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

How A Senior Engineer Can Grow Their Career

Senior engineers have proven themselves to be extremely capable at shipping high-quality, complex software efficiently. This collection breaks down how they operate and how you can get to this level too.

How many days a week do you work in the office (hybrid) for FAANGMULA companies (Silicon Valley specifically but ok if other regions)? How many hours a week for actual work on product vs attending meetings?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community

How many days a week do you work in the office (hybrid - as in, the expectation of coming in-person) for FAANGMULA companies (Silicon Valley specifically but ok if other regions) as a ratio to work from home/remote?

How many hours a week for actual work on product vs attending meetings are in-person vs. Zoom or remote?

I'm looking at interviewing at different positions at FAANGMULA companies and tech startups in Silicon Valley (from SF to South Bay) and trying to compare against my commute if I work 2-3 days out of the week from home vs work from home/remote and want to know what the standard expectation is.

I ask since I had a friend (director level) who works in analytics/data science that worked remotely from Hawai'i most of the pandemic at a L5-L7 level depending on how folks define that and was able to work 20 hours a week. Their new job they work remotely from Silicon Valley and commute to another state once a quarter for meetings.

I wonder how common this is, it's a pattern I see with a lot of friends, all CTO, founder, investor type of folks (fractional, etc.) who are "full time" on paper (1099 contract paid an equivalent of what I would have previously expected a W-2 working 40 hours a week would pay). I am having issues explaining to my family and my partner who work the traditional 9-5 job, 40 hours a week in old school Silicon Valley (publicly traded companies, biotech etc.), where they are expected to come in the office 3-5 days a week and work on a W-2 so cannot seem to fathom how I see these examples as possible and how it could be a possibility for me have a better work-life balance, working lesser hours, commuting 2 or 3 days a week ideally and remote.

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How do you manage your workload (not work over 60+ hours/week) or decide on which job offer to take at a FAANGMULA company with ADHD/ND (Neurodivergent) where you tend to overwork and overfunction?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community

Previously was an entrepreneur, I find it difficult to work with other people if it's not my project (lack of ownership) and people telling me what to do controlling my hours, even if that is the case of a manager.

As background I used to work for a company for over 80+ hours a week thinking 100 wouldn't be enough, I crashed and burned and swore I would never do it again (this happened for over a year). I previously founded a company where I was overworking (mentally), and it was not about the hours, but far too many things. I've worked really hard on setting boundaries with those coming to me (clients as a consultant) over the years and it has been a challenge.

Now that I am interviewing at FAANGMULA, I am curious how other folks that identify as neurodivergent (ADHD, AuDHD, Autistic) etc. find safe workplaces where they can not overwork themselves, burn out or work too many hours per week?

I know I am prone to doing this, even if I have learned how to push back boundary wise and I have also learned that other neurotypical people (people who do not identify as neurodivergent) are able to work less hours (less than 40 hours per week) and still be able to function with good "work-life balance," (the Holy Grail). I also have often met lots of tech startup founders/entrepreneurs/investors who also identify as ADHD (or other things like bipolar, other ND comorbidities) that say they can work for someone else, some choose not to, and some absolutely cannot.

What advice do folks have for those that are thinking about working somewhere full time, but not necessarily working over 40+ hours a week (like 60 was my regular workload) and carve out personal time for things they want to work on more (like a startup on the side, other side projects)?

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Got a Meta E5 offer, but unsure if I’m ready for it - Should I accept?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Microsoft

Hello! I would appreciate some career guidance tips in transitioning to a new role. To give some context about me, I am currently L62 at Microsoft with 7 YOE and have recently received an offer for E5 at Meta. It is a level+1 for me. From what I have gathered, the expectations for E5 are going to be high involving scope/ambiguity resolution, delivering under tight deadline, etc. Also given the stack-ranking nature of evaluation, might need to compete with my new colleagues, who are currently working at senior level.

I feel I'm an average+ engineer and doing WFH for the last 3 years made me working in silos. My current team does not punish teammates without active participation. Being introvert by nature and someone who is afraid of public-speaking, I got used to the comfort zone of inactive participation. My misconception about focusing solely on technical skills to grow in career has made my career progress slower and I am painfully realizing it lately. To add to that, job security is important for me as I'm a visa holder.

Given this context, I am considering whether to take E5 Meta offer. On one end, I can take this as a growth opportunity and improve my technical and soft-skills. I am definitely looking forward for ways to increase participation, influence team and being a strong engineer. I wonder if I should improve my current soft-skills in my current-role and then move or if I could simultaneously improve them on my new job.

On the other end, I wonder if I could survive in an environment like Meta and deal with stress/burnouts and whether the lack of improved soft-skills would make me unsuccessful in my new role.

Appreciate your thoughts!!

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Up Levelled FAANG Offer (Mid -> Senior)

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Software Engineer at Taro Community

I've recently received an up levelled FAANG offer in the US. I originally applied for a mid level role (SDE II, E4, L4) etc. but was up levelled to a senior engineer in interviews.

I currently have ~3.5 years of engineering experience all at small unknown startups so I'm trying to decide whether to accept the offer or whether to ask for a down level.

I have several concerns about taking the senior offer, which I've listed below:

  • I have only 3.5 years experience in development and I'm simply worried I haven't written enough code as of yet to be a senior and I'm not actually technically strong.
  • My current experience has been in startups and I've never worked in the big tech environment. Currently we don't need to do things such as write design docs or seek approvals to write code. Additionally, we don't aggressively unit test and only have unit tests for key parts of the code.
  • During the interview process I studied super hard and ended up seeing a lot of the questions that were asked beforehand in both system design and coding rounds (I'm concerned I have somehow gamed the system).
  • I am worried that the fast ramp up time and expectations in big tech will end up seeing me setup for failure.

On the other side:

  • I'm a hard worker and have good soft skills so I wonder if this will be enough to aid me while I get up to speed.
  • I know that big tech companies spend a lot of time on their interview process and because of this I should probably trust their rating. They must have seen something if they gave me this offer.
  • Finally the senior role offers a lot more money and it might be a good opportunity to see whether I sink or swim. At worst case a highly paid learning opportunity.
  • If I could make it through as a senior engineer it could potentially save . 1 - 2 years career time.

Wondering if anyone has advice for this particular situation?

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What matters in the long term career marathon?

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Anonymous User at Taro Community

I am a senior software engineer at FAANG (not Meta), and have found myself in a difficult career dilemma.

I joined the company as a junior and made progress to senior in the same team (say A). The nature of the work was very unique. It was heavily focused on technical analysis of software as opposed to writing one yourself. A significant portion of it was cross functional collaboration across different orgs, probably the reason why I was able to get promoted fairly quickly. The coding part was maybe 30% (you were welcome to pursue more if you have the time). The culture overall was nice with good work life balance. Manager mostly supported things I wanted to pursue. Later, I switched teams (say B) and moved to the one with more focus on development of the software. I loved the technology, projects. However, the expectations were crazy high. I ended up getting a low performer rating, a year after I was promoted to senior in my previous team. The side effects were no bonus, refreshers, salary hike.

I have been working hard since then to manage the expectations. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to exceed them and thereby pursue a career growth and the next title without throwing your life at work. I can get “meets expectation” for foreseeable future. We are also thinking of expanding our family next year.

I discussed with my previous manager who is willing to take me back. The work there has a high visibility, impact for the next year. I could build strong soft skills - leadership, driving things through others, collaboration there; but, not so much as to actually writing software.

My options -

  1. Stick through in my current team for few years because it lets me stay closer to software development and open up opportunities in the future for development roles. But that means financial stress, an impact on family goals. Added anxiety.
  2. Go back to previous team. Get that job stability, pursue family goals; but, might get rusted on software development skills. Maybe if I find some ways to keep honing them (also software design skills) then maybe there is that.
  3. Looking externally. This is my last resort; but, given the market conditions it does not look pretty. I also like my company in general and would hate to leave. Also not sure of the dynamics of going through pregnancy shortly after joining a new company.

What is the correct mindset I should have? How should I navigate this situation in short and long run.

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