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Any examples to describe the project as a story for promo docs?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon4 months ago

I used to describe project in three sections:

  1. Problem
  2. Action
  3. Impact

Not every project is straight line. Some projects have lot of ambiguities and need lot of discussion to clear those ambiguities, certain features where we spend are de prioritized/removed, process challenges, changing direction/vision. How to explain all these as a story to express the complexity of the project by showing the challenges faced?

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(2 comments)
  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    4 months ago

    I'm not familiar with the structure of Amazon promo documents (feel free to enlighten me), but I did leave a lot of my in-depth thoughts about the SDE 2 to SDE 3 promotion here.

    It's very true that projects aren't a straight line - In fact, if you want to become a senior engineer at a FAANG company, the projects you take on should not manifest as a straight line. A key trait of a strong senior engineer is being able to handle ambiguity and thrash.

    In terms of how to capture that, I think your 3-part format works just fine. At its core, every project is effectively a series of problem -> action -> impact.

    For example, let's say that your project hit a snag as you realized some dependency didn't work:

    1. Problem: Realized X component didn't meet project requirements
    2. Action: Convened a task force to figure out alternate components that could be used to fill in the gap, held a tech review meeting, and aligned on the best option as a team
    3. Impact: Unblocked the project to get it back on track to hit the deadline

    For performance review at Meta, this was naturally split up as SWE performance was organized by axes:

    • Engineering Excellence
    • Impact
    • Direction
    • People

    Impact was more about the "what", and Direction/People in particular were more about the "how". So when I captured these stories in performance review, problem/action was mainly in the Direction/People sections and impact was in, well, Impact.

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  • I think Alex point on capturing the challenged faced as your three section works, it is similar to what I used in my L6 promo.

    The harder part in addition to documentation is to find supporter/feedback provider at L6+ that would support that the same view as you that what you encountered was complex and challenging.

    What tend to block L6 promotion is showing that you influenced scope outside of your immediate team. Once you are able to express that and show that you meet x% of criteria in the L5-L6 role guideline, you are good to go.

    Since they removed the TPA requirement, it is theoretically easier to move to L6 now.

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