I was reading through a few blog posts on Wired and came across one titled Why Young Engineers Are Missing Out, hence the relation to the title of this blog post. The author, Derick Schaefer, made several good points in his post about the challenge with engineers gravitating towards start-ups to hone their skills as coders and engineers. He pointed out that many companies fail, giving engineers a bumpy road and that engineers don’t often get the chance to build products for full deployment i.e. global multi-lingual across-the-enterprise type of deployments.
I agree with the second point in particular, because there is definitely a difference between cobbling together an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and delivering fully functional enterprise class software. The ability to move from an MVP to a commercial beta and into several rounds of successful commercial releases takes time, much to Schaefer’s first point above that many companies fail, so an engineer might not get the opportunity to work on a product long enough to gain the full experience.
I think one of the challenges though is that many young engineers gravitate towards the start-up environments because that is the place that they are more often given the opportunity. If you’ve ever applied to a large company versus a start-up you know exactly what I mean. Gaining employment at a large company when you have a thin resume (not to be equated with a lack of skills) is a very difficult task. The fact is that larger companies are not often geared up to handle the process of evaluating the young engineers so they don’t get much interest from the engineer in applying for jobs.
I suspect that if we adjusted the title to Why Experienced Start-up Engineers Are Missing Out then we would have something even more interesting to talk about. I think if you took an engineer several years out of college, with 3-5 years of start-up experience and dropped them into a larger enterprise, then you’d have a winning combination. You’d have someone with; improved coding skills, someone who most likely already understands product development/delivery processes, and someone who knows how to get things done. I think then the engineer would also benefit from working in a larger business. They would be able to contribute at a higher level and they would see what its like delivering a very large-scale application. I suspect that getting large companies truly interested in evaluating young talent and having young talent truly interested in them (unless you are Google of course) is going to be pretty difficult, but I think it is very achievable in terms of taking the slightly more experienced engineers who’ve cut their teeth in the start-up world.
Excerpt from the original article:
“It’s true — most startups are agile, nimble and focused on the future rather than the past. However, for every one success story there are dozens that fail, and there are many good reasons for that. Larger institutions with more reserves and a deeper bench enjoy certain luxuries, and I don’t mean executive perks. They can dedicate entire teams to innovation. As an established company has more resources and a larger customer base, employees are encouraged to make big bets and take risks — a luxury that is not always available in startups.
Larger companies provide their engineers with the opportunity to truly learn the art and science of Software Development, not just “hacking it together.” They also have the financial wherewithal to, for example, mine larger data sets in order to gain true actionable intelligence — a huge factor in this competitive environment.
It seems boring, but still important, to point out that full-service fintech providers can package what’s new and what’s otherwise needed in ways that best serve each customer. Fledgling startups simply can’t match those needs, and that’s why innovation alone can’t ensure survival. The barrier to entry is a significant factor too. It is a challenging business environment that can be brutally unforgiving. Larger enterprises with the ability to scale exponentially and occasionally have the greatest chance for success.”
Read the original article here – Why Young Engineers are Missing Out