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Should I have worked on weekends to ramp up faster / deliver more?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community7 months ago

Hi all,

I joined my current company (known in our industry for not-so-good WLB) 6 months ago as a Senior Software Engineer and have been doing side hustle in the evening and weekends over past 6 months beside my main job. This means I still completed the 9am to 6pm work schedule before doing my side hustle.

Now my manager is saying I have low bug fix count and my team consists of some weekends workaholics which I suspect I’m being benchmarked against. My upcoming performance review is due end of December 2023 (1 month away). The expectation for my level is ramping up in 3 months which means the last 3 months are no longer considered ramp-up period.

What should I do in this last 1 month leading to the performance review? Should I go all in on the weekends too or should I keep the pace I’m working (I’ve started working in the evening from 7PM to 10PM since receiving this feedback 2-3 weeks ago but on weekends I still hustle). Was I wrong in doing side gigs / projects while ramping up for my full time job and should have instead pushed weekends to ramp up? What could have I done better in the past 6 months and moving forward in 1 month ahead?

I know Rahul talked about doing side contract gigs and Alex talked about doing side projects while both are still at Meta (a very demanding big tech company). How did you guys handle the pressure and what are your schedules like? (Wake up @ 4AM, work on side hustle till 6-7AM, then go to sleep at night around 12AM LOL)? I'm curious about how people organize their side gigs schedule.

Thank you for your advices. I really appreciate it.



  • 5
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    Unfortunately, a lot of companies and managers equate employee performance to long hours worked, not the actual impact they've had. It seems like your team is one of those, so if WLB is important to you, I would honestly start looking for a way out. It seems like your side hustles are a big part of your life (similar to what side projects were to me before I got married and started Taro), so time flexibility (i.e. what you get with good WLB) will be valuable.

    In the meantime, it does look like you'll need to work weekends to look decent comparatively with your teammates. 😢 If your company's stack has scheduling tools (send DMs/emails at certain times or even PRs), maybe you can use those to make it seem like you're constantly grinding? 🤔

    This is a big reason why I tell people that a job with garbage WLB generally isn't worth it (no matter how much it pays). It robs you of your most important resource: Time. If your job sucks up 100% of your energy, you won't have that time to do side projects and other fun stuff. And when you want to leave, you won't have time to interview unless you sacrifice your PTO balance.

    How did you guys handle the pressure and what are your schedules like? (Wake up @ 4AM, work on side hustle till 6-7AM, then go to sleep at night around 12AM LOL)?

    At Meta and Robinhood, I was working less than 40 hours a week on average despite being a high performer. So coming home and working on side projects for 1-2 hours was very doable. This was possible because I learned how to get far more from my time using pretty much all the stuff I teach in Taro now. If you want to learn how I did that, I recommend these resources:

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    Founder of Expanded Skills • Former Head of Engineering
    7 months ago

    It comes down to whether you will bet on:

    • The company's career model - largely driven by your manager
    • Yourself - what the market will give you for your abilities

    These past few years in tech should be quite sobering that betting on any one company's career model is a losing proposition in the long term. Given the dynamics you described, it sounds like a losing proposition even past their promotion cycle because it's a race to the bottom. Bake into your expectations that you'll likely chase a moving target if you do ramp up your throughput, as that will become the new norm.

    Personally, I've been asked to work weekends and even over the Holidays before and I set my boundaries for situations I will vs. won't.

    You'll require a fair bit of career capital to do this, which is determined by what actual impact you have during the hours you work and what your next best option to working there is.

    If side projects are important to you and you're able to find contracts that pay your worth, you should allocate a certain amount of time to continue to build that. It is worth mentioning that doing contracts will build up your problem-solving competencies and will make you more effective at your day job, assuming you're working on the same class of problems.