How do you transition from Rails lead engineer to growth engineer?

Timothy Johnson* asks:

"I've recently come across the "growth" hacker" designation and am wondering how to make the transition to work in this capacity at a startup?"

I just did this transition, from engineer/consultant to growth engineer at a large tech company. What worked for me was focusing specifically on interviewing for growth engineering positions. I also focused heavily on my personal criteria for a company with big opportunity: profitable; >50 engineers; ideally B2B; some amount of React and Node; based in San Francisco.

The easiest way to find a company like this is to ask all your friends. Alternatively,

  1. Search for growth engineering meetups and conferences
  2. Make a list of all companies who speak there or attend or advertise there
  3. Filter by your criteria
  4. Contact your friends at those companies
  5. If you need to cold contact a company and there aren't any growth engineers who work there on linkedin, target your emails in this order: CEO, CTO, CMO, VP of Engineering, VP of Marketing. They'll be very happy to hear from you because finding growth engineers is very difficult.

But how do I transition while staying at my current job?

In that case I'd recommend you pick a growth project you think will have large impact for your current company (or ask a marketer, or ask your manager). Put on your business-person hat and think about all the ways it might help the company. Take your best guesses or give a range for...

Then bring the rough sizing of the project back to your manager, and see if you can prioritize the project to be worked on next. If they shoot that idea down, ask them how they'd feel about you working on it during your downtime, when you wouldn't be making progress on your main project anyway.

Good luck!

Questions? Send me an email: david ått
Want to be a growth engineer? My company is hiring, email me :)
Want to hire me? Let's talk, I might even try to recruit you!

David Trejo

Engineer at Chime & consultant. Past clients include Credit Karma, Aconex, Triplebyte, Neo, the Brown Computer Science Department, Voxer, Cloudera, and the Veteran's Benefits Administration.