Am I Stagnating? 35 YO TC < 130K DC Area 3rd Tier Company

Sep 16, 2019 30 Comments

Hello Blind,

I've been reading blind posts for a while now. It's shown me what's possible in Tech and I find it amusing at times as well. Thank you.

I'm in sort of a cross roads of my career and wanted get some feedback from fellow Blind members. Some background about me.

- 10+ years of industry experience
- 2+ years as lead (current), 4+ years as backend SWE
- 4 years as analyst (did PM/QA/DevOps etc hybrid role) company allowed experimenting
- 3rd tier company (may be 2nd tier), < 10k employees
- Recently married
- No Debt, No mortgage (renting), No Student Loans
- TC between 100K & 130K,
- Saving 4k/month on average, 3.5k covers rent/entertainment/expenses etc
- Only 100K+ saved so far and it's in Wealthfront :( $0 401k
- Technically I'm an average Joe (i think). Nothing specialized like ML/AI but I can ship products
- WLB is the very good. 2 remote days/week, Short Commute, more time with family
- Company is in boring enterprise space, I feel they will do well even in recession if it comes.

I've been told in my last performance review that my next career step would be SDM, no timeline was given but I've seen people take 2- 4 years to go from Lead to SDM. People who joined the company the same time as I did are already Directors. I didn't understand how to build social capital and influence for all these years. Finally, I've started to learn a bit now :) and greasing the wheel. I'm happy with the Job and the team I've built. Tech stack is pretty modern too.

I want to optimize for career growth and increase my TC as we are planning on having kids in the future and I want to be able to save enough as a sole bread winner. I'm OK with not buying a house. Wife doesn't care either. At this rate, math doesn't add up though. I'll be able to save roughly 1M after working 20 years (50k/year average roughly), that too without any unforeseen circumstances that could disrupt employment.

I don't see my current TC going over 150K in the next 5 years by staying here even if I'm promoted. I've checked GlassDoor and Paysa to get a sense of average salary.

I've tried Leetcoding couple of times and find my self spending 30 min on easy questions I've never seen before. I feel dumb. So I'm going to spend good amount of time preparing for few months if i plan to look outside.

I haven't interviewed in many many years, I tried once 6 years ago and did so bad that I felt very down and canceled all other onsite. I regularly get emails from FB in DC and Amazon recruiters but I don't respond as I'm not ready yet.

With all that said, I'm thinking about few options below. Let me know what you would do if you were in my situation.

Thank you!



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TOP 30 Comments
  • Google


    Dude everyone here has failed interviews. People do miserable in interviews all the time. That is literally not a reason for you to stop trying. Truth about FAANG is, many engineers are just good at leetcoding and that is one skill you can learn with practice. Practice leetcode hard and take those interviews. Stop putting yourself down and quit the 'I can't do it' attitude.

    Is your tc a little low? Yes. Can it increase? Yes. Don't give up so easily. Jeez.
    Sep 16, 2019 1
    • OP
      Thanks for the encouragement. I'm not putting myself down. Just staging my past experiences and how I felt :) Totally agreed with the points you've made as I weigh my options. Looks like the way I wrote it came off as I'm in despair.
      Sep 16, 2019
  • New / Eng lHpK84
    Any time I get depressed about interviewing, I just go visit LinkedIn and try and use it. Shits all broken and full of bugs and they pay those devs a ton of TC.
    Sep 16, 2019 1
    • OP
      interesting way to find motivation. Love it! 😀
      Sep 16, 2019
  • Deloitte LwBy04
    I'm also in DC and know exactly how you feel right now. Blind and even people I know at AWS Herndon have really opened up my eyes of what's possible for TC even within this area. I've been prepping and interviewing hard recently and even though I just failed Amazon, I know for a fact that I was damn close, so I'll just try again in the future if my other leads don't work out. All the work so far has been good practice.

    You're in a good spot right now too; no debts, no property, no kids in school to tie you down, so get out there and explore. If you still want to code and get into one of these FAANG level companies, then get working on LC and start giving up some weekends. Make your wife understand what's at stake. At the same time if you don't think you can cut it, start looking at other related roles like PgM/PM/TPM and see if they might be for you.

    If you want to stay in the area, you might not get Blind levels of TC outside of Amazon/MS/Google, but there's tons of companies here that'll definitely give more than $130k with your YOE. I'm just guessing you've been too comfortable at your current place and got too complacent. I made the same mistake and I'm working on fixing it ASAP.

    Could you also name your company already?
    Sep 16, 2019 4
    • OP
      I see @han5grüber and that would realistic and achievable even for DC metro area.
      Sep 17, 2019
    • Freddie Mac kylc22
      We have a guy here at Freddie who does UI work who gets paid $200/hr on 1099. There are a couple in the $150/hr range, really smart guys. WAY over paid. Keep in mind, those are hourly so in that ($300-400k TC range).

      I don't know that $174k is that easy to get here in DC. Possible, certainly. Easy and everywhere not really.
      Oct 1, 2019
  • Bloomberg / Eng F.U. money
    You can really improve your situation by interviewing outside. Unfortunately, your company is not second tier or even third tier with this comp. Bloomberg is barely a third tier company and they pay 160 to college grads..
    Sep 16, 2019 2
    • OP
      Oh wow. that's a revelation to me. Looks like I'm in my own lala land. Gave me something to think upon. Thanks.
      Sep 16, 2019
    • New / R&D han5grüber
      He's in DC, it's a shit show
      Sep 16, 2019
  • Thermo Fisher / Eng hmmm what?
    I failed a bloomberg easy string manipulation question in the past. Shit happens. I walked out and 1 min later went oh wtf was i thinking.

    Keep interviewing and at some point you get used to failing and start analyzing what parts need improvement.
    Sep 16, 2019 2
    • OP
      My face turns red too when I get an easy question that I cant solve haha. Appreciate the encouragement. Practice makes perfect as you said. Thanks.
      Sep 16, 2019
    • Bloomberg / Eng F.U. money
      Dodged a bullet.
      Sep 16, 2019
  • Salesforce benimeoff
    Amazon hq2 seems desperate, I have had multiple reach outs from them. Apply there and you should be able to double TC.
    Sep 16, 2019 2
    • OP
      Thanks for the comment.

      Do you think it's better to apply as an IC? What would be the chances to getting in as SDM as a lateral move?
      Sep 16, 2019
    • Salesforce benimeoff
      Why not just apply and see what happens?
      Sep 16, 2019
  • Google / Eng ECyG30
    You might not be the smartest. But there are way more dumber people having higher TC than you.
    Don't be afraid of failing interviews. That's the best way to practice. Do bunch of leetcode, practice, practice. Do some system design if needed. Then start interviewing slowly, every interview is a lesson for the next one, and you'll perform better over the time.

    Keep trying and hopefully you'll get a better offer.

    How old are you btw?
    Dec 11, 2019 1
    • New Yeti_
      Thanks for the insight and encouragement. I'm 34.
      Dec 27, 2019
  • Altria / Data Kthak
    Nestle is hiring like crazy in the NOVA area and are offering 150k.
    Sep 16, 2019 1
    • OP
      Good to have this info. Will definitely use it as a lead in the future.
      Sep 17, 2019
  • Kabbage / Data fxnM15
    Well, try responding to emails first
    Sep 16, 2019 1
    • OP
      Thanks for replying. I don't think I'm ready to start interviewing just yet so don't want to blow my chance by interviewing unprepared. May be I should try some practice rounds with the company I don't want to work for :)
      Sep 16, 2019
  • OP
    Thanks everyone for the feedback. The votes are overwhelmingly leaning towards leet code + interview (41%+) and rightfully so. I totally agree.

    I've decided to start preparing for interviews for the next 4 months and line up interviews for Q1 2020. I'll see what I can get in the area at non FAANMG first then interview for FAANMG.

    Thanks all! I'll see you in 6 months.
    Sep 17, 2019 0


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