I’m 32yo, 9yoe and I’m reflecting on what I should do next in my career. All my work experience has been in startups of different stages, always in technical roles. Currently I’m what one could call “cloud architect”, if that makes any sense.
I don’t completely suck at programming (I was recently able to clear an E5 SWE interview at FB), but I don’t think my strengths would show in sitting down and crunching feature code for 50 hours a week with a bunch of crazy smart kids who know 24 languages and all their framework APIs, I’m just not at their level of wizardry. I would be setting myself up for failure, I believe.
My biggest strengths have always been my very assertive personality and technical intuition that drives me towards simple but functional solutions: thanks to this, I’ve always been put in front of important customers as “technical expert” to solve their problems or calming them down when stuff breaks (and I’m not talking about being a support guy, I’m talking about flying to a big customer onsite to find, troubleshoot and fix a sneaky multithread race condition when our product was used a scale).
I also have 50+ major conference talks (some had 2k+ people in the audience), people really like me as a speaker so my companies always send me around to do heavy technical talks.
This made me reflect on these positions:
- SWE: as I said, not ideal for me, and that’s why I actually turned down FB offer.
- Engineering manager: I tried but I really didn’t like it, I’m very picky and technically opinionated so it’s hard for me to be emphatic towards other engineers, knowing that I’ll ultimately be judged on THEIR productivity. I prefer to be their peer and be judged on my productivity.
- Sales engineering: this is where one can make really good $ (I have friends who make 500k+ consistently) and where I would be able to use my assertive personality the most in front of customers, but in a way that’s too distant from core engineering and I would lose my technical abilities.
- product management: hell no, just no. I believe it’s the most useless role in the world.
- Startup CTO: this would be really nice, but I don’t have previous experience in these roles, and I’m kind of burned out by startups.
- Amazon 10022004Probably come back to reality and realize you aren’t as great as you think...that would be a start.
- It would be helpful if you tell me why you think I’m delusional, since it might help me improve. Just telling me I’m delusional doesn’t really provide me any feedback, since I have no idea what part of my thread made you think I’m delusional.
Unfortunately anonymous forums are full of people like you who just like to put others down, without providing any constructive feedback. If we were face to face, you likely wouldn’t treat me like that, whereas I would exactly explain to you my problem and career dilemma the way I wrote it.Jul 8 1
- Intel / Eng nullptr0Why do you say product management is useless? I'm an SWE myself but curious to hear your perspective.
- All the PMs I worked with, and again this is based on my own experience after having worked with several dozens of PMs, have no technical intuition, no product intuition and not enough people skills to actually be useful in front of customers.
So effectively they end up being useless, always wandering around and trying to pretend to upper management that they are contributing something, whereas engineers and engineering tech leads effectively own 99% of the product aspects. As a result, most engineers don’t respect PMs at all, so that’s a role I don’t want to find myself in.
Again, based on my experience.Jul 7 9
- Mentor Graphics / Product PEwt73moreWhat sort of roles in sales engineering are you considering?
- None at all at the moment, but these would be enterprise sales engineering in big companies. Customers who have 7 figure deals and you fly onsite to set everything up and then grab your 5% commission. I have friends in Cisco making 1M doing that.
It requires a certain type of personality more than technical skills, which I believe I have (like I said above).
- Your post reflects what I would want my Tech Lead to do but being afraid of smart kids is a red flag.
- What I meant is that if I were purely judged based on the quality and quantity of specialized feature code I can produce, I don’t think I would be nearly as valuable as the good performers of FAANG (and Microsoft as well, obviously) and would be probably at risk of PIP.
I would not be afraid in an absolute sense, more in a “stack ranking” sense.
- You would be expected to design stuff at higher levels and that’s where you show your intuition/design capabilities. Learning to ship faster with good quality can happen once you become aware of efficient ways to do that. Every company has a bit of ramp up time.
Also, I can understand quantity of code being produced as a problem but not quality. That essentially indicates you have not entirely grasped the nuances which means there is a need to invest time in asking people the right sort of questions and spending more time in reading the code/running different tests.
Additionally, whenever there are some bugs, how you attack them is very important. All in all, I don’t think you should be too worried as long as you take your job seriously and/or are competent which going by getting E5 seems to indicate you are.