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Ask HN: What keeps you going?
90 points by deathWasp271 on May 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments
I am a university student in CS, and I have been programming for over three years now. The initial motivation for studying CS came from the ability to make a computer do anything I wanted, but over the years, this feeling has dissipated.

What keeps you going over the long term? What makes you wake up every morning and sit down to code again?

What makes me wake up and do it again? Mortgage. The desire to eat nice food once in a while. The fact that, as "the system" is currently configured, one pretty much needs to have a job, and writing code is a pretty nice one.

That's my take after several decades of doing this. Sounds like the passion maybe went right out, didn't it? No, it didn't. It's like a marriage. Sure, those first few years it's hot as lava, fsckin' like rabbits every day, hate to leave for work because it's time away from him/her. But that calms down, and frankly I think we should be glad it does as I don't know how sustainable such a relationship would be. Same with careers. Oh, sure, I was a coding maniac for years after I got access to a computer. But like a marriage, eventually the honeymoon ends and you settle into a nice, reliable, sustainable relationship with your work.

Just roll with the times you're not so passionate about it. There are times I don't like my wife very much, but I stick with her. There are times I don't like my job very much, because every job has some shit work or some drudgery. And even the coding can become drudgery some times. Because after twenty years, how many times do you think you'll have hand-crafted a for loop that iterates over an object collection?

But after twenty years of writing SELECT statements in your sleep, you can "level up" to where you easily slay the SELECT boss and move on to more challenging endeavors. And I guess in the end, that's what gets me out of bed: familiarity with my tools allows me to keep things interesting by moving on to new challenges. Right now I'm working on Programmable Logic Controllers. Before the interview I had to look up "PLC" on Wikipedia. I'm learning lots. :-)

I want to echo a lot of what was said here.

I've moved around in roles and duties a lot over what is now almost a two decade long tech career. I'm only in the fourth year of it actually paying well, but now it feels like I can do anything I choose to.

That's not to say that I know everything, but I'm pretty sure if I target a specific job, I can learn what's needed in a reasonable amount of time...enough to get hired.

I've had jobs from laptop hardware repair, syadmin for banks, software developer, malware research, NOC tech for an ISP and now systems engineer. Not in that order and I could see doing almost any of these again someday.

Do whatever in this field interests you and you'll be around a long time. When you're doing something that doesn't interest you, work towards the things that do.

I've been programming for 25+ years. I still love programming. Never wanted to be a manager. The challenge of coding, solving problems, and being well-paid for it make me very happy. I'm currently sitting in my kitchen, working from home, looking out my deck onto SF Bay. This is not a lifestyle I would have been able to accomplish being a chemical or mechanical engineer, a biologist, an accountant, etc. I truly feel blessed that I love programming, that I'm good at it, and that I am living in a place that rewards good programmers consistently for the past 2 decades. Who knows when this well will dry so I'm taking it as far as I can.

Programming is an art, and you, and me too, we are like artists in the meaning we juts don't want to give up being creative, and solving challenges is a large portion of the reward we get. Besides of the money of course, we all need that.

As an accountant I take an offence to this.. NOT!!

edit: minor spelling error

I like programming, but many of the jobs out there seem to involve only a small percentage of your time actually doing it.

It helps if you’ve had other jobs. Pretty much all jobs have downsides and therefore “suck”.

I think loving your job is a dangerous phantasy sold to CS grads to get the them work longer. It doesn’t mean you have to hate every minute, you can enjoy parts of it.

But passion should be reserved for hobbies outside of work (unless you work for yourself). Be a professional - do it for the money mainly, and don’t put up with horrible work environments. At the end of the day go home and have fun. It’s just a job, and should never define you.

This is my biggest take away after almost a decade working in this industry.

"Love your job" has been sold to me thousands of times. Yet, I think that people that say they love their job lie to themselves. It is also very unhealthy.

Let's do a quick game. If you had all the money in the world, would you still do your job? Probably not.

I highly advocate for balance in your life. A job needs to be done properly, and once in a while there is nothing wrong about doing a 80 hours work week, but don't drink the koolaid and work away for a dream that is not yours.

> Let's do a quick game. If you had all the money in the world, would you still do your job? Probably not.

There have been times when I said to myself, "Don't they realize I'd do this even if they didn't pay me?"

Those times are fewer than they were earlier in my career. I've learned that real fulfillment isn't in my job. But, given that I need money, having a job that I enjoy is really sweet.

I've shifted to finding more enjoyment in good interactions with coworkers, and less in the high of getting something to work that never worked before.

While I probably wouldn't do my job, I do believe I would do something similar for an open source project.

Your relation to the work would change I think. You would be less inclined to put up with bad working conditions, heavy deadline pressures, that sort of thing. Things you would normally let slide for the paycheque become dealbreakers or things you push back on.

I think this is true, but it’s also a bit frustrating in that it’s not at all obvious that programmers are building more or better stuff as a result of the “bad working environment” side of things. So can’t we just lose that?

(It probably doesn’t help that preferences are quite variable. I’m generally pretty comfortable doing tight-deadline stuff at least some of the time, especially if it’s clear why someone needs the thing fast. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of some of the current process/“practices” stuff, and can see that people who enjoy a fair amount of structure could dislike an environment I found near-ideal)

> Let's do a quick game. If you had all the money in the world, would you still do your job? Probably not.

Just one data point but I absolutely would.

you would fit into the camp of 'actually loves their job'

I'd suggest that even if you love your job, set limits. Your longevity as a professional depends on it.

CS pays. Luckily it's also mildly interesting and sometimes very interesting. I don't love my job, but I work for a company that does good things and pays me pretty well.

None of my goals have ANYTHING to do with my career and most of them have EVERYTHING to do with motorcycles and offroad racing.

Software engineering funds my (very amateur) racing "career".

Loving your job such that you want to wake up every day and commit yourself to it is a fantasy for almost everyone and a reality for the few. Some people even on my team love what we do and think it's the coolest shit. For me, I'm happy here because it allows me the freedom to do the things in my life that are actually important to me.

What keeps me going? Obsession and passion. I got my first computer in December 1994. I was 43 then. The first night I did not sleep. Not the next either. Got hooked, immediately. I was in a full time job as a mechanic. In a workshop, wrenches, oil, welding, repairing, cars, machines, etc. Taught myself programming, besides the the normal job. In 1997 I got headhunted by a software company, having won 1. prize in a programmer's competition a Magazine ran. Now I am retired, and am programming more than ever. Will sell my own products, I have what they call an ISV, my own one-man company. Programming is as fun as ever. I do everything, Web, Desktop apps, plug-ins for the large multi media applications. Several languages, all is very fun :)

I think you either enjoy programming and have a knack for it or you don't.

I love programming so I look forward to it everyday.

Learning new things, applying things you have learned, solving hard problems keep it interesting for me.

Having your own side projects are a good way to learn new things and look forward to the time you have to spend on them.

A CS degree and a job as a developer can lead to untold riches right now. So having a semi-relaxing job you enjoy that pays really really well (hopefully doing something you enjoy) is something to look forward to.

It's also amazing what one or two developers can create, as far as their own business. From a small SaaS app that brings in $200k/yr to a small team developing something that exits for $1B. Amazing times and knowing how to develop and create is the key to that kingdom.

Enjoy University while you are there, they are some of the best times.

Study and prepare for the real world, keep learning new things.

I have tried side projects but I never have the time for (finishing) them. I have a lot of interests outside of tech and outdoor sports feels like a far better us of my spare time. They keep me fit and are a good way to clear my mind of work.

I'm 50+. More and more ready to chuck it. Or at least take a long sabbatical.

I have the funds to do it, probably. My parents both worked until they were about 70 and neither lived to see 75. So I'd like to avoid that ending.

If I do, I think I will go tech-free for a while. No internet, no cable TV. Books, some other non-tech hobbies. If I really need to look something up I can go to a coffee shop with a tablet. Sounds very tempting.

I'd say give it a go. Sit down, work out a budget for say a year, and go do something else! I imagine after the amount of time you've spent in industry you've probably got enough contacts to come back to it later if you want/need.

My dream was always to retire by 40 - probably won't get there at this rate as I underestimated how expensive kids are but I still want to be semi retired by 50.

Do it if you can. I’m 33 and took a year in 2013, can hardly reacclimate to tech work culture as it’s so sick but love building my own stuff. It’s all inspired by healthy things, and when I go back to the salary time suck my life gets miserable. Not gonna go all woo woo since it’s only Tuesday, but when one is in tune everything is more vivid and time loses a lot of meaning. I could never fast at a corporate job for example, still exploring the mental effects. Reboots are great and there’s nothing to fear.

Nice! I'm 26 and thinking about doing the same thing soon. So you just took off for a year or did more things? I agree about the vividness. Once you get in flow, doing things you generally enjoy, and you have a few days/weeks of solid sleep and enjoyment, everything just makes sense. The path is clear.

What’s this path you’re talking about? Is it fasting as a means of rebooting your system?

I meant that when you get in a flow and do things you enjoy (generally on a long vacation from work), you start to realize who you really are and what you thrive on. So then, after some introspection, the path forward is a lot clearer compared to your day to day drudgery mindset. Fasting is separate, but connected. Can be a tool to help nudge this process on. IMHO.

Making computers do harder and harder things. My current project is dynamic robot control, using some machine learning. I'm not even close to making them do anything I want in this domain (nobody is).

[PhD in CS, programming for 38 years]

What keeps me going is a semi-decent lifestyle: -Eating decent (fruits and veggies and reasonable portions) -Devoting about an hour to exercise (i like to run) -Getting the sleep I need (varies over time, but hitting snooze and getting an extra hour is worth it over going to work early and being cranky all day).

I find that if I fit these things into my schedule regularily I have more energy - physically and mentally - to put up with the nonsense of reality.

But what really keeps me going is the fact that I know nothing. Whenever I get bored and arrogant I google something that I think I know (say some signal processing or math concept) and just dive into the rabbit hole. It helps if it's work related.

The lifestyle that having such a lucrative skill set has created for me.

While I'm currently living off savings on a beach, I'll have to find a job again in the next twelve months and it's not something I'm stressed out about because I know I can find remote work again.

Building stuff is one of my hobbies, and this hobby is marketable. But I am more than someone who can write code. I have other hobbies too that my programming hobby pays for.

Also, university is a grind. I recommend finishing it rather than being tempted to let your emotions drive it. But, just like in the rest of life, remember to have fun and take the opportunity to meet people.

I work in medicine, specifically genetics, and virtually all code that I write is serving that purpose. A few near-death experiences in life is what keeps me going, each and every day.

Losing everything is the most motivating loss function. If only my life had a more stochastic optimizer that didn't get stuck in local minima.

It's a job that:

* allows autonomy (depending on where you are)

* is lucrative

* makes you a valued employee (often)

* is mentally challenging

* has a low barrier to entry (though getting higher)

* is location independent (or can be)

* is in demand across different geographies (especially most cities)

* is easy enough on the body to be done into your 80s

* doesn't require selling anything

* requires you to learn every day

* lets you build things that actually help people

I've been a developer for almost two decades and have looked at many other kinds of jobs, but haven't found anything that compares to that set of attributes. At least for me, it's the bees knees.

Note that above I used the word "development" and not coding. That was conscious. The world of software development includes the magical flow of coding, but is so much more.

Edit: I did write a blog post about the difference between a developer and a programmer.

I enjoy it, I'm good at it, and it pays well. It's rare in life that all three line up.

IMO: That's the best way to pick a career. Find something that you enjoy, you're good at, and pays well. It doesn't have to be exotic, BTW. Electricians and plumbers get paid well, and don't have much student debt.

BTW, even when you pick something you enjoy as a career, your job won't always be fun. There will be times your job isn't fun, times you aren't good at your job, and times it doesn't pay well. Part of being an adult is being able to manage the natural ups and downs in life.

Just FYI the 3 year mark when you're in University is notoriously the place where you get bored. Just push through for another year... you'll thank yourself later

My projects, by and large, serve a greater purpose than "neat code". I do a lot of modeling and basic research, so that's pretty motivating. It's not without its own grind, of course, but it's easier to convince myself that it's worth pulling long hours when the payoff is finding out something new about the world versus writing a slightly better ad-seller algorithm or something.

After being in the industry for around 10 years, my view has now expanded beyond just the projects im working on and into what I am contributing to the company. I am less motivated by 'programming' and more motivated by how it affects the business goals which in turn affects my livelihood and that of my colleagues.

I'm not surprised your feeling has dissipated. A computer really can do anything you can think of. After that, I'm not surprised your utility from that has disappeared.

There are a lot of different types of jobs in the world. Most require you to sit at a desk in a suit and attend meetings. Programming is fun because problems come in text format and you can solve them in a sense that more abstract disciplines cannot, i.e if you run code and it does what you want, you solved your problem. If you want true happiness, solve problems you care about. That true happiness is rare in any industry though. You probably maximize it if you're your own boss.

The only thing that can keep you going is you. Try to understand what you love and do what you love until you knock it out of the park.

Don't just look at the problem, itself. Look at the circumstances.

Get yourself healthy. Get some balance -- social interaction. New and different and positive inputs.

I think you'll sit down to the problems you're working on, refreshed.

And problem-solving might have renewed purpose. Improving the world you're engaged in.

Best wishes.

P.S. Another way of looking at this: Get some "domain expertise". I was always a lot more effective when I had a domain to which to apply my skills -- and that motivated me to improve those skills, to improve the domain or the instance of the domain with which I was engaged.

Also, what was it Larry Wall said?


I've strived to do what I enjoy. When that hasn't worked out, I've done whatever necessary to pay the bills. And, as others have noted, doing shit jobs has kept me looking.

There's been a general pattern. I would get tired of my work, and would put more and more energy into hobbies. At some point, then, I would leverage a hobby into a new career. Usually not exactly what I'd focused on, but something that a friend or mentor pointed me to.

So maybe coding per se isn't the rush it once was. But is there something that you're deeply committed to, where coding could make a huge difference?

The plain joy of solving problems via code. I'm 55 and wake up every day with another set of problems to code against, it never gets old. You can also make a lot of money along the way if you take some risks.

Being able to do things that I believe in.

I haven't seen many others mention this, most focus on basic sustenance, passion or luxurious life.

For me, the part of life worth living is that I get to do things that advance my personal values, which, while related to coding, are not necessarily any of those. As someone else suggested, having all the money in the world wouldn't make me change jobs.

I feel this question can be rephrased as "what is the meaning of life?". Is coding a mean to reach it? I'm sure that pursuing the meaning will keep anyone going.

You mentioned that you've been programming for over three years. In that time, have you ever completed and launched something?

It doesn't have to be a startup, though that's one possibility. Rather, it just has to be something where you can go from idea to reality and hopefully get a few users along the way.

I hated programming when I was in CS, then I discovered products and realized that I love solving problems. Code is a tool for me to solve problems.

Speaking as someone who just started his third programming job, and who had a previous unrelated career; the money.

The money and other benefits allow me to subsidize and fund the kind of life I want to have with my family. I know that my children and my wife in our later years will have the resources we need to be financially, physically, and emotionally healthy.

How do you evaluate which companies to join when you're looking for a job? Would salary be your primary factor?

(Asking this as someone who's juggling between Big Co. with RSUs and smaller startup that pays well, but nowhere near as much.)

You could go be a bankruptcy lawyer and write the same threatening letter over and over every day for the rest of your life

I agree. Between jobs the spark comes back. Shoving out and doing it solo for life now, due to reflections on circumstance changes. Not everyone must have the spark to code now that we have 0-100 code schools and stuff. I’d love a cozy job in R&D where the funding speaks for itself and not one breath will ever go down my neck. Haven’t browsed for it, but I can picture creating it myself with books, merch, contracts, etc. Helps to have a handle on energy flow, costs of things.

Employed work is by definition for money and will always be heart/gut wrenching or soul crushing to degrees, that’s a cost. Holding personal boundaries helps but invites plenty of abuse from above and ridicule from beside, in competitive markets. Economics, incentives, biology all factor in. A small piggy bank of FU money helps mindset and against being put in an intolerable or worse compromising spot.

For me it's solving actual problems faced by actual humans, making their lives easier or their work process less painful, and reaping the accolades and appreciation. Actually I'm kidding about the accolades... I do get them, but I don't really care. The point is, I feel like I'm helping people. In college the environment and the problems are probably a bit artificial, so you might not be getting that experience yet.

I still get some satisfaction from the "making the computer do what I want" thing, but usually that only happens in situations where first there's some degree of doubt that it'll actually do what I want. Which is usually when I'm trying to master a new technology. When using things I already know how to use, making the computer my beyatch is less of a surprise, so the feeling, as you say, dissipates.

As a programmer, you have a highly leveraged ability to affect change in the world. Some people are driven by the programming itself -- the art of it, the isolated problems to solve in a satisfying and elegant way, and the decent salary that comes with it. But for others, perhaps including you, it's a means to an end. What's your end?

Do you want to change people's lives, or make their lives better?

Do you want to have an outsize financial impact on a company and be appreciated for it?

Do you want to create something new alongside people you really enjoy?

Do you want to help shape the world in a positive way using technology?

Do you just want to have a comfortable, secure living and focus on other things (family, hobbies, etc)?

Are you driven by being the best at what you do?


I'm a PM, not an engineer, but I love creating things that materially improve people's lives in some way. That brings me deep satisfaction.

I grew up in a third world country in conditions that would be considered poverty here. Every day I'm thankful to be part of the 1% of the global population whose skills are in demand and who earn big bucks (relatively). I don't need much more motivation than that.

Bills. Mortgage. Family. The individuals in the development team I lead. All of these things make getting up in the morning and coming to the office well worth it.

Having a hobby that isn't coding, but just as intricate and puzzle-solving, is another outlet I have. I restore and refurb old video game consoles in my spare time. It restores my sense of patience and want for a carefully-deliberated project with problems to solve and no time horizon should I want to step away for a bit.

Coding used to be that hobby growing up. Then, in the dot-com boom, I made it my career. There are rare times I regret ever doing so, but on the balance I make an excellent salary, have benefits, a lot of flexibility, and I realize I easily made the right choice.

Answers here revolving around life are reasonable, but a bit deflating.

How about getting a bit of historical context? If you're a geometer in the era of Euclid, and you're grinding, it's not going to feel motivating. But...you're a geometer in the era of Euclid. Same thing goes for the CS revolution now.

Don't take it from me though - take it from Mehran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWRGPxSNnag

I'm 30 and been doing software as a day job for a decade, and as a hobby for three.

Other than being passionate about coding, what keeps me going is taking regular breaks - small and big. And by break, I mean stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with computers: downhill longboarding, hitch hiking, sailing, etc ;)

The industry pays really well, even on average, so taking a 1-2 month break between jobs is totally doable. Finding a job in tech that allows you to balance work&life is a bit harder, but if you're any good, it's gonna be you choosing the employer, not the other way around.

Recommended reading: http://expatsoftware.com/

I've gotten burned out pretty hard before, and also struggle with depression.

It's not a very exciting answer, but mine is "I'm good at it and it pays better than anything else someone would be willing to pay me to do every day." It supports me and my wife in a comfortable lifestyle, and I can work from home in my pajamas if I want to.

If I had all the money I could possibly need, I would probably take a very long break from programming, maybe a year or two. Then I would still code, but it would be only fun little personal projects, game jams, stuff like that. Things to stretch my skills and creativity because learning is fun.

I failed.

After 20 attempts, I was still a failure

I was about to give up

But one thing changed everything

I was watching a documentary on lions, and I came to know something interesting.

Lions fail 8 times out of 10

They fail a lot and one mistake may make them lose their life and reign.

But do they give up? Do they cry and complain?


They Fail - Learn - Evolve

And that's why they are called King of Animals

It was an important learning for me.

I will fail, but I must learn and evolve from them and never give up on my dreams. And thats keeps me going

As someone has rightly said, “If size really mattered, the elephant would be king of the jungle.”

Honestly I don't know. I've been working on an ambitious project for the last 6 months fighting procrastination. Working all by myself, sometimes showing my progress to friends and family, but no one really cares. I could really use someones input, no matter what kind, just need someone to tell me it's good or it sucks. No one cares. So I just keep going, money is running out, new bugs keep showing up, I patch them. Hopefully when I release it will get traction because I honestly don't want to rejoin the work force.

This question itself shows a little bit of privilege.

What keeps me going is having to pay the bills. And even after you pay bills you have to worry about retirement, and if you have enough for that you can worry about your family and friends.

Don't get me wrong I actually REALLY like my job right now but I didn't always like what I was doing. And probably one day I will also dislike what I am doing, but in the end you have to keep working so long as you need money.

I make tens of thousands of people's lives easier, safer, and less stressful every day, and I help keep 450 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere every day.

I think the biggest thing you can do is to find a project that really interests you.

After I started my first job, I had a long period where I no longer had any motivation to code. What snapped me out of it was starting a project that I found interesting and challenging (related to data compression, if I remember correctly). For me, at least, solving a difficult technical problem is what keeps me going.

It is not the computers I enjoy, it is solving real world problems. I really get a kick out of that, computer or not.

If You Get Tired Learn To Rest Not To Quit

This captures it pretty well:


I don't look at it as just coding, but rather the purpose behind that code.

I don't know if I am interested in coding for years and years, but I do enjoy solving problems and right now I am doing it via coding.

Seeing that code solve real world problems for our users is a very good feeling.

As a part of society, you receive a lot.

Food, water, shelter, security, all sorts of services and conveniences... all of them requiring time from different people and the sacrifice of countless plants, animals and the environment.

What keeps me going is working hard to make those sacrifices count.

Don't have anything to live for just too scared to give up and die.

Business, Mortgage, Wife, Kids, family, friends and the various lovely moments/things that life has to offer. Thats what keeps me going at the moment.

For me it is two things. First, the ability to think about abstract problems is incredibly interesting.

Second, the job pays very well and is in high demand.

When I was you age: the rush of the "it works!" moment.

Now: knowing that when I get home, my infant baby will smile at me.

Curiosity. The desire to create. The will to have agency and interact with the universe. Interacting with other ppls ideas too.

remember that you are always choosing to do what you do. look around at other stuff if you are bored. i haven't been too unhappy with my work (which has varied) because i always feel like im doing what i want to do. just try to convince yourself that you are doing the best thing given your circumstances.

Fun by exploring new ways. It implies not to follow the majority.

If it's boring, do it differently.

Occasional thanks from end users, hearing how stuff I wrote makes their lives easier.


I still have student loans to pay off.

> What makes you wake up every morning and sit down to code again?

Having other coders to talk to about code as well as life. You won't have access to such people unless you keep working with them.

As it happens most of my current team is remote, but a lot of the socialising is over Slack.

And it's a big deal having qualified experts to talk to about stuff; they know the most about what's interesting, what works, and what's been tried before.

You know what's bad for health? Being homeless. Imagine the stress you have now. Now imagine the stress down the line when you have an eviction notice in your hands because you can't afford to pay rent, drive to work and eat at the same time. If you aren't getting hired for low-end jobs then a) You are a fake and you cannot code (fizzbuzz is an impossible task) b) You disgust people when they meet you and they vomit once you leave the room c) Your resume and job search process is fucked up You need to be amazing to get an amazing job (or fake it like most people do). You need to be average to get an average job. Can you code fizzbuzz? Can you create an android calculator app in a weekend? Congratulations, you are way above average! Because the average guy basically needs a personal assistant because he's fucking retarded and he still gets hired. No problem at A. Do you shower? Do you have a clean set of clothes? Do you have greasy hair and a tattoo of a dick on your forehead? Do you look like you listen to heavy music and will shoot up the place? Do you manage to look at the other person in the eyes at least once when they talk to you? Do you manage to make sound when you open your mouth and not spit at the interviewer? Do you manage a handshake and do you manage not to cuss and swear during the interview? Then B is okay. The reason you can't find a job is because 1) your resume sucks 2) you suck at prostituting yourself to the employer 3) you have no projects. Make a fucking android calculator if you apply for mobile jobs. You've opened android studio and managed to compile something that doesn't set your phone on fire, you are already ahead of 99% of applicants. Make a web calculator if you are applying to web jobs. Make a flappy bird clone in Unity if you are applying to Unity jobs. Unreal engine if unreal engine jobs. Sure, curing cancer or making spaceships fly is cool and all, but "I have experience WITH THE TOOL YOU MENTIONED IN THE LISTING AND I HAVE A PROJECT IN GITHUB THAT ACTUALLY RUNS WITHOUT CRASHING AND IS OVER 20 LINES LONG" puts you above and beyond 99.99% of job applicants because they have a hello world app in C# that doesn't even compile. Open a job listing, pick every technology they have and make a project that includes it. C++? Sure thing. Git? Yup. ReactJsAssemblysadfsadfeafsefsaf Framework? Yup, got a USD to EUR converter in that. Once you start to have projects that include stuff your employer is interested in, you can talk about it. I did some obscure random thing in Matlab like fucking ages ago back when I was a 1st year student. And the employer happened to be interested because he did a similar thing 20 years ago and we talked about it for 30 minutes and what kind of things did I learn since and blah blah blah. Boom, hired. I fucked around with a library employer mentioned on the listing and did a simple proof-of-concept (like 30 lines of code, took me 30min) in it because I was applying to a job way above my competence level. I cut the line straight past everyone else because they had nothing, I had something. Hired. Applied to 300 jobs every summer during study years. NOTHING. Fixed my resume, added projects, tailored resume for each employer to tick off every box. Actually get interviewed almost every time and since I actually did familiarize myself with the technologies instead of lying, I started getting hired because everyone else was like a deer in headlights when asked about the technology. If you don't give a damn about working a top company, you don't have to be a top candidate. You just have to beat everyone else. Everyone decent and above will apply to top companies and end up not getting hired because they weren't top candidates. You are smart, you don't need a top company. You will be the best candidate in a mediocre company.

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