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Thoughts on Solutions Architect/Technical Solutions Engineer as a career?

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Software Engineer at Stripea year ago

Thinking about switching my career to Solutions Architect as I'm interested in talking with users.

Although, I'm still relatively new in my career (~2 YOE) and worried whether it's too early to make a move.

Any tips/thoughts on switching careers from SWE to Technical Solutions? Will it be harder to switch back to SWE in the future?



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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    Can you clarify what your definition of "Solutions Architect" is? I did some Googling, and it seems like a blend between product manager, TPM (technical project manager), and SWE (with not too much of this one). However, I feel like this term will vary across different companies, and some companies will call it a different title (e.g. At Meta, this role reminds me of "Solutions Engineer").

    ...as I'm interested in talking with users.

    You can still do this as a SWE in many ways:

    1. Working at an early stage startup where anybody can put on many hats
    2. Building your own side projects - I did this a lot and would often have long email chains with loyal users.
    3. Just building a good relationship with your local UXR lead - Even at Meta, we could do this. SWEs in my org were encouraged to take a part in the UXR process.
    4. Creating your own startup - This is a very spice and probably not applicable option, but this is something you have to do as a founder or your company will die.
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    In general, yes, I'd say that it is harder to go from Technical Solutions back to SWE. The bias you'll face is that someone in Technical Solutions is (ironically) not as technical as a Software Engineer.

    This has ramifications in terms of both influence in an org and compensation.

    At Meta, roles like Data Engineer and Solutions Engineer (e.g. people who helped advertisers integrate with the ads API) were given ~30-40% less equity compared to software engineers.

    If you feel the company has a desperate need for Solutions Architect, and you feel like promotions are now possible, then it may be worth it. This makes sense at very senior levels, e.g. I imagine being a senior software engineer, switching over to Solutions Architect would be an interesting way to get to Staff.

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