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Channels to deal with mental health

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Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

I am the last person who should be complaining right now, but I absolutely hate my job and the tech sector in general right now. I work at Sh*p**y and even though I got promoted, the hr culture has changed to not increase compensation upon promotion. There's a lot of other hr f**kery I am having to deal with besides this.

Clickbait titles on twitter, business Insider posts or any news media article talking about AI replacing software engineers has given me a headache. Like I get that CEOs are using AI as a coin term to jack up stock prices or raise money. I have enough experience to know there won't be a true AI software engineer for a while but it still bothers me somehow because of the uncertainty (media brainwashing).

Overhanging worry of getting PIPed and not being able to find a job, because a lot of my former colleagues who were let go took a full year to find a new gig.

I'm just exhausted from thinking. I'm scared to talk to my bosses because they will always side with senior leadership, and I am exhausted by the rumours that are circulating about Q* and all the other AI domination clickbait posts.

Has anyone been able to learn to defuse from situations like this? I bet 08' was even worse than the current times. How did people deal with job uncertainties then? Really need answers because my productivity at work has gone down the drain.



  • 8
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    a month ago

    Take some PTO (more than 1 week) and disconnect from social media (including Blind) while you're out. There's a lot going on in tech, so it's easy to get overwhelmed if you're constantly plugged in.

  • 17
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    Also I recommend working with a therapist, great for working through this type of stuff.

    And if software engineers (who need to code but also need to have product knowledge, collaboration skills, system design ability, know where to focus there time, creativity etc) are able to be automated, then finance workers, doctors, lawyers, architects, mechanical and civil engineers etc will definitely be automated too plus product managers, engineering managers, and CEOs.

    So yes there is a lot of hype but if every job is automated and we all get 200k income from the government while living in villas built by robots who bring us food and drinks all day, that would be OK too.

    But for now focus on using ChatGPT to make your life better and think about problems that it can’t solve.

  • 14
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    My sister in law is working at Nvidia building chips and software to do AI stuff. I vented to her about this exact same thing 2 weeks ago and she said it looks really good right now and then we extrapolate where it will be in 2, 5, or 10 years based on the last 1 year growth.

    She said that isn’t the way it works though, a lot of the parameters for these things diminish at a rate like n^4 in effectiveness so there are huge obstacles for scaling this up. It’s more likely she said this is like the deep learning craze 10 years ago where there was a huge jump in one year and then some progress but not by that same amount for the years after.

  • 6
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    In the 2000’s we got laptops, debugging tools, and powerful libraries. Some could have said oh these make software engineering so much easier so we won’t need as many engineers compared with when there were punch cards and a single mainframe at a university that students would share. Instead it 10x’ed productivity or more and so did software engineers salaries.

    So that is my prediction for ChatGPT/copilot etc, they help us a lot right now already, and hugely increase our productivity. But based on my sister in laws comments their ability to get even better is limited by the laws of computing so they won’t replace us any time close to the next 10 years

  • 5
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    Startup Engineer
    a month ago

    Promoted without additional compensation? GUH- that sounds horrible. A channel that works well for me has always been having super honest conversations with trusted friends and family about difficult situations I've encountered. Some people get this through therapists, but it's my opinion that coaches are way better at figuring out your needs and giving you practical steps to achieving your goals.

    • 2
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      Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
      a month ago

      RE: coach vs therapist. This is a really interesting call out and just want to provide my thought process here in case anyone relates. If its been your life dream to work at google, but you want some accountability to practice interviewing or you need to support a lot of other people with your salary, then this doesn't really apply. But if you don't need to get a better job, then you can ask the five whys:

      • I'm unhappy with my job
      • It isn't as fancy as what I see other people with or it has XYZ problems
      • Why is this an issue?
        • A) I need to feed my family
        • B) I want to be at peace and happy?
      • If B) then what is really making you unhappy and not at peace? Could it be
        • Perfectionism
        • Lack of community
        • Lack of balance in life
        • ...
        • Or is it really money and status?

      My therapist gave me this feedback when I was debating between a senior engineer role at linkedin role or staying at my startup, and then again every time I day dream of changing jobs:

      The happiness you will get out of your job for the rest of your career doesn't have to do with what role you have, but how you evaluate yourself.

      You can always get a better job and still compare with something even better. And at a new job you will NOT have the same difficulties of your current job. But you will have OTHER difficulties - no job is perfect.

      So if you're already happy but have a very specific goal to improve something, go for it. But when we talk about what "needs" we have as a software engineer that we want to fulfill to "fix" being unhappy, then it has been helpful for me to work with a therapist who thinks about me as a person first with needs like community, phycological safety, and health. Status and money are nice and are more directly achievable through putting in time and effort, but they may not be a satisfying solution in the end.

      Finally if you are really motivated and putting in a ton of time and strain to achieve status and money, you may actually be shooting yourself in the foot by trying too hard and wanting it too much. (Speaking from my own experience).

  • 10
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    Ex-Google Senior SWE • FE/Mobile -> BE/Distributed/AI
    a month ago

    Sorry to hear that you're going through this - I know many people going through similar things.

    When tough times come, I like to first check in on my basics. Am I sleeping well, eating well, and staying active? If not, I take a step back and re-focus myself on those things. I've learned that they deserve my highest priority regardless of what is happening around me.

    If this is an ongoing thing, I also recommend therapy like Ryan mentioned. I recently read the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt and it mentions a specific type of therapy called CBT as one of three things that can really help boost overall happiness. The other two things Haidt mentions is meditation and medicine. Might be worth considering.

    Other things like disconnecting by taking PTO, leaning on friends and family, and disconnecting from social media will help a ton.

    After you have the above, here's some thoughts on how I'd approach defusing the specific topics you shared in order of priority:

    • Productivity. I'd focus on personal productivity - do things that are investing in yourself and make that the first priority every day. That'll help you get out of job situations when you need to. For your work, I'd work out a sustainable pace for contribution to your company that you think is fair to keep the option to stay at your company as long as you need to.
    • Relationship with manager. Being a manager has to be a difficult job, otherwise there would be more great managers. It's really unfortunate that a bad manager's choices and character deeply influences their reports. Regardless, learning to manage up helps you be flexible in many different types of management scenarios. Managing up just means figuring the point of exchange that is the best compromise for both sides to get what they want. However, when it's clear that there is a misalignment, it's time to leave. Investing in yourself will help here.
    • Company culture. Sorry the culture sucks. Voicing feedback is one way to help although that doesn't mean things change. It does help you clarify what you care about when it comes to company culture. Perhaps it'll help others voice their thoughts too. I like to do my best to shape the culture around me to be better if I don't have control of the company's larger culture. Sometimes I learn that the culture I try to bring doesn't actually make others happy either. It helps me get feedback on what I think makes sense.
    • General economic instability. I didn't know there were economic cycles until recently, and I've since learned that it is prudent to be always ready for them. It sucks particularly for those that don't have the financial support they need during this time and for those that are just starting their careers. Out of this group of people, those that win are those that can stay persistent in the face of rejection after rejection. People like that treat failure and rejection as part of the winning process.
    • AI dominion. New tech just means a re-calibration and a re-development of a new strategy. Tech companies always scramble to figure out their strategy when new things show up. My personal opinion is that tech professionals should also do this on a personal level. For an entry-level person, I'd zone in on how AI can help me get better at my current job so I can start building high-leverage skills as opposed to using it to do my work for me. I like Andrej Karpathy's tweet comparing automated software engineering to self-driving. I'd try to get to the level of expertise where I can provide oversight to AI.
  • 8
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    Software Engineer @ Wikimedia Foundation
    a month ago

    TY for raising this, I often feel bad about my privileged grievances but my therapist has assured me we can recognize what we have yet have newfound issues/with it; as long as we are 'complaining' for resolve. And I want to believe they weren't saying that just to be nice :).

    Practical reminders that help me:

    • go on a social media fast
    • write down 3-5 things minimum you are grateful for every morning
      • even if it is difficult, just start with the most basic stuff (health, family, friends,...)
      • bonus: journal as well, just brain-dump whatever is on your mind (but sometimes when I'm really down and crappy, I don't feel like journaling but jotting down gratitude is very important in these moments)
    • 1-3x day breathing exercise: 2 repetitions of 5 deep inhale + exhale (this should take ~1 min)
      • I've found this easiest to remember if I get in the habit of doing this first thing, before or after lunch, and then before bed
    • take that PTO and get out of the house
      • preferably explore a new part of town or get out of your region entirely
    • make things fun
      • start with the mundane, see how you can make it enjoyable, no matter how silly; remember how we played with our food as kids, etc.
  • 7
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    Head of Sustainability & oldster lady
    a month ago

    Ok, so this is my 4th gold rush, technology that will destroy life as we know it. (It does actually.)

    1. PC software "A computer on every desk!" - Bill Gates
    2. The internet
    3. The social web / phones
    4. AI

    The first thing that happens is that everyone runs to claim that they're in the mix, they know the score. Then what happens is people say they ARE that tech. It's like if Nvidia were to say they're an AI firm. I remember when 3M said they were a software company. Seriously. (3M = Metals, Mining, Materials or something like that). This is because the executives have become competitive on that one variable; they convince themselves it's due or die, the space race, everything relies on it.

    So now everyone is soaking in it.... and here comes the naysayers. They basically say "this isn't worth it at all, what are you all doing?"

    The reality is that a giant stirring stick HAS been stuck in the paint can of life.

    The antidote for this is to find things you care about, focus on those, work for a living without getting too overwrought and learn whatever is interesting to you as the ground shifts. It will shift, and you get to choose how you will participate in tech when AI is part of the tech stack and workflow.

    It's too early to know that definitively now, so just back off the mental energy and rest up. It's about 3-5 years once the thing "pops" into the general consciousness before anyone really knows what's going on.

    Hang in there, get a therapist as others have said -- your health ins should cover it.

  • 4
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    Staff Data Engineer at 🧑‍💻
    a month ago

    I agree with Jessica that the catastrophes were predicted repeatedly. Before '08 there was the dot com bubble. In 2000, people thought planes would fall out of the sky and nuclear power plants would melt down all at the same time.

    The job market is cyclical. Just a couple of years ago, right before the layoffs, there was the "great resignation". People newer to the job market are seeing that as the comparison point of normal.

    If news is impacting your inner peace, the you don't need it. Turn off notifications, uninstall unneeded apps. Interruptions makes it hard to get things done.

    They job cycle will rerun with increase demand for tech workers. The layoffs did not initiate from AI. They started from an expected economic downturn and sharp increase in interest rates, both contributing to a decreased appetite for investments. In the other hand now, there are 3 expected interest rate cuts planned for the year, a positive indicator.