Over the past few months, Codecademy for Business and our friends at Code Climate have been meeting each week with an engineering leader to talk about their career journey. In the last interview of our series, we hear from Nitika Daga, and Engineering Manager at Stitch Fix.
Here on the Codecademy blog, Nitika shares advice for those considering careers in engineering or engineering management. For more of Nitika’s insight on engineering management, head over to the Code Climate blog.
Q: What interested you about engineering when you were just starting out?
I studied CS in undergrad, although it wasn’t what I started wanting to study. I originally wanted to study math and took one college level math course and was like, “This is terrible. I can’t do this. It’s so boring.”
I’m from New Jersey but moved to Berkeley for school, and just being in The Bay, in Silicon Valley, it’s just kind of in the air. Everyone’s talking about technology and talking about and wanting to at least try engineering. So that’s what got me initially interested in it. And then I took an intro level course and it was like, “Oh, this could be something I’m good at,” but I think I really just liked the problem-solving nature of it.
I love digging into a problem and understanding how technology can solve it. I think that’s why I really love working in retail technology because I think the current retail experience is kind of broken. Finding a pair of jeans that fits is really difficult for a lot of women and also it’s really emotional. If you’re wearing an outfit you like, that can make your whole day. Or, if you feel like there’s something off about the way you look, that can ruin your whole day. So I love solving that problem, which has an emotional component to it.
Q: What advice do you have for people who might be considering a career in engineering?
I would say, find the intersection of engineering and something else that you’re passionate about, because I think in 2020 engineering is everything. There aren’t very many industries that aren’t touched by technology. So really finding that thing that technology touches that you’re passionate about is important.
Whether it’s education tech or food tech or retail tech, find that thing and I think that will really keep you motivated, because engineering is hard. It can be a slog sometimes, and so if you have that other thing that’s keeping you going, it can really help your longevity in the industry.
Q: What advice do you have for engineers who are considering management one day?
For starters, check your motivations and make sure they’re the right motivations. I know a lot of folks, especially earlier in their career, that have this mentality that going into management is the only way you can progress in an engineering career. But most mature organizations have parallel management and IC tracks. Really dig into which of those tracks is right for them.
If you’re a really great engineer, that doesn’t mean you’ll be a great manager, and so think about pursuing that IC track and make sure you’re really motivated by the people management part of it before you decide you want to go into management.
If you’re sure that management is the path for you, honing your communication skills across all mediums is important. For instance, running a meeting is a skillset that doesn’t just come naturally. You have to practice giving a presentation, technical writing, and documentation. I spend so much of my day in Google docs now, writing, and that wasn’t the reality of my job prior. Even crafting an email I think is something that you can practice and lean into as an IC that will make your transition into management so much easier.
For more about Nitika’s career journey and leadership strategies, head over to the Code Climate blog.