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Dead end job role at Apple?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [ICT3] at Apple5 months ago

Hi,

I have 6 years of experience in the software engineering field, mostly working as a software consultant and at not well known startups. Having done MSc in the field AI, I got an offer to interview with Apple for an interesting role that seemed to have the best from 2 worlds - Software Engineering & AI/ML. To my surprise, after 6 interviews over the span of 2 months and an emotional rollercoaster, I got the job at ICT3 level and moved to another country. I thought I might be underleveled at first, but I kept thinking I actually don’t have experience in AI/ML so they’re levelling me as ICT3 must be right, I also don’t feel like a senior yet.

The situation I’m in now at work is very frustrating and disappointing to me, because of the following :

  • I’m still onboarding after 9 months in, without being in a senior role. There is no serious documentation, I have to “network” in a forced manner, to find out vital information for an engineer like “do we have 2 prod environments and when do releases happen”.
  • up until now I have not received any tasks or projects to sharpen my skills or keep the ones I worked hard for so far
  • I had to beg for 8 months to be included in a project, the explanation was “we’re in the planning stage, we’re waiting for OKs to get started”
  • I get neither serious SWE experience from this, nor ML/AI related one.
  • Over the past month, after telling my manager I would apply for other jobs if this situation (not participating in anything palpable - just meetings) did not change, they finally moved me to another team that’s closest to SWE that this role can get.
  • in the new team, they advertised this project that would mostly be backend work in Go. It turns out the codebase belonged to another team and the role that I’m in, does not imply bettering/maintaining their codebase or adding new features, it’s mostly data hillclimbing and adding some strings in the right places, so super humiliating after having prepared from DSA , system design & design patterns
  • I don’t get to touch any AI/ML models yet or work with them, because I don’t have experience with AI/ML
  • My manager is a new manager and has half the experience in the field as I do. I talked to him about my disappointment of being so undervalued and his take on this is, I first have to learn the tech stack to participate in “more advanced” projects. However my male colleagues, who joined the company a few months earlier than me, have been given more responsibility faster (participating in 2-3 projects after aprox. 6 months in)
  • Time spent in the office is not productive at all, I can’t do focused work there at all. People chat and socialise all the time in the open spaced office we all work in and there are at least 60 people working there. This forces me to work overtime & during weekends, to achieve deadlines for the project and to learn the needed tech stack
  • I’m starting to feel trapped in this job because it’s consuming my time, including my free time and I’m actually worried that if I continue like this without coding, participating in code reviews & other healthy SWE practices I’ll get out of hand and have a hard time getting another software engineering job or staying relevant in the industry
  • Maybe what I’m experiencing in this particular branch of Apple is unusual for FANG or even other Apple jobs and would be grateful for others’ opinions on this situation.
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Discussion

(2 comments)
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    5 months ago

    Hey, I'm really sorry to hear this. My response here boils down to 2 big points:

    • This team seems very dysfunctional - With no direction, an inexperienced manager, and poor WLB, I don't feel like this situation is worth salvaging.
    • You should probably leave - You should ideally move within Apple though, not to a different company.

    Apple is one of the best tech companies in the world, filled with incredible engineers. It also probably has the strongest financial outlook among the FAANG companies. It would be a shame if you had to exit the entire company over this. I would start reaching out to other managers within Apple (ideally through some of your Apple peers in other orgs) and seeing if you can join their teams.

    Maybe what I’m experiencing in this particular branch of Apple is unusual for FANG or even other Apple jobs and would be grateful for others’ opinions on this situation.

    The average Big Tech team is quite competent (this is why these companies are so successful after all), but every Big Tech company will have thousands of terrible teams. It is simply impossible to sustain every team being good at this scale. It sucks (especially for engineers like yourself who get burned by this), but that's unfortunately just how it is.

    Big Tech also has a ton of other problems as we talk about in our session here: [Masterclass] Should You Work At FAANG? - What Big Tech Is Like For Software Engineers

    To help you find a good next team, I recommend our team selection masterclass: [Masterclass] How To Choose A Good Company And Team As A Software Engineer

    Best of luck! Please ask more questions into Taro as the situation unfolds - I would love to further help.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    4 months ago

    I'll share one data point after talking to 100s of engineers: of the engineers who end up switching teams or companies after being in a bad situation, the vast majority wish they had done it sooner.

    I put my thoughts on switching teams here.