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I am not sure if I am a junior or senior engineer. What level should I be applying for if I am applying to big tech?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at ACL Digital9 months ago

I have worked as a software consultant for 4 years at companies like Amazon, Hitachi, etc.



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    Android Engineer @ Robinhood
    9 months ago

    There's a lot of variance between the expectations of each level between each company, but this is the general guideline I follow.

    • Junior engineers can execute on code indepedently, but need support with breaking down and defining tasks.
    • Mid level engineers can execute on parts of a project indepedently: if someone tells a mid level engineer to "build x", they will be able to build x with little to no handholding.
    • Senior engineers own projects and are expected to be able to lead projects to completion with little to no oversight.

    Hooe this helps!

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    ACL Digital
    9 months ago

    So, I can build features independently and I believe I am pretty good at breaking down tasks and managing my time.

    But I have never worked under an actual senior software engineer who could mentor me, so I am a little hesitant and less confident about where I stand as an engineer.

    Am I a junior/mid/senior is the doubt and also a fear that will I be able to take on the responsibilities given, if I get into a senior position.

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    Android Engineer @ Robinhood
    9 months ago

    Based on your rough description, it seems like the ballpark is midlevel. So I'd set that as your target baseline. You should feel free to apply for senior though (if those are the only open roles) and see what happens: usually, big tech companies give you a +/- 1 level range for roles.

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 months ago

    I'm 90% sure you should apply for mid-level roles. Here's what that means alongside some additional context:

    • Using Big Tech terminology, this is "L4". Amazon is the exception as they start at L4, so SDE 2/L5 is their mid-level. Use levels.fyi to figure out what the level above junior is.
    • Look for job postings that don't have senior or entry-level/new-grad in the title and also require something between 2-6 years of experience. If a job posting meets those requirements, it's probably for a mid-level role.
    • From my experience, 90%+ of software engineers with 4 YOE who are going to their first formal Big Tech job get leveled at L4. The remaining 10% got leveled at L3, and very, very few got leveled at L5 (senior).
    • Google is notorious for down-leveling (i.e. giving candidates a level 1-lower than what they should probably have). I know many people with 4 YOE who got Google L3.
    • Down-leveling will be more common in this economy where Big Tech is barely hiring and has way more leverage over interview candidates.

    Here's another great discussion around what level to pursue: "When should I down level myself on purpose at a new company?"

    Best of luck with your interviews!