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Discussion on: Cold Hard Truths About Software Engineering I Understood After 9+ Years

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gergelyorosz profile image
Gergely Orosz • Edited

When you say "FAANG Are Highly Overrated" - is this coming from personal experience? It's hard to tell from what you shared.

I'll share my two cents, as I have worked at Uber, where the work culture is very similar to "FAANG". I had colleagues who came from all of FAANG and the points you listed feel counter to my experience, or to the experience of people I know at "FAANG".

1. "You are a small cog in a big machine"- umm... not in all cases I've seen. If anything, at Big Tech, you know exactly how your team's work feeds into the bigger picture. What metrics you own, how much revenue you generate. This is especially the case for Apple and Netflix who run lean teams, frequently for Amazon and Facebook. Google has a few pockets of teams like this, but internal mobility is so good that it's rarely an issue.

"There's a good chance you'll be working on a small part of some internal Google product that no one will ever see outside of your team of 10 people. Your area of responsibilities may be so small that it will be almost invisible" --> This seems made up. Google will shut down teams that do not do meaningful work and don't create value that can be quantified. You are right that there are many internal products and teams, especially at Google - like build systems for Chrome. These internal products usually have at least 1,000 internal customers (e.g. Borg, Dapper, Viceroy, Critique). More an more, they are more likely to be open sourced. And if you don't like it: there's internal mobility.

2. You are going to be putting the job in front of everything else in your life. - I don't know, maybe? At some places? At Uber, I got 4 months paid parental leave, that I took in full, not checking emails once (this is global policy). While work stress is probably higher than a small office with non-global products, I had more stress at a previous startup than at Uber. In general, many startups are often more stressful than Big Tech. And the most stressful of all is crunchtime at AAA game dev studios.

3. Corporate culture. All your points here describe any company with a certain size. When you're a place with more than 100 people, and someone has an idea they think others should do, they need to convince them. So they start to influence them. And this is what ultimately politics is.

In my opinion, it's actually a good experience to see what a place like this is. How can you, as a software engineer influence a bigger group? It's a very different skillset, and one that will serve you well. If you fail to do this, you'll find yourself leaving any successful small company and startup that grows to 100 people or more.

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

Hey Gergely, first of all, I listed the ugly sides, and my experience comes from ex FAANG developers with whom I worked in YCombinator startup and projects for Big 4.

I don't divide everything into black and white and know about survivor's mistake. I am very well prepared and know what I am writing about.

Second of all, I know that all experience is different and appreciate that people share in the comments their world view that is not similar to mine.

But Gergely, you write first "you listed feel counter to my experience," but in the second part of your comment you "half agree with me." So I can see that you can relate to some of what I'm sharing here.

Still, it's good to see you here and I agree with "it's actually a good experience to see what a place like this is" and know later benefits of it, but not for all.

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gergelyorosz profile image
Gergely Orosz • Edited

I still disagree with the notion of these large tech companies being “highly overrated”. I’d encourage everyone to find out for themselves and not rule them out. There are a lot of upsides not mentioned - engineering culture, networking, the alumni, compensation with equity and many others.

A gig at one of these places - even if it does turn out to be one or all the bad experiences you listed - will open up a lot of new doors for people. Like make it easier to get accepted into places like YC :)

Good luck with your book!

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nickbulljs profile image
Nick Bull Author

Highly agreed with this one:

"I’d encourage everyone to find out for themselves and not rule them out"

Thank you!

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gergelyorosz profile image
Gergely Orosz

And by the way, thanks for writing such a thought-provoking article! I'd much rather read one like this, than one that starts, continues and ends with "well, it depends" :)