I’m always impressed by software engineers with strong track record working at FAANG level for long term period (>4 years) as working in these type of companies require dedicating yourself 100%+ to sustain and keep meeting the performance bar..
But I also felt that the “golden era” of working at FAANG have already passed. I think joining FAANG today will still give lots of learning but not as many growth compared to maybe 6-7 years ago when they are still growing very rapidly.
Do you have any tips for junior/mid engineers with 1-2 YOE who feels like their current role does not offer the golden era of FAANG level growth in terms of career opportunity? Feeling like this primarily due to team culture and engineering talent on my current role that is subpar compared to FAANG (I was previously an intern at FAANG and is now working at a startup).
Given the current market situation (layoffs, hiring freeze), getting into FAANG or the next FAANG would be quite challenging.
do you have any tips so that I can make sure I can give my best to whatever I have right now but still have FAANG level of career growth in non-FAANG company?
Great question! I definitely feel like startup growth, especially for SWEs, is underrated compared to FAANG. First, I recommend going through this case study from now DoorDash Staff Engineer Seed Zeng where he breaks down his lightning fast career growth joining Klaviyo (now a $10B+ unicorn) as engineer #10: [Case Study] Hypercharging Your Growth At Early Startups (w/ Staff Engineer Seed Zeng)
Do you have any tips for junior/mid engineers with 1-2 YOE who feels like their current role does not offer the golden era of FAANG level growth in terms of career opportunity?
I actually think this is the most straightforward growth case when it comes to startups: Just write a bunch of code. At your experience level, you should be focused on growing your raw technical proficiency, and startups are a gold mine for coding opportunities. If you join an early stage startup like I did with 50-person Course Hero, you'll likely be able to code up entire features (and in my case, it was an entire app!) on your own. Write as much code as you can while keeping the quality respectable.
Over time, you will own huge important swaths of the product. Your goal is to then expand the scope of those domains (ideally even convincing your manager to hire more engineers to help you with them), increasing your influence in the overall company. Here's a good discussion around how to do that: "How do I come up with innovative, impactful ideas and bring them to my team?"
primarily due to team culture and engineering talent on my current role that is subpar compared to FAANG (I was previously an intern at FAANG and is now working at a startup).
It's not entirely fair to make this comparison. A startup, especially if it's earlier stage (<25 engineers), needs to prize velocity so much more compared to FAANG which has stellar internal tooling and very high code-quality standards due to their scale. There's a balance to be struck of course (you never want to ship a broken product, even as a startup), but it's important to keep an open mind here.
Lastly, keep in mind that startups have an extremely powerful asset that Big Tech companies don't: The closeness of its people. When a startup is <50 people, everyone knows each other. When a startup is <15 people, it's very possible that every employee is good friends with everyone else. This closeness produces a massive productivity boost that FAANG can't have. During the interview, your interviewers are going to be your actual future coworkers so make sure to ask lots of good questions and get to know them! Spend a lot of effort understanding whether or not they're great people.
Here's our resources around how to find an excellent startup to join: