Why it's completely fine to not work at a MAANG

A look at why I think not working at MAANG is not the end of the world.

Perhaps a little bit of clarification is in order: I do want to work at Google. They have an amazing engineering culture and excellent tooling for people like me. I'm just not aiming for it like it's the end of the world and the sole goal of my life.

So, the first thing that you'd obviously ask: Why tho?

Why. Alright.
The first and the last thing that I wanna be is a good engineer that creates value. That's it. You don't necessarily have to be at MAANG to do that. You could do that in a homegrown startup or a small to medium company too. In my opinion, you'd get to create even more value there.

How do I create more value while not working at MAANG?

Let's first go ahead and take a peek at my perception of what this so-called term value means.
When I say I'm creating value, in my mind, I'm doing one of the following things:

  • I'm writing good quality code that will help users and earn my company a good profit.
  • I'm building an internal tool that'll help me and my fellow developers
  • I'm helping someone understand something

So any positive stuff like that falls into the "creating value" bracket for me. Now, coming to the crux of the question, how do you create more value out of MAANG?

  • You get to decide on the direction of the product more freely
  • You get to build and roll out cool new features rapidly
  • You can build tools for automation, auditing, and monitoring
  • You'll almost be forced to use your engineering skills to solve very unique challenges.

Everything comes at a price

You'll probably get less pay, fewer perks, and most probably longer working hours (if you're working at a startup building its first product, bid your work-life balance goodbye). But if you're ultimately happy while working, it won't matter.

My personal take

The world's top engineering talent works at MAANG, but what most people forget is that most of these people were already the world's topmost engineers before they joined. They were hired at MAANG because they had a knack for good engineering, not because they could solve 40 algorithm questions in 10 minutes. Right now, joining MAANG in India has become a bit like JEE. People are mindlessly completing courses and solving DSA questions like idiots, and in the process forget what Engineering is really about. While I myself occasionally enjoy an algorithmic puzzle every now and then, I find more joy in building cool apps.

Engineering is about building good products that can help people. You can do that anywhere, MAANG or not.

If you liked this article even the slightest bit, you'd probably want to give this one a read: The pros and cons of being a software engineer at a BIG tech company. It's much better written than mine.