In 2019, we set out to define what it meant to be an engineer at ParkMobile. We wanted all current and future engineers to understand that they could learn and grow with us. This should be regardless of their level or career goals. After several iterations and name changes, we ended up with what we call today the Engineering Career Framework. This framework outlines expectations and growth paths for engineers. But it’s more than that. This powerful tool influences all aspects of the employee lifecycle at ParkMobile. It helps us create consistent job descriptions and make smart hiring decisions. The Framework opens up conversations about learning and development between managers and employees. It allows us to have objective performance conversations and reduce biases that may arise in that process. Overall, this tool has transformed our engineering department’s vision and allowed us to create consistency throughout the entire employee lifecycle.
At ParkMobile, we value placing more transparency into performance, learning and development, and hiring decisions; that is why we decided to share our Engineering Career Framework on ParkMobile Labs. We wanted future employees to have an inside look at our expectations and what your career could look like at ParkMobile. As of August 2020, we have built our IC track and are still working on defining our management path for engineers. As we complete or update parts of our framework, we will update this article.
The idea of building out a professional development guide for engineers was new territory for us. Does a company our size even need a detailed framework? Would our people see the benefit of it? Could we shift our organization’s view on professional development? There were a million questions that could have held us back from diving in and developing our framework, but we persisted. However, We knew if we wanted to continue to bring the best and brightest to ParkMobile, we had to develop them. We had to get them excited about joining us. The number one thing I hear from candidates I recruit is they are seeking companies that *develop* their employees and offer *career progression*. We promise we will offer you that in a clear and consistent manner. So buckle in and let me tell you about this amazing creation.
In the Establishment conference room, the Engineering Career Framework was born. (Yes, we do name our conference rooms after Atlanta bars. Don’t judge us.) We developed two parts to it, a technical skills section, and a core values section. Then, as a team, we defined ParkMobile’s views on career development, what we value as an engineering organization, and what kind of culture we want to foster in the future.
We decided that in order for this to be effective we had to keep it simple, use clear language, provide a straightforward structure, and be consistent. We had five guiding principles as we created the framework – there would be two paths, no years of experience requirements, same standards for all engineering teams, levels would build on each other, and promotions would occur when an engineer demonstrated they are performing at the next level.
How Did We Design It?
We divided our technical skills section into three overarching themes: quality, methodology, and delivery. This means there are only three categories to be scored on instead of several different attributes. We kept the magic number at three because we believed it provided the least barrier to entry, was easily digestible and presented a simple solution. Say it with me now, simple is better. We knew that we wanted people to actually use the framework when we rolled it out. This meant creating a clear and easy to use framework. The last thing we wanted to do was have engineers equate filling out the framework to a chore. This is career progression and growth we are talking about, it should be exciting and thought-provoking.
The core value part of the framework was the most fun to complete. At ParkMobile we seriously believe in our core values. They shape everything we do as a company. The best engineers understand the importance of being well-rounded professionals and the need to grow in soft skills as much as technical skills. We want more for our people than sitting behind a computer screen and coding their life away. Challenging our engineers to be engaged and active is part of our culture. We seek to develop you into future leaders in the tech space. In order to do this, we need to help our engineers be accountable, be able to create inclusive environments, demonstrate leadership, spot inefficiencies in workflows, and understand how their role impacts customers and the industry.
Our Core Values translated into six soft skills for engineers to exemplify:
As of right now, our Core Values make up 66% of the career framework that we ask our engineers to develop in. The reason for this is we believe these skills are fundamental to being an outstanding engineer and align with the engineering culture we are trying to cultivate at ParkMobile. As a company, we value solid engineering but we also believe collaboration, learning, and making an impact develops our teams into better engineers. If you want to see an Engineer who really captures all of our Core Values, check out Jordan Hurt’s blog on building our own component library.
Finally, in today’s world, we realize that a career isn’t a ladder anymore. It’s a full-blown jungle gym. There are many different paths available for engineers to take. So, we wanted to bake that into the core of our framework. It is rare to see two individuals forge down the same path. We ensured that our framework could play to a variety of engineers and offered them two distinct paths inside of our company, IC or management. We also designed the core value section to take a “build your own path” approach. Engineers have the choice to choose which soft skills they want to grow the most. This ensures that we can create diverse, well-rounded teams. By creating two distinct technical skills paths, and multiple core value paths, every engineer can grow in their career the way they want to and best see fit. It allows us to adapt to changes, value new perspectives, and give our engineering team an edge.
We encourage our engineers to check-in and ask themselves – are they growing, doing meaningful work, and connecting with those around them. If the answer is yes to all of those questions then we have successfully done what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of this journey.
The Engineering Career Framework
You can find ParkMobile’s career framework here. You can see the accompanying set of guidelines here, which tells you how to use the framework here. If you feel this is an engineering culture you can thrive in, then check out our jobs here.
Maybe we’re crazy or just really passionate about employee development, but we have committed to creating career frameworks for all of our teams at ParkMobile. All current and future employees should feel supported in their career growth and journey. Our hiring and promotion process should feel transparent. Learning and development should be at the forefront of what we do. Our goal is that after you join us, you leave better than you when you came in (or never leave, that’s cool too).