Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

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gunn_show
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by gunn_show » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:45 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:34 am
Top99% wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:21 am
I work have worked in tech since 1986 at 3 different Megacorps. Since OP asked why one should NOT work in tech:
1) If you are not good at saving money for a rainy day tech is not a good choice because when it rains it tends to pour. Many tech workers were unemployed for a long period of time in 2001-2002. The pay can be very good in tech but it can also be very volatile.
2) If you are not willing to constantly grow your skills tech is not a good choice. See my email signature.
3) If you plan on waiting until your 50s to really start saving under the assumption this will coincide with your peak earning years I think tech is a poor choice. My inflation adjusted peak earning years were in my late 30s and this is true of many people my age who work in tech. Part of this was driven by outsourcing really starting to hold down real wages in the 2000s. Tech can be a dangerous place to be in your 50s or later if you are not already at least partially financially independent.

Bingo.
BIngo +1.
tjhar wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:56 pm
So the biggest risk of tech is really as far as I can tell, age discrimination. When does this start happening (40s? 50s?) and how does one mitigate this?

Is the solution to move off the technical track and move to management track?
I work for a silicon valley founding tech firm and have seen more "older" tech workers than younger. I am often the youngest or near-youngest in the room and I am late 30s. Only time this is not the case, is when I am at a customer site and often they are younger.

My sales peers are all mostly older than me, if not all of them (team of ~10). My manager, his boss, his boss, and the division VP are all 50s or older (hard to tell on 2 of them if over 50s).

Now is that the case at Google or Facebook? Probably not, but they are "new tech" and not old tech. I think it varies widely based on age and type of tech firm. Plus as Top99 pointed out, if you save your high pay, work hard and grow your skills, etc. you have far less to worry about. Last year I asked the help of a specific account manager that had been at my company longer than I had been alive. YMMV. I plan to be mostly FI by my 50s so if the worst happens, I will be prepared. But I plan to constantly grow my skills and be top 10%, where you rarely have too many issues being employed.
"The best life hack of all is to just put the work in and never give up." Bas Rutten

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cockersx3
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by cockersx3 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:40 pm

Kind of off topic, but it's very encouraging to see some positive news about work / life balance and ageism in tech after all the anecdotes I hear to the contrary.

I'm actually about a year away from getting my BS in computer science, which I'm pursing at night concurrently with my day job as a senior, highly-regarded (and actually very well paid) corporate engineer for a MegaCorp. I'm actually getting the second degree out of personal interest - have always been a computer nut and used to code a lot as a kid, lo those many years ago. (Ended up not going into tech in college, but always wondered what that alternate life would have been like).

That said, I had been wondering if it was even possible to switch careers once I have the second degree, since I feel sometimes burned out with the current role and hungry for a change. I'm actually OK with making less - even significantly less - if necessary, since I am mostly FI right now and the change may be worth it to me despite the money. However, I had initially assumed that my age (mid-40's) would keep anyone from even considering me for a job in tech. From the tone of some responses maybe that's not actually the case? One can hope....!

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:58 pm

cockersx3 wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:40 pm
Kind of off topic, but it's very encouraging to see some positive news about work / life balance and ageism in tech after all the anecdotes I hear to the contrary.

I'm actually about a year away from getting my BS in computer science, which I'm pursing at night concurrently with my day job as a senior, highly-regarded (and actually very well paid) corporate engineer for a MegaCorp. I'm actually getting the second degree out of personal interest - have always been a computer nut and used to code a lot as a kid, lo those many years ago. (Ended up not going into tech in college, but always wondered what that alternate life would have been like).

That said, I had been wondering if it was even possible to switch careers once I have the second degree, since I feel sometimes burned out with the current role and hungry for a change. I'm actually OK with making less - even significantly less - if necessary, since I am mostly FI right now and the change may be worth it to me despite the money. However, I had initially assumed that my age (mid-40's) would keep anyone from even considering me for a job in tech. From the tone of some responses maybe that's not actually the case? One can hope....!
Work environment depends on the company. Remember to keep growing your skills.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:03 am

In school after I got my physics degree I had several options: science, engineering, tech(and only now I realize, finance). I declined to go into either physics or tech, which out of luck not going into tech turned out to be good timing due to the .com. I ended up getting an MS and going into engineering, which is no picnic but has worked out ok. I don't regret not going into science or tech.

You have several fallacies I believe.

I'm frustrated working in science for many reasons:
1) Compensation is bad (relatively speaking). Salaries for career scientist have not increased for the last decade.
*True, but applies in almost every field! Including"tech". I remember people in the late 90s dropping out of college to code for salaries which, with inflation, are unheard of now. Tech salaries may have gone up nominally but so has COL, and many of the bonuses are more modest now. You seem to think $200k is a good deal in 2018, which proves my point. I don't have a magic fix; but tech has not been immune to salary stagnation.
2) Supply-demand is really bad. If you are in this field, you know of the postdoc epidemics.
*Probably true. Lack of openings (demand) in true science roles, and competition from foreign students was one of my reasons to not go further in Physics.
3) Promotion is slow because of the conservative culture.
*True but of questionable relevance. Tech companies promote every few quarters so their millennial workforce feel special and because everyone changes jobs every 2-4 year. Comparison of promotion frequency is questionable.
4) Earning big money is shunned as you are "scientist", unless you are management/executive, and I can't stand this hypocrisy.
Again, true almost everywhere. Nobody pays engineers or scientists what they are "worth". If this bothers you, you should get an MBA and target management, not try to switch fields. Managementare the ones setting the salaries; your only option is to join them. It's a long and glorious tradition.

pull factors to tech are the following:
1) There's a demand for Data Scientists right now, maybe not as big a demand as few years ago, but still more demand than non data science type positions.

*this year, as many have pointed out. A few years ago, if you tried to sell yourself as a Data Scientist nobody would know what that was.

2) Tech industry is growing, most science companies are not, just look at their share price.

*could be a bubble. So far in history, there is no tech growth that is not a bubble

3) Even if tech collapses, I'll have option to move laterally to other industries, and since tech has the best talent, it should not be an issue "downgrading" to tier 2 companies

*This is your biggest fallacy. Nobody will hire you! They will hire a new grad with a new degree, and 2 H1b's instead, even if it costs more, and even if the results are worse. It's a fact. There will be thousands of jobs that you can do, but nobody will hire you to do them. Never assume that you will be able to downgrade.

4) Tech has a culture of paying well, with good signup and performance bonuses. Part of this is because they seem to give out stock options/grants more readily than other industries..

*because they have to, or nobody would work for them. It's the efficient market hypothesis of labor. HCOL areas, often high time expectations, unstable industry. It's similar in Oil and Gas, where they pay early-career engineers often $200k or more because the work is hard and they have to move every few years to follow the booms. Do they pay more? Technically yes.

I would say if you already work in science, stick with it, and buy a side business.
Last edited by 28fe6 on Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:13 am

duplicate

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by 28fe6 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:14 am

triplicate

fatlever
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by fatlever » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:30 am

Working at several mega corps, my experience is that age is a non-issue if you have skills and expertise in data science, big data, data analytics, quant space, statistics, number crunching, etc combined with technology. Age becomes a problem when older workers get lazy and comfortable just collecting checks or get into management and don't keep up.

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Shackleton
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by Shackleton » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:47 am

fatlever wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:30 am
Working at several mega corps, my experience is that age is a non-issue if you have skills and expertise in data science, big data, data analytics, quant space, statistics, number crunching, etc combined with technology. Age becomes a problem when older workers get lazy and comfortable just collecting checks or get into management and don't keep up.
This mirrors my experience in a company that is in the financial services sector. My megacorp values workers that have knowledge, and we have an impressive number of people that have been with the company 30 and 40 years. I know of several people that were hired into the company (in IT) in their 50s but these were all people that stayed on top of the industry and technology.

While we aren't an actual "tech" company, we do a lot of tech (IT budget is now > $1B for the year). And we hire a lot of data scientists...
“Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results.” ~Ernest Shackleton

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by srt7 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:41 am

4) Earning big money is shunned as you are "scientist", unless you are management/executive, and I can't stand this hypocrisy.
What makes you think it is any different in tech? That kind of hypocrisy exists in tech as well. If anything it is more prevalent in tech. I never saw a job posting for a scientist with the words "ping pong table" or "pizza and beer" or "rockstar" etc. but there are dime-a-dozen job postings for techies with such crap.

Also consider that while you might make more as a techie than a scientist you would still end up comparing your compensation (which would be peanuts) to management.

My main motivation is compensation and growth opportunities.
At any mega-corp, nothing else will come close to paying you (relatively for the work done) like upper management. All those tier-1 tech companies you mentioned are now counted as mega-corp.

Good luck!
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:16 am

tjhar wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:31 am
My main motivation is compensation and growth opportunities.
Then I'd advise that you don't make the jump.

Call me an idealist, but I feel that your main motivation should be that you are really jazzed about data science, love digging into data and finding what insights it may hold, enjoy the challenge of programming and finding/squashing bugs, hold strong opinions on the usefulness of p-values and whether or not pie charts are an appropriate data visualization method, and so on.

If the compensation and growth opportunities are better too, well, that's a very nice plus to have. But switching primarily for those reasons? Proceed with caution.
Stay on target...

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by KyleAAA » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:21 pm

I am in engineering management at one of the tier 1 companies you mentioned. You’ll need to constantly refresh your skills and work independently. As a senior engineer or data scientist you’ll be expected to lead by influence and wrestle with complex problems without much guidance. You won’t be given work to do, you’ll be expected to figure out what needs to be done and figure out how to make it happen. If you can do that, you will have a very long and lucrative career in tech. Outsourcing will not be a concern for you.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by novemberrain » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:54 pm

I work at a Tier1 tech company and I like it here. The work life balance is decent - I work 8-9 hours a day. Get paid about 330k total comp. Senior Engineer. If I switch, I am confident of getting $400-500k.

There are contractors from Outsourcing companies who work at my company. They make like 120k. I would put it out there that they do more commoditized work; whereas I do more creative new development. I am not at all concerned about outsourcing companies.

Outsourcing might be a concern if you work in the IT department of a generic non-tech company. Say a old school retail company or some manufacturing company. There is no future in those IT departments. All those work is taken up by outsourcing companies.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by MathWizard » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:27 pm

I ended up in tech due to consulting work I did during grad school.

BS Physics,. PhD Math

In tech you have to be learning constantly.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by rbaldini » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:30 pm

You won't get any discouragement from me: I did the same thing a few years ago, left a postdoc early for a data science job. Haven't looked back. Machine Learning and Deep Learning and AI might be a bit buzzy at the moment (as in, buzz words), but the technology is not a fad, as I'm sure you know. I have now worked in 2 different industries and changing to a 3rd soon. Learning a lot, avoiding boredom, making a lot more money than I would be in academia, and feel that my work is more valuable.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by DavidW » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:35 pm

badger42 wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:48 am
I'm going to give you the cynical view.

Tech is good if you're disciplined. Tech is good if you can negotiate a solid package (senior-ish data science / ML type at a large tech company in a HCOL area should manage at least 300k-400k comp including base, bonus, RSUs, etc), and then save a decent chunk of your base plus all of the bonus and RSUs.

Tech is good if you realize you have a limited shelf life, that things get progressively harder as you get older, and that tech has the attention span of a gerbil on speed. Data science and ML are currently hot, there's no guarantee they'll be hot in 5 years.

Put in your years, save towards FI, plan to be out by age 45 at the latest.

In tech, it's really easy to get hard-core lifestyle creep, then be in big trouble when things go south (they will, it's just a question of when)
+1

things in tech changes and what is hot can be very quickly be not. Outsourcing happens all the time regardless if you are good or not. It all comes down to the cost of doing business.

If you can use your skills and build a war chest while you work in IT and not get hung up with all the techie toys/lifestyle, then when the hatchet comes, you are more prepare than most.

Also, realize that IT tends to gear towards the young as they have the energy to work around the clock. Once you hit the age of 40ish, you are very vulnerable.

Do you remember the TV game show where you get 1 minute to grab as many items off the shelf of a retail store? Your one minutes is your time in IT...

The other options is to go into the management route or consulting. Management has its pluses and minuses.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by olliema » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:10 am

Some abstract thoughts to consider:

¨Working in tech vs. working in business" - is old way of thinking / defining things - these groups work together usually as one. If they do not - run away
"Outsourcing" - only #3 of value chain below can be a pure commodity, and that is being reduced with new-er ways to doing things (Agile) - although the firm may take a whole area and move it 'offshore' - this rarely happens with newer / highest valued functions/products.

Reflect on where you like to play on the 'value chain' of:
1. Coming up with a vision to solve a problem, and then getting others to see that vision
2. Mobilizing against that vision (e.g. turning an idea into a funded project / product initiative)
3. Executing the vision (e.g. doing some portion of the initiative)

The jobs you are describing in both sectors sound like they fit in #3. Do you like being there?

Data Science actually requires all 3 steps - #1 and #2 are required to ensure viability, and #3 makes it happen (and feeds #1 the information that steers the next business / product cycle)

Main risks involved with the "tech" job:
1. If you get a job doing #3 and the firm is not committed / has not deployed the right talent to do #1 + #2, you will NEVER produce value.
2. If you can't produce value and you are in a horizontal / shared svcs. structure, you will get re-deployed if this happens, or fired if they over-allocated staff to support the verticals.
3. If you can't produce value and you are in a vertical function, you are much more likely to get fired because they carry the costs.
4. If your boss has weak leadership / mgmt. skills (esp. in shared svcs model) you'll get over subscribed and don't have the time/focus to produce value. (warning sign is they shrug it off as "tech is just so crazy busy...!¨)
5. If the tools you are using are not well deployed / stable, you can get caught into a delayed cycle of producing value - you can learn a lot by stabilizing them but if it runs too long, they might scrap the effort and put your job at risk.
6. Make sure when you interview, you get a chance to meet leaders across value chain 1, 2 & 3 - they should tell the same 'story' and be candid about the healthy friction that exists in the context of actual stories. If they don't talk to each other, say they always get along perfectly, or you don't get a chance to interview with everyone across the value chain (doesn't need to be C-suite / lower in the ranks will give a more candid view) - run away.
7. (the biggest one in my experience) - if the data upon which you are making decisions isn't trustworthy then you will NEVER produce value - if this is the case your play is to push into the role of fixing the data - either at the source or where it breaks down in the transformations / delivery (data warehouse, lake, etc.) Kind of hard to make offers to customers via email when you don't have their email address or have 7 different ones.

How to mitigate for the risks:
1. Make sure the firm's business strategy and execution of the strategy have 1, 2, 3 lined up
2. Make sure no matter what you are doing on 1, 2, or 3 that it involves the future business strategy of the firm
3. Think like an investor - can you see the viability of the firm truly using data sciences to answer the right questions - then pivoting the business?
4. Target firms where they already are getting value out of data science and the tools / platform are working/stable - unless you are an expert of #1 or #2 in the above value chain (those guys make lots of money)

If you can grow / enjoy doing all 3 steps of the value chain in data, the sky is the limit.

A lot of discussion about the big tech firms as your likely employers (FAANG, etc.) - I would actually look at the businesses upon which they are targeting, pick the ones which are the most viable and committed to surviving, and target them as well, if not first.

If the above advice doesn't make sense or doesn't sound like fun, I'd suggest deferring a move into the 'tech' side of business...good luck.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by breeks » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:30 am

Thanks for this thread OP. I'm a PhD in a computational life sciences field and have made/am making similar considerations.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by ClevrChico » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:53 pm

1) You may or may not be treated well. Stack ranking used to be popular in tech, maybe less so now. Toxic workplaces are a thing. Goals and performance ranking methods may border on ridiculous. On the other hand, you can just ignore most of it and focus on your nice paycheck, and probably be happy.

2) Ageism. Plan for FIRE.

3) Possibility to automate yourself out of a job. The pace of change is fast.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:08 pm

You are asking the right questions, but not all of them. Also, we need more info.

1. Data Science is not tech,
2. What matters is whether you are affiliated with revenue generation or considered cost,
3. Hedge funds do pay very very well. If you are looking to retire in 10 years, you should consider that. Speaking from experience,
4. Mega-corps can be dead-ends if you are looking to be in 'tech',
5. What kind of companies are you considering. Working for Amazon, Fakebook, Google in data science could be very different experience, than say, other companies that are considered tech (like, for example, Retail-Me-Not),
6. Machine learning is hot now, but universities are very good at pumping degreed candidates. In late 1990s, early 2000s, tech was hot. I was in a hot sector of tech. When I look at who works in those jobs: I pity them and the pay that they make. Sounds very last-century.
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by EngineerEd » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:20 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:08 pm
You are asking the right questions, but not all of them. Also, we need more info.

1. Data Science is not tech,
I think he's (the OP) only considering working as a data scientist at a "tier 1" tech company (so... FAANG and a few others from what I gathered?). So he's effectively thinking big tech companies. At most of these companies Data Scientists are in the same job family and pay scale as software engineers. Although I would say that there is slightly less upward mobility on the IC (individual contributor) track as a data scientist than a software engineer.
3. Hedge funds do pay very very well. If you are looking to retire in 10 years, you should consider that. Speaking from experience,
Agreed, different beast though. Very different culture, work/life, etc..
6. Machine learning is hot now, but universities are very good at pumping degreed candidates. In late 1990s, early 2000s, tech was hot. I was in a hot sector of tech. When I look at who works in those jobs: I pity them and the pay that they make. Sounds very last-century.
Agreed. The hot sector in tech is very mercurial, and I'd be a little bit concerned with "fighting the last war" if I were the OP. It really depends on the timeline of when the OP can become a marketable/adept data scientist. If he's already got the skills, then yeah of course apply away. However if the learning curve is more than a year or two it'd be worth considering whether the risk that ML/DS won't be as in demand is worth the time investment.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by Operon » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:09 pm

Since it doesn't seem to be a matter of having enough to live on vs. not, the questions I'd be asking myself in your position are, where will you feel happy and fulfilled? Which work will you find meaning in doing? Which work will you look back on at the end and be proud of the footprint you've left on the world? If you get a job in tech with a megacorp but wind up with a rotten supervisor, is the work you're doing and the increased salary worth the daily aggravation?

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by mouses » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:22 pm

tjhar wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:01 am

I think it's important to distinguish between tier-1 tech (which is where I want to be) vs normal tech. So some example of tier-1 tech is: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, Dropbox, etc.

I know outsourcing is a plague in tech, but does it happen at the tier-1 tech level?
tier 1 is not insulated. Certainly not from age discrimination. This is from Wikipedia:

Long list of accomplishments at various places omitted, you can read those at the article. Then:

"In June 2002,[1] Reid (age 53) became director of operations at Google. His only written review was from Wayne Rosing, which was positive. In October 2003 he was moved to a program with no funding and no staff, while his former duties were taken over by Urs Hölzle, who was 15 years younger. He was fired by Larry Page (who was 30 at the time) in February 2004, after being told he was not a "cultural fit" by Rosing, and that his ideas were "too old to matter" by Hölzle, according to Reid.[13] It was nine days before the company's initial public offering (IPO) was announced, allegedly costing him 119,000 stock options with a strike price of $0.30,[12] which would have been worth approximately $10 million at the $85 IPO price. Reid estimated that given later appreciation, his unvested stock options would have been worth at least $45 million if he had stayed there.[14]"

The lawsuit was settled out of court with undisclosed terms. I would guess that for every Brian Reid, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who do not have the money or persistence to go through legal battles like his.

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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by AlphaLess » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:06 pm

mouses wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:22 pm
tjhar wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:01 am

I think it's important to distinguish between tier-1 tech (which is where I want to be) vs normal tech. So some example of tier-1 tech is: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, Dropbox, etc.

I know outsourcing is a plague in tech, but does it happen at the tier-1 tech level?
tier 1 is not insulated. Certainly not from age discrimination. This is from Wikipedia:

Long list of accomplishments at various places omitted, you can read those at the article. Then:

"In June 2002,[1] Reid (age 53) became director of operations at Google. His only written review was from Wayne Rosing, which was positive. In October 2003 he was moved to a program with no funding and no staff, while his former duties were taken over by Urs Hölzle, who was 15 years younger. He was fired by Larry Page (who was 30 at the time) in February 2004, after being told he was not a "cultural fit" by Rosing, and that his ideas were "too old to matter" by Hölzle, according to Reid.[13] It was nine days before the company's initial public offering (IPO) was announced, allegedly costing him 119,000 stock options with a strike price of $0.30,[12] which would have been worth approximately $10 million at the $85 IPO price. Reid estimated that given later appreciation, his unvested stock options would have been worth at least $45 million if he had stayed there.[14]"

The lawsuit was settled out of court with undisclosed terms. I would guess that for every Brian Reid, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who do not have the money or persistence to go through legal battles like his.
I agree that there is rampant age discrimination in tech.

However, one example does not serve as proof for that.
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Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by APB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:38 pm

Been working in "Tier 1 tech" for a while, and have a lot of exposure to those on the academic side as well. Couple themes that I'm seeing claimed here with my thoughts.

1) Researchers are underpaid relative to tech

This does seem to be true. But, generally when people are paid less, it boils down to preferences and trade-offs. Some of my family are research faculty and find their work deeply fulfilling in a way that I find far less common in the private sector. But if your work is not very fulfilling now, I can understand why you'd trade up in salary.

2) Tech is risky because of, a) outsourcing, b) age discrimination c) industry is more volatile


Ultimately, these are just great reasons to live below your means, invest the difference, and reach financial independence earlier to derisk. But I don't think these factors are uniquely bad in your situation.

a) Tech offers massive scale, as you can build one thing and sell it to millions. As a data scientist you would likely be most utilized in making data informed product decisions. I'd imagine people will want that type of role in the same office as their engineering and product teams for a long time.\

b) This is a risk everywhere, but I do believe it's correlated with how competitive the organization is. "Tier 1 tech" pays for top talent, for the duration you remain top talent I can't see it being overly risky. But maintaining your talent requires staying on top of skills in the engineering / ML / data science world. I do agree with your sentiment that, should you someday become less desirable, you can move down a tier, either within industry or to a less competitive industry and remain employed. Though I have no experience navigating this.

c) All industries carry risk. Look at manufacturing, oil, coal, construction. It does not seem self-evident to me that a career in tech is riskier than any other industry, which can also face a secular decline. But if it ends up the case, you can probably move to other industries.

All in all, working in tech is a pretty solid balance in quality of life vs. earnings. You appear to have a strong justification, I would just encourage you to think through all the factors people have listed here, and if you are comfortable with them, and can land a job at a good tech firm paying in the $200K range, make the leap.
My posts represent my own opinion and do not constitute financial advice. I am simply a hobbyist. :)

rich126
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Re: Career Move: Please convince me why I should not work in tech

Post by rich126 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:50 am

I have an EE degree and have done a variety of technical work (hardware, software, DSP, computer security) over the years. Mostly in a government or defense contracting world which is different from the Googles, Microsofts, etc. We've had people go from the government to those companies and have excelled (few if any ever come back).

I'd agree with the one person who mentioned management, especially lower level, usually get laid off first. Usually companies want to keep the tech people because they are billable and/or are making the products that bring in the money.

Also if you keep aware of your company and watch/observe things usually you should know ahead of time when things may get rough. I think too many people ignore the world around them and then they are shocked at getting laid off when they shouldn't have been.

For example I was at one company and we had a meeting (I guess you could call it an all-hands meeting) where they discussed things. The VP kept talking about needing to be more efficient and then when asked about changes due to losing some proposals, he said "I don't think we need any changes". That was a danger moment to me since he clearly didn't understand changes had to be made (hey, when you are losing work but refuse to change, that isn't good).

Right after that I starting looking elsewhere. Within ~6 months some people were getting laid off and then benefits started getting cut. I had left by the time the benefits were getting cut. Now it turns out I was probably safe (I still meet up with one of the managers there for lunch) but it wasn't the environment I wanted to be in and I need to plan for another 10 yrs of work.

And while there are a number of people with technical degrees many exhibit poor problem solving skills and obviously were only capability of memorizing enough stuff to get a degree.

If you are really talented you can find work and do well since any strong manager loves to have someone they can give a task to and know the person will do it well with minimal supervision. It makes manager lives much easier. And that is true in almost any field.

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