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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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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