10 Unwritten Lines of a Technical Job Description

There’s a time in everyone’s career when they are new starting a new job. During this time, everyone wants to make a positive first impression, feel confident, and be successful. To ensure that we grow and thrive in each new role, I’ve learned first-hand that there are some crucial steps every person must take. As a long-time mentor and career coach to those who are early on in their professional journey, I advise that they treat these tips as if they were the unwritten lines of a job description.

So, what have I learned over the years and want people to know? Let’s dig in.

#1 – Create your own learning path. 

In high school and college, a learning plan is already defined for you, but when you get to the workplace, often times it’s not so clear. Therefore, you must create your own path forward, and continue your learning.

  • Invest 10 minutes a day on technology trends relevant to your field of work.
  • Invest 1 hour a week to learn something new, perhaps take a new course.
  • Invest in attending one conference a year. A lot of companies will pay for a conference for professional growth. Talk to your manager to explore options.

#2 – Build relationships. 

Engineers can have quiet and introverted personalities. Feeling like you are part of the team may or may not be easy. You may even feel that there is too much work and socializing isn’t the best use of your time. The truth is, this is an important aspect of your job that isn’t written down.

  • Participate in team events.
  • Help organize outings.
  • If you are passionate about something, start a group, e.g. game night, soccer games, pottery, etc.
  • Go for lunch or drinks with people in “adjacent” teams.
  • Build friendships.

#3 – Understand your customer. 

Customers can be internal or external. Finding out who they are and how they consume what you build will help provide context for what you do. It will empower you to make decisions.

  • Understand how your company makes money.
  • Know who your competition is and what they do.

#4 – Speak up.

Speaking up is important. A typical reason that many folks don’t do this is that they think their work will speak for itself, or they have self-doubts. Sure, if you don’t work and only talk, it doesn’t help either. But it’s important to share your opinions and suggestions. Well thought out, articulated speech can take you a long way, whether it is in team meetings, informal discussions, or one-on-one meetings.

  • Share your viewpoint on whether you agree or disagree with other people’s ideas.
  • If you can’t formulate an opinion, then educate yourself on the topic until you can.
  • If you disagree with an idea, do have a suggestion for an alternate proposal. Just saying “no” doesn’t help anyone.
  • If you need more time to think, request for a team meeting agenda ahead of time.

#5 – Get a mentor.

A good mentor can help you go a long way. If your company offers a mentorship program, sign up for it. If they don’t, you can always ask your manager or your friendly HR business partner to set you up with somebody.

  • Remember, you own the relationship with the mentor.
  • Move at the pace that the mentor likes–not less, not more.
  • Always be thankful to your mentor. The time they provide is an investment in you.
  • Keep them updated with your progress.
  • It is often good to have two mentors, one within the company, one outside. The internal mentor understands the state of the company and can guide you accordingly. The external mentor can be objective.

#6 – Track your career.

Your career progression is your responsibility. It is perfectly fine not to know exactly where you want to go early in your career. It is also fine to change your goals over time. It is also fine to have a career goal of being happy in the role you are already in. It is your career and hence, your choice. But just don’t expect anyone else to look out for you.

Some tips to track your career progress:

  • Is what you are doing translating into a line item on your resume?
  • Schedule regular conversations with your manager about your career progress, either once a month, once every two months, or whatever feels comfortable. Do not confuse this with performance reviews that a lot of companies do.

#7 – Get trained in “the art of feedback”.

There are many occasions during your professional life where the situation is not black and white, and there is conflict and confusion. Knowing how to receive feedback is important, as is being able to give feedback–both positive and constructive. A lot of your success will depend on this, whether it’s asking for a raise, or dealing with a difficult co-worker.

  • Get trained in the “art of feedback”.
  • If your company has classes on negotiation, or feedback, sign up for those. If not, read a book such as Crucial Conversations or Radical Candor.
  • This is a difficult skill to master, so keep at it. Don’t lose heart.

#8 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Let’s say you have been assigned to a task, and you get stuck doing it. How do you decide when you should ask for help from your co-workers, or from your manager? If you ask too soon, too frequently, or the questions are too basic, you may come across as either an annoyance, or worse, incompetent. If you continue to work at it alone for a long time, and the company’s crucial business gets impacted, it will reflect poorly on you as not being a team player, or not understanding the timelines. Yet, making that judgement call on your first job can be hard.

So, here are some tips:

  • Know when the task you are working on is due. If it is due in 3 hours, get feedback within 30 minutes.
  • If it is due in a 1 week, it may be okay to take a day to figure it out.
  • If it is a big task, get feedback at 30% of your work. Set expectations up front with the team that it is only 30% done.

#9 – Learn an applicable software process or new tools.

Being a software engineer is a craft. The experts know their tools. Invest time in learning the tools needed for your job. Add those tools to your learning plan. (See #1 on this list.)

  • Keyboard shortcuts are great productivity boosters.
  • CLI and shell scripts are evergreen.
  • Whether your team uses agile or waterfall, scrum or kanban, or the latest recommended SDLC methodology, educate yourself on it.

#10 – Stay energized.

Most jobs have a degree of stress associated with them. Finding the activities that make you relax are key to staying energized and in high productivity. Good software is never written when you are spinning like a hamster and don’t know where you are going.

Everyone Has to Find Their Own Path

Early on in your career, navigating through a new job can be difficult, and everyone has to find their own way. Don’t be afraid of taking chances. There will be successes, there will be failures, but not taking chances and only hoping for the best could end up causing regrets later. Hopefully the tips I’ve shared here will help you maneuver through the initial years of your career with confidence.

Learn more about career opportunities at AppDynamics.

AppD Global Tour Amsterdam: Do You Want To Be An Agent of Transformation?

On Wednesday 28th November, AppDynamics’ Global Tour will land in Amsterdam, where we will be hosting more than 100 technologists for an incredible day at Hotel Arena. Delegates will all have one thing in common: The aspiration to become an Agent of Transformation – a new breed of technologist, primed to drive innovation and enable companies to thrive in the face of rapid technological advancement.

This event is a must-attend for anyone wanting to accelerate the success of the businesses they work with, and their personal careers. We have just a few tickets left, so it’s time to decide if you can afford not to attend. You can register now.

Here’s what you can expect to learn at the event:

A rallying call starts the day

The day will kick off with a keynote from two of AppDynamics’ leading figures in Europe.

To start, John Rakowski, former analyst with Forrester Research and currently AppDynamics’ Senior Director of Technology Strategy, will share his personal perspective on how applications are transforming our world and the intrinsic role of real-time business and application performance in today’s modern enterprise.  

EMEA CTO, Firaas Rashid, will lean on his extensive experience with enterprise leaders and explain why 250 milliseconds is a metric that matters. He’ll also share examples of AppDynamics customers who are rising to the challenge of becoming Agents of Transformation.

The keynote will be followed by a customer case study, presented by Vagn Nielsen, Consultant at YouSee, a Danish telecommunications company. Many of us enjoy video on demand through a set top box, but probably don’t appreciate the many dependencies behind the scenes. Vagn will explore how AppDynamics helped YouSee master the complexity of microservices, IOT and much more to deliver an optimal user experience.

Grab a bite and visit the Tour booths

After a packed morning agenda, the lunch break will provide a chance to refuel and reflect. What’s more, there will be a range of booths to visit where you can dive a little deeper into the technology, talk to the experts, ask for a demo, and visit our sponsoring partners:

  • A Quint company, Paphos supports enterprises in designing and operationalizing their digital transformation. By challenging the status quo and connecting people, process and technology, Paphos accelerates digital and organizational transformation.
  • Valori is a full service test organization with full stack testing professionals. Combining AppDynamics expertise with an established CI/CD philosophy, Valori’s mission is to transform organizations and successfully implement their innovations.

And if the morning session piqued your interest in becoming an Agent of Transformation, then you can visit our dedicated booth to learn more. You’ll have the chance to learn about the critical role of Agents of Transformation, find out more about the different technology types in your IT team, and take an online assessment to find out which of those technologists you are! You’ll receive personalized and practical advice on how to start your journey to becoming an Agent of Transformation.

Sessions for all technologists

The afternoon agenda is packed with great sessions, kicking off with a session on how to “Unlock The Power of Real-Time Performance Data with Business iQ” from local Sales Engineer, Marc Van Den Akker. Marc will show how application performance can be correlated with business performance, arming you with data about the customer experience to drive strategic conversations with the wider business.

AppDynamics’ Hans Wallentin will be hosting one of the best received sessions of the AppD Tours to-date, “Top Tips for AppDynamics Adoption Success”. If you want to know how to configure Business Transactions, set up role-based access control or simply show value to the business faster, then this is the session for you.

John Rakowski returns to the stage to talk about “APM In The Next 5 Years.” The market has seen tectonic shifts in direction over the last 2-3 years and will radically evolve even further into the following decade. In this session, you will:

  • Learn about new directions the industry is taking with AIOps and machine learning.
  • Discuss the shifting nature of an IT Operations role within organizations.
  • Get key predictions around themes such as cross-stack visibility and why context truly is king.
  • Hear John draw on his deep APM experience to share insights that will help you navigate the next key steps in your career.

Next up, Erwan Paccard, AppDynamics’ Director of Technical Strategy, holds a ‘fireside chat’ with Dennis Eijkelenboom, Transformation Lead, Infrastructure and Platform, at leading Dutch telecommunications provider, KPN. Dennis will share his thoughts on how AppDynamics has enabled data-driven DevOps at KPN. He’ll also share why the ‘M’ for ‘Measurement’ in the DevOps CALMS model is especially important to KPN, and how each release utilizes insights from AppDynamics to support frequent, high quality releases.

The final session of the day will focus on ‘MTTR,’ but probably not in the sense that you’d expect! MTTR at AppD Global Tour stands for ‘Mean Time To Relax.’ This is your chance to extend your network, exchange views with colleagues and peers on the day’s learnings, and ask questions of the many AppDynamics technical experts who will be presenting at the booths.

There’s Still time to make the last European AppD Tour of 2018

Amsterdam is our last stop of the AppDynamics’ Global Tour Series for 2018 and a great opportunity to learn how AppDynamics can help you on your journey to becoming an Agent of Transformation.

Whether you’re a prospective AppDynamics customer, a seasoned technologist, or simply interested in how applications can impact business performance – this is a must-attend event. So if you weren’t able to make the events in Stockholm, London, Paris or Frankfurt, there are still a few spots left for this free event. Secure your place now by completing the simple registration form here.

We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

Voices of Unified APM—Part 1

Application performance monitoring or APM means a lot more to companies today than just identifying and resolving application errors. IT leaders attending AppDynamics’ Global Tour in San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, and Dallas described how APM has evolved into unified monitoring and become a kind of central nervous system for their companies, keeping track of changes in their environment from one millisecond to the next and monitoring not just applications, infrastructure, and end users, but key business metrics as well. In addition to sharing stories about how their use of AppDynamics has driven increased IT efficiency, more reliable code releases, successful cloud migrations, and closer collaboration with business partners, our customers also talked about how they expect machine learning and artificial intelligence will play growing roles in their businesses in the future.

In this four-part series, we share excerpts of the discussion as it unfolded around the country. Just as the stories told by our customers show how unified monitoring is helping them transform their businesses, so can unified APM help other organizations as they shift to the cloud, adopt new architectures and development models, and look to incorporate machine learning and AI into day-to-day operations.

Getting Started with Unified APM

Companies have traditionally deployed APM solutions in their production environments to gain a deeper understanding of application performance, and this continues to be true today. Many of AppDynamics’ customers said they first turned to a unified APM solution because other monitoring tools were failing them. Their environments were too complex and required too many monitoring tools. Correlating information about a performance issue took too long and often failed to reveal the root cause of the problem.

“I need it right now!”

Dentegra, the leading dental insurer in the United States, first deployed AppDynamics in response to a problem in production they could not diagnose. “It was like, ‘I need it right now!’” said Sai Adivi, director of IT enterprise applications and DevOps, Delta Dental of California. “I just plugged in AppDynamics in production and within 15 minutes we were able to find the root cause.”

The problem stemmed from a recent virtualization project, Adivi recalled. “In relation to that, while we were at it, we found two more memory leaks.” They had been there, Adivi guessed, since the product was built five years earlier. After that, Adivi didn’t need to sell AppDynamics to his CIO. “From there, we began investing heavily in AppDynamics,” he said.

Ease of deployment

Ecolab, a global supplier of water, hygiene, and energy solutions headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, wanted a more effective monitoring solution that didn’t require additional headcount. AppDynamics’ combination of unified monitoring and hassle-free deployment sealed the deal.

“The ease of deployment of AppD was the biggest factor,” said Sandeep Chugh, senior application lead, Ecolab. “We were not looking for something for which we would have to hire a specific person. We were also really excited that you could get synthetic data, monitoring data, and Business iQ data in one place.” Right out of the gate, Chugh was pleased to see the barriers preventing communication come tumbling down. Without a clear-cut way to identify the source of an issue, engineers had been shifting blame. With AppDynamics, people began taking responsibility, he said.

A troubleshooting challenge

Q2ebanking, which provides digital banking services and is based in Austin, Texas, needed to ensure the quality of their customers’ online experience remained high. But a lack of visibility into distributed applications was foiling the efforts of the operations team. Customers were reporting problems that IT could not recreate. “As every IT professional knows, the most fun problems to troubleshoot are the intermittent ones,” said Jacob Ramsey, Q2ebanking’s AppDynamics administrator.

Deploying AppDynamics finally brought relief. “With AppDynamics I could pull up a flow map and see right away that the VPN between the Dallas data center and the customer had gone down,” Ramsey said. At that point, fixing the problem was as easy as calling the networking guy and sharing the flow map with him. “Whereas before you were talking about a war-room scenario,” Ramsey said. “You’d have a networking guy, a storage guy, a database guy, and they’d all be saying, ‘No, the problem is not here. It is probably over there.’”

“It’s not hype”

Iain MacKenzie, vice president of performance engineering at Moody’s, the venerable provider of credit ratings and risk analysis, said the benefit of being able to drill down from a list of Business Transactions or a visual flow map using AppDynamics, is extremely powerful. “When we hear of slowness or instability, we go straight to AppDynamics,” MacKenzie said. “Not only are we able to identify a slow transaction whether it is in the backend or front end, but we can get to the line of code within seconds. I’m not a salesperson, I’m just a user, and it’s not hype. It’s quite frankly the reality in many cases.”