Benefits of Transitioning to SDE Role from Frontend Engineer

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Entry-Level Frontend Engineer [FEE 1] at Amazon12 days ago

Hi all,
I entered the company as an L4 Frontend Engineer and it is my first tech job, so I started with 0 experience. Our team has a lot of frontend tasks, but also has a lot of backend work as well. As a result, I have been doing a lot of backend work when it is necessary and there isn't much difference betwee an SDE and FEE in our team in terms of the work we do.

My manager knows that I had 0 experience prior to coming here and recognizes that that I'm able to do both backend and frontend work. He mentions that I could always transition into the SDE role if I wanted to.

My question is, would there be any huge benefits of changing my role to be an SDE for my career? At this point, I wouldn't say that my skillset is more geared towards Frontend since I'm doing both and this is my first job.

My original intention was to stay a Frontend Engineer as I find frontend work more fun and it was what I studied the most for when preparing for interviews. But my friends were telling me that SDE would probably give me more opportunities in the future, so I've been thinking about this lately.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • Rahul Pandey
    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    11 days ago

    At Meta and Pinterest, the 2 companies I'm most familiar with, there is no distinction between a front-end engineer and "normal" software engineer. I didn't realize Amazon made a distinction... is there a pay difference between the two?

    I have two thoughts:

    • If/when you leave Amazon, nothing prevents you from calling yourself a genric Software Engineer. You've genuinely done the work of a full-stack SDE, and other companies would happily interview you for your desired role once you explain your experience.
    • From the marketability standpoint, I do agree with your friends that you'll have more options as SDE instead of FEE, simply because SDE is very broad 😆

    The more senior you become, the less you define yourself through the technology you know. That's why you'd never hear a principal engineer say something like "I'm a WordPress developer" or "I'm a Python developer" -- the technology they use is a tool to solve a business problem. So from that perspective, I'd recommend framing yourself in the broader SDE way.

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  • Kuan Peng
    Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google
    7 days ago

    Hey there!

    Rahul is spot on. Even if your specialize in a front end, the core software engineering competency is the same across most software specializations.

    I'm a web engineer without a ton of backend experience, but I've never thought of myself as exclusively web or front end. Being a generic SDE is much more liberating, both from a job search perspective and a compensation perspective. You can still do primarily front end work even if you transition to SDE.

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