This one’s gonna be brief and echoes 2 Less Obvious Ideas to the younger me.
I am assuming that you already know the hygiene factors: Make few promises. Keep most of them and exceed few of them atleast. Get to like the top 5% in the skill of effort estimation for your own work at the very least. And so on.
Contribute to Developer Ecosystem
Improving any part of the developer ecosystem is useful and visible at the same time. For instance, let’s say you add tests for a code path on which 10 developers are working. You’ve made the lives of 10 developers easier. They’ll remember this when you come to them for help.
For some projects/teams, even the build time is quite large and error prone. Any improvements there also save a lot of contributor or developer time.
As Joel Spolsky (the person behind Stack Overflow) wrote: There is more than 1 way to help:
- Maintaining an issue tracker
- Write a decent functional specification
You get the gist. Get creative and figure out points of leverage: low effort, high return on your time.
Engineering Brand Efforts
You already know what are the 1-2 things your team’s best is e.g. speed, scale, cadence, or software quality.
Take those 2 topics and write down 5 reasons or points of evidence on why you think those are the 2 topics on which your team is best. For instance, if I was writing “speed” - one of my points would look like, we make 20 releases a week to almost 500K users. Or, we have fewer than 20 bugs for a release thanks to our amazing testing and QA friends.
Now - expand these 5 points into a short, bullet point essay like this one. Ask your manager and other senior engineers for advice. You say something like, “Hey, I wrote down what our team does best - do you think I captured the essence and reasoning?”
Great, now go write this as an internal and external blog. Submit this at a technical conference which cares about the dimension on which your team is the best. Bringing accolades to the team, with their blessings is much higher returns than reading 10 Medium blogs.