Glorification of SWE/Tech
I’m relatively new to WSO, and I’ve found that a lot of people here tend to glorify SWE. They argue that being an entry-level SWE comes with better hours than IB/S&T/ER, equivalent pay to IB/better pay than S&T/ER ($189K all-in entry-level comp at Google, $166K at Facebook, $151K at), and a more stimulating, less “busywork”-laden work life.
The catch? Just some more glorification:
“You have to be a genius to break into SWE”
While I recognize that there are ample benefits to pursuing a career in software, I don’t think it is as simple as the “if you can, then you should” mantra that people on WSO (and at my engineering-heavy) target espouse. As an engineer working in ER after considering tech, here are a few of my insights:
• Software Engineering isn’t more “interesting” or “intellectual” than ER:
In ER, you write reports, build models, synthesize economic research, advise clients, and follow markets — it is dynamic, multifaceted, and creative, and piques the interest of the layman and the expert alike. In SWE, the work tends to be more “abstracted” from the tangible — you write and review code that often pertains to a specific feature of a specific product; a process that a popular post here described as “myopic”, if not robotic and one-dimensional. What’s more, as an entry-level ER, you contribute substantially to the final product, and your impact is realized. In SWE, that’s far from the case. I don’t know why so much of WSO brushes the question of whether a career is actually enjoyable under the rug.
• Software Engineering does not have long-run growth potential superior to ER:
While comp in ER starts out slightly (but not that substantially) lower than comp for entry-level coders at FAANG, by the time one reaches associate, they’re already earning more than their peers in FAANG SWE. Further, exits from ER (HF or LO AM), and even superstar MDs in ER, can easily pull in seven figures, while an L7 engineer at Google (the highest level most engineers can expect to make over the course of their career) maxes out at 608K/year. The exits here — largely startup focused — are much riskier, and not necessarily closed to anyone coming from front-office finance.
• Software engineering is much more firm-dependent than ER:
In ER, as long as you place, you’re in great shape — whether you land at a Goldman or, or a or a Truist, you’ll still be clearing ~$125K right out of school, and be brushing up against $200 in a few years. In SWE, if you miss the boat on FAANG, Microsoft, or the big quant shops ( , , , ) — and most SWEs do, indeed, miss this boat — comp and exits drop off significantly. Hence, if you pursue SWE, you must worry about making it into a handful of small, selective firms. For ER, firm placement probably matters even less than for IB. Too many people on WSO make it seem easy to waltz into one of these top firms; it isn’t.
So on the whole, I really don’t understand the glorification of SWE. If you love coding, great, but if you don’t, I just don’t see why it’s worth forcing a switch-over.