A disillusioned software engineer

Workday pinkfloyd84
Aug 27 31 Comments

I have a rather unusual question.
I am a software engineer and have a grad degree in CS. During school, i enjoyed the courses immensely. I liked diving deep into the mathematical foundations that make all the tech possible today. I liked the mathematical essence behind all the areas of CS right from OS to ML to Graphics and more.
In industry however, i see that i do extremely menial work that doesnt tap into any of the rather deep scientific work i am capable of. Most of the days, i am tweaking environment variables etc to achieve the desired results.
Its rather depressing because thats not what i trained for. Even senior engineers (principals etc) do largely these type of work primarliy, on any given day.
Is that all a tech career as an engineer at a large company comprise of? Is there ever gonna be any use of the real CS that we learnt?
Disclaimer: i am down down beers. :p But the questuon is real. The amount of brain work that’s needed in industry has turned out to be very low, and thus the disillusion and the question.
Yoe: 5
TC: ~ 190k

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TOP 31 Comments
  • Oracle
    not_larry

    Oracle

    PRE
    Amazon
    not_larrymore
    Yes. You sir need to do a PhD and be a scientist.
    Aug 27 1
  • Microsoft seagull
    If your day job is paying the bills but is not giving you intellectual fulfillment, you always have the option of working on side-projects to bridge that gap.

    Regarding your views about engineers in general, I do detect some mild level of contempt for the work that they do.

    The engineers that built the platform and service from zero to one at your company solved a lot of hard problems to pave the foundation for the system that you work with today. They may not have had the liberty to work on theories looking for a problem but they nonetheless built something that created business impact and formed the foundation to generate revenue streams and jobs for many people. Many of these engineers were in the frontlines and were the first to venture into the unknown to clear the forest so that all your have to do today is to tweak some environment variables to get the desired results. As such, it would be a mistake to trivialize the road these people have paved for you as an engineer.
    Aug 28 3
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Hey, I am extending no disrespect to the founding and initial engineers who architected the system from grounds up.
      My question had no contempt but rather a dismay at the situation that I find myself at, doing rather maintenance work over innovative work, that I feel I am capable of.
      It’s a personal situation and not indicative of all engineers and what they do.
      I guess if I start up I will get to do all that I desire.
      But yeah, my question more or less pointed to the mismatch between the capabilities that we develop as CS grads and the ultimate work that we end up doing. :)
      Aug 28
    • Microsoft seagull
      You sound very bright and passionate about your field of study. I highly encourage you to either start your own project or network with folks from teams that are working in your areas of interest. Good luck!
      Aug 28
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Thanks man. :) God bless.
      Aug 28
  • DealerSocket / Eng
    ronaldo7

    DealerSocket Eng

    BIO
    code till dead 💀
    ronaldo7more
    There are 7 math problems with 1million reward on each, one solved so far, other 6 are just waiting for you.
    Aug 27 0
  • Amazon CeoExtra
    I know Amazon would hire you tomorrow for 1M TC if they know that Prime Air software system is so easy and menial for you. DM me so that I can get the referral bonus.

    I’m nervous though worrying if we’d be able beat your competing offers from GoogleX, Uber ATG, and Apple 😟😟
    Aug 28 1
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Keeping aside the sarcasm, you know what, I had an offer from Amazon Prime. I didn’t opt for that due to many reasons, scientific challenge not being one.
      Aug 28
  • New / Eng VJ91
    You could get some more theoretical data science roles. But so far in my experience I’ve felt like most of the work is mundane so far. Did a lot more at startups.. for a third of the pay
    Aug 27 0
  • Microsoft / IT DilDosti
    You have to prove yourself worthy to given a critical work. When billions of dollars gonna ride on your shoulders all theories will vanish from your brain and u will piss ur pants ... Then experience will come for your rescue. .. untill u gain that kind of experience obey the chain of command be useful to your employer ... If u can't do that open your own start up and do all the science and stuff with your own money ... Workday has hired you to do what a CRM needs. ..
    Aug 27 5
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Well, I kinda agree but again that depends on what person you are. If traditional conformance is the flavor of your life, your comment makes sense.
      If not, what you wrote sounds very stupid.
      Aug 28
    • Microsoft / IT DilDosti
      Are u chained to the desks ???
      Aug 28
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Dildosti dude, make as much witty comments you want. Doesn’t change the fact that you have compromised a lot for a few bucks. So have I, but at least I am looking out.
      Aug 28
    • Microsoft / IT DilDosti
      Dude don't flatter yourself ...
      Out of all companies in bay you have settled in for workday not even wework and you are making comments ...
      Aug 28
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Thank you Dildosti, for seconding me indirectly (about you).
      Aug 28
  • New / R&D han5grüber
    First I'll say that most jobs suck and aren't that interesting.

    In my experience there are two types of engineers, builders and theorists. The builders get off on making stuff and seeing the product work and usually use a lot more of experience based or practical knowledge. A theorist will be much more interested in knowledge generation and research. Sounds like you might be the latter. However, keep in mind that there are fewer of these jobs and are typically reserved for labs and academia, the route will be a PhD.

    On the other hand, I used to think the domain wasn't as interesting as the types of problems. Over time I've realized that a good problem that maximizes ad revenue is not nearly as exciting to me as something founded in natural sciences. So maybe look at the quantum stuff or BCI, or biotech, or climate change type companies.

    My advice, if you're young, and only research positions will.make you happy, get the PhD. Forget the naysayers on here who bi1tch about opportunity cost and TC, they'll never understand it.
    Aug 28 1
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      I concur; working towards a phd has been on my mind. Just wanted to validate that idea. Thanks.
      Aug 28
  • Microsoft / Eng cpp20
    Google, IBM, Microsoft are working on quantum computing. Plenty of hard problems to solve. Try also database engines, they are pretty hard and CS heavy.
    Aug 28 1
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Hey thanks, that’s a real and helpful response.
      Aug 28
  • Oath meal
    First, you can get into some research positions with a master's degree. Second, you may be able to do some side gigs in academia - supervising projects, being a research asistant etc. If you have the time and skills, I'm sure some professors will like that kind of help, and who knows where that could lead you. Lastly, you'll find a lot of math in scientific computing. National labs, companies that make planes or missiles, pharma companies that look for new drugs etc. Check out companies involved in supercomputing/HPC conferences for starters. They might not pay as much as a faang, but if that's the kind of work you like, it will make you happier.
    Aug 28 2
    • AT&T MsdR32
      On this note, some defense contractors have really interesting projects. They can write proposals to DARPA to start implementing state of the art ideas - like all the work in laser weapons. Pay is much worse than tech, but wlb is much better.
      Aug 28
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Yup, true that.
      Aug 28
  • New / Eng aHDu88
    Engineering's/development != computer science. You enjoy computer science. Do research at a computer research lab. Go work at Oak Ridge National Lab or JPL or something. Work on language/compiler development or quantum computing. Those are actual computer science fields. If that's what you're looking for software development is going to drive you up a wall.
    Aug 28 1
    • Workday pinkfloyd84
      OP
      Thanks, I do realize that but, for some reason, have stuck to writing code.
      Aug 28
  • I think you might have too much beer. Others have mentioned Google, Microsoft, IBM etc. There’s plenty of interesting work even at Uber. Doesn’t mapping jump out to you? Go to those companies if your current one doesn’t have interesting challenges to solve.

    Environmental variables should be set and left there btw. I don’t think it’s common that you have to manually tweak it to get what you want. That’s a devops issue you have, and not that the industry doesn’t utilize enough brain power.

    Good luck finding better companies or projects!
    Aug 28 0
  • DealerSocket / Eng
    ronaldo7

    DealerSocket Eng

    BIO
    code till dead 💀
    ronaldo7more
    Also as a follow-up to that has anyone implemented any graph traversal algorithms in production code, if yes what was the usecase?
    Aug 27 3
    • Microsoft / IT DilDosti
      If else arraylist ... There wasn't the need but to get the kick I have used a map ...
      Aug 27
    • DealerSocket / Eng
      ronaldo7

      DealerSocket Eng

      BIO
      code till dead 💀
      ronaldo7more
      Lol
      Aug 28
    • D. E. Shaw & Co. WXia81
      Implemented? No because networkx exists. Used? Sure, e.g. when dealing with dependencies between compute tasks.
      Aug 28
  • Apple / Eng 🐒codemonk
    Do you mean day jobs at Workday work like above?
    Aug 28 0