Transition from eng to product mgmt

Apple / Eng fymF77
Jul 13, 2017 25 Comments

As a software engineer with 5 years of experience (but coming from a bootcamp), how do I transition to a product management role? Apple doesn't really have PM roles, and I don't fee great about starting over and applying for entry level jobs (even if I were to start with entry level, I am not sure what are good companies for this). I've been unofficially thinking about my products as an engineer of course, but don't really know the hard skills required and how to get my foot in the door to interview.

Any advice?

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TOP 25 Comments
  • EPAM Systems / Eng
    sdet

    EPAM Systems Eng

    PRE
    Google, Oracle, thomsonreuters
    BIO
    Senior SDET
    sdetmore
    Why would SWE want to become a PM?
    Jul 13, 2017 11
    • Microsoft boruto
      Navigating politics is really stressful and depressing if you aren't naturally that kind of person. People aren't as deterministic as computers. I challenge you to do it day in and day out for a while and see how quickly you decide to switch back to dev. :P Honestly, I am glad I did it because now I know for sure what I don't want out of life.
      Jul 13, 2017
    • Ridecell CrocDundee
      I can see that boruto, I will probably try it in the future to have a little more social interaction, but I also like engineer ing a lot
      Jul 14, 2017
    • SAP / Eng
      hIinskI

      SAP Eng

      PRE
      SAP
      BIO
      CS major looking for Product Management internship
      hIinskImore
      Me too! I like doing technical stuff but not sure if I want to be an engineer my whole life..
      Jul 14, 2017
    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      My motivation to be a PM is to be more of a long term vision person and less on the implementation side. I always imagined that a PM has that responsibility (again, product, not project management)
      Jul 14, 2017
    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      For the record, I definitely don't think PM roles are "easier". I do think a very different set of skills are exercised though.
      Jul 14, 2017
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      What org are you in? What product? How did you get there? Did you transition from an eng IC? I'd love to more!
      Jul 14, 2017
  • Square vfbh47
    Do a startup.
    Jul 13, 2017 1
    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      Heh. This is actually probably the most efficient way to do it, but I don't think I want to do a startup for personal development reasons.
      Jul 14, 2017
  • Internet Brands / Product Ibbyliever
    PM titles are hot now. It's easy to get respect and higher comps at the moment, but that will likely change quickly, like everything else in our industry. Make sure you think this career path through, including terminal state. The path from engineering to C-level is well-trodden and well-documented. The path from Product Management to C-level is much less clear or nonexistent. If being a PM is your passion, then follow it. If you have larger career ambitions, you may want to consider how much headwind you'll face trying to achieve them coming from SWE or PM.

    PMs are also not respected by engineering. Often viewed as business suck ups/sellouts who create headaches by selling visions without taking cost or difficulty of development into consideration. This isn't helped by the number of fresh college grads flooding the field who make the mistake failing to develop strong relationships with, and give due deference to, the senior engineers on their teams. Be prepared for some degree of alienation from your former tribe. Even some friends may respect you less, although they won't say it to your face.

    With that out of the way, all the best PMs I know HAVE to be PMs. It's their calling. From your posts above, it sounds like you may be one of these people. Just enter into it with eyes open.
    Jul 15, 2017 0
  • Apple / Eng fymF77
    OP
    A friend told me Microsoft has some good entry level PM roles. Not sure if that's true.
    Jul 13, 2017 3
    • Microsoft boruto
      Yeah, Microsoft streams a lot of folks into PM.
      Jul 13, 2017
    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      Is there a social status implied by PM vs engineering roles? Do PMs manage scheduled and timelines or are they actually thinking about long and short term vision of a product?
      Jul 14, 2017
    • Microsoft boruto
      They are also in charge of vision but there is still a perception from devs that they are not as valuable.
      Jul 14, 2017
  • New / Product AguynamedJ
    I am going through this transition now. Moving from a Senior Solutions Eng role, to now being our newest PM. The handover hasn't been easy (personally) because I'm now dealing with aspects of office politics and planning that I've been sheltered from in my previous roles. It's a completely different world once you enter the management realm! You mentioned skills...... The PM role is more Soft Skill oriented than Hard from what I'm experiencing. Keeping the peace between departments, managing over commitments of tech by sales, presenting compelling arguments to internal stakeholders, and lastly defending your product vision on a daily basis..... So effective communication skills is #1; either you have it or you don't.
    Jul 14, 2017 1
    • Apple / Eng fymF77
      OP
      I'm sure communication skills are learnable/practiceable, but for comparison's sake...what was your motivation to switch?
      Jul 14, 2017
  • Ridecell CrocDundee
    I would challenge your fear of "starting over". you have experience that you would bring with you into a new environment, and it's good to have that freedom to change companies and not feel trapped. plenty of companies out there that would want a manager with engineering experience, in fact that's how all of them usually are
    Jul 13, 2017 0
  • Amazon uxni
    How’s the transition going OP? Would like to learn your process
    Aug 20, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Product 🤖paftdunk
    I don't think it's realistic for u to apply to PM roles if at this point you're still clarifying what they even do. Go find a PM at you current company. Ask them to mentor u on the role. Once u have a better understanding, see if you could exercise any of those skills on your current team by talking to your manager. Having ideas is not enough to be a product mgr, u need business acumen, how to research, determine ROI on features, negotiations with other teams or companies, etc. maybe an MBA could help u as well.
    Jul 18, 2017 0

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