The Pros And Cons Of Being A Software Engineer At A BIGTech Company

A. What to expect in a BIG tech company as a software engineer

The biggest difference between software engineering roles at BIG companies is the product. Software is an integral part of any company’s product or platform. This necessity for software requires that each company has enough engineers. A BIG company will employ plenty of other engineers, and several thousand might be working on your particular product or project. As a software engineer, you’ll step into a robust infrastructure built for your success as a developer. Expectations will be clear, and protocol will be well structured and strictly adhered to. There will likely be a straightforward and established process for everything. Someone will always be available to review and help debug your code. There will be in-depth internal experts that will help you through any issues you might
face. Google is a great example of how a BIG tech company operates at scale. During an interview, a few Googlers briefed on the company’s development infrastructure. Part of that infrastructure was seamless code reviews. There was an internal tool where developers could ask other developers for a code review. If they needed equipment, a Google engineer could get whatever they needed from IT. Most of the time, the equipment was free. The free gear was to provide employees with a quick
turnaround so they could go produce their best work. At these BIG companies, you’ll be surrounded by technically adept people. You’ll meet a lot of brilliant software engineers who know their way around code like the back of their hands. You’ll also meet non-technical employees who know their way around code. For these tech giants, the software is the key, and
employees know that going in. This means that everyone needs to understand software enough to work with it. Non-technical employees won’t need to know how to code, but they may need to understand it at a conceptual level. Such tech giants can’t afford non-technical managers ideating unrealistic features. They don’t want communication and product inefficiencies between their engineers and everybody else. Facebook required product managers to complete a six-week coding boot camp. The raised knowledge standard helped the company in several ways, primarily that managers understood technical specifications. They ideated innovative and realistic features that engineers could jump on board with. Non-technical managers didn’t rush programmers out of ignorance. There was no loss of communication between stakeholders. Better yet, teammates had an aligned understanding of what needed to get done.
Because BIG firms need to hire so many engineers, they constantly compete for the best talent. This competition affects software engineering roles in several ways. Each of the tech giants will try to offer you the best work environment possible. This includes more than a robust development
infrastructure. The companies will also offer several perks—hefty salaries, free daily meals, paid offsites, and celebrity events. The competition will bring in the best of the best engineers, who will hold you accountable to produce the best work possible. BIG companies will measure you against their own intense internal performance programs. They design these programs to ensure all engineers are producing great work. If you don’t measure up, they’ll let you go. The ability to write clean, well-crafted
code with an emphasis on quality, simplicity, durability, and maintainability will be beneficial and desirable for such a demanding job role. Skills required are
• Familiarity with programming language.
• Understand how different algorithms work and their complexities.
• Being in touch with the up-and-coming technologies
• Creativity and innovative mindset
• Collaboration
In tech giants like Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, etc, the job roles of software engineers encompass a wide spectrum. They are completely responsible for a project from end to end – starting with planning, understanding client requirements, prioritizing the different aspects, designing flexible multi-dimensional projects, providing and incorporating design feedback, implementation, testing, and problem-solving. In BIG organizations, you’ll be able to develop a career plan/path for yourself, as well as the team members and mentors assist in achieving your goals.

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B. A brief overview of some tech leaders

Microsoft Corporation is a leading developer of PC, software systems, and applications. The company also publishes books and multimedia titles, produces its own line of hybrid tablet computers, offers email services, and sells electronic games systems and computer additional hardware. Microsoft is engaged in developing, licensing, and supporting a range of software products and services catering to different requirements.
As of mid-2021, Microsoft boasts 182,268 employees globally.
At entry-level, Microsoft SDE has approximately a $167K annual salary.
Microsoft Pro:
1) Greta organization with a really good employee group.
2) One of the most successful software companies on earth with multi-billion-dollar software businesses.
3) Very stable. They are not going out of business any time soon. They are super profitable.
4) They have offices all over the world. If you are young and want to travel, there is ample opportunity.
5) If you don’t like the product you are working on, pick another! They’ve got hundreds of product teams. Internal mobility is great and actively encouraged.
6) Microsoft has a relentless focus on shipping products. This is a great lesson to learn as a young software engineer. This is a business. You ship products or you are nothing. You will learn this at Microsoft.
Microsoft Con:
1) They are HUGE. Over 100K employees. You will be a very small cog in a very big machine.
2) Very Redmond-centric. If you really want to have a career at Microsoft you will eventually work in Redmond, at least for a time.
3) Full of “legacy” products. While products like Azure and the new mobile iOS apps are very interesting, most engineers at Microsoft work on very prosaic products like Word, Excel, or Windows. These are good solid engineering teams, but you are not going to invent the next iPhone on those teams.
4) Politics. The politics at MSFT can be cut-throat. This usually isn’t a problem for worker-bees but if you want to get into management, keep your knives sharp and watch your back. Overall, Microsoft is a good place to work as a software developer.
Google LLC is an American search engine company, founded in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. More than 70 percent of worldwide online search requests are handled by Google, placing it at the heart of most web users’ experience. Google began as an online search firm, but it now offers more than 50 Internet services and products, from email and online document creation to software for cell phones and computers. In addition, its 2012 acquisition of Motorola Mobility put it in the position to sell hardware in the form of mobile phones. Google’s broad product portfolio and size make it one of the top four influential companies in the high-tech marketplace. As Alphabet, the company employs a total of almost 135 thousand full-time staff, in addition to many other temporary and internship positions. At entry-level, Google SDE has approximately $194K annual salary.
Google Pro:
1) At Google, the Software Engineers are the best-paid employees in the company, Even their software interns are some of the highest-paid in technology, earning more than $82,000.
2) Among many other luxurious benefits, Google employees can have three free gourmet meals every day. The eateries are often individually decorated in designer styles, where you can get healthy breakfasts and lunches – as well as a free dinner if you have to work late. There are also juice and coffee bars spread throughout the campuses.
3) Many Google offices are animal friendly. The most extreme example is their California office which makes use of goats to keep their lawns neatly grazed, but many other offices also encourage their staff to bring their dogs to work, to improve wellbeing. Another initiative also provides pushbikes to ride around the Google Campus in an eco-friendly way.
4) Google has a highly experienced team of doctors and nurses on the payroll, who will be working to help keep you healthy and happy – so maybe you won’t get away with taking a sickie quite so easily! They also have travel insurance and health coverage not only for their employees but for families too.
5) Dogfooding is the concept of internally sharing new technology and developments, often before releasing them into the wider user community. Not only does this give Googlers a clear view of the development roadmap, but it also allows members of staff to contribute to shaping new products by providing feedback.
6) After-death benefits are great perks too. Your stock options instantly vest, your spouse will receive half of your salary for another 10 years, and there is another $1,000 in benefits for your children.
Google Con:
1) When you work for one of the biggest organizations in the world, your employer can easily afford to select the best – which makes for a highly competitive environment. When you work alongside some great talent, competition will be pretty much inevitable.
2) You are “encouraged” (pushed) to commit to self-improvement as well as expand your skills. Some might see this as an imposition on their time, but it is simply part of life in today’s everchanging work environment – especially in technology – and many businesses have adopted a
similar culture.
3) Google is known to promote staff as a result of product launches rather than as a reward for incremental improvements. Of course, in reality, most software developers will be involved in code improvement and bug fixing, yet the incentive scheme is not generally geared towards taking that
into account.
4) Many modern American companies have developed a contrived culture of lingering at work. Ambitious, new or young talent may end up hanging out at the office outside of work hours, often working or learning. This can develop into peer pressure to spend a lot of time at the office.
5) One of the alleged downsides to working on development projects in one of Google’s remote teams is that flagship products are known to consistently be moved over to Mountain View (Google HQ)
6) The limited supervision of individual staff can be a double-edged sword. While there is a great deal of freedom and minimal unnecessary involvement from superiors (as long as you get your work done), some may also experience a lack of guidance as everyone is expected to be self-reliant and a self-starter.
7) As a developer at Google, you will be expected to use a set of unique toolsets. Although these are highly specialized and efficient, this means that you can basically forget to rely on many of the tools and skills you’ve learned from previous work experience. Equally, you may face another challenge when you move from Google to another employer and no longer have access to these tools and facilities.
Tuple Technologies:
A tuple is a complete customer growth engine powered by proprietary Predictive AI technology. It leverages automation to unify data, find profitable deals, predict customer behavior, target customers, and finally drive purchases. By using Predictive Big Data technology, Tuple Technologies suggests a beneficial course of action which generates more revenue and reduces costs. It is one of the leading customer acquisition and growth platforms in the SEA region. The organization employs a small number of employees, about 200 people work at Tuple Singapore.
At entry-level, Tuple SDE has approximately $11.8K annual salary.
Tuple Pro:
1) The remuneration is comparatively high among its peers in Singapore. Also, there are surprise rewards for a job well done.
2) The company was founded in 2016, hence the workforce employed is mostly the younger generation. With peer groups being fresh-minded youth, tuple boasts a dynamic work culture and experimentation environment.
3) Since the organization is small compared to other BIG players, you get an opportunity to work.
with the founders directly on projects. This provides you a chance to learn from them, their thoughts, and their business goals.
4) Tuple Tech believes in educating and upskilling its employees. Hence there is a lot of
educational sessions, interactive sessions, and up-skilling programs.
Tuple Con:
1) Tuple Tech employs a small number of people. Though they are extremely talented and skilled, the teams are very small which inevitably leads to huge work pressure.
2) Tuple products involve the now-and-happening. With their automation-based products, while cutting edge tech, the organization lacks long-term plans and goals.
3) Projects are assigned pretty randomly. T this point in time, what needs attention is worked on. This causes frequent jumps between projects.
4) The front-end teams and back-end teams do not have streamlined coordination. It can get very confusing for a new entrant in the organization.
NCS Group is a multinational information technology and communications engineering company headquartered in Singapore. Founded in 1981, NCS employs 9600+ employees. NCS operates like a typical hierarchal company. Colleagues are very friendly. Work-Life balance depends on individual projects and teams. NCS mostly works on government projects that directly impact everyday life in Singapore – something that you can be proud of. NCS is a leading technology services firm, operating
across the Asia Pacific, providing services and solutions in consulting, digital, technology, cybersecurity, and more. At entry-level, NCS SDE has approximately a $10K annual salary.
NCS Pro:
1) The management is very active and practices what they preach. The senior leaders walk the talk to ensure that staff is cared for, valued, and developed to the best of their abilities. NCS sees itself playing a crucial role in building our communities and improving the lives of Singaporeans. It has been an exciting and purposeful new chapter whether you are a fresh
graduate or mid-careerist.
2) NCS provides an abundant career path and development opportunities in the company. Everyone will find a path they aspire in.
3) The staff benefit is good. The organization provides discounts and rebates for Singtel products. The company takes employee health care seriously and has an in-company clinic. There are also provisions for gym and entertainment facilities.
4) Project-based rotations allow for exposure to different business domains and utilize different skill sets (ETL/Dashboarding/Consulting). Under the NUCLEUS program, the company sponsors the Master of Technology degree from NUS, which helps to enhance technical
abilities and competencies in the end-to-end data analytics processes. Most of the projects are Govt based on projects therefore technologies are specific to them.
NCS Con:
1) The organization is stable and has a long legacy. However, the pay is lower than the market compared to other companies.
2) Being a dynamic organization, work-life balance often depends on the project timeline and deliverables. Fast pace requires swift adaptation to the project environment depending on the nature of the scope, which may not always be possible for you as an engineer.
3) It is indeed true that NCS is demanding, but it is a place for someone who is passionate about technology, who has resilience and drive, and who finds purpose in contributing to our communities, to shine.
4) Working hours are long and vary based on the projects.
Grab Holdings Inc., commonly known as Grab, is a Southeast Asian technology company headquartered in Singapore and Indonesia. In addition to transportation, the company offers food delivery services and digital payment services via mobile applications. Grab currently operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is Southeast Asia’s first decacorn and the biggest technology startup in the region. Grab has 36K+ employees across 11 locations. At entry-level, Grab SDE has approximately a $19K annual salary.
Grab Pro:
1) As a rising and growing startup, Grab boasts an excellent work culture with collaborative teams to encourage self-growth and professional growth.
2) Grab is one of the best organizations to learn your trade. The company always welcomes fresh minds and fresher perspectives, so if you are interested to work and learning, this is the place for you.
3) Work flexibility is available and teams are very supportive.
4) Employee benefits are good, medical benefits, Flexi-dollars, decent working environment. Managers are striving to care about employees.
Grab Con:
1) Some teams’ cultures are reportedly a little bit toxic. It involves lots of unnecessary competition over peers which made the whole team extremely busy.
2) Employees are forced to do more outside of their duties due to peer pressure and are forced to come to offices more than their assigned times due to peer pressure.
3) A lot of internal stakeholder management, most of your time is spent doing decks for internal use. There is some lack of focus as an organization in terms of planning and alignment.
4) The teams try to do too many things at once and one-up each other.

C. Comparing the situation in a BIG company vs a not-so BIG company

For a software engineer in an a-not-so BIG company, you’ll have more opportunities to add value. These opportunities are due in part to there not being as many developers. This means you’ll be able to bring fresh new ideas to your industry, possibly ones that could disrupt the industry. Another way you can add value is by automating tasks for the rest of the company. Whether it’s reporting or machine learning, you’ll have an open door to get started. Others will begin to recognize you for your ability to
add value through software. Management may take notice and promote you faster than if you were to work at a small company. There will be far fewer developers at a small company. In some ways, this scarcity may be disconcerting, but it may offer a potential way to add massive value. Another distinct difference for software engineers is that you’re seen as a liability, whereas BIG companies would view you as an asset. The company will view you like every other business function. You’re an expense th
has to prove itself every year, sometimes every quarter. Because of this, a company outside the software industry is likely to pay you less. The company will want to pay the direct contributors first. This group may be project managers, auditors, or even account executives. But if your software isn’t a key driver for revenue, don’t expect to earn a hefty salary. Outside of software-driven industries, you may be more likely to work with temporary employees. Companies often want to integrate software into their business but are not willing to pay for a full-time developer. If you end up working in an a-not-so BIG organization, you’ll see fewer developers and less support from non-technical staff, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to add massive value.

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