What kind of Software Engineer am I?

The four wings of a software engineer are:

  1. Product / Business
  2. Design
  3. People
  4. Technical
Four Wings of a Software Engineer ~ blog.robertsimoes.org

Recently a coworker shared this blog post in our departmental “Blogroll” slack channel. It struck a cord with me and helped me to understand some of my struggles with imposter syndrome over the years.

In the article he defines 4 different types of Software Engineers. As I read his descriptions I realized that I have spent my career feeling inferior to other Engineers because I am weakest as a “Technical” engineer. I always knew that my skills lay in other places but always had a hard time defining them, and felt like a failure because I didn’t have the “Technical” skills my coworkers did.

As a fulltime Software Engineer I often struggled with learning new technologies quickly, understanding how all the pieces fit together, determining the best engineering solution for the problem in front of me, and knowing the proper terms for the tasks I undertook. While my code was always solid, I would go into interviews and say things like “I don’t know the correct term, but here is how I solved the problem.” Thankfully I got hired anyway!

After reading his article, I realize that I fall in the “Product/Business” and “People” categories. It explains why my shift to be an Agile Lead to aid other Engineers in building better software feels so right. A few years back I rose up to a Team Lead position and quickly my team became the highest performing in our department, not because I was strong technically, but because I knew who was and cleared their slate so that they could solve our problems. Eventually I was moved into the position of “Agile Delivery Lead” so that I could take what I was doing that was working and apply it across our department. I’m still in that role today and loving it!

Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, and I have spent a good part of my career feeling that way. Finally after 20+ years I have my feet under me and feel like I am contributing to our Engineering department in a valuable way. Thanks Robert for helping me understand.

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