July 24, 2018

Software engineer? Start a podcast.

Storytelling

What should a software engineer do to maximize their career from a position of being in a full-time role?

  • Study for whiteboarding interviews?
  • Brush up the Github profile with make-work?
  • Start a blog to quietly publicize your achievements in your full-time role?
  • Cynically job hop every 2 years?

I’d suggest an alternative (or an additional option):

Invest in your personal network, showcase your personal brand and practice your storytelling skills by…

starting a podcast.

Here is a handful of realizations I’ve had in running my podcast The Accidental Engineer over the past year:

  • Promotion is everything. If you don’t promote then you won’t have an audience or learn how to grow one.
  • Guests agree to come on because they’re curious and optimistic that you’ll present them in a positive light. If you consider Late Night shows, guests are promoting their personal brand and a new piece of content (e.g. a book, a movie, a TV show). The best guests are effective self-promoters, because they will help you promote your show.
  • Slow down your speaking–your speech will improve. Filler words can be hugely diminished by thinking before you speak: “You know”, “So”, “Like.” Editing transcripts yourself will make this painfully evident.
  • People really want jobs. No shit, right? Well, it became apparent that this was case based on the Google search terms by which people were finding the Accidental Engineer: “<company name> interview”
  • Try out video in addition to audio. It’s fun–you can learn a ton about cameras, audio, and color treatment of your video to make your stuff look really professional.
  • Raw text transcripts are unreadable. People speak in a grammar that’s unreadable–cleanup the transcripts you make (I’ve used services like Rev, Speechpad–about equal quality for ~$1/minute)
  • What is your goal? Optimize toward goals. I found metrics to be best:
    • number of views,
    • average time on site,
    • email list signups, etc.

A big takeaway for me has been recognizing the effectiveness of storytelling–that everyone has a story and needs practice telling it to a listening audience.

Listening to people’s stories and styles of storytelling is a great way to develop and inform your own.

Here’s my original post, announcing my podcast:

The Accidental Engineer

Curious about how to start a podcast? Hit me up!