Graduated in 2019, joined a FAANG that is notorious for really bad work life balance, so I was always on the edge, switched companies during pandemic times and first few months started good then pace picked up really quick after that, and I found myself losing sleep again due to stress, then I got laid off 2023. Now, I joined a startup and is the most stressful of all of my previous jobs, some weeks I have to work up to 9-10pm (taking breaks of course) because some very urgent issue needs to be fixed, stuff is always breaking and we might go under if we don’t resolve well.
To be honest, I’m burned out (I think that’s why I got laid off, showed in performance) but I ignore it and keep going with a A+ game because layoffs are a big thing right now, and I’m scared of losing my job again.
Has the industry always been like this? Or I have really bad luck?
How can I get better work life balance? Or less stress?
Definitely not always this stressful.
In fact, at larger companies that arguably have monopoly power (e.g. Google), engineers are known to not have enough work to do.
Startups will skew toward having a worse W/L balance. RE: how to improve the situation: the best thing you can do is take some time off. This will feel painful in the short-term, but better for your health long-term (and also for the company).
How far along is your current startup? If there are urgent, high severity incidents happening every day, this could be a sign that more resources need to be dedicated to making sure the devops process is more refined. You could even be the one to run the project if you and your manager agree that this is the core issue. I would also talk to your teammates to see if they are equally stressed because this could be an opportunity for you to improve everyone's day-to-day work.
Are you the one that's solely responsible for responding to the urgent issues? Can this work be distributed among other teammates where you have an on-call schedule?
This definitely isn't sustainable in the long run for your own health and the company's health. Maybe this happens once in a while, but it should not be like this every day.