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Me, a manager?

About 4 years ago I took a job as a engineering manager at an early stage startup. I hadn't been looking to become a manager, and I had other jobs offers at the time, but I was in a new relationship and all the job offers required moving to SF (this was right before Covid). Although my girlfriend and I were living together in Seattle, it was too early to ask her to move to SF with me. So I ended up taking the only job offer I had in Seattle. It certainly paid more than the other offers and came with a shiny title of "Director", but I was still pretty anxious about this job and what its demands would be. When I turned down the other offers one of the hiring managers sent me an email explaining to me how this was a big mistake and would hurt my career under the guise of "radical candor". At the time I took this as a sign I had dodged a bullet; four years on... they may have been on to something.


After 2ish years of managing a team remotely during covid, I learned a butt-load, but was running on fumes. I left the company in an awkward enough fashion that it bummed me out for at least a year. I always try... wish to be above these kinds of things, saying to myself "It's only a job, not your life", but let's be real. So much of your life is your job. So much of my self image is my job. I aspire to move beyond this, but both my parents used work to hide from the rest of their lives. So for them it was the main source of fulfillment. I spent the next couple months working furiously on a project that started out as a new way to deploy projects into the cloud and somehow morphed into me learning Rust and building a toy full text search engine that could run on lambdas and use s3 for storage. It was fun to be coding "full time" again, but I after awhile the project lost its shine and I wanted to code for money again.

Big money, no whammies

I started my job search in earnest just as the big tech layoffs begun. I had multiple interviews cancelled at places like Google (I applied to a job with Stadia...). I wasn't entirely sure what I was looking for this time. My time in startups had left me feeling disillusioned and jealous of those around me with overflowing RSU portfolios. So I had a vague idea it was time to work at a BigCorp, to get those tendies. I ended up taking another manager position at ==REDACTED==. They were looking for a "hands on manager" (that phrase always creeps me out), so I thought this would be a good middle ground of continuing my management career but getting paid to code again.

Don't go chasing waterfalls

Oh lord, oh lordy lord, was ==REDACTED== one giant waterfall. A waterfall soo tall I couldn't even see where the water originated from. I will say my immediate team was a group of smart, humble, amazing engineers. Managing them was the best part of my job. The rest of the job I didn't care for much, endless meetings, politics, and FUD. I'm sure the culture would have been better had layoffs not been announced a month into my job, only to be put on hold because ==REDACTED==. Then we all waited 4 months for the axe to drop. I kinda assumed I would be going, ya know LIFO.

The Dust Settles

The layoffs come and go and I'm somehow still employed. Not only do I have a job, I have more job. I went from managing 4 folks to 10 and from working on a greenfield project to owning a piece of the critical path. I have a funny taste in my mouth... I envy the laid off. No projects timelines have been changed to account for the carnage. In fact, now that I'm part of critical path I begin to realize deadlines for these projects are erroneously tied to ==REDACTED==. The various layers of management do this to raise the visibility of their orgs work as the many acquisitions have created teams with duplicative purposes and now must play high stakes musical chairs.

I leave

I leave, almost exactly a year from when I started. Part of the decision is wrapped up in some family medical issues that had become more complicated. Its not a good time to be in the software engineering job market but I leave anyway.

Please sir, I want IC

This time I'm determined to go back to IC, but man is the job market barren; especially for a "Hands on Manager" (eww) who wants to go back to IC. I've used a few languages over the years, but I started in Node/Javascript and I need to focus on one to use for interviewing and leetcoding. It's always been a bit awkward that my main language is Javascript but I'm a backend engineer. A side affect of the first company I worked for and stayed with for 6 years. To further complicate things, I haven't made the switch to Typescript yet. I've dabbled but don't feel that entitles me to put it on my resume. Never have I been ghosted so much by recruiters and hiring managers. It happens so much I need to add a new column to my job tracking spreadsheet with a macro to mark it as ghosted when there is no activity for a few weeks. I've also neglected to mention, I am terrible at coding interviews. I have probably a 50% choke rate in these interviews. I've always had performance anxiety, and trying to code with people watching really messes me up. I usually do a bunch of throw away interviews in the beginning of a search just to get myself used to it again, but with the weak flow of interviews this time I'm not so lucky. I'm realizing while writing this I should probably be more proactive in trying to solve this problem: therapy, medication, or at least practice interviews with real people.

I'm still looking...

What I meant to write

I was intending to write about how I've always had side projects that I work on but have never felt comfortable putting them out there. Even into a public github repo no one will ever see. I was going to talk about my imposter syndrome and trying to address it by beginning to share my work. To do this in hopes it offsets my years as a manager in search of IC work. But this is what came out instead, I guess I needed to talk about it. Well now I have a topic for my second post.