A Day in the Life of a Silicon Valley Engineer
Coffee. Work. Snacks. Work. Lunch. Work. Snacks. Work. Dinner. Sleep.
In Silicon Valley, there are quite a few Product Design Engineers. We are mechanical engineers who design consumer electronics or hardware. Think: the people who make sure your phone doesn’t break after one drop.
For example, at my previous role at Apple, I designed, prototyped, and tested next-gen MacBook hardware.
People wonder what my day looks like so following is a typical schedule:
5:30 AM: Morning activities.
- Wake up, change, brush teeth, etc.
- Read some early morning news. Potentially make some pre-market stock trades or set up some trades to occur during the day.
- Work on the side business.
6:30 AM: Carpool from East Bay to Silicon Valley.
- I drive a Tesla Model 3 mainly so that I can drive in the carpool and express lanes for free.
- When I test-drove it on my regular commute, I learned that Autopilot is friggen fantastic. Autopilot cuts down on driver fatigue by a lot. I’m convinced that Teslas are the ultimate commuter vehicles.
- For more of my thoughts and why I got the car I did, check out:
3 Things I Learned Driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance
I had the opportunity to drive a Tesla Model 3 Performance on and off for about a month. It’s the one with the…
7:30 AM: Get fueled up.
- Get into the office and make a quick breakfast comprising hardboiled eggs and bagels or toast.
- Make some hot tea.
- Breakfast, snacks, and drinks are provided by the company.
7:45 AM: Orient myself with the day’s to-dos.
- Sit down at my desk with 5 monitors. Read through and respond to emails or Slack messages that came in the previous night.
The Crazy Desk Setup of a Silicon Valley Engineer
The crazy 5 monitor desk setup of a Silicon Valley Engineer working in tech (ex-Apple, Tesla). Check it out!
8 AM: Work. Work. Work.
- Usually means working on Computer Aided Design (CAD) models.
- But this could also mean looking at large datasets or spreadsheets,
- working out physics models, or
- figuring out design or manufacturing challenges.
11 AM: Meetings.
- Sync-up meeting with colleagues who are working on the same project as me (depending on the day).
- Brainstorm meeting to figure out the best way to make the product waterproof.
- Meeting to figure out the ideal user experience (UX) for the product.
12 PM: Fill my belly.
- Lunch with colleagues either outside on the picnic benches when it’s sunny, or inside at the lunch/kitchen area when it’s cold or rainy.
- My favorite dishes are the cheesesteak sandwich and the cheesy beef dip sandwich.
- Lunch is provided by my company through the vendor Eat Club.
1 PM: Work. Work. Work.
- Figure out the tight tolerances that we need to make/assemble the product at the factory without any waste.
- Try to put together a prototype to be able to test the product before we launch the product to make sure that the product is robust and reliable.
3PM: Snack time.
- My go-to snacks are the Cheez-Its.
- I also enjoy mango La Croix. Lime, pamplemouse, and passionfruit are also good. But coconut La Croix is just gross.
- Again, snacks and drinks are provided by the company.
5 PM: Conference call.
- Chat with other engineers and cross-functional teammembers, some based in Asia (5 PM in California is 9 AM in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.). Sync up on the day’s progress and what still need to be done.
5:50 PM: Achieve inbox zero (ideally, but usually not the case).
6 PM: Carpool out.
- Grab some snacks and La Croix drinks for the road.
7 PM: Dinner.
7:45 PM: Quick workout session.
8:15 PM: Shower, brush teeth, etc.
8:30 PM: Personal time.
- Read evening news. Potentially make some after-hours stock trades.
- Work on the side business.
9 PM: Get in bed and go to sleep.
Though my activities vary day to day, this schedule is a pretty good overview of a “typical” day. And I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do.