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How can I give myself a fresh start?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

I've been working as a software engineer for 9+ years. Even though graduated in CSE, I never put a great effort in learning DSA into deep. Nor did I found interest in solving problems in leetcode.

I mostly worked in startup jobs. The expectations are kind of clear here. Build apis and features and deploy.

I believe I know moderate amount of system design and build product from scratch using js tech.

Have hands on experience in Node, React and AWS. Lead ~4-5 members for a short time. Never had the opportunity to build product which needed a great scale. DB sharding, working in a system that had 100s of micrsoervices is something I have never experienced.

I'm making around $75k in UAE. How can I give myself a learning path which would lead me to a better paying job. Ideally ~120k+. Spending 2-3 hrs daily would be difficult because of personal commitment. Maybe 6-8hrs total in a week I can manage.

Thanks

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(3 comments)
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    Ex-Google Senior SWE • FE/Mobile -> BE/Distributed/AI
    a month ago

    I've experienced this too. I think many engineers end up here because they are facing some wall with regard to their growth. Sometimes just learning by doing is not enough since the work available to you doesn't have the scope for the type of learning that actually fosters growth.

    My general advice is to pick the classic books in a space of interest and read them. For backend distributed systems, that would be Designing Data-Intensive Applications (DDIA). There's an ongoing book club where we review a chapter at a time together. Sounds like a perfect fit for the time you have and what I can gather about your interests.

    The classics in a space or industry are important to read because they are generally timeless pillars, meaning everything new stems from it, even though it may have been published 10, 20, or even 100s of years ago. They'll connect you to the roots of what exists today and help you to understand a lot of the lingo. For example, DDIA gives you the foundation to understand white papers and research papers about distributed systems.

    Classics also opens eyes to the gaps in knowledge one might have in other related aspects of the industry. Going through the book myself I picked up that I wanted to dive deeper into languages, security, and concurrent programming.

    With the new knowledge, we do still need to bring it back to looking for opportunities to really retain it (see Taro's response to How to Avoid Going Down the Rabbit Hole). Sometimes this might mean taking a pay cut in the short term to optimize the development of a high leverage skill. In the long term, this type of focus usually pays off. It may also mean side projects or open source contribution.

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Bias towards action: Start applying to new jobs now!

    Learning is great, but your post seems to have the mindset that you need to follow some learning path first and then look for a more lucrative opportunity (i.e. a serial set of actions). I actually think they can be run in parallel. You should start applying now and see what you can get:

    • If you aren't getting anything good - Then you can go to the drawing board to amp up your learning and portfolio. My recommendation here is to build side projects: [Taro Top 10] Building Impressive Side Projects
    • If you are getting opportunities - Just drop what you're doing, study like crazy, and hope to pass the interviews!

    For mechanics around the job search, check out my new course: [Course] Ace Your Tech Interview And Get A Job As A Software Engineer

  • 1
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    a month ago

    Thanks @alex, actually there are few opportunities available in the UAE as I can see. I'll check out the course for sure.

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