Stefi Rosca

🧑‍💻 Essential Reads for New Software Engineers

Working as a software engineer is not only about knowing how to code. That is a big part of it, but besides this, many other aspects make the role. Plenty of the skills and processes that are important in the role as well as for your growth are not taught in a bootcamp or university/school or found in technical books.

When you get your first tech role many things will be new. So why not get some insights on day-to-day software engineering aspects from non-technical books? Nothing beats practice and experience but reading about things can be so helpful.

I also recommend them as a reference for experienced developers, especially these with limited work experience to a few companies. With these books you might fill in the gaps in your knowledge you probably didn’t even know you had.

The Missing README: A Survival Guide for New Engineers

by Chris Riccomini and Dmitriy Ryaboy

It’s a very practical, in-depth, long book that covers every aspect of the job. From understanding a codebase (metrics, tech-debt, managing dependencies etc.) to dealing with managers, to doing on-call, and as well as navigating your career or learning to learn nothing is being left out.

There might be parts that are new to you like Architecture and Technical Design Process. It’s great to have this book to come back to for those things that you haven’t yet touched as much to gather learnings and be prepared.

If you are serious about your career and growth this book will be a great companion. Authors have shared from their personal experience and have thrown in plenty of example to make it easier to understand.

The Coding Career Handbook

by Shawn “swyx” Wang

I really enjoyed the style of this book. At first, I thought there were too many links, which were distracting as I had to stop and check them out. Later, I decided to bookmark some and continued reading.

Going through it I felt like having a conversation with “swyx”. You can see this book was written based on his experience during his first years in tech. It highlights some great strategies and principles for growth.

“The Coding Career Handbook” offers practical strategies for career growth. From tips on building a strong online presence to navigating the job market, all are actionable pieces of advice that are relevant and achievable.

Have a look at the table of contents here

The Software Engineer Guidebook: Navigating senior, tech lead, and staff engineer positions at tech companies and startups

by Gergely Orosz

A book that feels a bit less personal but nonetheless filled with plenty of great advice and ideas on how to grow in your career at each level. It gives insights into what engineers in higher roles do as well. What I like about the book is that each chapter builds upon the previous one just like in each role.

The author talks from the perspective of an individual contributor as well as from an engineering manager’s view.

Differently from the other two books, this one goes a bit more in-depth on soft skills, which are essential for the role. It also covers office politics and gives some hands on advice for owning your career.

Have a look at the table of contents here

Engineering Management for the Rest of Us

by Sarah Drasner

A book I wish I read a bit earlier in my career. It shares insights on effective leadership, emphasizing care for the team’s well-being and fostering their growth. The book also encourages learning from mistakes and continuous improvement.

Through reading, I got a clearer understanding of the engineering manager’s role and whether this would be a direction I’d like to go into. It helped me recognize the value of good managers and reflect on past experiences with poor management. It’s easy to underestimate the complexities of management from an outsider’s perspective, but with this book you get a glimpse on what goes behind the scenes.

I found that after reading it and getting a better understanding of the role the relationship and the conversation with my manager during our 121 also evolved.

If you are curious to know more check out my notes

Additional recommendations

Books I’d like to dive into soon:

A couple of books I’ve read that are more broad from which I gained great insights and I found useful in my software engineering role.

Read More:

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