Kaya Thomas on common challenges of early career engineers

Lead Time Chats: Season 1, Episode 7 Takeaways

In Episode 7 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Kaya Thomas, most recently senior software engineer at Calm, about common challenges that early career engineers face.

Kaya and Jean chat about:

  • Overcoming some of the stigmas of being an early career engineer
  • How to negotiate your first full-time job offer, especially if you have more experience than average
  • Ways that engineering managers can support early-and-mid stage engineers on their team
  • Knowing when to leave your first engineering job!

Takeaways from Kaya

New grads often get bucketed together despite vastly different experience levels

“When it comes to getting hired and negotiating, you're not even, as an early career person, sometimes allowed to negotiate, because they just lump you all together and say, well, you're in this new grad bucket, so this is what applies to you. And I just don't think it's a great way to approach things, because for me, I just felt a little bit shafted because I did three internships. I had my own app, I had a lot of experience. But then I was still considered just completely new grad low level.”

You may get stuck in the “new grad” role if you stay at your first company for too long.

“Sometimes it's good to leave because I think one of the things that's tough is when you're early career and you start somewhere, you have that stigma that follows you kind of throughout your entire career there. If you started as a new grad or even if you intern, let's say at that company, the folks who have been there are still kind of viewing you as an intern or as an early career person, even if you've been there for years.”

Looking for more ownership? Consider smaller companies

“I moved to a smaller company. because I felt like I would be able to have more ownership, more areas of impact, and really take lead in a lot of projects that you oftentimes don't get at the midsize or larger companies. And so if you're a manager of early career folks at those larger companies, if you want folks to stay, you're just going to have to incur some risks there of being able to let them take the lead.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

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S1 E7: Kaya Thomas on common challenges of early career engineers
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