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How does one balance career growth in the company AND prepping for interview at FAANG+?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community9 months ago

Can you please share strategies in place for career growth ( L5 -> L6)

along side interview prep ( L5 / L6 ) for a FAANG+.

Goal: L6 at FAANG+, either direct or L5 -> L6.

Reason: More TC

Timeline: Not urgent, just waiting for the right opportunity.



  • 21
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    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    9 months ago

    I'm not L6.

    But I did have to prep when I had a full time job and landed a mid-level role.

    I basically sacrificed my evenings and my weekend to do 1-5 hours of prep a day.

    I was able to find a community to do this with so it wasn't a straight grind AND I wasn't on a strict deadline. I would say, it took me maybe 6-8 months to land my offer (I took breaks in between). I was also very picky with the companies I interviewed with, as it sounds like you will be.

    I was aiming for consistency and progress over optimization because that's too much pressure for me.

    Finally, I also exercised passive strategies like networking with others, really tailoring my application to each position and coming up with supportive materials.

    I hope that helps with your first question, I don't know what your schedule is like but if you share more detail, I can provide more about how I went through my journey.

    Good luck!

  • 12
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    L5 -> L6 is a big jump, so it will be very difficult. You will need to attack the problem across multiple fronts and do some collection of the following:

    • Achieve more impact with less time - After you master the basics of time management, the next highest leverage thing to do is learn how to identify the most impactful projects and create scope. I recommend these:
    • Sacrifice personal time - As Xue mentioned, you will probably have to spend some of your weekend time on this as you will come back from work tired each night if you're on the Staff Engineer promotion grind. My recommendation is to find an accountability partner to make this process more enjoyable, especially as mocks are way more effective than grinding LeetCode in isolation.
    • Use PTO - PTO is essentially a "time bank" that you can use flexibly. The bigger it is, the more time you can forcefully carve out for interviews, specifically when you have onsites coming.

    Balancing interview prep and growth at your current role is a push and pull between your work hours and your personal hours. If you learn how to get more done with less time during work hours, you have more personal hours to spend on interview prep. If you aren't able to do this, you'll have to sacrifice more personal hours.

    Lastly, here's our playlist on senior -> staff: [Taro Top 10] Senior Engineer To Staff Engineer (L5 To L6)

  • 3
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    a month ago

    ALEX, as a follow up. Is it worth grinding my way to get to L6 at tier 2 or join a FAANG+/Adjacent as L5. The average pay for staff at my company is 450K - 480K. But great work life Balance. I don’t see staff working as hard as FAANG senior ( I was at a FAANG before )

    My goal is fast / high career growth and money. I also don’t want to sacrifice my family life.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    At the end of the day, your level or some fancy FAANG company on your resume doesn't put food on the table: Money does.

    If you're able to make almost $500k/year without working at a company as strenuous as FAANG, I say you should do it. Easy choice.

    Let's take an extreme scenario: A company is insane enough to offer me $400k/year to be an L3. If I wasn't doing Taro, hell yeah I would take it! I could work just 1-2 hours a day and spend the rest of the time with my friends/family while also building side projects (so my learning doesn't decay).

    Here's a great discussion that further dives into the topic: "How should I think about levels when it comes to evaluating jobs and in my career overall?"

  • 1
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    a month ago

    Continuing the healthy discussion here, As I think this could benefit several other senior engineers.

    1. Yes making 450 - 480K, as staff is great with low pressure. I don't have a desire to be a tech entrepreneur, I cannot see myself as one. So it will be just that job, then life out of it. So my learning might stagnate.
    2. Staff -> Senior Staff takes even longer, and till then we are stuck with 3% raises and perhaps good stock refresh, bonus.
    3. Moving to a Meta / Google / Netflix / Databricks, even as a L5, there is room to grow. The quality of engineers are higher, and much more to learn from.
    4. Salary can go upward to 600 - 700 in the long run, which is impossible at my company, unless the stock appreciates significantly.
    5. I think making money, till money is no longer what I chase, is a good decision maker.