mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Good Engineers Are Great At Search Engines

Some technical interviews may have you believe that a good engineer is someone who can flatten binary trees efficiently, regurgitate performance of red-black trees, or solve some tricky puzzle. That could be the case in an algorithms course, but that’s not the case in the real world. What separates bad from good when it comes to engineers is one’s search engine proficiency.

The situation: you’re faced with a problem (a bug) or a very serious problem (someone asking you to implement some snazzy new feature). You break the problem down into small units of work and start tackling them one by one. And before you know it, you run into an issue. What happens now?

Good engineers run to and start looking for an answer. It is very unlikely that you are the first person running into your particular problem. So leverage that fact! Good Google-fu will usually get you to an answer or at least orient you in the right direction. The worst outcome is finding absolutely nothing or — even worse — a StackOverflow post from many years ago with no answers. In that unfortunate case, you’re going to have to actually be an engineer and do some sleuthing yourself.

Good engineers get from not knowing the answer to delivering the correct answer fast!