Hi! I have been working at pre-Series A AI/ML startup for nearly a year. I was hired at a Principal Engineer level and then was promoted to Director level. Currently, nearly 15 engineers report to me. Despite the growth opportunities, I am not very sure of the overall success of the company. I am more keen to switch jobs and, hopefully, work at L6+ level at a Big Tech company. Any advice on how to go about that?
Well, the first step is to apply. If you have 10+ years of experience, they would probably give you a shot for L6. ~15 engineers is roughly Big Tech L6 scope as well.
In terms of passing the interview, that's an entirely different story. I recommend these:
So the tricky thing for you is that you're now in M-Track (M = management). L6+ engineers are crucial to Big Tech (we hired them extremely carefully at Meta), so I imagine most hiring managers will be skeptical of your ability to switch back to an IC role.
If you want to get hired at L6 instead of M1 (equivalent engineering manager role by Meta leveling), I recommend being a hands-on Engineering Director. Take part in production issue post-mortems, review system design docs, and maybe even review some code here and there. This hands-on experience will be crucial in the system design portion of the interview.
If you're interviewing with Google/Meta, you will probably need to do data structures and algorithms (DSA) as well. I recommend this masterclass for that: [Masterclass] How To Ace Your Big Tech Interview - Data Structures And Algorithms