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1) People say you learn a lot more in a startup than in a BigTechCo. I don't think this is true: I've gotten far more skills during BigTechCo stints than at startups. YMMV.

2) A new grad at a startup gets, what, $100k in salary and some equity? If we're talking a three year stint at a startup, you're effectively asking a worker to invest ~$500k in exchange for that hypothetical equity. In the broadest strokes (obviously everything depends on the deal), what kind of equity does an angel get for half a million dollars, and how does it compare to the amount of equity the new grad gets? And it bears pointing out that that new grad equity is subject to all kinds of games and deception. Of course, the usual response is "you just have to be smart enough not to be scammed!" Perhaps, but I know tons of people (including myself) who are apparently just too dumb not to be scammed but are still smart enough to be gainfully employed at a safe job.




I've worked with startup employees who knew 15 technologies - all of them poorly. They had zero best practices because it was go fast 24/7. It was guys right out of school thrown right into the mix so they didn't get the guidance of more senior devs.


I just made a move to a small (~1000 people company) from Google and I feel you. The code quality is terrible, they do not write maintainable/modular code and worse, they do not do design. They suffer from this(there is always another corner case that they did not take into account because they did not communicate well with the customer) but they still do not take any steps towards the right direction.


What made you think that Google does design? In my experience, what they do at Google, is talk about the overall idea of what they are going to do, but they never did design, they never analyzed tradeoffs, and they never estimated project costs or long-term implications of the crap they threw at walls, at Google. They just pretended to do design, at Google.


What sector is the small company? Why did you decide to move there from google?


It's in finance/trading. I only worked for 2 of the FANG where I focused on tiny optimizations of an infrastructure software (where a couple percent improvement would directly result in a promo). I wanted to build something from scratch but did not want to move to a startup (because of the issued mentioned in the post). Now I am designing a new system for this company and I will lead the implementation of the project as well. This is like working for a startup (with all the good and bad sides) except I still make FANG level (even higher) income.


It’s even worse, because when you leave after 3 years, you have to pay to exercise those options and then pay the taxes on them. And then hope they end up worth something someday.

Fuck that.


How do you come to $500k? Wouldn't that require that the new grad would be able to get a $266k job at a larger company? That doesn't seem particularly realistic.


Rough numbers, but I'm thinking roughly $200k, $230k, $260k. It's an order of magnitude estimate, take that for what it's worth. If the new grad is instead investing $300k, the calculus remains about the same.


I think it's fair to say that someone who can get that sort of job right out of college probably should. However, I'm not sure that the vast majority of engineers can do that.


When I started at Google my first three full years were $213k, $233k, $287k (https://www.jefftk.com/money). Some of this was stock growth (which is not guaranteed and I was lucky there) but I think this sort of pay is reasonably typical for people who are considering a FAANG offer.


You didn't join straight out of school.


Whoops, thanks! I'd missed that!

I don't think that had a large effect on my compensation, if any: I joined at L3, which is what most new grads are hired at, and my salary before Google was low enough that I don't think it pushed up my offer at all. I also didn't get offers from multiple places, which is the sort of thing that (a) results in higher offers and (b) is the sort of thing new grads usually do.

But ideally someone hired right out of school would be up for sharing their comp?


Mind sharing what your rent was during those 3 years? The best figure would actually be comp minus taxes and rent.

edit: Oh, I see you were in Boston -- that's a great deal then. I still wouldn't want to work for Google for idealogical reasons, but I can see why the money would attract others. You also had ~9 YEARS of full time experience at that point, which makes it a lot less impressive.


I'm in Boston, and our rent was about $1100/month for a couple. Rents are higher now (https://www.jefftk.com/p/boston-rents-over-time) and we have kids now.

Taxes would be higher but we donate 50% of our income (https://www.jefftk.com/donations) so I'm not sure how you'd count that?

Also, I didn't have ~9 years of full time work when I started at Google, I had 3.5. My first full time programming job started fall 2008, and this was Spring 2012.


If you were making 60k+ through your college "internships," I would put them at the same level as full-time work. My first college internship was $9/hour with no benefits, and it lasted 6 weeks...

Also, donations are discretionary, so you wouldn't count them at all -- you would just count your salary minus your tax rate (not counting deductions, so that the average Joe can get some context).


If you look back at https://www.jefftk.com/money you'll see I wasn't earning more than $12/hr until my first programming job in fall 2008.


He had 3.5 years of experience and those salaries are from 2012-2015. Skilled new grads can pull more than that nowadays.


Perhaps there is overlap between the person who can successfully create and grow a company, and someone who can get that job out of college.


Yeah $300k is probably more accurate for 3 years.




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