Lessons learned: how to leverage your “non-technical” experience
Think about the best engineer you’ve worked with. Did they have a computer science degree? Was all of their professional work experience in tech? Were their technical skills the most important of their abilities? It’s likely your answer to some – or all – of those questions is “no.” It’s also highly likely that the talented engineer you thought of learned some of their most valuable skills and lessons through other means: advanced studies in another discipline, work experience in a different field, or outside mentorship and coaching.
Successful engineers rarely demonstrate technical skill or experience only, and yet it is the quality we most frequently discuss in resume reviews, evaluate in interviews, and focus on in career development conversations. Skills derived from education and experience in other areas are rarely framed as desirable traits, and thus we’re tempted (and even encouraged) to leave them in the past – but they are tremendously valuable when properly translated to technical roles.
In this talk, we’ll discuss how you can leverage non-technical skills or a “non-traditional” background to excel in an engineering role, using my own experience changing careers – from classical music performance to software engineering – as an example. I’ll walk you through the lessons my music background taught me: how to give and receive feedback, how to deal with rejection and failure, how to move past mistakes, how to practice, and more – and we’ll review strategies for applying these types of lessons as a software engineer. We’ll also discuss how you can advocate for the value of diverse career experiences, both personally, and on behalf of other members of your team. You’ll walk away with a new perspective on the value of every unique career path – and the confidence to champion that value.