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Ask an Engineering Manager

Real answers to questions about work and life in software development. Are you just starting your first software development job? Or working towards that next step in your career? Just wondering if software engineering is for you, and how to get into the industry? Or managing developers, and wondering how? Send in your question to, and we will tell you what we wish we had known in your place.


017: Typical Mistakes of new engineering managers
What possible mistakes should I be aware of as a new engineering manager? Typical mistakes that almost every new engineering manager makes, why they are bad, and how to avoid them. 
12:45 2/5/22
016: Unconventional ways to kickstart a career in tech (Interview with William A. Adams)
How can people without a traditional tech background get access to jobs in technology? As a manager, what can I do to find that kind of talent, and provide on-ramps to a career in tech? What roadblocks are there typically, and how to solve them? For this episode, rather than just me talking, I interviewed an expert in this field: William A. Adams, an engineering manager and advisor to the CTO at Microsoft, with a long history of succesful initiatives to increase diversity in tech hiring.  Find more info at and
38:56 1/23/22
015: Holiday Special: Christmas gifts for nerds, Christmas gifts by nerds
Holiday gifts from nerds - how you can give the gift of technology to make your loved ones' lifes better. Some services or products mentioned: Online backup: Photo backup: PC Remote control: my favorite ebook reader: iOS podcast app: Android podcast app (also cross-platform): Holiday gifts for nerds - what you can give the nerd in your life that they would not think of themselves Retro gaming: Coffee table books: iconic: a photographic tribute to apple super nes or mega drive pixel book Atlas obscura the geek atlas
26:41 11/21/21
014: Books: What are the best books about Software Engineering?
This time the title says it all: The best books about software engineers, and for software engineers, from timeless classics to books that everybody knows and nobdy reads, to books that are not about software development at all but still highly recommended for programmers.   The giant list of links to all the recommended software engineering books mentioned:
28:59 10/31/21
013: What should I wear to a job interview?
One of the most frequent topics when giving advice to new graduates about an upcoming job interview is: "What is a suitable outfit for a job interview?". The most important answer here is: Do not worry too much about it, what you are wearing is much less important than you think. For more details, listen to the episode. Want to have your questions answered? Send them to Already listening? Please take 2 minutes to let us know what you think:  
10:33 10/3/21
012: Skills: How important are foreign languages?
How important are foreign languages for a career in software development? There are really two kinds of foreign languages: English - and everything else. We talk about why that is, what matters about being able communicate in a foreign languages, and some good ways to learn.   Want to have your questions answered? Send them to Already listening? Please take 5 minutes to let us know what you think:
13:51 9/20/21
011: Management: What does an Engineering Manager actually do? A.k.a. What did you do at work this week?
I assume the questions is supposed to mean "What does an engineering manager actually do?" But to start with, lets answer the question literally: If you've wanted to know what an example of a work week looks like for me, here's your chance to find out.  Then we go deeper into what determines the parts of the job of an engineering manager, and what the most important part of the job is.   Want to have your questions answered? Send them to Already listening? Please take 5 minutes to let us know what you think:
20:51 9/5/21
010: Engineering: Do you think unit tests are important?
The short answer here is of course "yes". The episode elaborates why, when, and for who unit tests have the greatest value, how to overcome reasons not to write tests, and lists arguments for why unit tests are important.    Note: I mis-spoke in the episode - the full term for TDD is, of course, correctly "Test-driven development", not "test-driven design" - although, since one of the main benefits of TDD is its influence on the technical design, that would work, too.   Want to have your questions answered? Send them to Already listening? Please take 5 minutes to let us know what you think:
18:52 8/22/21
009: Career: How do I pick a company to work for?
It's not only about getting a job - it's about getting the right one. But how can you figure out if a company that makes you an offer is actually a company you want to work for?   This episode describes a few non-obvious factors, like how the stage of life or the type of company influences what kind of workplace it will be. We also go deeper into what kind of companies employ software engineers, and what that means for you as an employee.   Articles mentioned in the episode: Joel Spolsky: Five worlds ( Patrick McKenzie: Do not end the week with nothing (
38:33 8/8/21
008: Education: Should I get a PhD?
Today's question: Should I get a PhD? We depart from the usual well-balanced answer style to provide a definite recommendation - but of course, including all the reasoning behind it, as well as possible alternatives.
18:52 7/25/21
006: Job Applications: How long should my resume be?
Today's question: How long should my resume be? The answer goes into details like: - how to experience yourself why a resume needs to be short - which information is most crucial to include in your resume - what to do about resume sections like hobbies, objective or certifications
15:36 6/27/21
005: Education: What advice do you have for someone just starting college?
In the answer: Reasons to go to university - and reasons not to go. How to successfully graduate with a degree in computer science. And some personal advice on how to have fun while doing that.
14:34 6/13/21
004: Cloud: Why use AWS vs. on premise datacenter
What "running things in the cloud" really means.  Why your dedicated data center is not as cheap as you think it is.  Why it probably makes sense to use a cloud provider - but might not.  What purchasing classifications have to do with servers.   Please let us know what you think and answer the  quick and easy listener survey
15:18 5/30/21
003: Career: What do you think of people changing jobs very often?
Today's question: What do you think of people changing jobs very often?" I will tell you what I think, and also how to avoid a negative impression - and why sometimes job change in quick succession might be perfectly OK.
16:46 5/16/21
002: Tech: Which language is the most useful to learn?
So which programming language is the most useful to learn? This episode considers that question from all possible angles, starting with "I want to build a specific kind of application" to "Which languages is best as the first language for someone just starting to program?". Spoiler: It's not about the features of the language (and not even about your favorite style of syntax).  Extra Spoiler: The results are: Javascript, Java, Python, Erlang - listen to the episode to find out why and for what purpose
36:28 5/16/21
001: Roles and Responsibilities: What is the difference between a lead developer, an architect, a project manager, and an engineering manager?
A question about what different job titles commonly found in software project teams mean: What is the difference between a lead developer, an architect, a project manager, and an engineering manager?   The episode contains answers like: - why the meanings are not always precisely defined - what a lead developer does - if a software architect should write code - the project manager's priorities - how the role of an engineering varies between different types of companies
19:19 5/16/21

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