SWE at Google, ex-Meta, ex-Amazon
    6 months ago

    I would take a slightly different tact. What gives you energy in your work? What do you love most?

    Get great at that. Ideally it’s something not everyone is great at, but regardless don’t get great at something you hate because it’s what you’ll be asked to do constantly. Let the passion guide this. You have strengths for sure, but you are new. Being great is the result of practice, with some natural proclivity maybe giving it a boost.

    Also, ask your peers? Maybe you don’t know that you’re good at explaining complex topics. Maybe it’s identifying root causes of ongoing problems. Perhaps you ask thoughtful questions. You could be the most patient with new joiners or non-technical people and build bridges. Ask, and if you like the things that come back, refine and accentuate those.

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

    This is a great question, which is why we made a video about it.

    Something else I want to point out is that you shouldn't just find something you're great at, you should find something you genuinely enjoy. While they generally go hand-in-hand, I have seen cases where an engineer was extremely good at something but actually didn't like it!

    When it comes to discovering a true passion, the main question to ask is "Does it not feel like work?" There's 2 angles I have here:

    1. Do you lose track of time doing it?
    2. Does it energize you? - This is something Lee mentioned, which is 100% correct.

    For me, this was mentorship. My 1 on 1s with mentees went over all the time - Once I had a 45 minute 1 on 1 go to almost 3 hours! And I would come out of them feeling happier and more energized than I did prior.

    Lee's point about peer feedback is also spot-on. If you have a good team and they're all telling you that you're good at this thing, you are probably good at that thing!

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