Four Way Stop: Finding a Creative Career Path at an Intersection

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Blog Post
June 17, 2024

Four Way Stop: Finding a Creative Career Path at an Intersection

Armando Gonzalez

Starting at Courier Health as a Customer Engineer, I knew that I had found myself a unique role – and I’ve held some interesting roles before it.

My first job ever was a combination of lifeguard, swim instructor, and janitor – until I traded in my pool tube, whistle, and mop for a coffee thermos and commuted into New York City for my first internship as a Software Engineer. While studying Computer Science at Georgia Tech, I explored more software engineering internships (when I wasn't suited up as Georgia Tech's mascot, Buzz, or the Chick-Fil-A cow).

As fun as becoming a full-time mascot would have been, I stuck to my degree and started my career as a Software Engineer after graduating from GT.

Despite starting out at a company with 200,000+ employees and later joining smaller, under 200-person companies, there was one core overlap between these experiences: at times my work felt insulated from our customers and the broader industries we supported. The first few years' worth of rungs on the software engineering 'ladder' encouraged me to look deeper, but not necessarily wider. This was especially true as an engineer working on backend/core features.

For those unfamiliar: "backend" mostly refers to work done on software products that is invisible to the user. Backend software powers the experience in the background, moving and translating data from point A to point B, but is relatively detached from the user experience.

This is ideal for those who want to take vertical slices of technology and understand every layer. While I related to this for a while, over time I found myself gravitating towards more horizontal exercises like system and data design.

As I became more senior and began seeking out projects that were more interesting to me, I found myself working on more and more projects that were 100% collaborative efforts between software engineering, data engineering, product, QA, client success, and even sales. The way I saw it, by sacrificing some of the depth (getting under the hood of the tools we were using), I had a unique opportunity to learn about and better understand the market, the customer experience, and the data model that my code was serving. This realization not only satisfied my natural curiosity but helped my work engage all parts of my brain.

As I reflected on my career and what I was looking to do next, I found myself at a four-way stop sign with different paths in front of me. I had to think deeply about whether I wanted to remain a software engineer or lean into becoming a technical product manager, a data engineer, or possibly even a sales engineer.

It was at this juncture that I found Courier Health.

So, what is a Customer Engineer?

This was a question I asked Stacey, our first Customer Engineer, during the interview process. (It was actually along the lines of ‘does Customer + Engineer = Customer Engineer?’)

At Courier Health, the Customer Engineering team serves our product, engineering, and client solutions teams all at once by helping all teams make data-driven decisions about their work. We own the data-intensive engineering work that a platform of our scale demands, and we've become a technical resource outside of engineering that client solutions (and, in turn, our client partners) can use to understand the complex data model that powers our platform. (Just think about all the disparate data points involved in the U.S. healthcare system and the complex patient journey from diagnosis to prescription to initiating and staying on therapy.)

For me, the role of Customer Engineer was a unique opportunity to join a mission-driven company and help shape a critical function where one plus one adds up to much more than two. It’s been rewarding both to help our clients make sense of their data, providing a unified, 360-degree view of the patient journey, and to help shape what this function can mean at Courier Health going forward. Regardless of industry, it’s a role that more companies should be focusing on, and for technical and creative individuals like me, it's a unique opportunity to work at an intersection of skills and teams.

I'm excited for Customer Engineering to continue thinking outside the job description, supporting the Courier Health mission to redefine the biopharma commercial patient experience, and building a robust patient CRM platform alongside our talented team. I'm also excited for this team to grow! If this at all resonates with you or someone in your network, we'd love to hear from you and for you to look at our open roles.

Armando Gonzalez is a Customer Engineer at Courier Health. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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