• Staff Engineer

  • Leadership Beyond the Management Track
  • By: Will Larson
  • Narrated by: Shaula Evans
  • Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (190 ratings)

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Staff Engineer  By  cover art

Staff Engineer

By: Will Larson
Narrated by: Shaula Evans
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Publisher's Summary

At most technology companies, you'll reach Senior software engineer, the career level for software engineers, in five to eight years. At the career level, your company's career ladder won't require that you work towards the next promotion; being promoted further is an exception rather than expected. This is also when many engineers are first given an opportunity to move into engineering management. 

Over the past few years, we've seen a flurry of books unlocking the engineering management career path, like Camille Fournier's The Manager's Path, Julie Zhuo's The Making of a Manager, Lara Hogan's Resilient Management, and even my own An Elegant Puzzle. The engineering management career isn't an easy one, but there are maps available to help navigate it. What if you want to advance your career without becoming an engineering manager? The technical leadership path remains relatively undocumented, hard to navigate, and inconsistent across companies. Staff Engineer is your guide to building your career towards a staff engineering role, receiving the title, and succeeding within the role.

©2021 Will Larson (P)2022 Will Larson

What listeners say about Staff Engineer

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Great content but some audio issues

The content is excellent and I don’t think there is another book out there like this. The only negative thing is that there are a few recording issues where the recording sounds like it got cut early and skipped. One chapter doesn’t even finish. Nevertheless, I still feel like I got a lot of value out of the book and would recommend buying it. If these issues get fixed, I will update my review.

7 people found this helpful

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The audio was cut off in some of the chapters.

As the tittle stated. Please fix the cut offs. It is frustrating to listen with missing contents.

4 people found this helpful

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Not Just for Software Engineers

I really enjoyed the format of the career stories in the book and hearing the experiences of others. The lessons these individuals learned can apply across domains and into Pre-Sales / Post-Sales Engineering or Engineers with a focus outside the software development realm. I greatly enjoy Larson’s other book, and this one was no different. Keep up the great work!

4 people found this helpful

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Audio gaps

The audio sometimes cuts out. When it resumes, you have no idea what you missed.

3 people found this helpful

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Hugely informative

As someone who found themselves in a principal role possibly by virtue of being somewhere so long and not ever knowing what my job actually was, what the expectations where, or who I was supposed to be for others, this was the best information I’ve ever found. I’m still not sure who I’m supposed to be and don’t believe I’m worthy of the title given, but having a much better idea of what the words mean and what the expectations are at many other places at least gives me an idea of how to improve and get there. Thanks Will, this was a huge help to me.

3 people found this helpful

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Good content marred by audio issues

As a staff software engineer myself, I’m part of the demographic this book is aimed at. The parts I was able to listen to were accurate and relatable.

Unfortunately there were many section where the audio just suddenly cut out and began in the next section. It was bad enough that I returned the title. It’s in my wish list and in a few months I’ll try to buy it again if the playback errors are fixed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Oz
  • 03-06-22

Only touching the surface

The advice stays limited at the surface level. The author didn’t support their suggestions with real life or hypothetical examples.

The interviews with other Staff Engineers part was nice

Well narrated. Worth listening to it in audiobook format.

1 person found this helpful

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Useful and unique material, could be condensed more

I found parts of the book quite repetitive. However it is a unique resource in the field and it deserves credit for that. Definitely recommend it to folks who think they might need to hear more about others who’ve reached senior IC levels.

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A great resource for engineers moving on up

Anyone who works in tech, from IT support and infrastructure to system administration, software development, and engineering, knows the problems that you face when you begin to top out at your individual contributor positions and hit the ceiling of the "senior" positions. Being able to transition into a Lead or Staff position brings with it a lot of challenges, and you begin to rely on a different set of professional skills.

Staff Engineer is a guide to help you navigate from being a senior engineer (or the equivalent) into some flavor of Staff Engineer role. Even if you don't work in a software engineering field, anyone who is part of a large tech organization and nearing the top of their non-management career path can benefit from what's found in this book. As someone who moved into a Lead role ten years ago, and a true Manager title six years ago, this book has a lot of helpful wisdom and information that can assist you in not only landing that career move, but making it a lot smoother and less stressful.

The narration by Shaula Evans is solid and well-articulated. Some people might find the audio adaptation from the text - with lots of quotes and footnotes and non-linear text - a little confusing, but clearly the intent was to make sure quotes were properly attributed, and there was likely no perfect method for doing this. I think the narration is fine and doesn't detract from the meat of this book, but I can understand that if someone is not paying attention, it might be distracting. This is definitely a situation where listening to the audiobook and then going out and getting a paper copy of the text is likely a really good idea.

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  • Dee
  • 08-28-21

amazing book, shame about some editing

amazing book, truly; crystallized a lot of a complex role that I've been doing for a long time; some minor editing problems - like chapters cutting off mid-sentence, is vexing; I don't want this to reflect badly on the author or narrator, but: audio engineer? get your head in the game!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Welington Veiga
  • 09-05-21

The book content is outstanding / audiobook has editing issues

The content of the book is excellent, very concise, informative and insightful. Definitely with the reading, even if you are a manager or has a senior role that's not precisely “staff engineer”.

The audiobook does not keep up with the quality of the content. Although the narrator performance is good, the audio editing cuts off mid-sentence at the end of multiple sessions and chapters - nothing that compromises too much the understanding, but very annoying.

1 person found this helpful

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  • RobRoss
  • 05-11-22

Buzzwordy

It was a good take on a hard job to define. I enjoyed the anecdotes. There seemed to be a lot of meaningless buzzwords around the job title that I wish could have been explored more deeply.