At my startup I was asked to deliver feature after feature + bug fixes by PMs as fast as possible without much time for proper refactoring work or engineering initiatives. Also it was pretty individualistic where you get assigned a task and only work with other engineers during a tech spec review meeting, code review, and syncing with a backend engineer (as an Android dev).
From Alex’s video on getting promoted to tech lead, I saw how you can 1) drive projects as an L5 engineer (vs a PM putting that together with designers) 2) Not have to know how to implement everything yourself for a project, but work with many others and facilitate the team. This sounds 100x more engineering driven and collaborative than at my start up with few developers. Is this common to many people’s experience of the norm in FAANG?
What I liked about Alex's story is also how he had the time and space to do things like document the differences between iOS and Android, as well as go all the way through to making a data analytics plan for monitoring it himself. Seems like a lot of freedom and ownership which I didn't feel I always had the time for personally. Being able to not have to spend 80% of your time coding but rather doing deep work thinking, planing, designing holistically sounds extremely satisfying and rewarding as an engineer. Maybe this also comes with experience at startups as well?
This sounds 100x more engineering driven and collaborative than at my start up with few developers.
This is interesting since I'd say many people have the opposite perspective. Obviously it depends on the startup, but I'd say that most good startups are very product focused, which means that engineers get tons of autonomy and agility in making decisions. Sounds like that wasn't your experience though.
In a Big Tech Co, there are a lot more people + processes involved before something can ship. For example, even at Meta, which is very much engineering-focused, it still takes weeks to get things like privacy review or experiment data.
To your point about being collaborative in FAANG, I'd say it depends on (1) the needs for your team and (2) how much you want to lean into certain parts of your job.
A team of senior infra folks may not need to do as much collaborative work, but it's likely engineering-driven.
Most good startups are very product focused, which means that engineers get tons of autonomy and agility in making decisions.
My experience has been that product managers have actually owned what was going into production or not, so engineers didn't get to decide much. PMs were in charge of thinking about what to build next, gathering data, and planning how to evaluate if it was successful.
In big tech is it normal for engineers to have more control, and lead projects but just get a PM and designer to sign off (as opposed to the other way around)?