Level up your programming career with the Snowflake app by Medium

How to track and improve your career with Medium’s genius new app and framework

Screenshot of a Snowflake tool entry example. Try it out: https://snowflake.medium.com

Yesterday, October 18 of 2017, Medium made their Engineering Growth Framework public. It was a framework for tracking the career growth of their engineers. This makes the process more transparent for both the engineers and the company itself.

Along with it, they released the amazing Snowflake app.

According to Jamie Talbot:

Snowflake is a simple web tool that we use to have growth conversations with engineers. It lets us show them how progress along certain tracks will affect their overall level, and helps them make decisions about how they want to grow.

Although this app was created for engineers at Medium, engineers from other companies — even freelancers, hobbyists and students can do so too in order to track their progress and improve by finding areas for improvement. 😄

I believe that this would be a wonderful tool we can use at GAPLabs to help us assess and supercharge our growth. 💯

You can use this to rate yourself and improve! 🔥

Here’s how.

How to use it

Open up the Snowflake app, edit the details, send it to your managers or print it for future reference to see where you need to improve with regards to your career.

Change your name

Double click the name to change it.

When you first open the app, you’ll see Cersei Lannister at the upper left hand part of the app. You can double-click that to type in your own name.

Rate your tracks

Click on one of the colored rectangles to rate that track.

There are 16 tracks all in all which fall into 4 categories:

  1. Building (Teal): Mobile, Web client, Foundations, and Servers
  2. Executing (Blue): Project management, Communication, Craft, and Initiative
  3. Supporting (Pink): Career development, Org design, Wellbeing, and Accomplishment
  4. Strengthening (Red): Mentorship, Evangelism, Recruiting, and Community

Click on each colored rectangle that responds to a track and then start rating.

Rate yourself by selecting a track and selecting a level.

Clicking on one will reveal details about it. In this case, we clicked on the Mobile track, which is the first track. Here, we can see the description which says:

Develops expertise in native mobile platform engineering, such as iOS or Android

You can then start rating yourself by clicking the numbered rectangles. The description to the right will change. In this case, we selected the rectangle with the number 2. In this level it says that you should be an engineer that:

Develops new instances of existing architecture, or minor improvements to existing architecture

If that isn’t clear to you, you can take a look at the example behaviors and tasks and see if you have done things similar to those.

You can keep selecting a higher number until you reach a number whose description, behaviors, and tasks do not describe you. When you reach this, go back a number and that’s your self-rating.

This system of rating makes it objective.

View your results

These visualizations are the results of your ratings.

The spiderweb graph the right shows you your skill balance. You might lean too much into the Building category while leaving the Supporting category low, for example. You can also click within this graph to adjust the ratings.

The stacked horizontal bar graph on the left shows you your progress and how far you are until the next level/promotion. The numbers on top show you your current level, total points and how much you need to improve until the next (possible) promotion, if your managers agree.

Finally, below the name, you’ll see a dropdown. There you’ll see the possible titles according to your current level. In this case, we can either be a Staff Engineer or an Engineering Manager depending on your preference. This would depend on your company but these would be nice guides for most companies.

These graphs show you where you should focus in order to better your career. Look at the spiderweb graph for example. One of the the Supporting tracks (pink), Wellbeing, is still on level zero. Maybe you need to focus on that.

That’s it! I believe that Medium did a great job building their Engineering Growth Framework and using the Snowflake tool can help us improve the aspects of our careers where we are found to be lacking.

Maybe we’ll try this out at GAPLabs and see how it helps us.

You can try that too!

Cheers! 🎉

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