Boxer Spotlight: Internal mobility with Patrick Simon
Aaannd, we're back with a brand new Boxer Spotlight. We'd love to introduce you to Patrick Simon, who is currently an iOS developer on Box's Platfrom SDKs and APIs team. Patrick has actually worked with a few different teams within Engineering. We're excited to learn more from him about internal mobility within our engineering organization.
JJ Barry: So excited to talk with you, Patrick. You and I have gotten the chance to work together recently on hiring new Boxers, but we have never really talked about your journey. So let's start there.
Patrick Simon: Yeah, happy to talk more with you. So I've been at Box since March 2017. Before that, I was working as a software engineer for a defense contractor in San Diego and wanted a bigger challenge. I had wanted to get into a Silicon Valley tech company for a long time. I did my research and was really blown away by Box, especially the culture. It checked all the boxes (get it, pun) of what I wanted from working in Silicon Valley at a Tech company: working on challenging problems, learning from the best people in the industry, being surrounded by experts and having an impact not only the project but the company. I knew I wanted to have an impact, I want to change things up and level up my career, so that's why I picked Box.
JB: And I know that since you joined, you've actually been in a few different roles and teams within Engineering.
PS: Creepy that you know that, JJ.
JB: Yeah, that's my job. But we're here to talk about your job, remember?
PS: Fair point. So yeah, I've been in a few different roles here at Box, all within Engineering. I was hired as a Senior Software Engineer and was doing a lot of learning in the beginning. The project I was on just grew and grew and grew in scope. Some of that were discoveries I made that I brought to the project manager. In the end a small project for a new hire turned into quite a lot of value. In addition to working on projects, I was providing this overarching management as a Scrum Master for the team. We had an agile coach embedded on our team and I would do sidebars with him after each meeting to learn ways in which I could improve.
As I grew in the Scrum Master role, the Agile coach recommended the TLM position and it seemed really interesting, and I noticed that it was leveraging what I was already doing. I brought up my interest in the TLM role to my manager and she was supportive of the sentiment.
JB: And that's when we worked together!
PS: Yes, exactly! It was a great time! I went on pat leave after my child was born and when I came back, the team had grown like crazy. We had acquired a start up and the role that I was in before was a bit different but I jumped in and took on the new challenge.
JB: And are you still a TLM on the team?
PS: No, I am currently an engineer on the IOS team. The Tech Lead Manager role, for example, is specifically designed to allow an engineer to "test out" management. It's a path from Individual Contributor (IC) to management, but it also contains a path back to IC, if it's not a good fit for the individual. The fact that Box offers this is a big indicator of how important they value providing opportunities for growth.
JB: Ahh, that makes sense. So how was that transition like back to an IC? It must have been crazy!
PS: Actually, no it wasn't, thankfully! I had heard of this opportunity on another team to learn iOS development and iOS was something I wanted to learn. After hearing about it, I talked it over with my manager and she was super supportive. The new manager was supportive as well.
JB: So what was that transition like? You wanted a new challenge and it involved changing teams how were you able to get that done?
PS: Actually, I thought it was going to be crazy but it ended up being pretty great! My previous manager and I figured out what a smooth transition plan would look like and coordinated with the manager of the other team. After starting on the new team, I still had a couple of outstanding tasks that I was able to wrap up over a couple of weeks. After that, and to this day, I am available to answer ad hoc questions from my old team, if something comes up.
JB: That makes sense! How would you rate your overall experience? After all, you've gotten a taste of managing, IC, new teams...you seem to be doing it all!
PS: I for one know how scary it can be to change companies. You never fully know for sure what it will be like to work at the new job until you switch. I really liked that I was able to pursue a new adventure in mobile development without having to run the risk of leaving Box, which I know is a great company. Also, I was able to carry over my Box-specific context and apply it to my new role. I think the team I joined also recognized this as a big benefit over hiring someone from outside the company.
JB: This has been such a great conversation Patrick! Would love for you to end by telling our readers a piece of advice you have for someone who is looking to grow in their role, move teams, apply to tech companies etc?
PS: I just want to put out there that there are a lot of resources to help you ramp on your own. Start playing around with the technology you're interested in and build something you would use yourself. Get started on your own with YouTube videos and articles, create a GitHub account, start playing around and share your progress with your manager and when applying to new jobs. As the global co-chair of our veterans ERG, that's one area we're focused on. We're looking at helping people in the military who are currently transitioning to the civilian world by proving them with resources on everything from how to prep for a job interview to bootstrapping on new skills. It's something that I'm extremely passionate about.
JB: I've definitely seen your hard work and passion for the military community. Thank you so much Patrick, especially in speaking about your experience about internal mobility not only at Box but within the engineering organization.