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Culture shock from a small company to Big Tech?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community2 years ago

In one of the videos Alex mentioned that some devs get a culture shock when joining a Big Tech company from a smaller company. What kind of culture shock would that be? Do you have examples and methods how to prepare oneself for those?

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(3 comments)
  • 7
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    First, I highly recommend these 2 discussions:

    Do you have examples and methods how to prepare oneself for those?

    It depends a lot on your level:

  • 5
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    Usually it's culture shock around how new/different the tooling is, and how many gatekeepers there are.

    At a large company, you'll often spend days just waiting for access to certain tables, documents, or tools.

  • 6
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    Senior Leadership @ Meta | Mentor | Coach | Tech Advisor
    12 days ago

    Joining a company like Meta and Google from a startup or small company often comes with significant culture shock. The differences in processes, expectations, and environment can be overwhelming. Here are some common types of culture shock you might experience; I will focus on my observations in Meta and will try to provide examples and methods to prepare yourself:

    1. Scale and Complexity

    You might be accustomed to handling end-to-end processes in a small company. At Meta, you might work on a particular aspect of a much larger project, where coordination with multiple teams is essential.

    • Learn the bigger picture: Understand how your role fits into the larger organization. This helps you see the impact of your work and facilitates better coordination.
    • Develop strong relations: Take the initiative to meet new colleagues, join interest groups, and participate in company events. Work with other senior engineers and expand your connections within the team/ organization and outside of the current organization.

    2. Specialization vs. Generalization

    Small companies often require generalists who can wear many hats. In contrast, in Meta, typically, we have more specialized roles, especially in the Infra or ML-heavy teams:**

    • Identify core skills: Focus on honing the specific skills required for your new role. Deepen your expertise in your specialized area.
    • Depth over breadth: While being versatile is good, prioritize becoming an expert in your designated area. My advice here is "Land and Expand".

    3. Formal processes

    Smaller companies often have flexible and informal processes. Due to their size, larger companies rely on more formal procedures, protocols, and approval hierarchies.

    • Familiarize yourself with procedures: Learn your new company's standard operating procedures, approval processes, and documentation requirements. This could be from deployment processes to performance management processes and others.
    • Be patient and thorough: Develop patience and attention to detail to navigate the bureaucracy efficiently. Start writing a diary; it will help you come back and review over the next half/year.

    4. Pace and pressure

    While small and large companies can be fast-paced, the intensity and scale of projects in Meta can be higher, with tighter deadlines and more significant pressure to perform.

    • Time management: Improve your ability to manage time and prioritize tasks under pressure. Use tools like calendars, task managers, and time-blocking techniques.
    • Build resilience: Develop coping mechanisms for stress, such as mindfulness practices, regular exercise, and a healthy work-life balance.

    5. Access to resources

    Big Tech companies often provide abundant resources, from advanced tools and technologies to extensive training programs and support systems.

    • Take advantage of resources: Proactively seek out and utilize available resources, such as training sessions, documentation, and mentorship programs.
    • Stay informed: Keep abreast of new tools and technologies the company adopts and learn how to use them effectively.

    6. Performance expectations

    Meta has rigorous performance metrics and regular performance reviews, which may be more formal and frequent than in smaller companies.

    • Understand evaluation criteria: Learn about your new company's performance metrics and criteria. Understand what success looks like in your role.
    • Set personal goals: Align your individual goals with the company's expectations and track your progress regularly. Align with your manager and ensure you have a proper set-up for success.

    By understanding these potential areas of culture shock and preparing yourself accordingly, you can make a smoother transition and thrive in a company of the size of Meta and Google. You can read more about High-performing Engineering Teams and Culture at Meta.