Software Development/Leadership Ladder, multi-track, public
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ABCDEF
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DexStrWisCha
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Technical SkillG(et)S(tuff)D(one)ImpactCommunication & LeadershipNOTES
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Engineer I (<1-2)Broad knowledge of core CS concepts.

Focus on growing as an engineer, learning existing tools, resources and processes
Develops their productivity skills by learning source control, editors, the build system, and other tools as well as testing best practices

Capable of taking well-defined sub-tasks and completing these tasks
Developing knowledge of a single component of our architectureEffective in communicating status to the team

Exhibits RTR's core values, focuses on understanding and living these values

Accepts feedback graciously and learns from everything they do
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Engineer II (2-6+)Writes correct and clean code with guidance; consistently follows stated best practices

Participates in technical design of features with guidance
Makes steady progress on tasks; knows when to ask for help in order to get themselves unblockedSelf-sufficient in at least one large area of the codebase (multiple services in a pillar, all frontend code related to a main funnel flow) with a high-level understanding of other componentsGives timely, helpful feedback to peers and managers

Communicates assumptions and gets clarification on tasks up front to minimize the need for rework
This is a big role. Listed here are some of the basic requirements.
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Rarely makes the same mistake twice, begins to focus on attaining expertise in one or more areas (eg, Java/JS/Ruby/iOS development, performance best practices, efficient use of data stores, messaging, etc).

Learns quickly and makes steady progress without the need for constant significant feedback from more senior engineers.
Able to own small-to-medium features from technical design through completion;

Capable of prioritizing tasks; avoids getting caught up in unimportant details and endless "bikeshedding"
Capable of providing on-call support for their area including systems that they are not familiar withSolicits feedback from others and is eager to find ways to improve

Understands how their work fits in to the larger project and identifies problems with requirements
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Senior Engineer I (5-8+)
Understands and makes well-reasoned design decisions and tradeoffs in their area; able to work in other areas of the codebase with guidance.

Doesn't flail while debugging.

Persistent in the face of roadblocks; dispatches them efficiently, pulling in others as necessary. Requires minimal direction/oversightEnd-to-end responsibility on projects of increasing complexity; contributes to common code.

Looks at test cases and advises QA on adjacent code/regression impact.

Understands the business supported by their Pillar or the Pillars they support
Communicates technical decisions through design docs, tech talks, and the wiki

Mentors junior engineers via pairing, design review, and code review. Contributes frequently to Drinks and Demos
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Demonstrates knowledge of industry trends, our infrastructure and our build system, including maven, jenkins, and gitTakes the initiative to fix issues before being assigned them. Seeks empirical evidence through proof of concepts, tests and external research

Delivers complex products to QA that they believe are well-baked and bug-free
Partners with product and analytics and drive requirements that take into account all parties' needs

Possesses empathy with the user of the software they are producing and uses that empathy to guide decision-making

Identifies problems/risks of own work and others.
Communicates effectively cross functions; is able to work well with Product, Design, Analytics, etc, as necessary

Proactively identifies problems with requirements (lack of clarity, inconsistencies, technical limitations) for their own work and adjacent work, and communicates these issues early to help course-correct
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Tech Lead: See notes in Manager TrackTo get promoted into Senior 2, most people will take on some tech lead responsibilities/show a degree of people leadership via significant mentoring etc
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Senior Engineer II (6-9+)Go-to expert in one area of the codebase; understands the broad architecture of the entire systemScopes and stages work into well-defined milestones to avoid a monolithic deliverable.

Regularly delivers software on-time and is constantly working to make accurate estimates and deliver on those estimates.
Takes initiative to identify and solve important problems, coordinating with others on cross-cutting technical issuesMakes others better through code reviews, thorough documentation, technical guidance, and mentoring or serving as a Tech Lead on a project.
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Provides technical advice and weighs in on technical decisions that impact other teams or the company at large. Researches and proposes new technologies.Known for drama-free launches.

Owns the technical testing and performance plan for their projects

Sets direction at the project/service level and consistently influences decision-making at the Pillar level

Idenitifies and proactively tackles technical debt before it grows into debt that requires significant up-front work to resolve
Sits on the Architectural Review Board, provides feedback on projects outside of their core area

Understands the tradeoffs between technical, analytical and product needs and leads to solutions that take all of these needs into account

Identifies and proposes strategies around technical problems affecting their team, communicates standards and gets buy-in on solutions
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Staff EngineerSought out for technical guidance; anticipates technical issues at the product level and makes architectural and design decisions to avoid themRecognized as a prolific contributor to core and side projectsShapes broad architecture; ships multiple large services, complex libraries or major pieces of infrastructureMultiplies the effectiveness of others by facilitating cross-team workDoes not forget the core value: Roll up your sleeves and get involved. This is not a pure architecture role.
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Owner of and expert on large sections of our codebase

A record of creating sweeping improvements in stability, performance, and scalability across major business-critical systems
Consistently able to reduce the complexity of projects, services, and processes in order to get more done with less workHas made an obvious positive impact on the entire company's technical trajectoryListens and guides debates to help reach a consensus; once a decision is made, clearly communicates and backs that decision

Sets short to medium-term strategic technical direction, able to look ahead 6-12 months and identify the areas of greatest need and create plans to improve them
Management track splits here, with "Engineering Lead" as the management equivalent
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Senior Staff EngineerAnticipates broad technical change and ensures Rent the Runway is always ahead of the curveConsistently delivers large systems involving one or more teams' contribution on time at a high level of qualityPlays a key role in developing multi-year technology strategy for complete and critical areas of the business that encompass multiple systems and teamsPrimarily acts as a multiplier by building systems, authoring tools, or introducing policies or patterns that raise the level of productivity of the entire org
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Able to recognize and make trade-offs with respect to the whole system

Understands deeply the entire architecure for a major part of our business and is able to articulate clearly the scaling and reliability limits of that area
Quickly breaks down complex problems into potention solutions, knowns, and unknowns, in order to get to solid resolutions faster

Capable of debugging the hairiest problems that the team encounters
Decisions have a direct impact on the long-term success or failure of Rent the Runway.

Creates architecture that enables many potential futures without knowing exactly what the future is
Communicates the awesomeness of the RTR tech community externally via talks and blog posts. Identifies areas that RTR can share effectively with the outside world and guides the creation of content and communication around these areas

Leads the conversations internally about the direction of major areas of the technology, drives wide-team consensus to the adoption of this direction, and uses this direction to inspire engineers

Seen as a role model and mentor to every technical member of the team
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Principle Engineer/Chief Architect/TBDSetting Technical Direction
Puts the S in GSDIdentifies technology strategic growth opportunities that enable Rent the Runway to grow as a businessCommunicates multi-year technical strategy and leads the team in identifying futher strategic areas for development
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How to read the ladder
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* The expectations at each level are cumulative.
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* Managers have the same expectations as individual contributors to the extent that they are doing individual work, in addition to manager-specific expectations (in light orange)
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This indicates a major "maturity" level-up
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Pro tips
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* Dex and Str (the "adder" attributes) are the primary drivers of promotions at lower levels. At higher levels, the importance gradually shifts to Wis and Cha (the "multiplier" attributes).
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* Not everyone will progress in each column in lockstep. If you are Dex:6/Cha:3, you will not be stuck at L3, but you will likely not be promoted all the way L6.
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Recommend reading: http://www.kitchensoap.com/2012/10/25/on-being-a-senior-engineer/
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