Let’s talk about managers. Not CEOs, SVPs, or founders—I mean people like Jennifer, an Engineering Manager at Foobar Labs, who’s responsible for a team of 8 engineers.

At its simplest, Jen’s job is to ensure that her team gets their work done and meets their goals. It sounds easy. Jen can just have her PM plan it all out in JIRA, tell the engineers to start coding, and then kick back in her corner office, right?

Wrong.

Jen is responsible for her team's time management and processes. When is standup? 1 week or 2 week sprints? Annual or quarterly reviews? And who's covering for Ben when he takes paternity leave?

As a manager, Jen’s performance is measured by her team’s performance. And if they drop the ball, she can’t write their code for them or punish them until they produce results. So, even though she's in charge, she's not necessarily in control.

Jen’s best move is to facilitate her team’s success by getting her engineers the resources they need and removing obstacles in their way. The increased responsibility outweighs her private office & bigger paycheck.

Jen has to do things that make her uncomfortable. She can’t Bartleby out of disciplining or firing an employee. As a result, some people on her team may think she’s being mean or unreasonable. They might talk behind her back about what she did.

And Jen has to be ok with that, or at least try to put it out of her mind. Being a manager isn’t about being popular.

A lot of engineers who enjoy coding, like Jen, end up as managers because it’s the “next step” on the corporate ladder. Now, she spends the majority of her time talking to people and very little time, if any, writing code. Bye bye “maker schedule,” hello meetings and email.

Managers connect their team to the rest of the company. That means Jen has to simultaneously grow her domain knowledge (What's this TensorFlow thing? How much are we paying in SaaS fees?), while also expanding her domain to include other departments like marketing, strategy, and human resources (We'll need more engineers in order to build new marketing landing pages next quarter).

Jen also has to be there for her employees, both personally and professionally. She has to be sensitive, fair, and keep everything they tell her confidence. If her team can’t trust her, it won't produce anything.

1:1s account for a quarter of Jen's time; more if her team grows. Each session is like a diagnostic check, where she tries to evaluate her employees' professional health: How are you doing? Are you getting along with Baz? What do you want to do next? How can I help you get there? What excites you about this project?

It's repetitive and time consuming, but that's how she learns what levers to pull and what she needs to change.

The point is, management is one way to advance your career, but it's not quick, easy, or stress free.

If you enjoy writing code and want more money, ask for a raise. If you want a nicer office, find a company that’ll give you one. If you want more responsibility, volunteer to lead a project. None of those things require you to be a manager.

But, if you do want to apply your skills beyond engineering, take a tip from Jen and start thinking about what your team needs and how you can help them reach their next milestone. That's management material.

Online hackathons

 

Amazon Sumerian AR/VR Challenge

3D experiences are here, and Amazon Sumerian is the quickest and easiest way to build one! Amazon is challenging you to create AR, VR, or 3D apps using their browser-based IDE. Sumerian’s unmatched ease-of-use, you can build highly immersive and interactive scenes for a variety of headsets, and both iOS and Android devices. Plus, with one-click publishing, there's no need to build for each platform from scratch.

There are over $100,000 in prizes, so fire up your terminal, goggle into the Metaverse, and try not to snow crash.

BTW, all participants will get access to tutorials & training materials and will receive support throughout the challenge via our Slack community, Twitch, and webinars.

 

AWS Serverless Apps for Social Good Hackathon

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 9! Win $22,000 in prizes by creating new serverless applications. There are additional bonus prizes for apps that support nonprofits working to end human trafficking.

Your app can be a stand-alone asset or an input to other applications. All apps will be published to the AWS Serverless Application Repository.

 

AT&T Mixed Reality Hackathon with Magic Leap One

This isn't an online hackathon, but it's really cool and we don't want you to miss it.

AT&T and Magic Leap are hosting a mixed reality & spatial computing hackathon in San Francisco, CA on November 9–11. You'll be hacking with the Magic Leap One and competing for $10,000 in prizes.

You have to apply before October 22nd, by registering & submitting your idea on Devpost. Only 30 applicants will be invited to the hackathon, so stop reading this and get on it.

 

Amazon Aurora Database Challenge

In the first ever Aurora challenge, Amazon is challenging developers around the world to build an application that can reach internet scale using Amazon Aurora, a MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible relational database. Prizes include $24,000 in cash and AWS credits!

Judges will be looking for scalability, performance, security, and resilience while making use of the AWS ecosystem. They'll reward good development practices, including continuous integration & continuous delivery, microservices, serverless computing, and other modern design ideas.

 

PropTech Challenge—presented by REBNY

During the PropTech Challenge, you'll develop cutting edge solutions to solve real world challenges for NYC’s real estate market. There is a grand total of $50,000 in cash prizes, which will be awarded to twelve finalists at Demo Day on November 8th in New York City.

Bonus: Thanks to REBNY, you will have ongoing access to representatives from many of the largest real estate firms who can provide mentoring, insight, and guidance about the industry & major pain points.

 

The AWS AI Hackathon

Put your skills to the test by applying language and vision intelligence to a new or existing application and win $10,000 in prizes!

Use language and vision APIs including Amazon Comprehend, Amazon Transcribe, Amazon Polly, Amazon LexAmazon Translate, and Amazon Rekognition to gain customer insights, personalize content recommendations, identify celebrities, objects and scenes, and much more!

 

Local hackathons in October–December