How to Become an Engineer From a Helpdesk Role

Feb 10, 2022

6 Min Read

When developers tell people how they transitioned from customer support to full-time software engineers at a company like Eventbrite, they typically receive strange glances and hear things like, “Wait, what? Could you explain how you achieved it?” People get even more taken aback when they hear that the software engineer didn’t go back to school or enroll in a coding boot camp to make the transition.

A technical degree isn’t required to become a software engineer if you follow specific paths. Continue reading to learn about numerous options for moving from a customer-facing position to engineering at your organization.

Eventbrite’s Engineering Pipeline

Many employees make the transition from customer support to software engineering at Eventbrite. This pipeline has benefited their development teams. For example, eight workers from Eventbrite’s customer care team have shifted to technical jobs in engineering. As a result, they have experienced an improvement in customer empathy, which usually helps raise quality in their product development.

Careers in quality assurance (QA) are an excellent match for people who have worked in customer support. However, this stage in the pipeline may be a suitable fit for individuals who want to go into full-time software engineering employment.

You may transition from a client-facing function in your organization to software engineering if you’re a top performer in customer support. However, continuing to do your original position will not get you there. To place oneself in a position to succeed, you must take specific steps.

A Step-by-Step Process

Consider the following scenario: an engineering manager is speaking with her team about a new position she’s creating for a QA engineer. What if her team instantly said, “We should recruit [insert name] for that post; he/she would be amazing at that!” as soon as she announced it? How can you ensure it’s your name that gets mentioned?

The five steps listed here were critical for ensuring when QA engineer posts became available and helpful in achieving the transition. Most who were able to make the transition applied these steps; they continued to put themself in a position to succeed and eventually made it to full-time software engineering employment.

Be a Superstar at Work

Before everything else, focus on achieving greatness in your primary position. Demonstrate a high standard of customer experience while also responding to a large volume of consumer inquiries. You want to be known as a highly-skilled professional. 

If you are a good performer in your current function, your employer will likely be more eager to supply you with additional engineering opportunities. This is because top performers are less likely to make lateral movements, and no employer wants to lose high-potential employees.

Boost Engineering Connections

You’ll need to make friends with engineers to ensure that your name comes up first when new chances arise. Take a one-on-one lunch with a developer and inquire about their road to software engineering. Speak with various engineers, including quality assurance engineers, senior software engineers, and young software engineers who had attended coding boot camps.

Lead a hackathon team and submit your team’s work to the firm to get name recognition. It does not need any prior engineering knowledge. In reality, you oversee a project with cross-functional support staff, engineers, and marketers who lack technical knowledge. 

It was a little project, but it will allow you to interact with engineers and demonstrate your interest in engineering projects to the firm. In addition, several technical executives who see the project demonstrations afterward will recognize your name.

Make the Most of Your Product Knowledge

Product and engineering benefit significantly from your product and customer knowledge. Collaborate with your technical teams to advocate for your customers. When a client encounters an issue, reach out to engineers for assistance. Or notify a product manager about your suggestions for minor enhancements to improve the user experience.

Engineers and product managers will start turning to you when they have questions or suggestions about constructing the product, and they will eventually want to hire you full-time. You will get nervous the first time you will do this, but you will be pleasantly delighted to discover that the engineers on the other side were eager to assist. You’ll position yourself as a trustworthy customer specialist due to this.

Invest in Your Technical Skills

Learn the fundamentals of whichever programming language your organization use to prepare for a shift into engineering. By taking free Codecademy courses online, you can learn Python, Javascript, and SQL. In addition, you may acquire new technical skills using various sites. 

To enhance your learning, attend peer-led training or engage in a mentoring program if your firm already has a strong learning culture. Spending time outside of work building these new talents demonstrates to everyone around you that you care about your education. 

Even if you only have 30 minutes each day, it’s beneficial to find consistency and build good habits. Engineering executives will be more ready to overlook your lack of formal technical schooling if you show a growth attitude by devoting time to self-improvement.

Self-advocacy

Look for scenarios that may assist you now or in the future. Even little opportunities may pay off in the long term, but you must advocate for yourself to pursue them and enjoy the benefits.

You will need to seek a way to become engaged with our Support Triage team while still in customer support. That team’s job is to evaluate incoming problem complaints and transmit them to engineering. Although it isn’t an official post, you will see that they will overburden and offer your assistance. 

You will be able to help the team by researching problems, but you will also have the opportunity to learn more about our bug process, test out new tools, and speak with engineers. You will earn a reputation for producing well-researched and comprehensive bug reports due to your effort. When a QA job becomes available later, this will make you stand out.

Another example of advocating for yourself will come after you’ve been in QA for a few months. First, you will seek your manager’s assistance in learning how to repair minor flaws that you will discover, which resulted in dedicated pair programming time. Following that, you will request modest feature projects with your team’s developers to continue honing your programming abilities. 

Sometime later, you will ask your bosses in engineering to shift you to a full-time software engineering role. They may assist you in making the shift with ease. Even if you have no official degree in computer science, you will be able to demonstrate to them that you are engaged in your learning and capable of becoming a software engineer.

In Closing

“Put yourself in a position to succeed” is standard advice in sports, and it can be implemented to achieve your professional and personal goals. 

It means pushing hard during practice sessions to grow a little bit faster, stronger, and better each day in preparation for game day. It will provide you with the ideal opportunity of succeeding on race day when it counts the most. 

Make the necessary preparations right now and put yourself in a position to succeed so that you may seize fresh possibilities when they present themselves. You’d already put in miles of training and hours of mental preparation to support a personal best finish. 

By following the steps outlined above, we hope you will be one step closer to realizing your ambition to transfer from customer support to software engineering. Of course, there are many additional elements to address in addition to these five phases, such as communication methods, technical learning suggestions, and how to build a support system.

Do not hesitate to contact someone who achieved such a transition if you have any questions or want to learn more about how they made the career change.

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