Don’t Be a Google Software Engineer

Google software engineer

This is probably not what you would expect to hear from me. But I want to discuss the reasons you shouldn’t take a job at a big tech company. Why you don’t want to be a Google software engineer.

A large part of my job involves discussing what goals people have for their software engineer interviews. I hear the same answer over and over again. Everyone wants to work for one of the top 5 (it’s 5 now, not 4) FAANG companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and of course Google. Though these companies have a lot of great stuff going for them, they are far from perfect.

There are many reasons why you might want to work for one of these tech giants. Software engineers at these companies have great salaries and awesome perks. These companies have really big systems, so there is potential for you to work with huge amounts of data. These are all great reasons to work at FAANG companies, but there is another reason that I hear often that just makes me cringe. I think people are in for a rude awakening when they realize this last reason just isn’t going to happen.

The reason these people want to work for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.?

They want to change the world in some way.

Let me explain. Take Google’s self-driving cars. It would be really cool to work on a team to develop them, right? But here’s the problem. If you are a new college graduate, you are not going to be the one working on that team. Not a chance.

If you think about it, that’s a very small team within Google. Google probably has 50,000 software engineers at this point, and I guarantee you that a vast majority of those people are not working on self-driving cars. The people who are working on self-driving cars are the ones who studied this stuff for years. They studied autonomous vehicles, machine learning, and AI. They are the ones who have that very deep experience.

An average Google software engineer is not going to be working on this project. That is what makes it a bad reason to take the job.

Another example of this would be going to Facebook to work on their deep learning stuff, or AI. Again, it sounds really cool and it is for the people working on it. But that isn’t likely to be you unless you have specific experience in those areas.

The FAANG companies are all great businesses and it’s totally understandable if you want to work for one. Just keep in mind, without specific experience in any niche area, you will not be on the team working on a “world changing” project like the ones described above. If changing the world and making a huge impact is something you really long for, then maybe consider working for a smaller company. There are plenty of smaller companies that are focused on these specific areas and you’re much more likely to get to work closely on your chosen area.

If changing the world and making a huge impact is something you really long for, then maybe consider working for a smaller company. Click To Tweet

In my experience I went right out of college to a moderate sized company that had about 60 engineers and I got to work on major projects for that company. I can still go on their website and see specific pages that I coded all by myself. That’s a really cool feeling and I appreciated getting to have that experience. This is not an experience I would have gotten to have if I went to one of these bigger companies. Keep this in mind when you are determining who you want to work for. Sometimes the bigger companies are just not the best fit for every software engineer.

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Sam Gavis-Hughson

Sam Gavis-Hughson

Sam, founder of Byte by Byte, helps software engineers successfully interview for jobs at top tech companies. Sam has helped thousands of students through his blog and free content -- as well as 400+ paying students -- land jobs at companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Uber, and more.