Coding Conversations: Finding The Right Fit

June 12, 2018

Editor's Note: LinkedIn Engineering is dedicated to solving complex problems at scale to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. This challenge provides our engineers with the opportunity to build their technical skills as they make this mission a reality. In this series, we’ll talk about the career development of the people that comprise our Engineering team.

From non-traditional to narrowly focused

For the last four years of my career, I have been intently focused on becoming the best software engineer that I could be. When I started my journey, after making a career change from stay-at-home-mom to software engineer, I saw myself following a career path from software engineering to engineering leadership, helping to guide teams of engineers who build products that would make a difference in the world. I wanted to affect change through the power of creation, inspire others to share knowledge, and to encourage the next generation to join the tech industry.

As someone with a non-traditional path into tech, finding a true fit for the wealth of skills I brought to the table proved challenging at first. Previously, I had worked as a tech instructor, program manager, support professional, marketing maven, domestic engineer, web designer, and entrepreneur. I've taught students across the Bay Area to code, helped over 100 small businesses thrive with marketing and web design services that propelled their brand, and have spoken nationally to evangelize tech in underrepresented communities. Through these varied experiences, I learned that I'm happiest when able to empathetically connect companies and individuals with solutions that work for their businesses and personal lives. Knowing my driver and what motivated me most about pursuing a job in tech, I found it important to bring this skill into my engineering journey. After a ton of interviews (and eventual rejections—over 100 to be precise), I quickly learned that homing in on a smaller collection of skills would serve me best when finding my place as a software engineer and individual contributor. LinkedIn's missions and values aligned with my passion, and after a chance meeting with our former CTO, I found my place here as a software engineer.

I started my journey at LinkedIn as an apprentice engineer through the REACH Program, eventually accepting an offer for a software engineering (SWE) position after the apprenticeship. I found that while I was fulfilled in contributing to small projects within our Sales Solutions suite, I missed the social and educational aspects that previous positions afforded me. I wanted to be more engaged with the product and people who used it, to gain their feedback and iterate to make our products best serve the needs of its audience. I wanted to educate and inspire others to create, leveraging LinkedIn's vast suite of products and services.

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Lyn at LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale campus

Enter: Partner Engineering

When I was first approached about Partner Engineering by my former manager, I felt initially apprehensive. I've never heard of partner engineering and, given how hard I'd worked previously to achieve an engineering role, reading the job description made me worry that I'd in some way slow or impede my career progression. Was I offered this position to consider because I was ineffective or still new in my role as an SWE? Was I being (insert dramatic gasp here) demoted? These were some of the questions that I posed to myself before starting conversations about switching internal teams.

My former manager let me know that he saw the skills that I'd let sit dormant in my current engineering role and thought that partner engineering would be a better fit for the range of talent I brought to the table. I could help build the Sales Solutions Partner Engineering program, standing at the intersection of my current engineering team and the partners we build products for. However inspiring and exciting to hear about, I still held a few fears about taking a position that seemed to abstract me from the “heavy lifting” of coding each day— it seemed it would take me away from my envisioned career path in engineering leadership. It wasn't until I dove into my first 30 days that I really understood how maximizing my past experiences and being proactive about seeking what fits me best contributed to my current success as a Partner Engineer.

Evangelizing, educating, and empowering

After agreeing to take a quarter to decide whether a move to Partner Engineering was for me, I walked into the role with an open mind and spirit. As a Partner Engineer on the LinkedIn Sales Solutions team, I help partner developers build applications using our sales-focused APIs from conception to deployment. I consult on best practices when using our APIs and mobile SDKs, debug application issues with partner developers from some of the biggest companies in the world, build test applications, write comprehensive documentation, and evangelize through community-building within our partner engineering ecosphere.

My first few days as a partner engineer were spent eagerly learning and wrapping my mind around how this hybrid experience uses each one of my skills to deliver an amazing experience to our partners. Utilizing industry-standard tools, my first set of tasks centered around learning the procedures to provide comprehensive support. The social aspect of relating to and helping engineering peers appealed to me, and soon after I helped a few partner developers with debugging their applications, I felt empowered to use my engineering skill and technical expertise to solve issues quickly.

As a writer and someone who has written technical curriculum for many nonprofit organizations, it gave me a great sense of pride to be able to contribute to official documentation within my first few weeks as Partner Engineer. Not only do I get to add to documentation that serves to educate partner developers on the use of our APIs and mobile SDKs, I'm also included in strategic meetings and share my opinions on how to best scale our infrastructure to educate and support developers now and in the future. I routinely work with our Business Development and Engineering teams to leverage my relationship with our partners to launch experiences that speak to their technical needs. It feels amazing to create materials that empower some of the best developers in the world to build apps that further empower the world's professionals.

Seeking happiness always

At a little over three months into my role, I am thankful for the foresight that my former and current managers had regarding the move to Partner Engineering. In retrospect, the fears that I had in making the switch from software engineer to partner engineer stemmed from my own definitions of what success can be in my field. While success looks different for many people, there's a common thread—happiness. I can now say with certainty that bringing my full range of skills to support, educate, and empower other engineers brings me happiness— I've found my best fit, and am eager to learn and grow as a partner engineer.