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Should I join an important project with difficult team mates or a not so important project with great team mates?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

I was lucky to join a very competent and lovely platform team when I joined my current company. I have been working in the same team for 18 months but due to re-orgs people have moved out and we are currently 3 people and we were 9 people when we started out.

We have been doing mostly maintenance work for the past 3 months after re-orgs and recently we were given a choice to work on two projects.

There is one project, lets call it Project Hero which my skip level manager wants me to join. I would be the main PIC for this project and it will involve a lot of integration work and system design. This project is with new team mates and a new manager with whom I have not worked but they don't have the best reputation. However, going by FAANG level, they should be good enough to get the job done. Only downside is work-life balance might be skewed if I join here. However, if the project is a success, it sets me up for Senior level promotion.

There is another project, lets call it Project Nero. This will be with my existing team but from a company perspective, it's not a very important project. But I will be working with my existing team mates who are both capable of delivering a solid project and a joy to work with. However, my work here will be overshadowed by other Senior engineers on the project.

Which project should I join? I personally want to do Project Hero but not with the people present there. Also it will be challenging.
Project Nero will be challenging also but more up my comfort zone.
Given the current economic climate, I feel being in more important teams will help keep my job.

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 2
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer at Other
    a month ago

    I would personally go with project Hero, but with a few caveats/prework.

    • Have a good conflict resolution mechanism. Make sure all decisions are data driven, disagree and commit where not enough data, but call out all the risks.
    • Figure out how not to get into crunch mode for more than a month. This can involve setting up mechanisms to speed up the team's work.
    • Read books/learn what is needed. Look at it from a learner perspective, and make sure the team also learns fast.
    • Ensure management has visibility into all your contributions.
  • 2
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    Senior Software Engineer at Intuit (Ex-Netflix)
    a month ago

    Few things to consider:

    1. Do you see yourself at your company long term or are you looking to change? If you are looking to change, stick with the easy one.
    2. The pay is going to be the same, if you work at a stressed out team for 60 hours a week or at the current team for 40 hours a week.
    3. If you are looking to grow in the company and stay long term, project Hero. You will need to tolerate some discomfort. And also since the reputation is second hand information, you never know, you may just like them!
    4. I think understand quickly what the new manager’s expectations are , and move to project Hero, for long term safety and growth in your company.
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    I'm leaning towards Project Hero. Here's why:

    • There's more scope and visibility as you mentioned which is good for learning and promotion
    • You already have buy-in from your skip for it. Senior-level promotions will always require a skip-level approval at the minimum
    • It's a relationship-building opportunity to establish social capital with coworkers you don't know very well. In other words, I actually have a "glass half full" take here and see this angle as a positive

    Also, "don't have the best reputation" is sort of vague so it's hard for me to give a higher-conviction take. I have said many times before that quality of the people around you is most important, but that phrase has a wide range. It could be:

    1. A euphemism for toxic, garbage teammates that actively sabotage you and are miserable to work with
    2. Engineers who might not have the cleanest code but are overall well-meaning and nice

    For #1, I strongly believe that it's pretty much never worth the sacrifice, especially if it's a 3+ month project.

    Anyways, if you end up going with Project Hero, I imagine these will be helpful: