[New Grad] What should my goal be?

Google pqMa55
Sep 21 10 Comments

Hey all ~ existential crisis I am dealing with; tl:dr at the bottom. Thanks for your help!

I am a recent graduate applying to fulltime jobs now, and somehow I got very existential during this search. I am very thankful to have gone through a university with a built-in intern program and have had multiple internships, including gigs at Microsoft, and Google, in SWE roles. I have so many companies I dream of working fulltime for, including the two that I mentioned, as well as well as other "unicorns", however when I think about it... I really don't know what goal I should be chasing anymore.

All of these companies have very smart engineers, they all have great pay and benefits... However, I am not sure if I will land on a team that I will like to be around, or a product I am really passionate for. I have had experiences where the team I was on really affected how much I liked my job, and as an extrovert being around people I enjoy working with is very important for me.

If I am on a product I am passionate about, I will not be making much impact because I am a) a total newbie still as a new grad with only intern experience, and b) will probably be at too big a company to make these changes.I have thought a lot about joining startups, however I feel that I am not passionate about a lot of their ideas, and it is easy to have poor leadership at a startup who does not follow the best coding practices, or at least definitely won't have time for any kind of mentorship. I really value learning from more experienced and smarter engineers who can take their time to help with questions getting ramped up, although I do also put emphasis on self-driven learning.

The other option is midsized companies, but even those are growing very fast. Stripe is becoming more large-scale, recently worth more than AirBnB. The other great midsize company that comes to mind is Brex.

Overall, I am not sure what I should be striving for now. I am very fortunate, and in my opinion a lot of luck was involved, that I was able to intern at these great companies, and other smaller companies that had great engineering teams too. The whole "go for prestige and TC" thing, I feel will get kind of old... Should I optimize for learning from very smart people? Focus on the team vs the company? Or should I ignore my instincts and risk it all on a startup?

I think I would really enjoy being able to be on the first team of 10-20 ppl to build something, as a life goal. Like the OG Chrome, Instagram, or LinkedIn teams. However, I don't think I have the know-how to do these kind of engineering feats quite yet, and honestly, I do not feel creative enough. Is there a career path I can take to meet this objective?

tldr: new grad [me] interns at great companies, and is thinking [rather spoiled-ly] "is there all that is?" New grad debates going for startups with very little mentorship and high risk, vs big companies and just riding TC and dealing with teammates they may not find ideal. New grad thinks about midsized companies, but claim few match their passion. New grad asks experienced folks (you guys!) what they should aim for: learning? impact? New grad's dream is to be part of a founding team that builds a great new product, but also knows this is kind of wishful thinking.

Thanks for your time!

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TOP 10 Comments
  • Abbott / Eng ssJG63
    Join google, rise as fast as you can in 5 years then join start up.
    Sep 21 2
    • Discover Financial Services qwerty-/:
      What if one gets fired/laid off/managed out before 5 years ?
      Sep 21
    • Abbott / Eng ssJG63
      Google is rest and vest my brother
      Sep 21
  • Zume recurser
    First, appreciate that you have good health and so many opportunities available to you. Second, don't worry about making the wrong choice. Your first job won't be your only job. You could work at a company for 2 years, then change. And change several times. In one paragraph, you said you'd enjoy working on 10-20 ppl teams building a great product. IMHO that is what you should do. Apply to some Y Combinator startup that is small, smart, and interesting. And if that doesn't turn out how you'd hoped, switch later on. Anyways, you are blessed with youth, intelligence, and ambition. You are very lucky and don't take it for granted.
    Sep 21 0
  • Amazon bTze41
    I have the same crisis, except I am an international student and hence can only join companies that provide H1B and GC. This takes out a lot of options for me
    Sep 22 0
  • Intel / Finance LC_ups_TC
    Sounds like you will be disappointed wherever you go. The perfect thing for you will be to build your own path i.e project for a startup
    Sep 22 0
  • Google / Eng d3j88wq
    I think you do know what your goal is; it's to work on the core team for an impactful and "cool" product/technology. (And know enough to contribute.)

    It sounds like you're questioning whether you should forget that and just optimize for TC instead, probably because that's what everyone on Blind seems to do. I think you should optimize for your own goal and care less what other people optimize for. They just have a different objective function.

    One strategy is to join Google. If you can't get on a team you're passionate about in team matching (which would be difficult), you can still learn a lot from experienced people and the engineering culture, get promoted to L4 in about 2 years, and then look for a team you're really passionate about.

    That's the strategy I know enough about to comment on; there may be better strategies (e.g. joining a startup).
    Sep 21 0
  • Stryker / Consultant Gbhgi4&75
    Concentrate on the platform you like and money; everything else is transient; money will ‘solve’ for a lot of ‘issues’ on the job; platform affiliation will solve the rest;
    when these two ‘sour’ - move on;
    Sep 21 0
  • Stryker / Consultant Gbhgi4&75
    I have no ‘brand affiliation’ at all; once i was a whizz on Wall Street; when the street ‘crashed’ all that ‘brand glitter’ is gone as fast as morning dew;
    Sep 21 0
  • Stryker / Consultant Gbhgi4&75
    ‘Platform’ stands for ‘whatever you like as a tool’ or dev platform in your perspective of ‘today’
    Sep 21 0

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