Lack of expertise killing me

Dec 11, 2019 97 Comments

I am 30 now and started my first job when I was 21. Over the years i have worked in different areas of technology. For the first 1 year I spent time writing manual tests in an excel file. The next 2 years I spent writing automation tests using Selenium in Java. After that I went on to work for a non profit where I used Google App Scripts to improve some operational efficiency. Post that I went to pursue my masters here in the US where I worked on mini projects like working on an operating system in C, working on RPC on AWS in Java, working on some iOS development using swift and then worked on writing reviews for some research papers as part of my masters degree. I also worked on some Javascript using D3 to build some visualizations. Post that started working as a full stack engineer where I worked on PHP, javascript, Redis, Memcached, Influx, Kibana, SQL. Post that I started working on Java again and started working with AWS such as lambda, dynamo, kinesis etc. Over time I also solved 230 leetcode problems which gave me an entry in one of the FAANGs.

I feel completely lost after 9 years of randomness. Feel like I dont have a handle on any one technology and the feeling of not knowing anything is killing me. I know bits and pieces of the tech and tools, but deep expertise is lacking due to which a farm has been built where animals seem to be running in 1000 different directions. I think I am not happy with what I am doing with my life and I think I would like to gain expertise in one project or area and always be working on that. Feels like starting over again everytime. Want to do something meaningful rather than dabbling.

Is this normal? Any advice?

TC 200


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TOP 97 Comments
  • Amazon RiQc20
    What level at Amazon?
    Dec 11, 2019 10
  • Tyler Technologies batwomannn
    If your TC is 200 you’re doing amazing by any measurable scale. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
    Dec 11, 2019 8
    • Tyler Technologies batwomannn
      Remember that SF is not real life.
      Dec 13, 2019
    • StockX / Eng cockydev
      It’s actually lower than 70k too... close to 50k
      Dec 13, 2019
  • Nutanix GimV31
    Most people hit 30 and think they know everything. Seems like you’re the opposite which is actually good!
    I don’t think I understood anything until I hit my late 30s or so. You’ll be fine!
    Dec 11, 2019 2
    • Workfront / Eng ooooops
      I'm 37. I've learned so much in just the last three years. I don't know how I survived my 20's.
      Dec 13, 2019
    • PayPal gojiro
      Most people get hired an a FAANG company out of college and think they know everything.

      You'll be fine.
      Dec 13, 2019
  • Ultimate Software / Eng wzVG63
    Sounds like impostor syndrome to me.. however I feel the same way as you.. but I haven’t make it to FAANG (which is something I aspire at my 32 years).. I’ve been rejected 3 times.. which makes me think I’m just not good enough..
    Dec 11, 2019 10
    • Amazon compare
      There is a lot of variability in FAANG. Each role/team have different pros and cons. You might like it or you might not. Even interview questions vary a lot in difficulty and sometimes it is luck. Don’t treat it as end goal, but keep pushing yourself to be better.
      Dec 13, 2019
    • Google gg22dd4
      If it makes you all snowflakes happy, I joined FAANG in m my late 40s. You will all be fine. Just keep learning and looking forward
      Dec 13, 2019
  • Amazon / Eng OlAl28
    This is typical in tech. Learn to accept that you'll only ever have cursory knowledge of a subject you're working in and focus on how to go about making the best decisions you can under that circumstance.
    Dec 13, 2019 0
  • Disney / Eng

    Disney Eng

    The Walt Disney Company, Technicolor, Deluxe, Funny Or Die, Amazon
    I've been known to RTFM.
    Your passion for learning and working on your varied interests was what got you to Amazon, was it not?

    No better opportunity to learn. Maybe you just don't enjoy being judged against your peers. The pressure is on, but instead of embracing it and running with it you think you would be happier working on the same thing for the rest of your life, at 30.

    Totally normal. It's called imposter syndrome and there might be a broadcast video on it 😂
    Dec 11, 2019 2
    • Amazon / Eng OlAl28
      Not really, it was the LC that got him into Amazon. They don't give af about your "passion for learning" even though it's one of the LPs
      Dec 13, 2019
    • Amazon noshit
      You wont even get sufficient amount of time for doing clean work and reducing tech debt. Let alone learning and specialization.
      Dec 13, 2019
  • LinkedIn


    Google, Amazon, 500 Startups, Microsoft
    You are actually in a surprisingly good position. You have a lot of breadth which most people lack today as they focus on one area, so this should help you look at new problems with multiple perspectives. Yes you don't know what your "passion" is but so what. The principals in Amazon are mainly valuble for their breadth and the ability to connect many broad ideas in solving novel problems. Have you tried finding places where you can do this? FAANGS are about getting siloed!
    Dec 13, 2019 0
  • Capital One blookaf
    I say you are doing more than just fine. This kinda feeling is normal. What helped me is, trying to find happiness outside of work
    Dec 11, 2019 0
  • Amazon popozaø
    The expertise that comes with time is being able to pick up code in any language and work with it. The patterns you learn from one codebase usually has analogies you can implement in another, even if the language is different.

    “Mastering” a specific tech stack and only that tech stack is a sure way to obsolete yourself and die off.

    Remember Visual Basic. There are still VB devs wondering why Azure is giving them the shaft, and I wonder why they insist on not picking up C# or any of the other .NET supported languages :/
    Dec 13, 2019 0
  • Airbnb fresh_air
    Time to become an eng manager
    Dec 13, 2019 0


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