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SRE Looking for career development - What to do next?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at TikTok7 months ago

I started working at TikTok last September. So far I feel like I have learned a lot but am unhappy with the work-life balance and the expectations to work long hours. I don't see a path for promotion here so I would like to move to a company that isn't under so much political pressure and the path to career development is clear. One caveat is that my official title is DevOps but I am doing SRE work. I like SRE work and would like to get that official title.

  1. I have 11 months to prepare for my next role. What should my preparation look like?
  2. What kind of companies should I aim for? I made a list from blind of the 2023 prestige companies and wanted to shoot for high TC. I am thinking that after the prep phase, I would start interviewing at companies I don't want to work at and get practice and offers so I have some leverage during negotiations.
  3. How can I connect with other SREs from top companies that I can ask them how it is to actually work there?

At this stage of my life, I need to begin more focus on my social life. I have been working on my career only and I don't have the abundance in my social life to justify the work I have been doing. So I am hoping to land a role at a company with prestige, solid TC, and work-life balance so I can accomplish both my personal goals and my career goals.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
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    Tech Leadership Coach • Former Head of Engineering
    7 months ago

    Let me try to deconstruct this piece by piece as there's a lot going on here.

    Work-life balance / burnout: It comes down to putting your own boundaries in place. I think you diagnosed it well in the closing paragraph of your question. It's very easy to use work to "fill the void" when there are no personal commitments / hobbies you're looking forward to. It took me awhile to adopt the idea of "scheduled fun". Take your personal commitments as seriously as you do a serious work commitment. People will respect your boundaries, only if you respect them first.

    Assess opportunities you like: I sense you like SRE work. Let that be the north star that guides what you do and how you evaluate opportunities. Make a list of all the SRE problems you like solving and document your past experiences, good and bad while solving them. When you have a clear understanding of this, you'll naturally develop a filter to categorize what opportunites are a good fit vs. bad. Making an ideal company list is OK, but what and how you contribute at that company is much more important.

    Finding ways to grow: I strongly believe TC is a byproduct of having strong alignment between what you are good at vs. what the market needs. Prestige is not that important, especially when you already have a big company brand on your CV already (i.e. TikTok). I encourage you to brainstorm a few ways you can grow outside of the metrics associated with a corporate ladder. This is a forcing function that will push you to think more about skills and relationships (which matter way more in the long run) vs. compensation, title and prestige (which are all very fragile).

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    7 months ago

    I have 11 months to prepare for my next role. What should my preparation look like?

    This is too long to grind Leetcode. I'd spend the first 6 months building something you're proud of -- a Github repo that helps other devs, a mobile app, something.

    After that, you can create a daily prep plan.

    How can I connect with other SREs

    Use Taro Networking! https://www.jointaro.com/networking/

TikTok, known in China as Douyin, is a short-form video hosting service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It hosts a variety of short-form user videos with durations from 15 seconds to ten minutes
TikTok16 questions