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Context

The developer environment in the San Francisco Bay Area is fierce. There is no guarantee of a happy ending after being self-taught,  doing a coding boot camp, or even having a computer science degree.

With that in mind, you have to have a viable backup plan or else you will be in jobless purgatory.

Am I A Sell Out If I Don’t Land A Developer Role?

Look. You will be if you think that way. However, expand your mind and don’t force reality. In my 2 year journey as a self-taught developer, I’ve learned that life is really a marathon. 

A ‘No’ today does not mean ‘Never’ for the future. Success in life is not a straight line. Originally, you’ve probably road mapped success as A → B → C.

Whereas, in reality, it’s more like A → Z → T –>F → B → K → C. 

Hey. And that’s perfectly fine. It just became your unique path and story. 

Have hope and hold your head up high. The journey can be rather fun and you might find yourself in a different, more enjoyable path.

Alternative Jobs & Career Path After Coding

Below is a list of opportunities that I’ve considered or someone reached out to me about.

Also, I will omit traditional roles that directly involve 9 to 5 coding like software engineer, software developer, web developer, frontend developer, backend developer, mobile developer, etc.

For the following roles, coding and computer science knowledge and expertise only play a part in the overall role.

However, most of these roles require secondary or trinary skillsets on top of just knowing how to code.

For the sake of brevity, I will provide a high-level overview of these roles and career outlook.

Customer-Facing Roles

Developer Advocate

Quick Overview:

Essentially, this role involves attracting the developer community to invest and build on the platform of the company you are representing. 

You are advocating for software engineers who might potentially develop on the platform you’re representing.

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Customer Facing: sales, support, etc
  3. Product Management: setting metrics, framing success
  4. Cross-Functional Collaboration: managing department expectations, responsibility hand-offers, etc

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

  1. Create apps with Apollo: Build and maintain apps to teach relevant topics, such as state management or TypeScript, in a creative way to product developers
  2. Developer content: Craft high-quality blog posts, tutorials, videos, and conference talks for both first and third-party publications while measuring the effectiveness of your work
  3. Open source: Contribute code to Apollo open-source projects and connect with Apollo community members
  4. Community leadership: Manage a global network of Apollo engineers by engaging contributors worldwide to organize Apollo events in their cities and spread the word about our platform
  5. Product strategy: Influence the open-source roadmap based on data-driven feedback from your interactions with the developer community
  6. Inspire developers: Understand the struggles developers face when developing modern apps and encourage developers to rally behind Apollo as a solution if it meets their needs

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Average Annual Base Salary: $136,014

Sales Engineer

Quick Overview:

You will support the sales team for more technical conversations during the pre-sales life cycle.

This usually involves troubleshooting technical obstacles from technical stakeholders, creating POC (proof of concept) demos, solution design, and solutions implementation. 

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Customer Facing Business Acumen: basically Sales (lead generation, lead qualification, closing deals)
  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: managing department expectations, working with other departments to achieve customer goals, responsibility hand-offers, etc
  4. Data Analytics: SQL data querying, BI (business intelligence) tools
  5. Interfacing with Executive Stakeholders: Understand decision makers goals and achieve them

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

  1. Present Snowflake technology and vision to executives and technical contributors at prospects and customers.
  2. Work hands-on with prospects and customers to demonstrate and communicate the value of Snowflake technology throughout the sales cycle, from demo to proof of concept to design and implementation.
  3. Maintain a deep understanding of competitive and complementary technologies and vendors and how to position Snowflake in relation to them.
  4. Collaborate with Product Management, Engineering, and Marketing to continuously improve Snowflakes products and marketing.

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Average Annual Base Salary: $119,284

Technical Customer Success (Account) Manager

Quick Overview:

This role is pretty similar to a Sales Engineer. Sometimes, this role can be synonymous to a Customer Success Engineer.

This is a hybrid role that requires an account (project) management, customer-facing (sales, etc), and technical skills (coding, database queries, etc).

The traditional Customer Success role is in charge of managing a book of accounts and ensure customer retention and ultimately, renewal.

The technical prefix involves technical enablement or creating POCs to help prove the value for upsells.

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Customer Facing Business Acumen: basically Sales (lead generation, lead qualification, closing deals)
  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: managing department expectations, working with other departments to achieve customer goals, responsibility hand-offers, etc
  4. Product Management: setting metrics, framing success
  5. Data Analytics: SQL data querying, BI (business intelligence) tools
  6. Interfacing with Executive Stakeholders: Understand decision makers goals and achieve them

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

  1. You’ll own the engagement, adaption, retention, and growth of your customers.
  2. You’ll understand the customer’s needs, and establish the Testim platform as the best solution that solves the customer’s challenges.
  3. You’ll train new customers on how to use the Testim platform in a way that is tailored to their specific use-case and implementation.
  4. You’ll monitor customer usage data, health indicators, renewal dates, and growth opportunities and translate into strategies for success.
  5. You’ll connect with customers by exhibiting empathy, listening actively, presenting in an engaging manner, and communicating effectively.
  6. You’ll influence and build rapport with key decision-makers in order to become their trusted advisor.
  7. You’ll display persistence and continually push so that customers get the maximum value out of Testim.
  8. You’ll balance customer needs against Testims interests and resources and prioritize accordingly.
  9. You’ll create and present research analyses and recommendations on app optimization, usability, user experience and conversion rates to customers engineering, marketing, and management teams.
  10. You’ll support the customers by phone, chat, and email and help resolve technical issues.
  11. You’ll take part in Proof of Concepts (POCs) and (occasionally) travel to customers sites.

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Average Annual Base Salary: $103,842

Non-Customer Facing Roles

(Technical) Product Manager 

Quick Overview:

My interpretation of a Product Manager is an internal salesperson pitching product ideas within a company. 

The Product Manager role is a very coveted position in the tech space. Moreover, the role is typically a generalist specialization (oxymoron?).

Essentially, you are responsible for the success of an entire product launch. Internally, you lead and influence a team of developers, designers, marketings, and executives to scope out a product roadmap and facilitate the execution of bringing that product idea to reality.

Externally, you will also conduct customer interviews as valuable data to influence the decision making needs of your product.

Usually, a Product Manager role is the intersection of design, engineering, and business. This title is a middle place that describes someone who is a generalist in these disciplines.

Man… it was hard to give a quick overview of a Product Manager’s role haha. 

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Business Acumen: usually acquired via Sales, Marketing, etc
  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: managing department expectations, working with other departments to achieve customer goals, responsibility hand-offers, etc
  4. Product Management: setting metrics, framing success
  5. Product Design: wireframing, UI and design fundamentals
  6. Data Analytics: SQL data querying, BI (business intelligence) tools
  7. Interfacing with Executive Stakeholders: Understand decision makers goals and achieve them

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

Vanilla Product Manager

  1. Own and deliver complex features and products that improve the end-to-end customer experience and drive meaningful growth in revenue
  2. Identify market opportunities, build business cases, prioritize, and define product vision and strategy
  3. Articulate and design customer experiences that make our users smile while helping them abide by complicated legal and compliance constraints
  4. Understand customer pain points, come up with solutions, and then prototype, iterate, and launch frequently
  5. Make smart decisions based on customer research, design sprints, and prototyping while balancing short and long term goals
  6. Partner and collaborate with key cross-functional stakeholders across product, design, engineering, user research, marketing, and support teams

Technical Product Manager

  1. Deep understanding of technical stack including API and Web applications
  2. Deep understanding of the software and product development lifecycle
  3. Experience with enterprise software development
  4. Ability to exhibit sound business and technical judgment to prioritize stories and tasks

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Average Annual Base Salary: $140,413 (generalist Product Manager)

Product Marketing Manager

Quick Overview:

The Product Marketing Manager role is quite similar to the generalist Product Manager role, however, this role is specialized on the business side.

More specifically, you are contributing to the go-to-market strategy with regular Product Managers but really own the post product launch segment.

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Business Acumen: usually acquired via Sales, Marketing, etc
  3. Cross-Functional Collaboration: managing department expectations, working with other departments to achieve customer goals, responsibility hand-offers, etc
  4. Product Management: setting metrics, framing success (pre & post product launch side)
  5. Product Design: wireframing, UI and design fundamentals
  6. Interfacing with Executive Stakeholders: Understand decision makers goals and achieve them

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

  1. Deeply understand how to scope and execute marketing strategies needed to reach different customer segments: talk regularly to users and prospects and work with our Analytics team for qualitative and quantitative insights that inform your work (content, messaging, positioning, etc)
  2. Advocate for our existing and prospective users, be informed about our competitive landscape and become the go-to expert for your product area to help shape the product roadmap and strategy
  3. Develop product positioning and messaging informed by user research, market insights, and product understanding
  4. Work closely with a range of cross-functional teams—product managers, sales, design, PR, and engineering—to develop go-to-market strategy and drive launches for our products
  5. Help enable user-facing teams at Stripe—from Sales and User Operations to local teams in other countries
  6. Work with the Finance and Product teams to set pricing that aligns to the product value proposition and with our users’ success
  7. Partner with the Product and Growth Marketing teams to track the right metrics and execute campaigns that drive awareness and adoption on an ongoing basis

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Average Annual Base Salary: $128,413

Entrepreneurial Roles (DIY – Start-Up)

Chief Product (Executive) Officer 

Quick Overview:

You will act as the Product lead and engineer at your own start-up. 

Normally you will find a co-founder that will act as the CEO managing the business, customer-facing side of the business or you can play both roles earlier on.

The quick pitch of this role: well, your the boss. You got a product idea, now you gotta create it and make sure it sells!

Skill Sets Needed:

  1. Coding: scripting skills (object-oriented programming language like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, etc), project portfolio, etc
  2. Business Acumen: usually acquired via Sales, Marketing, etc
  3. Task Delegation: leverage freelancers, interns, employees to execute functions or tasks
  4. Product Management: setting metrics, framing success (pre & post product launch side)
  5. Product Design: wireframing, UI and design fundamentals
  6. Interfacing with Executive Stakeholders: Understand decision makers goals and achieve them
  7. Leadership: Positively influence the teams you work with and boost their morale
  8. Management: manage your team and ensure they meet company goals

Job Description (Sample from Glassdoor):

  1. Lead the ForgeRock Labs team to identify, research and potentially prototype innovative technology and business trends that can help drive the long-term success of ForgeRock and help us solve customer problems in the most effective and innovative manner.
  2. Drive market awareness of ForgeRock at key events and in the media, solidify us as thought-leaders in the Identity and Access Management market.
  3. Be a ForgeRock evangelist and expert in customer and prospect meetings to help position our current offerings and future product innovations
  4. Provide input and advice on our current product and engineering approaches as well as on special projects such as M&A strategy and due diligence. Contribute to the future strategic planning of our product roadmaps and assist in evaluating competitor offerings.
  5. Partner with Sales leadership for “meetings that move the needle” with senior leaders in key accounts
  6. Build a community of passionate technology leaders, who want to share their best practices in transforming their teams and their companies
  7. Identify opportunities to bring content and perspective to senior executives in our target market
  8. Leverage social networks, blog and video platforms, and highly scalable marketing technologies to evangelize ForgeRock
  9. Attend and speak at meetups and conferences, serving as an evangelist, coach, cheerleader, and teammate to budding and veteran users
  10. Champion our users’ needs internally by providing invaluable feedback to the product and engineering teams
  11. Deliver compelling presentations on solutions, trends data, and thought leadership topics
  12. Manage a small globally distributed team

Compensation (SF Bay Area Average):

  1. Actual Average Annual Base Salary: $190,016
  2. Reality as a small start-up founder: it depends. 

Key Takeaways & Action Items

Success Is Not Only As A Developer. It’s About Making It In Life

Your life will not end or get worse if you tried your best to get a developer job but landed another optimistic role that’s related but does not have the official title as a developer. 

Unless you ABSOLUTELY need to achieve the goal of grabbing the title of being a Software Engineer, there are other viable, probably equally rewarding career paths you can apply your newly acquired coding skills.

Just because you cannot officially code and get paid for it today doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities in the future (granted you continue to develop your skills in the interim) to play that role for a season.

The real goal is success in life in general. Career is just one aspect of it. Moreover, life is a marathon. 

Was This Helpful? Please Support 🙂

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Doing this will support this blog and my other resources like my YouTube channel so I can continue to produce high quality, useful content on a weekly basis. 

Influencer Inspirations

This blog has been inspired by these creators who specialize in inspiring other potential, prospective upcoming software developers with their content:

Programmer Inspirations

Chris Sean, Whatsdev, Joshua Fluke, Traversy Media, Dylan Israel, Engineered Truth

Entrepreneurial Inspirations

Roberto Blake, Dan Lok, Kevin David.

This blog was made to serve you. Enjoy. 

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