Hey, I get it. You’re about to graduate as a prestigious computer engineering student from a well-known university, and you have your pick of a dozen companies to begin a career that’s been glamorized to revive the economy and make millionaires out of anything remotely close to a tablet or phone. There are more jobs created in the valley now as there has ever been, and skill in software is valued and rewarded moreso now than ever before.
But before you giggle over your new six-figure salary and pick out a Porsche from your unvested equity, some things to consider as you’re entering the industry:
- Consider the amount of new things you could learn, not just from opportunities to play with new technologies, but much more importantly from access to mentors and other senior people. Anybody can find and install the newest and latest language/framework/toolkit, but the wisdom and experience of senior developers (and their inclination to share with you) are the true lessons you should be trying to learn.
- Consider the opportunities for movement, both horizontally and vertically as you grow in skill and reputation. You probably won’t want to be doing the same thing 5 years from now (or perhaps even in the same company), so you want to find something that gives you that flexibility and career advancement.
- Consider how the company is organized around the engineering. (at least of Google and Square, this is mostly true) As an engineer, you don’t exist in a vacuum with other engineers on your team; you have to interact with other teams, designers, product folks, business people, and once in a while, executives. How the company works as a collection of differently skilled groups is going to determine what it’s able to build.
- Consider the people working there around your own age. Particularly for new grads, the people they usually end up hanging out with are the people they get along with at work. The friends that you make on your first job can grow to be lifelong buddies.
- Consider the networking you’d receive while doing your job. If you do good work, your colleagues will remember you, especially when they move on to new opportunities. This matters more if you’d want to be an early employee/cofounder at some point at a potentially hot startup, but also if you want an inside track at a bigger company.
I’m trying something slightly different, in repurposing some of my Quora answers onto this blog and dispersing it to a wider audience. The original question and answer is here.