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Work-life Balance Q&A and Videos

About Work-life Balance

Work-life balance (WLB) is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one's career and the demands of one's personal life. Having too many responsibilities at work is the primary cause of poor WLB.

How to Deal with Stress Joining FAANG for the First Time?

Senior Software Engineer [ICT4] at Apple profile pic
Senior Software Engineer [ICT4] at Apple

Background Context

About 7.5-8 YOE, worked at a F500 before and a med tech startup before that. I'm an iOS Developer to be more specific.

I recently joined Apple as an ICT4/Senior SWE, and this is my first time joining FAANG. So far I’ve been assigned a couple of basic tickets which I landed ahead of schedule, and my manager is unsure of what I’ll be focusing on as Apple is wrapping up its last week of feature dev for the year.

I am extremely stressed. And honestly, for no reason other than I’m placing this stress on myself. I feel like I need to prove to my team and manager that I am in fact a senior level engineer, but since I am already at the level I guess there’s no need to? My colleagues who are mostly all a level below have been on this team for years and obviously can code circles around me. What I’m failing to find is what Rahul and Alex call “the engineer who everyone gravitates towards” on my team. I don’t think we have a dedicated Staff Eng, but rather a few senior SWEs (and even that I’m not sure of since everyone’s title is hidden), and honestly I have no idea what the expectations are of me, and I think that also attributes to my stress levels.

My manager says to just sit tight and has given me a few tickets that are supposed to help my designated Apple buddy - who has been amazing btw - and these tickets are fine and all, but I guess I’m just not sure if I can actually perform at the senior level at FAANG. From all the videos on Taro it seems like at the senior levels there’s a lot of leadership and design going on (which held true at my last company), but frankly in the past couple weeks I’ve been here, I’ve only seen engineers across all levels chugging out code as fast as they can (maybe that’s something specific to Apple).

Not sure if Apple just values "solver" archetype or if this is normal and that it's going to just take me a few months to ramp up and get used to everything. I think there's also quite a bit of imposter syndrome going on - I know I deserve to be here, I just need time to deliver more work and for my manager to give me some feedback.

I know I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I am, but I just want to take care of my mental health while doing the past I can to make sure I'm taking care of my career.

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4 Comments

How to communicate about a lack of productivity due to personal issues?

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

Hello Community,

I hope you're all doing well. I'm reaching out to this community because I value the diverse experiences and perspectives we share, and I find myself in need of some advice.

Recently, I've been going through a challenging period due to some personal and family issues. Without going into too much detail, these challenges have started to impact my work performance and my ability to communicate effectively with my team, especially during on-call responsibilities. While I strive to maintain professionalism, I've noticed that my current situation has made it more difficult to manage my work communications as effectively as I would like.

I understand many of you have likely navigated similar waters and may have valuable insights or strategies that could help me improve my communication during this time. Specifically, I'm looking for advice on:

  • Balancing Transparency and Professionalism: How much should I share about my personal situation with colleagues or management to explain my current performance without overstepping professional boundaries?
  • Requesting Support or Adjustments at Work: What's the best way to ask for flexibility or support from my team or management, ensuring I can manage my responsibilities without compromising the team's objectives?
  • Maintaining Productivity and Focus: Any tips for staying productive and maintaining focus on work tasks during personal turmoil?
  • Self-Care Strategies: How can I ensure I'm taking care of my mental and emotional health, so I'm in the best position to perform my work and communicate effectively?

I'm committed to overcoming these challenges and continuing to contribute positively to my team. I would greatly appreciate any advice, tips, or resources you could share based on your own experiences or knowledge in this area.

Thank you so much for your time and for any guidance you can provide. This community has always been a source of inspiration and support, and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

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8 Comments

Feedback that I'm underperforming for my level. Is this PIP? What now?

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

I was hired as a mid-level engineer, but I'm performing at the level below it. I had about a year and a half of experience coming into my company but didn't get much from it due to multiple re-orgs. In hindsight, I was a poor hire for my role and have felt this way the entire time. I am not interested in the niche and motivation is a struggle at times. I stayed because the team was really strong and I thought I could focus on the coding and grow technically. That was a mistake.

Fast forward a year and a half later (now), my manager tells me informally that my delivery is ok, but the way I go about my work needs improvement and I'm not growing, so I am performing at a level below. I need a lot of help from other engineers. And that I need fewer comments on my diffs and to do more research on problems because I'm not problem-solving well enough to be at my level. He's completely right. The team is full of high-performers and I know that I'm doing poorly by comparison. But I'm already consistently overworking into the evening and weekends.

I'm also hitting the limit with my mental health. I am putting in effort, but am being told it's not enough. For example, I spend some time understanding X and think I understand it, but teammate questions me in a way that makes me apply that knowledge and I realize my understanding is not so good or I did not think about it that way, so I am ashamed because I have spent a lot of time working on the task, but have failed to deep dive into this part. Or my teammate asks me for my thoughts on how to make something better, but nothing really comes to mind. How do I work on this behavior?

Some other questions:

  • Is this a sign to leave my team or company? And the profession? Despite my best efforts, I'm disappointing my team and it's taking a toll.
  • I haven't been served a PIP yet, but is this a sign that it's coming?
  • Naive take, but is it a bad idea/even possible to ask for a downlevel? The reasoning was that I'd rather keep my job than lose it.
  • Any advice?
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409 Views
7 Comments

Feeling stuck because of the unwanted office politics.

Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community profile pic
Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community

tldr; I am a Tech Lead working in of the big tech giants, getting burnt out due to office politics and ignorant managers.

I am one of the few people (~20) who accidentally was made remote, this was the result of one of the irresponsible move from one of the tech giant.

Anyways, I was part of a team for almost more than a year and the company culture was a bit shocking to me as my manager refused to do 1:1, lack of quality work and ignorance because of me being the remote was evident.

Six months before I, including my team, was transferred to another team with a greenfield project (with little or no prior info), we worked really hard but after 3-4months, another reshuffling happened and most of the team was moved to other projects/team. After couple of months the team was finally dismantled, I thought we will go back to our original team but to my surprise, instead of retaining me, they hired two new lead engineers in their location. In between all of this I was surprised to know that my manager (previous) didn't fill my annual review, when I tried to contact him I didn't get any response. I also scheduled a meeting with him but he didn't show up.

Few weeks before, I was moved to another team, which I found was in the mid of big release. The Principal engineer who was responsible for the design and architecture of the system was moved out before I joined so there was no knowledge sharing per se. I tried to contact him but he is too busy to entertain me now. During the first couple of days, my new manager briefed me that I am the owner of this new project and I have to look after each and everything. The project in itself is very huge: It was in design phase since last 1 year, and it depends on 2-3 teams. Everyday I am pulled into random meetings where there is a lot of alignment going on with some crucial decision making as the project is going to be live in new few months. In the daily sprint the manager wants to make sure I have enough work assigned to me as well. In two weeks I am almost burnt out as I have little or no time left after hours of meeting and going through the random documents.

Recently I came to know that there will a week long in-person workshop to get an alignment on the various decisions on the current project and I am not invited, I pinged my manager for the same but there is a long silence.

As of now, I have little or no breathing space to prepare for the interviews and almost on the verge of burnout.

Few important points:

  • To my surprise my official manager is still the same manager (first team) and he has still not filled up my performance review.
  • I moved countries because of personal issues so leaving the company may not be easy as of now. I have a lot of financial responsibilities, plus the current market and immigration condition has made the condition worse.
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4 Comments

Should I join an important project with difficult team mates or a not so important project with great team mates?

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

I was lucky to join a very competent and lovely platform team when I joined my current company. I have been working in the same team for 18 months but due to re-orgs people have moved out and we are currently 3 people and we were 9 people when we started out.

We have been doing mostly maintenance work for the past 3 months after re-orgs and recently we were given a choice to work on two projects.

There is one project, lets call it Project Hero which my skip level manager wants me to join. I would be the main PIC for this project and it will involve a lot of integration work and system design. This project is with new team mates and a new manager with whom I have not worked but they don't have the best reputation. However, going by FAANG level, they should be good enough to get the job done. Only downside is work-life balance might be skewed if I join here. However, if the project is a success, it sets me up for Senior level promotion.

There is another project, lets call it Project Nero. This will be with my existing team but from a company perspective, it's not a very important project. But I will be working with my existing team mates who are both capable of delivering a solid project and a joy to work with. However, my work here will be overshadowed by other Senior engineers on the project.

Which project should I join? I personally want to do Project Hero but not with the people present there. Also it will be challenging.
Project Nero will be challenging also but more up my comfort zone.
Given the current economic climate, I feel being in more important teams will help keep my job.

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120 Views
3 Comments

How to Back Out of an Interview with a Company with a Poor Culture

Data Engineer at Financial Company profile pic
Data Engineer at Financial Company

I've done 4 interviews with a company in the finance space that pays pretty well. I've completed my technical interviews and have advanced to the cultural/behavioural rounds where I'm set to speak with senior business folks, including the COO and the CEO.

Initially, I was excited to be at this stage and resolved to prepare by talking to former employees of the company who could give me insights into the work and culture that I could use to impress my interviewers. However, my conversations with these folks served to turn me off of the company. Everyone said it's a grind culture where people are expected to work 60 hours a week. I've done the math and on a per-hour worked basis, the pay's not actually that great.

Based on the lack of challenge to my interviews so far and my convos, I get the sense the company is desperate to fill the role because the former employees I spoke to had enough of the bad work-life balance and quit.

I'm pretty sure I can get the offer, but I don't see much point anymore. I won't accept it at the salary the recruiter gave and even if I can bump it up 15% I still won't. So I think the best thing to do is to cancel my interviews and save everyone time.

My question is, how do I back out gracefully? I don't think telling the truth ("your culture stinks") is appropriate here. I was thinking of saying that I got another offer, but if they really care, they'll be able to see that my LinkedIn hasn't changed, and maybe that'll leave a bad taste.

Any insights are welcome :)

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2 Comments