SWE jobs career advice

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SB1234
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by SB1234 »

workingmanblues wrote: Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:10 pm.
I have thought of AI and ML etc, even got half way through a Coursera course on it. I have an advanced degree in EECS from a top university, but frankly if I can't pass all the regular coding rounds as it stands, I am not sure how I will do trying to code stuff for AI ML that I have learned recently, probably in a new language like python (that I have some familiarity with, but not as much as java). I recently interviewed for a robotics job where they started quizzing me in python, and it was not good. I have written python, and can figure it out, but in an interview context with someone breathing down my neck, not so much. And besides, not sure I want to constantly be wrangling with various indexes and summations and subscripts and superscripts to make a living anyway. Same thing with robotics: love the field, but have no recent experience with modern c++. I used to do a lot of c++ 20-25 years ago, but that's no good. Again, being held back by the idea that if I can't do well in java, then no chance I will do anything in a new langauge.
One suggestion is to try and learn python well, even if just for interviews. I say this because from experience I have realized that using python for these interview type/leetcode questions is very convenient. Solutions are very concise and generally performance issues are quickly evident. So you really have to focus on the DS and algos, which is what everyone focuses on during the interviews for SWE now. Also most interviewers will know it.
anecdotes are not data
bling
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by bling »

oldfort wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:50 pm Because the 4-star general hasn't done sentry duty in 30 years ago. Analogies only get you so far, but in tech, you wouldn't want some exec who hasn't written a line of code in 20 years to fill in some software developer position.
the army analogy also doesn't really work well in this context because cognitive decline and physical decline are not anywhere near the same. there are absolutely things that only a young solider can do that an older general physically cannot. it's not the same in engineering.

i've seen people leave management positions and go back to coding all the time. all they have to do is pass all of these coding interviews. this is probably one of the easiest industries to go from management back to individual contributor.
visualguy
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by visualguy »

When out of a job, it's too late, but when you still have your job, it seems generally (but not always) better to put the time and energy into keeping that job or getting promoted rather than being thrown into becoming a student studying for oral exams in your 50s...

At that age, you need to leverage connections and expertise, and avoid competing with masses of people on study and performance on tests for generic SWE positions which can be done by people who are just a few years out of school.

As to being hired as a manager - I don't recall seeing individual contributors from another company being hired as managers at the companies that I worked for. Managers were promoted internally, or hired from other companies where they were already managers.
mighty72
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by mighty72 »

I kind of agree with visualguy. I have been in tech for almost 20 years now and never seen an individual contributor hired as a manager from outside. But you have management experience. If this experience was recent, make sure that your LinkedIn and resume highlights the management experience. if it was more than 5 years ago or less than 3 years as a manager then I think SRE/Project Management might give you a better shot if you have done something like that.
ML/AI Coursera course is a waste of time for you. If hiring company can find someone who has AI/ML degree or work-ex, why would they hire you?
It is not always about writing the code; the interviewer is also looking at how you think, interact, etc. This is more true for top tier companies as they get more than enough great coders through for interview. Other area is system design; how you present data & ask questions is more important than the final solution.
One thing I can suggest is that spend some time prepping. Decide if you want a management role or SWE and apply for only one w/ custom resume.
You can Google for interview prep platforms that can arrange mock interviews with folks who work for FAANG and similar companies. The feedback from these might help you figure out what is missing.
bling
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by bling »

visualguy wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 4:27 pm When out of a job, it's too late, but when you still have your job, it seems generally (but not always) better to put the time and energy into keeping that job or getting promoted rather than being thrown into becoming a student studying for oral exams in your 50s...
it depends on your priorities. if you're the type of person who wants more responsibilities with experience, then yes, putting in the time at one company will give you the best chance of achieving that.

but there's an alternative path which is better in many ways -- the perpetual senior engineer path. you purposely stop at senior engineer and never take on any management. these people are always in demand, because you always need strong people to take marching orders. job hop every 2-3 years and you will a) never have dull skills, as you always need to be up to date to interview successfully, and b) get compensation aligned with current market rates.

your compensation will obviously peak earlier if you do this. but who cares? even entry level salaries pay enough to let you max out your 401k and IRA every year for 20 years. you can still retire early in your 40s. at senior level salaries, you can retire early very comfortably. the OP is already in this camp. he's saved enough and now just wants something to do to avoid being bored.
bufo
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by bufo »

I just started my first FAANG job at 40. Previously, I've been at small companies. It was the first time I've interviewed in 5 years, and things have really changed. In my past job interviews, the most I prepared was two weeks before the onsite. This time I wanted to try FAANG, so I did a bunch of research and youtubing. Going on teamblind.com really helped me figure out what people are expecting on interviews, (and made me realize how much more everyone else is making).

I prepared for about 6 months doing mostly Leetcode medium. I solved about 300 problems (easy 96, medium 200 and hard 5). I made a spreadsheet that tracked each problem that I solved. I wrote down how long it took and sometimes a short note. My goal was to solve medium problems in 25 minutes. I also did mock interviews with a friend which really helped.

I had phone interviews with 6 companies and 4 of them gave me an onsite interview. I received offers from 2 companies, but 1 of them actually rescinded their offer so I just accepted the 1 offer I had. I think with Covid the competition for jobs is pretty tough. I'm a very average engineer. I grinded and got lucky too. I had a former co-worker who got let go earlier this year and is a few years older than me. He told me he struggles with coding interviews, but he was able to land a principal engineering level job at a small company. I think luck has a lot to do with it.
Sourc3
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by Sourc3 »

Going to FAANG from a lab environment and competing with kids who code 10-12 hours a day doing leetcode is hard. I am at one of those companies and I can tell you that even 23 year olds try multiple times to get in.

Blanking out is ok. It happens. You won’t be forgiven for blanking out on a simple problem but you can re apply.

As some other poster mentioned, you may have to lower your expectations and go to a slower moving heavily regulated industry such as finance or healthcare where you’re part of the IT department where 90% of work is basic CRUD with different rules. Especially internal apps that employees use have user bases in the hundreds.


You can still make a decent salary and bonus but frankly not coming from a FAANG makes it harder to go to another FAANG, especially when you’re expected to be a very senior IC given your industry experience.
RetiredCSProf
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by RetiredCSProf »

This title is confusing to someone like me -- Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
visualguy
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by visualguy »

bling wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 7:08 pm
visualguy wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 4:27 pm When out of a job, it's too late, but when you still have your job, it seems generally (but not always) better to put the time and energy into keeping that job or getting promoted rather than being thrown into becoming a student studying for oral exams in your 50s...
it depends on your priorities. if you're the type of person who wants more responsibilities with experience, then yes, putting in the time at one company will give you the best chance of achieving that.

but there's an alternative path which is better in many ways -- the perpetual senior engineer path. you purposely stop at senior engineer and never take on any management. these people are always in demand, because you always need strong people to take marching orders. job hop every 2-3 years and you will a) never have dull skills, as you always need to be up to date to interview successfully, and b) get compensation aligned with current market rates.

your compensation will obviously peak earlier if you do this. but who cares? even entry level salaries pay enough to let you max out your 401k and IRA every year for 20 years. you can still retire early in your 40s. at senior level salaries, you can retire early very comfortably. the OP is already in this camp. he's saved enough and now just wants something to do to avoid being bored.
Sounds like way too much torture in his 50s just for something to do to avoid being bored...

Regarding retiring early in your 40s - yes, it is possible with current big tech compensation packages. You don't even need to hop every 2-3 years. However, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. It wasn't the case until the last 10-15 years. In the old days, you had to either have good equity in a successful startup, or climb to an executive position in a big company. SWEs in big companies were doing ok, but not great, and nothing like today. Who knows how long the current situation (which is historically anomalous for worker bees) will last.
humbledinvestor
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by humbledinvestor »

rk6 wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 10:03 am Suggest investigating doing some cloud computing certifications, specifically those related to s/w development and DevOps.
In the process of getting those certs you can strengthen your skills with the desired development languages and toolsets.
Getting a mid-level certification for AWS or Azure opens a few more doors in my experience.
100% agree. As an experienced SWE you can transition into a Solutions Architect at this point. The cloud certs will definitely will help.

AWS, Azure, GCP also hire Solutions Architects, Customer Engineers. This role doesn’t require coding per se but you skills will help land one of these roles.
langelgjm
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by langelgjm »

It seems unrealistic to expect to go from [most of a career in a research lab, laid off from startup] to FAANG. Are you applying there just because recruiters send you that way? If you don't actually care about the name recognition, career boost, and ultra-high salaries (your financial situation means you don't really need the last item), why bother with the extreme competition for those jobs?

You mentioned recruiters and LinkedIn. Have you tapped into your personal network? Do you have contacts from your years in the lab, or from your startup job, people who have moved on to new places and could refer you?

Re: AI/ML - without a degree or experience in that area, Coursera won't cut it. The closest the typical SE comes to ML might be linear regression, anyway. AI/ML engineer roles are specialized.

If your interviews are leaning towards Python, you should learn enough Python to do interviews in it. You don't need to learn it well, just enough.

I'd find it strange if someone with your resume applied for a junior engineer role. I have no doubt you can get hired as a Senior SE somewhere.

Age discrimination is real. "Cultural fit" is often just a codeword for "this candidate isn't like the rest of us." On the other hand, you probably don't want to work somewhere where that's the attitude anyway.

Good luck!
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

OP has spent a couple of decades in an industry research lab. If he possesses an advanced degree, i.e., Ph.D., and has a number of peer-reviewed publications of high quality in respectful journals such IEEE, he may explore academic positions. Most of engineering work is at a quite low level compared to university research. Unfortunately the quality of IEEE publications is not what it used to be and much lower than those in physics. Quantity over quality.
jerrysmith
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Re: SWE jobs career advice

Post by jerrysmith »

I'd say you could probably land a non-FAANG gig pretty easily. There's a lot of good companies out there including many with full remote work now.
But product management would be a perfect landing spot for you with your skill set. Not sure of compensation but that likely varies by company.
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