Reading Roundup No. 3

[ series-reading-roundup  ]

Welcome to another reading roundup! I have to say, I’m really enjoying these. It’s great to get a writing “win” in spite of having some writer’s block / never-ending pandemic fatigue on my longer articles, and I like getting to share and support other people’s work! Wins all around 🥰

1️⃣ How I rapidly improved my communications skills at a startup, and you can too (Wellington Johnson)

Wellington recently started blogging about his experiences in tech, and I’m so glad he did! This is a great post about the importance of good communication skills as a developer. I absolutely love this quote from the article - “these aren’t mythical skills that are reserved for the chosen few, they can be taught, they can be learned, and they can be perfected over time.” YES! Such a great understanding to have early in your career, and I love to see earlier-career devs being reflective of their skills and areas of growth like this.

(Also! Did you know that Wellington published a book this year?! It’s called The Beginning Software Engineer’s Playbook: and you should go buy a copy!)

2️⃣ Risk is a Metric: The Math of Risk (Jenna Charlton)

This is Jenna’s follow-up to the article last week from Melissa Fisher. Metrics are a pretty common conversation in Quality, including the question of what makes a good metric, and one of Jenna’s answers to that question is the metric of risk. Her approach to calculating risk considers three factors: likelihood, complexity, and impact. I really appreciate how she breaks down her thinking and explains the context behind her metrics. As she points out, numbers have meaning. When we’re defining metrics and using them to inform our work, we need to make sure everyone has the same understanding around what those numbers mean. I’m excited to continue reading this series on risk from Jenna! (No pressure, Jenna 😉)

3️⃣ An “aha!” tweet about prioritization (Ashley Hunsberger)

As a manager, my TODO list is ever-growing. Setting up a Trello board has been super helpful, with columns for Now, Soon, and Someday to prioritize timing; In Progress to manage my WIP; and a Completed column for each quarter so I can track my work and accomplishments over time. But one of the things I’m working on is prioritizing within the Now column. I’m juggling a lot of work between my direct team, the QE department, the engineering teams, the org, and my own professional growth. Because I may be working on different initiatives that affect different areas of work, it can be hard to set prioritization between those tasks. Ashley’s categories might be the answer! My goal is to try adding those categories for a month or so to see if that helps me prioritize my own work better (and to figure out the best way to display that information on the Trello tickets).

I especially love the Ability/Comfort to Execute category, which could be a really great way to track how much “growth” work you’re doing - too much, and you’ll just be flailing around all the time without getting a win; too little, and you’re not being challenged enough and improving your skills.

4️⃣ Interviews are About Telling a Story (Laurie Barth)

The “great resignation” in tech is here! If you’re interested in being a part of it, Laurie’s article is a great way to prep for conversational interviews. Conversational interviews - the “tell me about a time” questions - should be a two-way, collaborative conversation. But that conversation also needs to be clearly communicated in small chunks of time under pressure! Laurie’s advice for getting through this is to use a story that highlights your skills in the way you want, in a way that’s meaningful to people you’ve never met. Her examples are super helpful and easy to use as a starting point for thinking about how to describe your experiences as stories. As someone with high interview anxiety, I’m definitely bookmarking this for my future use 😄

(I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the company I work at, The Zebra, is hiring! If you’re jumping into the great resignation, please check out our Careers page - we have open reqs for various SWE and QE roles. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you want to chat!)

Written on September 13, 2021