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Ask HN: Should I jump to this new role?
6 points by throwaway_16180 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments
Hey HN. This is a throwaway account for obvious reasons. I've come to seek advice from you because you know so much and lived so much. Here's the thing - I graduated in comp. eng. 10 years ago. After college there weren't many jobs in my area and I had to stay near my family (lost a parent + had to take care after the other) so I started in marketing research/analytics while many friends went over to tech companies / FAANGs at other places. I liked the subject (quantitative, qualitative analysis) and stayed and here I am - at 30 I work as a manager for a big marketing research firm (think Nielsen/IRI/Kantar/IQVIA). I lead a small team and we run analysis with our data - which is collected from "offline" sources such as phone interviews, "online" such as respondents forms from apps or "transactional" such as bills/receipts. We even pay people to scan their emails. So far I'm happily employed, have a good relationship with the team, a good work-life balance and reasonable pay.

So what's not to like? Well, for starters, the company is "old" and mostly offline: when I have to code, I'll do it in R, locally - and each project is just a bunch of sequential scripts applying some method we agreed on. Methods are mostly old school stats. We don't have a cloud account, only physical servers, so I have no real cloud skills. We use an on-prem SQL Server and we can get by because it's small scale, small data - our research is based on tens of housands of people who agreed to give data on their purchases, media consumption and preferences/lifestyle choices (which we collect weekly) to us and this won't grow (it's an unbiased sample in terms of age/gender/annual revenue/family size from the populations of the countries we work on). Our clients - the big names in S&P 500 - hire us for specific questions and some continuous deliverables. Sometimes FAANGs and other techies will hire us for answering specific questions, but that happens when they either don't have the data we do, want to verify something they have little data or when they want to publish something with our name on it - right now, I'm working with Tiktok. Delivery is not a product, but a pretty report - we have a "self service platform" but if you added a custom, animated cursor and an autoplay MIDI file you'd make it look newer.

Some time ago an ambitious, talented coworker moved to this hot company in the gaming industry. Billions of downloads, millions of users globally. He asked me if I wanted to be contacted by them for some positions and after a few technical/behavioral rounds, they offered me a "Data Product Manager" role. I'd work in a small team helping build internal data products. They seem to have some great people there, including VPs from other hot companies.

I'm willing to go to get exposed to a pure digital company, get in touch with technical things I only read about here on HN, change to a "product" company that operates in another scale and sales are direct to consumers and not B2B with execs shaking hands. This seems like the good strategy for the long term, leave an old industry to a newer one. The position also gets stock options, which is something I don't have and could possibly make a difference down the road.

Finally, my question is: what am I missing? What sorts of risks are there? In my position, would you do the same (make the move)? I don't know a thing about the gaming industry, I just play Pokemon Go with my wife lol.

Apologies for the long text and thanks for reading.

Your reasons for considering changing jobs seem to mostly revolve around revering FAANGs and new tech and "hot companies", and very little to do with your life satisfaction.

What you should be looking at is what the role actually does, who is on the team, and interviewing some team members to see if you would enjoy the work and enjoy working with them.

Also, it seems like even though your current company is not far along in its digital transformation that you may be able to help propel it forward (e.g. putting some workloads on cloud) if you volunteer to take it on.

I wouldn't say revere, it's FOMO. My biggest fear is getting old and not capable of providing for my family due to not finding good jobs because I spent my time in the wrong track.

Regarding the role, I liked what I saw but it's very different so I'd have to learn a lot. The team seems very nice and has this ex coworker who I like a lot.

Finally, staying and helping with the transition would be a good thing, thanks for that.

There are at least two paths to financial security: staying in a job you have some tenure and security in, for lower return but build your security in the slow path for lower risk (everyone has at-will or redundancy or other loss of job risk)

Or, the fast path via high risk high return roles. But, at risk of faster exit, burn out.

Obviously there are middle paths too. How you describe those roles, and your own risk acceptance informs how you choose what to do, regarding future financial security.

Personally I didn't want high risk high reward. I took the slower path. Many friends did extremely well on the FAANG side. So, I don't wish to say it can't work, just that the risk/reward ratio was not for me.

I don't think there is a perfect answer financially. It's possible to be happy frugal and sad wealthy. "Enough" is very contextual. Some days I think I overachieved because i am ahead of the mean. Most days I think I underachieved because I am aware of the potential I missed. That's FOMO I guess.

Your role, while technical, seems very much aligned to ad-tech/analytics/analysis. Is that true by any chance? That’s a lot more specialized role that has a lot of value in a variety of industries.

Yes, it's very aligned! Thank you for the positive comment, that's an angle I didn't look before.

Well you also need to ask yourself whether you still want to be in a tech role in your 40s. If not, then you might want to look at what industry / lines of business you'd like to be in and optimize your plans with that in mind.

That seems wise but very hard to do - think about what I'll want to do 10 years from now. Do you have any advice to share? Because frankly I've never even considered the thought of not working in a technical role.

It is different for everybody. When I was young, I was ambitious. Wanted to earn more money, drive a nicer car, date pretty women. I guess my changes in roles came about because I was willing to take risks and learn new things. I have always had a lot of other interests outside of engineering, e.g. music, stage production, screenwriting, languages, psychology, read masses of business books, learnt accounting, etc.

The gaming industry has a reputation for high levels of burn-out. Whilst the stock options might be nice, dilution and other effects are such that they generally end up being worth a lot less than you'd think and you typically need to pay large amounts of tax on the gains.

Reading your post, you seem to be disillusioned that your current environment is not the latest and you are enticed by the opportunity to work with the latest technologies. I also get the picture that you think that B2B is boring and that you think that B2C product companies are more trendy.

The question to ask yourself is: "Am I willing to disrupt my work-life balance. Learn some cool new tech. And find that the gaming industry is not for me. AND need to find a new job that is the happy medium between the two extremes that I am now facing. ?" ... and you'll probably need your wife's support for this adventure.

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