What's a senior engineer's job?


Brilliant post by Julia Evans: this gets to a topic that I've been thinking a lot about these days.

At Fishtown Analytics, we believe that analytics has become a subfield of software engineering. This might not have been the case 10-30 years ago when analysis was conducted primarily in proprietary GUIs, but today most sophisticated analysis is conducted using code in open-source tools languages. As a result, modern data analysts / scientists / engineers are fundamentally different jobs from those of decades past, and that means they have different career trajectories.

But what is the career trajectory of a data analyst or scientist today? That is largely an unanswered question: we just don't have enough years of experience with this new model to have a consensus answer. But the industry needs a good answer if it's going to grow the next generation of analytical talent.

As always, the best place to look for inspiration is within software engineering—the field has had decades to think about this question. This post is one of the best I've seen on the topic. Senior engineers actually do different work than junior engineers, and it's critical to recognize exactly what that work is and have shared expectations.

Do you know what your career path is? I'd be very curious to hear your thoughts: drop me a line.


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