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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Metaa year ago

Some background about my experience. I have overall 10 years of experience out of which first 3 years was in Service based company in India and then 6 years at Amazon/AWS and around 9 months at Meta. I got promoted to Sr. position almost 3 years ago and have been working as Sr. Engineer since then.

Since few months before my promotion I am feeling bit burnt out. Promotion came after lot of hard work and honestly the compensation increment was totally underwhelming. So I interviewed and switched and comp increase was really good but I am not liking work culture now. This made me sort of realize few things:

  1. Promotion and level don’t actually mean much. I feel like I am part of a rat race and trying to prove my worth to someone who can whimsically just say yay or nay. This is extremely demotivating.
  2. Early days of my career were great, I was making good money and learning ton of new stuff. However, now I realized that most of the stuff I learned is not useful outside and I saved enough money to not feel the need to do job just because of money.
  3. It is not worth being loyal to one employer. Even though I changed companies for comp, my new employer (Meta) recently let go of lot of people. Some of them have been there for at least a decade. Plus the remaining of us are now in constant fear of layoff based on performance.

Now I want to get out of this job→money→stress→new job→money→stress cycle but don’t know how. I am planning to move back to India after few months and was hoping to start may be freelancing or some consulting work where I can control my time. I am more than happy to take a pay cut. So I started doing some research:

  1. Freelancing: Most of the jobs in freelancing are web development. I have lot of experience with backend and some experience with web development but I am nowhere close to the people on youtube/udemy. I can most certainly build stuff but have no experience to show for and I am not sure if I’ll be able to find any work whatsoever 😟.
  2. Consulting: Everybody suggests to build a network and then you can find work through them. My network is mostly SDEs in FAANG who I’ve already talked to. Most of them told me, dude if we know about such work we’ll jump ship as well, but they have nothing. One of my jobs was to build cloud services so I know how to build them at scale. But I have less experience in how to use them, so even if I do certifications I am not sure I’ll be able to find work on this area.

Now last option for me is to find a job which pays less and have less stress which will be okay. I can most certainly say screw it and not worry about getting promoted. But then I don’t know if that’ll be satisfactory, it’ll be more like I accepted defeat and ducked out of rat race but I still have no direction to go on.

Sorry if this all sounds like a rant, but I would love to have some guidance from people who have been in similar situation. What did you guys do and do you have any suggestions for me?

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    Staff SWE at Google, ex-Meta, ex-Amazon
    a year ago

    I can’t answer this fully, only say I couldn’t fit at Meta after a long tenure at Amazon and left after a year.

    Boomerang to Amazon with new comp bands will likely get you $500s which I imagine would be commiserate with Meta now. Finding a team where you’re excited there could change your outlook, and you having tenure and promotion there may take some “prove it” pressure off. L5 is debated as terminal, but L6 is unquestionably terminal. You don’t need to stress to get to principal. Your pay may dip into the 400s (or high 300s? I don’t know bands exactly) after initial grant if you’re not getting high ratings, but if you’re OK with that it is likely fine.