A former senior software engineer at Netflix revealed how boredom made him walk away from $450,000 a year and unlimited paid time off.
Michael Lin has not looked back since calling it quits in May 2021. Writing in a piece for Business Insider, Lin believes he ultimately made the right decision.
Lin, who started working at the streaming giant after leaving his job at Amazon in 2017, writes that he was “happy to get a promotion and return home to the Bay Area.”
“At the time, I thought I would stay with Netflix forever. I made $450,000 a year, got free food daily, and had unlimited paid time off. It was the Big Tech dream.”
Nearly four years later, Lin submitted his resignation.
According to Lin, his parents were the first to object, telling him he was “throwing away their hard work of immigrating to the US.”
Meanwhile, his colleagues advised him to line up another job first before leaving the company.
His mentor at Netflix made him pause to think after advising him that quitting without another job lined up meant giving up “the leverage I had with my high salary at Netflix.” Despite his advice, Lin left just three days later.
Lin says that he learned a lot on a daily basis in his early days at Netflix. He claims that the “shine began to wear off” after about two years.
“The projects and meetings blended together, and they felt like small variations of each other after a while,” he notes. “The engineering work began to feel like copy and paste.”
He notes that the COVID-19 pandemic removed all the things that made his job enjoyable and left only the actual work.
He tried to apply to multiple product-manager jobs within Netflix, but he claims the company’s lack of horizontal role change opportunities trounced his chances.
“When I started at Netflix, I was making money and continuously learning new things. Now, I was just making money, with no career progression,” he recalls the period.
This further waned his motivation and heavily affected his work performance, resulting in a negative performance review from his manager in April 2021.
“He said I needed to be more engaged in the team’s engineering migration and be more communicative. In his words, I had to improve in these areas ‘if I wished to remain on the team.'”
Lin says the pandemic gave him a new perspective on life.
“I was putting off my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur, and Covid-19 was a constant reminder that I might not be here tomorrow to pursue them.”
About two weeks after the performance review, he proposed a “preemptive severance package” to his manager for his eventual exit from the company.
Lin says there is now a “deep calmness” inside him after leaving Netflix.
“It’s been eight months since I quit my job at Netflix, and I’ve decided to commit fully to working for myself,” he notes at the end. “Although I’m just starting and don’t have any dependable streams of income yet, I’m going to trust the process that if I do work that energizes me, good things will happen.”