What are common limiting beliefs that software engineers have?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon5 months ago

What are common limiting beliefs that you all believe software engineers have that aren't true that typically cause them to hold themselves back or causes them to not progress as quickly as they'd like?

I would assume that at each stage there are some beliefs that we have that cause us to not progress, I am currently most interested in SDE2->Senior, but would also be interested in hearing other common limiting beliefs to progress past senior as well!

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(4 comments)
  • Rahul Pandey
    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    5 months ago

    Ooh, I'll share 3 that I've seen repeatedly in my career:

    It'll take me X weeks to ramp up into a new codebase/technology.

    Generally, people overestimate the amount of time it takes to know enough to be "dangerous" with a new technology. Be ok with being uncomfortable and then get stuff done. At most companies, this is very valuable, and you'll learn a lot more.

    My manager won't like that I'm working on this project

    Stop viewing your manager as an authority, and view them as a partner. You're responsible for your career growth, don't delegate that to your manager.

    That person probably doesn't have time for me

    If there's someone who can help you gain context, debug something, or provide valuable perspective, ask them for help. Of course, there's a proper way of asking for help, but don't assume that people are too senior/busy/important for you.

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  • Senior Software Engineer
    Series A Startup
    5 months ago

    Just a few off the top of my head:

    • Where you work determines your level of ability:
      • People in general have a very unhealthy view of brand names and legacy institutions. Software engineers should not box themselves in when trying to become the best engineers they can—just because you work at an unknown dev shop doesn't mean you can't contribute to the ecosystem, and just because you work at Google doesn't mean you've reached the pinnacle of programming.
    • TC is the most important aspect of software engineering:
      • Compensation is incredibly important. But, you can make much more money elsewhere and with much less work. Thinking about compensation as the only goal will cloud your judgment and take you longer to figure out what your strengths are and how to leverage them. Leverage is how you make huge impacts in the world.
    • You need to know every framework and language to be good at software engineering:
      • Rahul had a great video on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_j3PShkieg
      • It probably matters 10-20% what technology you use to solve a problem. Mental models, problem-solving ability, and organization of processes are the bulk of what you need to do anything useful.
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  • Senior Software Engineer [L5]
    5 months ago

    Just one, from 2->3.

    I didn't work on it, it's not my problem.

    One of the biggest difference from SDE2 and Senior is how widely you view issues as relevant. SDE2 tend to stick to their own ownership area, or their own project. Senior engineers more likely recognizes and brings attention to issues, technical or otherwise, as problems that needs to be addressed. It doesn't mean they need to personally fix it - often they are just starting a conversation about it - but they usually won't sweep things under the rug because it doesn't impact them personally.

    7 Likes
  • Cat Chen
    Meta, Robinhood, Baidu
    5 months ago

    Common misunderstandings from aspiring big tech engineers wanting to start their own companies:

    1. Great technologies lead to great startups. I need to focus on sharpening my skills in building great technologies.
    2. Great products lead to great startups. I need to focus on honing the right sense in building great products.

    You may attract investments with those. You may have great appearances in interviews with journalists. Eventually, you need a great business to sustain a startup.

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