Tech misconceptions

Hello all, I am a tech worker at a large semi startup (Think post ipo high growth like datadog). I have been in the industry as a SWE for 6 years now, and I previously had the dilemma of tech vs finance that many on here have(and most hate) and I just wanted to provide my 2 cents on some of the misconceptions in tech. So far, I've had 3 jobs. One at FAANG, one at a super small startup, and one here now. 

  1. Tech isn't just for superstar smart people. Yes, you have to be capable at your job, but realistically anyone can succeed at coding and not just be competent, but even excel. It's just problem solving skills, and I'm sure most people here who were dedicated enough to get a job on Wall street can definitely land a job coding.

  2. Getting a job at FAANG isn't really that hard. RN there's difficulty due to the layoffs, but soon enough hiring will come back full swing. These jobs are way easier to get than any IB job, as I've never needed to do heavy networking or have multiple sequenced internships just to get an offer. To give some context, there's probably more tech workers just at FAANG than there are IB workers in the entire US

  3. The comp ceiling is just straight up a lie. Yes, you can teeter out at 300k a year, just like you can teeter out at 300k in finance. Many of the comp figures you see are from average tech workers mid career, however you can easily beat these numbers. A lot of people think your career ends at swe l7, and for many that would be the pinnacle, but for many that's not where they want to be. Most of the l7's I've worked with have self selected themselves into those roles, as they want to code for a living and not deal with management and business problems. Many of these people got into the industry because they love it, and they chose not to advance further. However, as a senior swe it becomes fairly easy to move into management and eventually up to roles like cto, coo, or svp of random ass divisions no ones ever heard of or used in their lives. In these roles you can get massive equity grants not to stay, but rather just to not leave.

  4. The shortage in tech is real and very much isn't going away. We've had positions that get posted at a salary range, and we have to increase pay by over 50% just to get some solid applicants. Filling roles is still extremely difficult which is a major reason why swe pays so much.

  5. No, I don't work 5 hours a week, but I also don't work 80 hours a week. The way tech works is very much "When it's done, it's done" type of mentality, so if you can complete a task in 1 hour while others take 5, you'll just work 20% of the time that other person will. Also, you really don't need to bust ass to get promoted; realistically you just need to produce solid work and standout in other ways. Also, it's very workplace dependent as culture plays a huge hand in how much you work (Everyone knows about terrible amazon culture, and they'll even drain your equity grants) 

  6. The comparison between ib and swe is dumb, but the comparison between tech and finance isn't. IB and SWE have drastically different skillsets and interests, and realistically the 2 shouldn't be compared as it's like comparing a consultant and a doctor. As for finance and tech, there's roles in the 2 with a great deal of overlap. In finance you have quants and backend engineers building out the platforms for these companies, while at tech firms you have corp dev, corp finance, and product management. Comparing corp dev to working in IB makes sense, as the 2 overlap directly in what you want, and I think this site does a good job of making sure people aren't endlessly comparing roles with drastically different skillsets.

Hopefully I spread some light onto this, and if anyone would like to correct my misconceptions about finance or ask any questions about tech, please feel free. 


For me it was a matter of entrepreneurship later down the line. I always knew I wanted to start a business later down the line(what I'm planning once I leave current job) and I figured engineering would give me the best path to do so. I also didn't love the 100 hour banker hours, but I still deal with the same bureaucratic issues finance people do

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tell us your total comp or stfu

Started at 225k (130 base, 25 bonus, 70 average rsu per year) It's definitely higher than average for entry level but I had a lot of offers and I bounced them off each other to get the comp numbers I did. At the startup (15 <) I had about 100 total cash with equity total of about 175k a year, but that equity is worth a ton less due to valuation differences. They still aren't public, so no exit and I'm not planning on selling until I see a good price. Now I'm at 500k (225 base, 25k bonus, 250k equity). Overall my equity has an will continue to make up a large part of my compensation, so total numbers are difficult since stock price and market shifts change my equity amount, and since they're RSU's I couldn't sell even if I wanted to. If you want more raw data, is pretty reliable and usually accurate.


Probably should've explained this more in depth in the original post. Basically, at these top tech firms the fight to maintain and get talent is real, and it's hard. Many people will join these tech firms and rise up the ranks, gaining valuable knowledge. It's even more critical if these people were in early when these massive companies were still startups and struggling, making many mistakes along the way. During their times at these firms, these engineers gained a ton of knowledge which, if they were to join another firm or startup, could prove disastrous for the firm they currently work at. So, these top firms will give the early engineers a bunch of equity grants that expire a few years down the line to keep them from jumping ship, and these equity packages regularly go into the 8 figure range, and considering many of these equity grants came from top tech firms that grew so much, it's not outside the realm of possibility that some got into the 9 figure range(Met one such person working over that Adobe) 


What do you think about the AI takeover and the prospects of jobs going forward. Obviously people on these forums talk a lot about AI, but tbh I don't have a clue about it potentially taking jobs away from us, especially in IB, and I was wondering if you know from a technical perspective how possible that is


Yes and no. Yes, the threat from Ai is real and should be a point of concern, but no, it's unlikely to take your job any time soon. The thing with Ai, from a technical perspective, is that it works great until it doesn't. Ai is great at compiling massive amounts of data and learning from it, performing repetitive tasks, and spitting out facts easily. The problem with Ai is that it is terrible as soon as its parameters are broken. I studied machine learning and currently work in a role that works heavily with Ai, and one of the cases we constantly see is that a user did something the Ai's model couldn't handle. This can most prevalently be seen in self driving cars, where something like a pedestrian giving right of way to the AV can cause its systems to break due to it being unable to comprehend the data being presented to it. The Ai, at its current state, cannot think like a human, but rather it thinks (and acts) like a machine. This means for any work with an edge case Ai will need a few more years to truly see its ability fleshed out. However, on the topic of IB I think that the biggest obstacle for Ai isn't the technology, but rather the slow moving pace of the industry. I worked alongside people who had been in tech at banks, and we moved lightyears faster than any bank was moving at the time. Banks won't shift to Ai simply because there's too many people within the industry that want to keep it the way it is. Based on what I can tell, banks and MDs want to keep the current system around because it's what they're comfortable with, and many MDs fear losing their jobs(or more relevantly their bonuses) to Ai, so why take the risk on this new software when you've already got something that works. 

Also, I can't understate just how different the talent levels between bank and tech swe. Most top talent wouldn't even touch a bank, as the pay is generally much lower, and generally we get treated like 2nd rate citizens at banks, so why would top swe go to a bank to make 150k a year and get treated like an accountant when you can just as easily go to a top tech firm and make double that while working in an environment that's just more inviting. Now, of course this last piece is more anecdotal, as I can't directly say every bank is less talented and swe all feel like 2nd rate at banks, but in my experience bank recruiters were often last on the list of my(and many others I know) list of people to contact. If these banks can't get the best talent, they stand no chance of creating an Ai model that can replace bankers.

Realistically, the most likely way bankers would become redundant is if a new tech startup could find a way to automate the entire process and somehow build up a reputation strong enough to lure top candidates away. This would, of course, make the banks scramble to keep market share and they'd immediately begin building out systems to compete. If this is at all possible, it's still years, if not more than a decade away as fintech is still very much in its infancy, and I personally haven't heard of anything despite working at a fintech myself. Hope this eases any worries.


Great response -- just curious, how would you think about this same AI risk to jobs in the world of public markets investing? We can perhaps split this into the HF route (traditionally sub-1yr at most, traditionally 3-6 month holding periods) vs. LO (3-5yr investing horizons) as those are 2 very different things

Also if it's not too big an ask, would also love to hear your thoughts on private markets investing 


I probably should've included something on this in the original post. So, the thing with transitioning that most people get wrong is thinking that all SWE is the same, which it very much isn't. You have front end, back end, devops, machine learning, cyber security, data science, and so many other smaller subsections of engineering. It'd be like grouping the entire finance industry together and saying that asset management and corporate development are the same thing, which they aren't. Yes, they inherently build off a finance knowledge, but the nitty gritty is very different. With that being said, definitely find your specific field or area you want to specialize in. has all the specific details on how to sequence specifically. I would say to be cautious about what classes/bootcamps you take, as many are solely focused on getting you a job as soon possible, meaning they usually teach frontend languages such as HTML and CSS. Now, there's nothing wrong with these languages, I personally use them all the time with website building, but typically they're the most competitive jobs to get due to the higher supply of frontend knowledge. 

A big thing is to understand a few really important technicals, such as Boolean algebra and other such logic modifiers essential for understanding how and why a computer and compiler works. It's actually a pretty common misconception about CS degrees that you learn to code, because in my experience there was very little on learning to code and much more emphases on the logic of computers, which is extremely important in roles such as devops and machine learning. If you have the time, I would highly suggest taking classes at a local community college, as most of the stuff they teach there is going to be much more beneficial to you than any bootcamp you can take.

As for non SWE roles, IMO treasury people at these tech firms always seem to be the happiest and best compensated. I met a ex-IB guy in treasury at my FAANG job who was making 200k base with 150k equity, and that equity is definitely worth at least 500k now. I would say just stay away from any controllership roles, as you will be considered a boring big 4 person who's just there for the 80k a year paycheck.

Hope I gave some insight, and if you have any more questions feel free to ask


Thanks this is super helpful! I’m interested in ML but didn’t take enough math classes in undergrad unfortunately. Currently taking CS50x on Edx and the next courses on my list are the Python version and then Python for AI.

Do you have any insight on Strategy and/or BizOps roles? And then there seems to be a lot of overlap between strategy analyst, strategic finance analyst, financial analyst, and corp dev analyst roles, which gets even murkier at startup job postings


I would say, much like everything else that it depends. I learned a lot of different things at each job I was at. At my FAANG job I learned a lot about the massive systems we used along with making great connections across the industry. At the startup I learned a lot about the inner workings of small business and how to be more independent. Here at my current job I'm learning a lot about how to manage people as my role is shifting more towards management and less coding. I still love programming but after a certain point if I ever wanted to climb I would have to shift my role, and to learn as much as possible I'm trying to shift away from pure programming. 

As for what is the best learning experience for entrepreneurship, I would say that being in a smaller firm is always better. Every single startup founder I've met has worked in either a small tech startup or a small finance/business firm. If you're at FAANG or BB/EB, you're a cog in a machine. Yes, you can program and build a dcf at both places, but ultimately you learn very little about the inner workings of business, and especially smaller businesses. Although it might seem counter-productive, I would say if you want to start a company eventually, being in a startup early is the best position. If you do IB/consulting for a year and move to a startup that's probably the best business path, but from my POV it becomes so much easier to build a company if you inherently understand the product and how it works, so if you want to start a tech company or move into tech VC, then become a programmer, while if you want to found another business of some sort definitely start in that realm(I.E. bankers would do great to start M&A or accounting business)


Hi Sadtobehere, great post and appreciate reading your thoughtful follow ups  

Would you have any advice for former SWEs who broke into banking (no regrets - developed ability to work under pressure, communication skills, big picture perspective of business) and wants to leverage both skillsets back in the tech world? 

For context, it’s where my true interests lie as I still love writing software, and while I don’t necessarily want to be an SWE again, I want to be involved in the product in some way. Corp dev, sales, finance and strategy all sound like attractive general business roles, but feel very far removed from the operational side and don’t leverage on tech skills 

My theory for going into IB was to try it out, learn commercial acumen and intensity and bring it back to tech, but finding there’s no such role in tech that really fits the mould perfectly. Perhaps product management is the closest thing, or maybe easier to start in fin tech/quant  

I suppose, posing the question from the opposite side, I would be an engineer asking what role I could take on if I had an interest in the commercial side of things 

Grateful for any insights and if you’ve perhaps seen any other analysts try the same thing. At least in my market (ANZ) I have not seen this 


Product management/development. At certain companies it's a highly technical role, and one of my old product managers was a swe who did consulting for 2 years and moved into the role. You could also do great in vc or joining a startup early, as both require you to have a technical understanding alongside a strategy and development. When you're at a startup or smaller company, you're extremely involved in both the product and the business, so being able to leverage your past experience into a COO or CFO role is probably best. Alternatively if you're willing to take the risk it sounds like your skills make you a great candidate for starting a business from tech, perhaps solving some issue you encountered in finance that you feel could easily be solved through tech. 


Agree with OPs suggestions here.

I'd add (as a PM that started in strategy consulting, not IB) that Product Management feels like it scratches a similar itch as coding would have, in the sense that I often need to think through the logic of a system / system design. It also offers the satisfaction of having built a product. Admittedly I only took like one semester of programming though, so there may be something else about software engineering that appeals to you (e.g. solving challenging mathematical problems).

Another area to consider, which I think OP mentioned in an earlier post, is going into data science, which leverages technical skills but in many cases looks to tackle business problems.


Hey SadToBeHere, 

First off... Thanks so much!!! I learned a lot from your writeup and honestly it inspired me to look even further at careers in tech. I have been giving Tech Sales some thought for a while, do you happen to have some exposure to it? I heard it might be a little redundant at the SDR/BDE levels with lower comp than IB/rest of tech but gets better over time (both in project work and comp!). Let me know if you have any insights, unfortunately idk anyone in the industry myself!! 

Thanks again!!!


So I don't know if I'm the best equipped to handle this question; you'd probably be best off directing questions to salespeople at these companies on LinkedIn. What I can say is that generally tech sales is difficult from a non-cs/swe background because to properly sell something you need to have a fundamental understanding of the product(especially when it's something that many don't understand) Sales is obviously a commission driven job, and I've met salespeople pulling in easily 7 figures by making a ton of deals, but I've met many more who get almost no commission because they couldn't even sell a missile to congress. For most post IB folks I still recommend either corp finance or M7->product management. 


TBH here in tech FAANG is actually super overrated and most engineers chose to stay away. I would say grind your teeth in IB for 1-2 years and join a startup. Yes. cash comp will be lower, but if the company does well you'll make millions and set yourself up for CFO roles easily. I would also so fintech is probably a better place for finance folks than FAANG, and FAANG should really just be called MNG, as amazon has horrible equity splits and apple hasn't paid above average pay since 2015


SadToBeHere YOE + Level?

Me: YOE = 9 ; TC = $375K ; Level = L6; HCOL

I graduated with technical degree and have been in technology for my entire career. I bootstrapped a start-up in '20, got to venture-backed valuation of $3M but ran into regulatory / legal hurdle that required more cash than I was able to raise in the VC slowdown of '22. Without cash, I needed a job.

I ended up getting FAANG job as Solution Architect in my niche domain. My co-workers are all 15 - 25 years experience, all in technology, and they're legitimate (e.g. PhD from IIT, former tech VP level titles > 100 employees, etc...) From a technical perspective, we are expected to be trusted advisor to C-level technical executives @ >= Series C companies. There would be no where to hide for an IB to Tech transfer. The breadth of conversation and experience to draw on, I believe, is too vast / variable to have productive conversations with real, technical C-level executives.

At FAANG, the bar is high for SWE. If you wanted to come in cold from IB, and I am generalizing, but you need to be able to hit two (2) Leetcode Mediums in an hour and in a separate hour-long interview, showcase depth of thought via System Design style interview (e.g. "How would you design Twitter?", "How could you adjust Tinder architecture to serve video efficiently?), while interviewer probes depth of knowledge by focusing on a modular facet of solution. Here, I believe you can get in on rote memorization vs degree + experience, but to have a truly dynamic / fluent dialog, you would want to have strong foundations in 1) Data Structures and Algorithms [for Leetcode] and 2) First-principles knowledge of Distributed Systems [for System Design]. This could take a very long time for someone coming in cold. I would honestly recommend top-rated CS Master's Program to set yourself up for long-term success.

I disagree with the notion that moving beyond L7 is merely a function of just hanging around. Director level FAANG spots (L8+), especially on the technical side, are extremely competitive. It's the highest-paying executive discipline at FAANG and you're competing against true, FAANG-level Staff / Principal Engineers. To stereotype, these people are notoriously PhDs at Google and the best international technical talent at Amazon. You have to be honest with yourself and your body of work if you're going to compete with these individuals.

I will agree with you that there is an opening in Product Management roles for IB types. Product Management feels a lot like the frameworks of consulting and the diligence of investment banking. The breadth and depth of the technical domain for the product you're expected to master here is surmountable without exhaustive technical background. Where I work, M7 MBA can pretty confidently make L7 after 3 - 4 years, but then have to press hard + wait long for L8 opportunity vs other M7 MBA profiles as competition. A lot of it will come down to growth of product / market in which you function. There's a lot of luck involved on getting the right seat upon entering.

If you want to see who these people are and learn more about FAANG + Big Tech, checkout TeamBlind.

I will say that the money is much more than I imagined. I'm a lowly L6 but making 30% more than I did as Director at Fortune 20 company. With the VC scene thawing out (a little bit), investors are probing me to start funding-raising and fire up the engines again, but I see clear paths to L7 and that's a conservative, liquid ~450K as an individual contributor with intellectually stimulating work. I'm very torn emotionally, but I am gracious for the strategic position that I am in. If you're good, you can make a very comfortable life for yourself in FAANG + FAANG adjacent at Principal / Staff levels and beyond. I continue on...


Totally agree with everything you said. My wording and how I was addressing the comments probably made this a little weird, but I'm gonna address everything here

  •  In my original post I was trying to more say that a student who does 4 years of cs at an undergrad and works hard will have an easy time landing a FAANG job. People on these forums make it out to be that FAANG is only for the top .1% of programmers, when in reality it isn't. I do definitely agree with your point that IB people will have a more difficult transition because, more often than not they struggle to understand things past coding. Yes, coding is important, but understand how and why something works is just as, if not more valuable from a swe perspective, which is exactly what cs teaches. Just learning to code usually isn't enough, as you can clearly see on there's way more past just learning a language model, and most programmers don't just learn one language.
  • When I originally made the post, I was more trying to direct the difficulty of ending up at l7+ towards the finance people. Yes, even l6 for many is a astronomical achievement, but from a perspective of a finance person they believe that making partner at a PE fund or making PM at a hedge fund will be easier than director level jobs at a tech company, when straight up it isn't. For the vast majority of people, you will make more money in tech than in finance, and even from an IB/PE/HF to SWE perspective generally top performers in tech will have an easier time making it to l7 simply because there's more slots. Also, to your point of director level jobs I believe that those jobs aren't what the most ambitious people are after; rather, they're going after roles in startups that can lead to C-suite roles down the line.

As a whole, I would say we fundamentally agree on way more than disagree, and generally I would say that we definitely see tech in a more clear view than most in finance do


Oh also I didn't answer your original question

6 YOE but I had a lot of previous experience from undergrad and I came in above avg in entry level

TC 500k

level L3 but my company starts at L1 so it'd be more alike an L5-L6. I definitely make above average pay for my position but I'm not about to complain about it


Thanks for the post. There is a lot of garbage on WSO regarding tech perpetuated by know-it-alls who have biased, second hand knowledge. I didn’t think I’d post this question here but have a question you might have an opinion on.

I am going to start my own company in the near future. I’m not a technical person outside of knowing some basic python and sql. The typical advice for founding teams seeking seed funding is that there should be at least one technical founder. Finding not only a good technical person but one you can effectively work with are two large barriers. The difficulty is dependent on your personal marketability, idea, and network. 

I have decent bonafides that will continue to be strengthened on the non-technical side in sales, fundraising, and bizops, but I’m honestly thinking it’s probably cheaper and more flexible to learn how to code myself and just create a couple apps to get full stack development experience before actualizing a real product and seeking funding. I’d not only avoid having to seek a cofounder early on, which would help with limiting dilution, but I’d add more value to the early stages of my potential company in terms of actually building and iterating a product. Outsourcing development also seems expensive and a headache that doesn’t provide you with much credibility when fundraising or recruiting as well.

What are your thoughts on this plan if any?


Find a cofounder. Yes, you can fundamentally understand programming and other such, but someone with that level of long term exposure to tech and engineering will prove to be way more valuable than you'd think. Whenever there's a major issue on the technical side, you probably won't have the knowledge to counter that kind of problem, while someone with that background will usually have some sort of fix to that issue. I've encountered plenty of issues throughout my short career that, if I tried to explain to a non tech person it would blow their minds. There's so much more to the technical side than just programming, and oftentimes you're not paying your top engineers to work 40-50 hours a week, you're paying them so that when shit hits the fan they're there to fix the issue. I would still say learning some programming(HTML/CSS and Java are your best bet) is important, but getting a guy who can run the tech and do his thing while you do the business side will make life so much easier. As Warren Buffett says, try to find what you're good at and stick to it. If you're a business guy, just do the business side, and let the tech people run the tech. Also, if you've got an idea, run with it. Don't wait for a co founder yet, just start developing something and reaching out to people, fish a little and see what comes up. It's probably a bad time rn just with how vc funding is, but I would still say if you've got a business plan then at least put yourself out there. It can take a while to actually get things off the ground, so just having a little head start can be super important. If you have any other questions or want me to clarify something, just ask. Hope this helps


Makes sense, thank you. And to be clear on my end, the question was more around getting a working prototype going and subsequently securing seed funding without a technical cofounder at that point. Eventually I’d have to hire a cofounder level technical person shortly after for all the reasons you mentioned, which I whole heartedly agree with.

But would you say that it’d be necessary to get a technical cofounder before a developing a functional prototype/V1 product for fundraising or business reasons? Also would you be more inclined to join a seed or preseed company if your prospective cofounder was technical vs. nontechnical assuming all other things equal?


1. Is the downside risk in switching from finance to tech worth it for most people wanting to change careers in your opinion?

Thought process being that by starting off in your mid to late twenties learning to code you’re probably at best going to perform at the bottom end of the top quartile in tech in terms of outcomes. In finance on the other hand on average you’re going to be firmly in the top quartile in terms of outcomes by virtue of the fact you’re in a field like IB (PE exits, HF exits, AM exits, Corp Fin/Strat, etc.). 

2. Do you have any thoughts on MBA + CS dual degree programs (Booth MPCS and Penn MCIT come to mind)?

I’m thinking of going back for an MBA shortly and have seen they offer dual degree programs for people with little to no CS background. These seem like a great way to get a solid foundation before making a career change but I’m skeptical of the outcomes of graduates of these programs. For example, a lot of MBA associates are not technically proficient by virtue of the fact that they’ve never done an analyst stint and therefore end up failing. I have similar worries about switching to tech in that not having been in a junior engineering seat would kneecap me from staying and progressing within a company due to the lack of an analyst stint. 

3. Are there areas of tech you’d recommend pursuing for someone that enjoys the technical aspects of jobs without having to code more than half the time?

I like to code in small to medium amounts (would hate doing it all day every day) but like to solve complex problems and implement solutions. My limited research has led me mostly towards product management roles but would be curious if there are any other functions that you think are worth looking into.

4. Would you say most people you meet in the industry are normal?

I worked in sales at a legacy tech company (SAP/Oracle) and hated it. Most of my disliking my time there stems from the lack of intellectual stimulation being in sales, our product was shit (ERP), and nobody at our company was willing to look at problems/challenges objectively. For example, we were more than a decade late to the cloud and rather than acknowledge that shortcoming people would instead point to the companies scale and history for why we were actually on the cutting edge when in reality we were continuing to fall behind. 

Some of the culture rubbed me the wrong way as well and was borderline cultish. Everyone at our company was obsessed with our founder and picked up an obscure hobby of his that was in his autobiography. On his birthday despite being in a satellite office our entire staff went outside to eat cake and sing happy birthday to him. If that weren’t weird enough already this whole thing was being recorded by a drone and sent on slack to other offices who did the exact same thing. If he were going to see any of this it would still be weird but there is absolutely no chance this dude had any idea this was going on. I had several other coworkers who lived in vans and do personal grooming at the office (shaving/showering/brushing teeth). 

I’m totally fine with people that are nerdy and introverted but don’t want to be around people that do shit like talk with food in their mouths, chewing with their mouth open, not showering and using deodorant, brush their teeth in a place that 10+ other people actively are shitting in, etc.

Given that I’ve only worked at one tech company I’m not sure if my experience is par for the course across the industry or if I just had a bad experience. Mainly considering going back in for the WLB and hate waking up at 3:45 AM to go to work (West Coast based). Most people think you’re done by 2-2:30 but I would say my typical day M-F is 4:30 - 5:30, which isn’t bad but it’s weird as hell going to be at 8 PM when the sun is still up in the summer. 

  1. Early to mid 20s if you know you want to be in tech it definitely still makes sense to make that shift. There are people who have joined my group in their mid 30s because they were dissatisfied with the work they were currently doing and wanted that shift into tech. Now, if you want to be in the tech industry but you want to also use your finance background, refer to my above posts about data science and product management. Remember, a career is over 40 years, so if you're miserable in finance and know you want to be elsewhere, just make that shift. I've already made other comments about how to best go about it, and if people want I can make a full post since it seems like a lot of people want to know about it. Also, I would have to say that generally this is untrue about being stuck at the bottom rung. Tech has a different way to advance your career. Many people don't like to hear this, but if you look at the profit engineers produce we're criminally underpaid. The best way to go about advancing in tech is to constantly hop between jobs, as advancing within a company is almost non existent. It's not like in IB where you have a clear timeframe for advancement; rather, it's those who play their cards right that make it to the top.
  2. MBA/CS can be great dual degree IF and only if you have the background knowledge to succeed in a masters program. The MBA programs are meant to be for people who might have no business background to come in and be successful, but a lot of masters in CS cover very advanced topics that many people with no CS background might struggle to fully understand. I would say your best bet is to check the websites and requirements and maybe email the school to see if there's any background knowledge you should have, and don't assume that just because one program had almost no prereqs that another won't have a ton.  Also, these programs absolutely recruit well. CS is still easily one of, if not the most in demand degree out there, so you'll get a tech job pretty easily if you can do your leetcode(only for FAANG) and interview well. To ease your worries about the fear that you'll do poorly, I can most assuredly say that everyone knows when you enter coding that you'll struggle; it's an entirely new language that, realistically the human mind wasn't designed to read(I mean I have like 5 different versions of some rendition of cin just from C++). However, there is no "Oh, you didn't do the analyst stint so you'll fail in finance" here; generally learning alongside others makes the whole process easier, and if you can you should get a senior engineer to adopt you and teach you a ton of the things you'll encounter. Also, just practice. You can easily just do projects on the side to improve your abilities. 
  3. Product management and senior SWE rarely has any programming. I've already answered a similar question to this above, so just refer to that and see if it sort of answers your question, and if not feel free to ask.
  4. Most people are normal. You had a skewed view since you were at oracle, and not a single SWE has oracle as their ideal location, so the startup/FAANG+ rejects end up there. You have the caltech people who very much live up to the stereotype. You have the amazon/AWS people who are miserable and just want to leave. You have the bank people who are criminally underpaid and underappreciated(Made a whole post about it, check it out if you feel like wasting 10 minutes) but if you go to most tech companies you've heard of in some fashion you'll generally meet smart, ambitious people. Also, the stereotype that we don't shower is generally untrue. The stereotype that bankers are all fratty and talk like pretentious assholes in their Patagonia vest with their starbucks in hand exists, but generally I've come to understand that that's only a few people. Also, your point on Oracle is a little scary and I'll keep that in mind going forward. Generally, most in engineering are just normal, slightly ambitious people, and the whole anti social thing is fairly untrue since teamwork is probably one of, if not the biggest skill you need to succeed in tech. 
  5. If WLB is a must, STAY AWAY FROM AMAZON, BANKS, AND HF. They work you to the bone then spit you out without good comp once you're done. 

Hope I've answered everything well here, and if you have any more questions please, do ask


If you have even a tiny bit of math skills, you can make a lot more in finance than in tech. HFT and quant hedge funds are the way to go for the top 1% elite, not Google ( the new IBM ), Microsoft ( the peanut factory ), Amazon ( the pip factory ), Meta ( the layoff factory ), Apple ( another peanut factory ). Paper money at start-ups aren’t real money, they’re paper money ! TikTok, Stripe, and all those companies screaming IPO every single day, I don’t see any sign of them getting IPO any soon.

IB is overrated, but at least the money at senior level is real, I’m talking about tens of millions of dollar, not 800k after 20 years of leetcode grind. 80 hours week are merely the first few years of your career, look at the bigger picture, what happens when you’re 50 ? Do you wanna be an ibanker that bank couple millions of dollar just using connections built over years and ditch all grunt work to analysts, or do you wanna be a leetcode monkey praying that the interviewer won’t ask you to implement Dijkstra algorithm on the phone screen ?

Tech is way more overrated than IB. How many people get stuck at L5 in Amazon for decades, facing pip and micro-managing boss while collecting sub-500k peanuts ? How many people get down-leveled to Google L4 after studying 50 hours of leetcode on top of their 50 hours of grunt labor ? How many people do mind-numbing operations and maintenance work despite their title being software development ? How many engineers get called by PMs and TPMs to fix prod issue at 3am while sobbing in tears ? How many people wasted their entire youth in the hands of empire-building middle managers who force them to do shitty projects set up for failure ??? At least in ibanking, MDs work hard to close the deal that analysts work on. In tech, senior managers create fake projects for their own promotions and throw the career of all junior engineers into void.

You clearly haven’t worked long enough to see the darkness of the tech industry. I have, and I’m telling you tech is overrated. The party is over, time to switch to finance, things are great in buyside.


+SB. You know what you're talking about.

Terminal L5 / L6 SWE is so real. SDM is the only way out but you have to have managed to have developed / maintained soft skills to continue upward mobility. Very rare.

I'm with you - in this economy, I would hate to be holding Series B / Series C / Series D paper money. I laughed my ass off at "...implement Dijkstra algorithm on phone screen".

It is exceedingly difficult to get even an interview at HFT / Quant. Math and reasoning needs to be very good during interview process. Everything is implemented in low-level programming languages (e.g. OCaml, C++) and in the case of HFT, the individual needs to have understanding of underlying hardware / subsystems. Neither of which are easy to pick up without rigorous experience.

I think you're going grass is greener on buyside being paradise. A lot of threads on WSO detailing the challenges / odds of actually making it to MD and then, succeeding in that role. 

Good shit though, overall.


I know so many people who get stuck at L5. Usually, they're the people who don't push their careers forward and really just joined tech for the salary, not because they love it. If you really love tech, making it past L5 is a matter of working at the right things(and some element of people pleasing) but I think that anyone who puts in the work can make it past, whether that's through constant job jumping or other tactics


I get what you're saying, but for me finance and HFT has never made much of any sense. Yes, I primarily use CPP for backend work, but I'm really just uninterested in working 60+ hours a week in a very stressful environment where I can be fired super easily. At my current job they know they can't fire me because I'm super helpful on 2 very important teams. Also, in my experience the 1% of tech doesn't stay at a trad company very long; they join early state startups or found something themselves and get a boatload of equity. Also, I don't really think that this idea of making it to the top is very real. Only a very small amount of people actually get to the top in finance, just like a very small percent make it into the top in tech. From an average perspective, it would still seem like tech is beating finance. After all, how many people will do 2-2-2 then go back into private equity and continue to work their ass off till they're 40? 


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