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Team Selection Q&A and Videos

About Team Selection

The first step to career growth is to choose a good team that works for you and your goals. The career advice here teaches you how to do just that.

What matters in the long term career marathon?

Anonymous User at Taro Community profile pic
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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FAANG Contracting. Is it worth it?

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

Some context, last July after getting laid off I started searching for new work with a particular focus on FAANG.

I garner traction with a few companies but am elated when hear from a FAANG head hunter.

I passed the first interview. Scheduled the second and it wasn’t until the confirmation email of the second interview that I saw “Contract”. I was greatly disheartened though I figured I might as well go through the interview process and decide after I’ve lined up all my options. And after talking to the hiring manager I was promised a chance to convert the contract is up.

It was a hard decision, but ultimately I passed up on a well paying senior role at smaller company to take a stab at FAANG.

And I loved it. The engineers I work with are brilliant, the products impacting orders of magnitude more clients than I ever have before and I'm learning.

However, after shipping our first project, the hiring manager that brought me on board switched teams. The projects I've been reassigned to have been largely tech debt and non technical. I have had no direct manager for 4 months with no new one stepping in in the foreseeable future. While conversion is supposedly still on the table, there is no one tracking my contributions and there is a new stipulation of “if the market permits” tacked on top, meaning they have an excuse to prolong the contract rather than give a chance to convert.

The cherry on top of all this is, recruiters from this company have reached out multiple times over the past two weeks but pull out after I inform them that I'm currently contracting for them. This is due to the understandable “external” vs “internal” hiring conflicts.

So I guess the question is, should I quit and open up the chance to once again start applying externally? Or would it make more sense to stick around and try for the mythical conversion or even just maintain and study for the inevitable interviewing at the end of the contract? Maybe try being overemployed?

I have tried asking the stand in managers, but they have much bigger fish to fry than the ambitions of a contractor so I would really appreciate some opinions on how I might navigate this period of contracting.

Thanks for the read and your time,


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Should I stay or leave?

Software Engineer II at Taro Community profile pic
Software Engineer II at Taro Community

I'm feeling very undervalued at my current position. I've been working on my service the longest and therefore was the one that onboarded most of my team. In 2023 my manager and tech lead have largely been too busy to help. For instance, I only have 1-1s one every 2-3 weeks.

The new members we got on our team were new to the company and one in particular has relatively poor communication skills, so I have had to spend a lot of time onboarding them.

Unfortunately, in my performance reviews the main emphasis is on the work that I am delivering and there is not much emphasis on the impact I've had through the rest of the team. But the couple of months I tried focusing more on my work, I noticed the culture on the team degrading.

The hardest part for me has been that I have found my manager very unhelpful in helping me with my career and other frustrations. There have been multiple times where instead of helping I've felt as if he's blamed me. I have expressed this to them, but they have not changed.

Now I'm in late stages of interviews with 3 companies. I estimate the pay increase would be between 10-25% if I receive an offer.

Our team also just changed significantly, we swapped a mid-level engineer with a senior-engineer and got a new manager. They will be reporting to my previous manager so that manager will still be around.

I'm optimistic that the new manager and teammate will upgrade my situation but given the more than a year of frustration without improvement I'm still leaning towards leaving. Though I am having second thoughts as well.

I'd love to get any advice on how to handle my situation. Thanks so much!

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What type of environment allows fast career jumps?

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

I was wondering if you need to be part of a specific type of environment in order to make quick jumps in your career? Like to get promoted to senior level in 2 years.

I was asking because from my experience, there seems to be an invisible social hierarchy in every work place. Other people in the team may not allow me to make these jumps since this kind of anomaly will break the social hierarchy:

  • There is project specific information, in absence of really god wikis you have to rely on the peers in the team to provide you such information (like how are specific parts in a service working, or how is an obscure internal tool working etc). From what I see, often times they will provide small chunks of information, as much as you need to do your task, but small enough such that they still have the information and you depend on them (probably a measure to prevent others from replacing them).
  • Envy might appear between other senior folks if you progress quicker than them and might start to backstab you (For example, you need some information from them about a piece of code they wrote in order to progress, but they might do the knowledge transfer in such a way that it looks like they told you what you need to know, but in reality you got nothing; or might tell you to go debug to figure out how is something working, and you can spend days debugging modules when it would've been an 1 hour stretch if they simply told you or there was any wiki).
  • Manager might not want to give you extra money and compensate at your true value.
  • If you work too much, or too hard there's going to be problems withe the peers, because you increase the bar and kind of force them to work harder too.

I was asking these things, because I was wondering if I got anything wrong about these fast jumps or in general that I have a broken view about work. My first professional experience was an internship at a big tech and when got there the seniors told me that I have the same knowledge as a senior engineer, but best they could do was another internship next year (still in college).

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Choosing between 2 projects

Mid-Level Software Engineer [L4] at Taro Community profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer [L4] at Taro Community

I switched jobs ~4 months ago and switched teams (not voluntarily) after ~1 month. My eventual goal is to (voluntarily) internally transfer into the AI org once I'm eligible.

During a 1:1 with my skip manager, I mentioned that my current team didn’t have much opportunity for impact. He floated a meaty project in a different org and asked if I was interested. Previous question . Let’s call this option 1. Afterward, I spoke to my direct manager, who presented opportunities in the other team that he directly manages. Let’s call this option 2.

Now I'm trying to decide between these options.

Pros of option 1:

  • More technically interesting
  • Platform/infra play that will eventually integrate with every single product => project has large scope

Cons of option 1:

  • Not sure whom I'll work with
  • Not sure how much support I'd get. (Good thing if lots of scope; bad thing if I'm flailing alone)
  • Org structure tbd: although my skip asked if I want to work on this, he’s loaning engineers to another org to fund the initiative.
  • Uncertainty re: how well defined the work is

Pros of option 2:

  • I know there are things that I can start working on tomorrow that are time-sensitive and needed for an upcoming product launch.
  • My EM manages this team and is responsible for the overall delivery. He seems to care more about this new project/team than my current team.
    • It sounds like my EM would rather that I work on option 2 than option 1
  • Product surface is high-visibility and therefore affords opportunity for impact

Cons of option 2:

  • I'm less interested in product / user-facing work, even though it's high-visibility

With all this in mind, does anyone have advice on which option I should pick or things to keep in mind?

Thanks for reading this far!

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