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How much am I hurting my career by staying at a startup? (Pressure to work for big tech)

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Series A Startupa year ago

I recently passed 5 years of work experience as a software developer, mostly working at small companies/startups. I’ve been at my current position for almost 2 years and the startup is around 100 employees.

The company is doing great, we just raised another round of funding. I’m preforming well and I’m up for promotion to senior software developer next performance review.

With all that being said. My goal has always been to get into a big tech company and I think the earlier I do the better.

Overall I really enjoy working at this startup but I have always been career driven and I think going to a big tech company would be the right career move. Am I correct on this being the right career move or is this just the pressure developers feel to work at a big tech company?



  • 4
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    Am I correct on this being the right career move or is this just the pressure developers feel to work at a big tech company?

    It's definitely more the second IMHO, hehe. The FAANG pressure across the industry is real, and I really hate that.

    While it's true that I generally recommend starting at a Big Tech company early in career, that advice is mainly applicable in a vacuum (i.e. you don't have too much going on and you aren't super opinionated on what you want to do).

    However, you do have a lot going on.

    • Securing a new round of funding in this economy is very impressive
    • 100 employees is good traction for a startup, and I imagine you're one of the "OGs" having been there for 2 years. That automatically gives you a lot of power through tenure (a lot of the early Robinhood engineers had this vibe)
    • Getting a senior level in ~5 years is a solid pace
    • You really like working there!

    Every good thing will eventually come to an end - It is impossible for an org/company to stay great as it scales. Eventually they'll hire an executive that sucks or there will be some macro-economic conditions that really hurt the company. Knowing that, my mentality is generally "If you have a good thing going on, cherish it while you can." If you like your team and manager, promotion is trending well, compensation is competitive, and you're getting better as an engineer, I think staying at your current place is a great move.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't pursue a move to Big Tech (Big Tech will have a lot of value for you with immediate liquidity as Series A is quite far from IPO); I'm just saying the move is much hazier for you than it is for most people. I recommend watching our masterclass on choosing the proper team/company for you if you haven't already.

  • 3
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Series A Startup
    a year ago

    Thanks Alex that’s actually really good advice I appreciate it. I totally get that “OG” vibe your talking about when I started we were only a team of 3 engineers, now it's a team of 30.  I’ll take a look at the masterclass you linked.

    Thanks again!