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Ask HN: Do FAANG and hire designer developers?
12 points by thrawayUnicorn 51 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
Hi all,

For my entire career (15+ years) I’ve worked at startups as a designer who codes. I really enjoy the startup scene, wearing multiple hats, and shipping quickly.

The older I get though, the more the opportunity cost of not joining a FAANG type is weighing on my mind financially.

I’ve never applied to one of these companies, and while I know my skill set is incredibly valuable to startups where urgency and velocity are important, I’ve wondered if I could even be hired at a much larger company where urgency seems less critical, and roles seem more specialized… I’m sure I could apply as only a designer or front end dev, but I really enjoy both and would hate to give one up.

If you work at one of these companies, have you ever worked with a colleague who does both? or do you? And if so, how was the experience?

Thank you!

DISCLOSURE: I work for Amazon, and it's the only FAANG I've worked for.

In my experience, how much flexibility you have in your role varies drastically depending on where you land. I've worked in two different organizations in Amazon. One was beset by significant institutional inertia and therefore I had less freedom to exercise all of my talents.

The current team I'm is both is very new and it's the first time the something like this team has existed in my organization. So there's much more a start-up feeling, and I'm using a lot more of my skill set than I did previously.

Amazon is such a large company that no one can really speak of the 'Amazonian experience'. I've known people who had terrible jobs such as the posts you'll find on Blind. On the other hand, I decided on a Wednesday afternoon that I was taking a 4 day weekend for mental health reasons. My boss had no questions.

UX Engineer might be a good way to get your foot in the door. And then meet as many people as you can for 1-2 years. From there you can find new opportunities that better align with what you're super passionate about. It's what I did, and it's worked out for me.

The closest fit at Google that I’m aware of would be the UX Engineer role. From a current job posting (https://careers.google.com/jobs/results/86353428625662662-ux...):

As a UX Engineer, you'll work as part of a UX team in a challenging, fast-paced environment. You’ll demonstrate your creativity, analytical skills, and knowledge of user-facing technologies to create prototypes that identify the best product experiences, launch innovative features, build tools that accelerate UX teams, bridge between design and engineering discussions, and enable efficient, high quality execution.

I've worked at Google as a UX Engineer and really enjoyed the role. It's closer to coding than design but if you have strong design skills that may be something you can choose to do differently.

My job was best described as a prototyper specifically. Embedded in a UX team, I worked on prototypes of new features, prototypes for new research and internal tools to assist the UX team (for example, better visual design and motion specification for engineers).

My take was also that non-FAANG companies don't often have enough prototyping work for a full time prototyper so this is a role that's most often seen in large organizations.

Other than that, you won't see a lot of the role. If you're a designer and developer, you've spent time learning both disciplines. Many who have focused just on one discipline may have a greater skillset purely due to time spent learning and executing.

At the end of the day it all comes to down to the individual and the specific team. As a PM now, I greatly value engineers with an eye for UX and designers with an understanding of code which would make me more likely to hire you but the role would still be just for an engineer or a designer.

The role is called Design Technologist. Amazon has a good amount of them and they are starting to crop up in many more orgs. There is a real need for UX research and prototyping supplemented by prototypes actually built in code rather than just mocked up. There are ignorant people who will see your mixed skill set as “jack of all trades, master of none” but they are incorrect. There is demand for this exact skill set and it is increasing everyday.

UX engineer was mentioned here and that is typically a valid term for the role you describe too, this is what they are called at Google.

Similar to what others have said try design technologist or front end engineer at Amazon/AWS. UX Designers do a little bit of development work, but more along the lines of functional wireframes from what Ive seen. Happy to make an internal referral or put you in touch with someone in the role if you want to chat. To echo others a lot of the amazon experience is based on org or team, but internal transfers are EZ after 30 days so its low risk IMO.

Im a principal at AWS whos worked across a few areas over the years.

To be honest, it’s all a moot point if you can’t pass the interview. I would do that first.

If you've been in the computer world for 15 years, it shouldn't be particularly hard to get a job. I'd focus on finding an open position that you want, and then do interview prep. Interviewing isn't too demanding at Amazon, and I speak as someone who spent quite a bit of time as a lead technical interviewer (i.e., I was the hardest/most demanding interviewer for the job to which people were apply).

There are different parts to the interview. The technical part will depend on the specific job you’re interviewing for, and for developers, that might include some white boarding or shared coding environments. You’ll want to practice those. Maybe team up with someone to act as a practice interview partner. Then there’s a more social aspect to the interview. For this part, make sure you review all of the Leadership Principles. For each and every LP, come up with at least two or three different stories from your life where you encountered situations like the LP in question. Write those down, and present them in STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result — see https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/star-interview-format). If you can include links to web pages that describe the event, and especially what you did during the event, that may help. If you’ve done all this, then I think you would be well set for the interview. It will take four or five hours, and be done in a panel format, and if you don’t get the job after the interview, then maybe you dodged a bullet.

Disclaimer: I was recently hired by AWS, and the above is a description of basically what I did. However, your mileage may vary. Good luck!

Sorry, I should have included my disclaimer, but the system isn’t letting me edit my response.

Disclaimer: I was recently hired by AWS, and what I described above is basically what I did, and is based on the excellent advice given to new interviewees by the recruiters when you make first contact. I did not come up with this process on my own.

However, as always, your mileage may vary. Good luck!

I've seen front end developer folks on UX teams that do a blend of design work and quick mock/prototype development. We've also used them as consultants for the development teams for implementing final UI code.

One of the companies I worked for did. They would always make these vary pretty mockups that would be hell for people to use.

Information density is ugly and it makes software hard to sell. This is part of why commercial software is almost universally crap.

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