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Junior Engineer Career Development Videos, Forum, and Q&A

How A Junior Engineer Can Grow Their Career

Almost every software engineer starts their full-time career journey here. The content here breaks down how you can start your career off with a splash and grow past this level as quickly as possible.

Need help on how to navigate PIP

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

I've not had great reviews from manager in the past few months. I think it all started with me taking PTO for 3 weeks in december and something I handed over to team before leaving not working as expected. Before that maybe I had a made an impression that I was not proactive enough and it all escalated with this issue in PTO. They had to source a member from another team to get it done.

After I was back from my PTO I did work really hard to get back at the work left and finish diligently, but it again happened that after this work was merged, some other api's failed in Integration environment. And I fixed it soon and got it working. But by this time my manager had decided to put me in PIP I guess.

Now about the PIP, its 60 days long and the way my manager talked about it seemed like she wants me to take it very seriously and improve and she and other seniors can support me during that. My skip manager who is a director, however seems like a not so nice person, I also have a have monthly connect with him next week. He can easily influence the decision even if I do well and my manager wants me. How do I talk to him is one question? And how do I navigate this whole PIP is another.

Since the market is also very bad right now, I'm planning to work hard and complete every objective there is on the PIP document. What do you think about this? I am on stem opt visa and might have 3-5 months to find another gig that's all.

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Looking for advice on fine-tuning LLMs as a side project

Entry-Level Data Scientist at Flatiron Health profile pic
Entry-Level Data Scientist at Flatiron Health

I'm a Data Scientist looking to switch company and move to a role closer to ML/LLMs. My plan is to build a side project fine-tuning LLMs to familiarize myself with this field and leverage that experience on my resume. I was wondering if anyone here has experience building similar projects or went through a similar learning process - it would be very helpful to get some insights on skill acquisition and finding a job in this area. Here're some examples of what advice I'm looking for, but please feel free to share other aspects as well - anything will be greatly appreciated:

  1. What are some good resources to learn about building LLMs? (currently mostly learning from HF, reddit, and googling)
  2. What's the best tech stack to build personal fine-tuned LLM projects? (I'm planning to use Runpod or similar services like Vast for training and inference, but was wondering if there's other better options)
  3. I'm looking to get into an early stage company in this field. What kind of project should I build to maximize my chance at getting into such companies? My plan rn is to fine tune a model using literature works (novels, poems, proses, etc.) since training data is relatively abundant and it's aligned with my interests. Are there more impactful use cases (for job hunting) out there?
  4. What are some things I should keep in mind when producing deliverables to better showcase my technical and learning abilities? I'm planning to make a series of blog/social media posts documenting my experience building this project. Is there anything in specific that would draw companies' attention?

Thanks in advance and please feel free to share your thoughts!

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Should I go to a pre-seed startup or a mid-size non-tech company?

Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon

I have two offers and am having trouble deciding which one to take

Company A: Non-Tech company with ~1500 employees. They have a cloud computing division to manage their infrastructure

  • Position: Cloud Engineer (AWS)
    • Work would involve provisioning AWS infrastructure, performing maintenance, upgrades, optimizations, migrating environments to the cloud, etc
  • Base Salary: 135k
  • Bonus: 10k (if performance is met)
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Work Style: 2 days in the office

Company B: Pre-seed stage startup (2 - 10 employees)

  • Position: Software Engineer
    • Work would involve building new features for the startup including categorizing and ranking trivia questions by difficulty, etc
  • Base: 110k
  • Relocation: 5k
  • Equity: 1%
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Work Style: 2 days in the office
  • Founder Background: Used to work in Big 3 consulting. His/her last position was scaling a Series A startup
  • Pre-Seed funding: $2 million
  • Targeted seed funding: $3 - $5 million
  • Traction: The app was launched 5 months ago and has acquired 45,000 users. The business used to be a marketplace and that's when they raised their pre-seed round ($2 million). Now the business is a trivia app for college students

What am I looking for?

  • I'm not sure. My top preference is career progression/learning ability and given I don't have a family the startup option does make sense, however ...
  • I greatly value stability
    • I've been through the tech interview process for many iterations now and it is really tiring to have to start over every year due to internships/bad-culture/layoffs/potential startup failing
    • Being unemployed for ~10 months now, I would say the majority of my interviews were for startup companies so I feel that getting an offer at a non-startup company is more rare/valuable (maybe?)

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you!

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4 Comments

What systems can I put in place so I make fewer dumb/obvious mistakes?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

Basically, I feel like I have so many unnecessary ‘DUH! I can’t believe I missed that!’ moments in public -- mainly when asking for help and creating PR's.

For example, I recently was so focused on the more difficult part of a ticket, thinking about edge cases and trying to really polish this bit of functionality, that I spaced on reviewing the ticket before creating a PR. This meant the lead engineer reviewing my PR had to explain to me that I missed some other aspects of the ticket.

Another time, I spent a while trying to right a really good question about a solution to what I suspected was a tough issue. The problem? I hadn’t thought to test my hypothesis and confirm that this issue would occur (it didn’t) before formulating and asking my question. So I needn’t have bothered anyone else or myself about navigating this hypothetical problem.

When this happens, it makes me feel like my work isn’t thorough or to a high standard, not mention making me look bad. So it’s something I’d really like to improve, but it seems when I focus on being thorough it perpetuates the problem like in the two examples above.

I feel like I need some checklists/processes as guardrails for common scenarios (e.g., creating PR’s, asking for help) I can fall back on, because otherwise I feel my brain will keep missing things and making easily preventable mistakes.

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How to get help in a team where the culture around questions seems a bit off?

Junior Software Developer at Consulting Company profile pic
Junior Software Developer at Consulting Company

I'm a little over two months in at this large (10k+ employees) org, and I work remotely in internal tools to try to automate processes. My immediate development team is fairly small and mostly junior. Most of us onboarded right before the 2023 holidays when things were winding down.

I am trying hard to fit in here and balance, but I am struggling. Our group chats are pretty dead, and it doesn't seem like group-questions are rewarded. We have daily standups, but a lot of work here seems to be conducted "behind-the-scenes" and in 1:1 conversations. I've gotten a bit of a vibe check on this scenario from folks who don't work in tech, and that seems to be normal for those environments. Things feel like they take an age.

For some reference: I get that everyone is different, but also sense a direct correlation between curiosity (to get questions answered and work done) and our team velocity. Maybe it's not something I should be worried about nor even my business, but I still am. I'm still working on disambiguating how performance reviews work, but in the meantime, it seems like we will be judged on velocity metrics, probably sometime in Q3/Q4.

I come from a space where questions were welcomed / encouraged. It doesn't feel that way here, which I feel like I need to adapt to healthily for the near future. A conversation starter model I've found helpful from a managerial relationship is "I've noticed a different communication style here. Is there any way we can discuss?"

Any additional suggestions for coping at this stage would be enormously helpful. I also definitely want to be mindful of being careful what I wish for and the impacts of "going fast" on junior devs, especially because there's a bit of trauma for me there on that side.

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5 Comments

Is an abrupt team change by management a bad indicator of performance?

Associate Member of Technical Staff at Taro Community profile pic
Associate Member of Technical Staff at Taro Community

I had recently joined as an entry-level engineer 6 months ago, and I have been told now that I will be basically working as part of two teams, with half of my time devoted to each one. So I will essentially continue to deliver some work to my current team, while learning a new tech under the same org and delivering to them as well.

The new team I will be working with is still unsure, I have been given two options and have been told about the scope of each of them, I have to revert back with an answer in a few days. I have been told that priorities might change, and adjustments will be made accordingly. So everything is a bit dicey at the moment.

My concern relating to this is:

  • Is this an indication of my current team not having sufficient work for an entry-level software engineer like me? It is a database-ops team, already having 2 senior-level developers. Furthermore, is it an indication that I am not delivering at the level they expected and hence my abilities are not of use in the current scenario?
  • I haven't explicitly received any negative feedback from my manager or my peers so far, and have been overworking sometimes. However the current change is a bit overwhelming given it is still not sure where I would be used as a resource, or if my work is actually making an impact. Also even though there is no negative feedback, there has also not been a lot of positive encouragement, it is like a neutral situation where I have been told I am meeting expectations, but it feels like I might not be exceeding them, or might just be an average performer.

Just wanted to know if anyone here has faced this before, or have any insights on this. Also since the market is bad, I am a bit concerned that this change might not be an excuse for a future layoff or something like that.

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What do you think is a fair amount of equity for a first developer of the team?

Medior Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Medior Software Engineer at Taro Community

Right now I am helping out at a startup with 0 revenue. It's a fun group to work with, hence I am helping them out.

There's a CEO and CTO. CEO has been working on it for 1.5 years, CTO for like half a year. I have just started out for about a month. The company has 0 revenue and 0 investors yet. CEO is just giving a projection of equity sharing. There might be a CMO joining soon.

CEO is suggesting following equity share:

  • Founder 1: Himself 57%
  • Founder 2: CTO 16%
  • Soon to be Founder 3: CMO 8%
  • Investors Seed / Series A: 13 %
  • Options Pool: 5%

I am like the first developer, and he's suggesting like 0.5% of the option pool. They claim it to be a fair amount since he and CTO have made way more sacrifice so far. Right now I make sacrifices too. I am spending my nights and time in my weekend on it without any pay. And I don't have the knowledge of CMO.

I don't know much about reasonable percentage for this kind of stuff it's new to me.

But right now we're not getting any profit and I am sacrificing nights and time in the weekend on the project so I think it would be fair for founder 1 and 2 to give me some of their percentage and give me like approximately 10% or something.

So far it's been fun: Thinking if things go well, we can all become millionaires. But this 0.5% percentage doesn't fit in with that. It's a rather demotivating percentage.

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7 Comments

What is the optimal way to job search as a new grad?

Machine Learning Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Machine Learning Engineer at Taro Community

I recently graduated with my MS and I'm still job hunting. I'm unfortunately at a point where most of my strengths/impressive accomplishments are in MLE/DS which is

  1. Harder to break into at the new grad level
  2. Fewer jobs in the market

I need a job ASAP and would love advice on how to job search optimally

Here is what I'm doing

  1. Creating regular content on LinkedIn
    1. (I've gotten 3-4 interviews from this), 3 of them were recruiter calls that went nowhere, one was an interview that went to final round
  2. Applying to any and every job with < 4 YoE requirement with tailored resumes for verticals (MLE/DS/SWE)\
    1. I got 2 interviews from this. Unfortunately didnt get either
  3. For strong matches, I am trying to arrange coffee chats with managers at the company.
    1. This has not worked well at all
  4. I've tried getting referrals but it's never resulted in an interview. The strong referrals (where the person sends the resume directly to HM) I get the feedback of some internal red tape (not hiring NG, only return intern, or cannot hire international students) or sometimes they just simply want someone with more experience with a specific area (training models, or a specific framework)
  5. Trying to apply to SWE roles as well. But quite frankly since I have just spent most of my time, internships, projects directed at MLE/DS, the SWE tailored version of my resume is not top tier. It's quite average in my opinion

I'm not sure what else to be doing or if anything else I can do that I am missing. Any advice would be appreciate!

If you can even just share your experience on what works for you/what doesnt work that would be great to hear as well

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4 Comments

How to write resume and apply to jobs after being a failed startup founder?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community

I'm in my early 20s and started a startup with my friend from college shortly after we graduated. We got into Y Combinator and worked on the company for about 2 years in total before shutting it down recently. I didn't go to a name-brand school, and didn't work full-time anywhere after graduating, but I did a few prestigious internships, one of which being in Deep Learning.

I've heard larger companies and recruiters in general don't like former founders, and I mostly did sales/product for our startup. We built a few web-based products and a few AI infra/AI apps, but nothing crazy and nothing with massive traction. We spent most of our time pivoting and doing user interviews/sales.

I want to get an engineering job rather than PM, because I have internalized the value of being technical when being a founder and don't want to give entrepreneurship up yet. There aren't too many entry-level positions open, and I was hoping to not have to go into an entry-level role, but simultaneously I'm not sure I have enough experience to feel confident in being self-sufficient as an engineer.

Before starting the company, I had a return offer at one FAANG company, and a New Grad SWE offer at Facebook that I let expire. I emailed my recruiter to try to reinstate it, and she implied that I would not be eligible for New Grad since I was too far from my graduation date.

Ideally, I'd like to work in AI at a larger company since that's where all my experiences in college were and where I see the most opportunity (ideally OpenAI or FB). Otherwise, probably back-end/infra at a post-IPO startup/FAANG or worst-case post-PMF startup. I have a few questions:

  1. Should I only apply to entry-level engineering jobs, and am I even eligible for them? If not, what level of experience should I apply to and how do I convince them I'm qualified?
  2. How should I write my resume/describe my experience+title (especially for larger, more bureaucratic companies which are less open to former entrepreneurs)? Should I even include that I was a co-founder?
  3. How custom should I make my resume for each different kind of job I'm applying to (new grad swe, new grad mle, ai eng, at faang+ vs. growth stage startup)?
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What would a roadmap to make a transition from Junior to Mid-level look like?

Associate Member of Technical Staff at Taro Community profile pic
Associate Member of Technical Staff at Taro Community

Hi Taro Community!

I am in a very similar position as mentioned by someone here: and from the responses it is evident that switching teams/companies will be an unavoidable step soon. I am currently at an entry-level position (will be completing 6 months at current company soon) and wish to look for roles at the next level of hierarchy (for instance my current role is equivalent to SDE 1, I wish to look for roles similar to SDE 2 or equivalent next). Few points:

  • I am planning to complete 1 year at my current company, so by the time I switch I shall have ~1 yr of experience as an entry-level software engineer (apart from other experiences as internships/side projects/etc.)
  • Firstly, is it realistic to prepare for mid-level at the current position? Do companies hire entry-level SWE's with at most 1 yr of experience for mid-level?
  • If yes, is it advisable to apply now (or 6 months down the line)? I do not wish to work as an SDE-1 (entry-level) in another company by leaving my current one as it will only lead to further delays in promotions (I believe it takes at least a few months to set a good impression in a new team that you are capable for a promotion)
  • How can I best utilize the next 6 months before I aggressively start applying to companies? I understood the point related to side projects - is it advisable to build side projects in the tech stack my team is using, or should I expand my scope to include new technologies I am interested (but not actively working on right now)?

Any insights/suggestions/interview tips will be really appreciated. I have very less workload right now and really want to make the best use of time to switch further.

Thank you!

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3 Comments