It was fun and challenging competing with top computer science students. In the long run, my organizational skills, focus, determination and world experience outweighed their raw brainpower and better memory.
It's an ultramarathon, not a sprint.
As impressive as your achievement is, I'm equally impressed that Google finally started addressing their perceived ageism problem.
I applied to a bunch of places and only Google seemed to perceive the whole package instead of myopically focusing on my recent education or last job. The whole process was much smarter than any other company in the interview cycle.
Bamberg's Math 23a / 23c is phenomenal set of classes at Harvard. You will work like a dog but learn almost all the math you need for ML.
You see why people criticize the orange site for worshiping corporate a bit too much?
>>> Yeah one anecdote, ageism must be solved! Good job Google, we did it!
It's posters like you that turn people off HN.
Great. Would love to hear more of the story.
* Start assignments as soon as they are given out. Stupid, right?
* Don't be shy about asking lots of questions. Don't be egotistical or afraid about asking for clarification.
* Build personal relationships with the professors and TAs. They are there to help. This is not an adversarial relationship. Show genuine passion for the material.
* Find real-world analogies or applications of the theory. An intuitive understanding is far more important memorization. It is also far more motivational. By seeing how a technique can be used to solve a real problem, the value becomes tangible.
* Be curious. You are there to learn, which means digging beyond the provided material. So many students are sadly focused on the grade or assignment, not on the learning.
I could probably write a book about this...
I am a CS professor and these are exactly the kind of things my undergraduate students struggle with!
Especially these two points:
You should definitely write a book!
My situation is especially complicated.
I have been unemployed (save a few short freelance gigs) since early 2015. I cannot interview effectively anymore. This, I think, is my biggest problem
I live with my mom because I can no longer make ends meet, but she is retiring and moving countries soon so I too have to eventually move out.
I have no friends or relatives with whom I can stay living with.
Because I already have a previous degree, financial aid opportunities for me are more limited, I hear.
If I were to register for the fall and aim to get into a university with a decent to great engineering background, how would you lay out a plan?
My biggest issue was gathering as much will as I could to start doing it. After the first 2 or 3 interviews, which were utterly terrible, I realized that the hardest thing was bearing those first rejections and shameful (to me) interviews. After that things got a bit easier each time until I landed a job.
So I would truly advice you to start with the process as soon as you can. Tomorrow if possible.
Keep in mind that you will almost for sure, blow the first few ones. Don't sweat it and keep going.
Of course, I would also advice you to do interview-type exercises at the same time. Again, the first few programs will feel terrible. You will definitely feel the pain. But just try doing 10 minutes at least. Then rest, even for a full day. Then try again.
Sooner than you think you will be back on track.
It's pretty terrible to get little feedback but expect to introspect for fix it (My introspection itself needs work- I don't know what I don't know).
I thought there was also a video part of this where a person on the screen would ask you questions, but I can't find it right now.
Since I don't know more about your particulars it's hard to give more useful tips or suggestions and don't want to come across as condescending or rude.
But if there is indeed something I could help you out with, please reach out through my Keybase in my profile.
Also, do you recommend more on transferring out of the CC later to go to a very reputable CS university (UC Berkeley for example)? I'd like to be one of those people who can land an internship at Jet Propulsion Labs (I'd like to combine my interests in computing and space exploration).
Like the OP said in his old topic, I have a passion for coding (check my username for Github), but I can't interview worth a damn anymore. So I don't know if it's delusional to think that a CS degree (and the education that comes with it) will automatically open up many doors for me.
I wish I can maximize my utility for a business or an org even if I can't pass most interviews, because failing interviews is just making my skills go to waste.
A local job recruiter (a specialized one, not from a big agency) once told me to seek companies that offer SWE apprenticeships as a refresher. But those sorts of companies are hard to come by here.
I'm in my mod thirties now so have had quite a lot of experience interviewing and recently being the interviewer so have noticing a lot of patterns. It is amazing how often the questions get repeated, if you spend an hour writing down all the likely questions I am sure you will cover 80% of the questions of any interview. Then spend a few hours writing two or three ideal answers to each of the above questions. Such questions would include :
-what has been the proudest project you have worked on?
-what have you been doing the last few years with your time while not working? (I'd, recommend referring to your open source contributions or doing background learning here)
-what are your goals?
- how do you deal with confrontation?
- how do you deal with pressure etc?
You could say all boring questions but you are very likely to come across them in an interview and crafting a positive response to each one and practicing it out loud, ideally with a friend or two in the mirror will help tremendously.
Also get an experienced friend to review your resume, it is amazing how many talented engineers get overlooked because of lack of attention to detail on their resume.
It was good advice above by @saganus about interviewing a lot as it is definitely a skill which takes practice . After each interview push for feedback, some will say they can't say but a lot will give you honest feedback which is very helpful. You can also try this with a friend or someone online over video chat.
Finally I would consider getting a less glamorous CS job in the interim to help pay the bills through school and get back in the industry. Tons of web agencies are crying out for engineers and while it may not be your long term goal, a role like that could help you get your foot back in the door, pay the bills and give you time to get setup for your end game or save for more expensive university.
I've thrown a lot of advice here but hope some helps, as mentioned above getting interview and career ready is an ultra marathon not a sprint. :)
I can learn from a textbook just fine; there are accomplished researchers in various fields who are literally paid to sit in an office and talk to you if you show up. And almost nobody took advantage of it!
Your points were really motivating to me.
Will you announce it here when you have that book ready? I'm looking forward to buy it!
Did you do all classes online or did you go in person for some / all?
Did you work in technology previously?
Harvard Extension is a bargain compared to most colleges. $1500-$2500 for most 4 credit classes. Don't tell those smart college students that you are getting the same class for less than half the price. I tried the online thing (Coursera, edX, Udemy, etc.) but was never as motivated as competing against real students in a real class with deadlines that have consequences. Fear of failure is a great motivator :)
> Did you do all classes online or did you go in person for some / all?
It was a mix. The online classes were more time efficient. The person classes built rewarding personal relationships with faculty and older students.
> Did you work in technology previously?
Yes, was primarily self taught. Only had access to a lousy community college in my teens. Turned me off school then.
For a first CompSci course, the edX Python course is better, IMO.
Are you able to share the role that you got hired in to? Was it a SRE?
Or you can ping me (in profile).
Some undergraduate and graduate programs enable Extension students to attend Harvard College or GSAS classes. I don't remember the requirements/restrictions, but look up "special student" status on the HES website for details.
* min 64 credits, 32 of which from HES, 12 of which must be in the relevant field, i.e. CompSci
* >= 3.33 GPA
* The hardest part: two recommendations, hence the value of building personal relationships with the professors.
While some remote students have been able to build quality relationships with professors, it is far easier if you are local.
Is there a reason you chose to do the bachelors program over the masters?
Thank you for your time!