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The difference is whether you see learning to do meaningful things on a shoestring budget to be itself a useful skill.

Boeing won't care if you save the project $5k by spending a week of your time coming up with a clever workaround. The week was more important than the $5k. Same for a high level role generally. But not getting work done for a week because your boss won't approve a $500 purchase... that would be frustrating and get old fast.




> Boeing won't care if you save the project $5k by spending a week of your time coming up with a clever workaround.

I'm confused what you're getting at here. $5k/week is $260k/y (or a bit less counting vacations and holidays) and the fully-loaded cost of an engineer at a startup is typically more than that. Then consider how high opportunity costs typically are at startups, and I expect most startups would view your spending a week to avoid a one-time $5k expense to be a bad tradeoff.


Yes, but a week of delays costs the company like Boeing a lot more than just your salary, and they have deadlines to meet and other teams that need your project done.

I agree, most startups would view spending a week to avoid a one time $5k expense to be worth it for several years at least. That's why I'm saying the experiences are different.

If you're reading a judgment into my comment, there is none, I think doing super constrained engineering is super fun and an awesome skill to have. But I have also worked places that have the attitude of time being vastly more valuable than cash, and respect that both approaches are reasonable. Just different. But worst is when you're cash constrained to the point where even your clever workaround isn't possible to implement, even though it costs 10x less and is mission critical.


> I agree, most startups would view spending a week to avoid a one time $5k expense to be worth it for several years at least

Sorry, what I'm saying above is that I don't agree with that.


Ah, sorry, I misread you. Fair enough, raise to the level you feel is reasonable for your field. I just picked a number that I think is about right for people like me that don't code much.

I am also thinking more "angel+bootstrap+grant" funded startups rather than people already past a Series A; if there's 10 employees with a decent runway the calculation changes a lot versus 3 people getting something off the ground. I think the latter is more typical of a startup for the first several years.


I find that saving developer time or large amounts of money can be rewarded well in my position at a FAANG, you just need to save an amount commensurate to the opportunity cost.


"...save an amount commensurate to the opportunity cost."

Which can be a hell of a lot more than you expect. Like, don't bother spending two weeks to cut the CPU use of a service in half, if the service only uses 1k CPUs to begin with.


On the other hand, it seems like a savvy engineer could work that into a story to tell a Boeing interviewer about how they took the initiative to think outside the box and develop a solution that saved the day when the team was under a time constraint.


If they solved a time constraint by being clever and working hard then clearly Boeing would care about that, I agree.

Saving $$ per unit and saving $$ total are so different. If all you're doing is saving $500 total, I wouldn't even care in most cases... but if you managed to use clever techniques to save $0.30 off the manufacturing cost for a toy that gets sold in the millions...

I most strongly agree with the ethical part of the article, in any event. I'm sick of companies trying to take advantage of their employees, it's just sad and gross to see it done by startups that could be better than big companies in at least this one way. But instead they take it even further somehow because their finances are far more opaque. I don't think it should be up to noblesse oblige to determine whether distribution of profits and salaries are fair, it should be assumed to be the rule even if there may be exceptions.

It's a sad day when you look at employment agreements from Intel and a shiny startup and find that Intel is more up front and transparent about how things will work and what you'll get paid.


>noblesse oblige

I think the course of events in the USA in the decades since the 50s has essentially answered the question of what happens if you leave it up to the most fortunate to decide how to treat the least fortunate.


Sometimes the people who are best at "working stories up for interviewers" don't always feel the need for there to be any truth behind those stories...




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