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Is working 18-19 hours a day the norm in FAANG+?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community7 months ago

One of my friends recently shared with me that their team works 18-19 hours a day, including weekends. Is this a common practice? I'm interested in working on impactful and useful projects at a big tech or Tier 1 company. Is this level of commitment expected from engineers who are working on exceptionally valuable features or components within the company?

My friend mentioned that their team is composed of individuals with high IQs but low EQs. They suggested that if you find the work interesting and fulfilling, the long hours shouldn't be a problem. I've never worked in big tech or in the Bay Area, but I'm keen on joining a Tier 1 company. However, hearing about this work schedule has made me question whether it's worth sacrificing work-life balance. Is this level of commitment typically expected in order to earn a higher salary or to secure a position at FAANG+ companies?

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(3 comments)
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    Okay, so the work-life balance of FAANG engineers is generally below industry average but it isn't that bad. 18-19 hour days literally means that you only have 5-6 hours just for sleep, let alone eating, bathing, and using the restroom... Tell your friend to leave their team ASAP. It doesn't matter how much you get paid, that experience can't possibly be worth it.

    Is this level of commitment expected from engineers who are working on exceptionally valuable features or components within the company?

    In general, FAANG expects you to be quite committed to your work, both in terms of putting the hours (relatively easy to do) and having high intensity of work (harder to do, more around shipping very high-quality of work). The latter is what trips up most engineers.

    If you want to learn more about life at FAANG, check these out:

    My friend mentioned that their team is composed of individuals with high IQs but low EQs.

    I've also seen this happen quite a bit, especially at the Big Tech companies with more LeetCode-heavy interviews (Google is the most notorious for this). However, the low EQs is more applicable at L3 and the lower end of L4 where your job (and interview) are mostly coding. Once you get to L5/L6, engineer EQ shoots up drastically as you need those more fundamental skills to perform at these levels. We talk more about this here:

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    Senior Software Engineer [IC3] at Nvidia
    7 months ago

    I would echo what Alex said. This differs from team to team. Keep in mind that if your friend is working ~135 hours per week, then their pay is not actually that great when considered on a per-hour basis.

    I think what your friend is describing is nowhere near the industry average. Beyond what Alex wrote, I want to say that I find people love looking very busy, because they conflate busyness with importance or impact. They are not the same. For this type of role, working a lot is possible for some people, but most people would likely burn out doing challenging work for many hours and not actually sustain the high level of effort required. There is research on this (see Cal Newport's Deep Work, which covers how few people can do more than 4 hours of deep work a day). They are also more likely to make mistakes, which they then have to spend time fixing later. So while it's likely your friend is working significantly more than average, I would take everything anyone says with a grain of salt, especially if they are saying they barely sleep or eat and do nothing but work.

    My recommendation would be to network with other engineers, learn about different companies' cultures, and get a sense of the day-to-day. Few things people are working are urgent and critical to the world to get done ASAP. It's normal to have the occasional crunch where you need to focus and get something out quickly. It's not normal for it to be the norm. If that's the case, the team needs to hire more people. So I wouldn't worry about this, and I'd get exposure to the perspectives of other engineers. I'd also talk to my friend about whether they might want to look at other teams/roles, but that's just me.

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

    Definitely not expected or common to work 18 hours/day. As in, I've literally never heard of any team that does this.

    Maybe it's for one night because an engineer was deep in a flow state, or perhaps one day during crunch time. But any kind of expectation for 18 hours/day would be ludicrous.