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My experience as a Gazan girl getting into Silicon Valley companies (daliaawad28.medium.com)
1723 points by daliaawad 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 460 comments



Hiii everyone, this is my first time posting here! I have read Hacker News sometimes but only thought about sharing my own post after seeing Manara's post (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25849054) last month. I asked them if I can share this here and they said it was a good idea. :)

I’m a 19-year-old Gazan female who participated in Manara last year and got internships at Google and Repl.it. I’m so excited I will spend this summer at Google in Europe! I got lots of questions about my experience when people heard about it on Facebook so I wrote this blog post to let other young engineers in Palestine and the Middle East know how they can get into amazing companies like this too.


Congrats! This post is awesome and really put a huge smile on my face. It reminded me of how enthusiastic I was about programming at your age and there aren't a lot of better places to start your career than at Google. Best of luck.


Probably the best post I’ve ever seen on HN. You’re a really good writer too, which is very rare for developers, so you’ve got a huge differentiator there!


In a language that I'm guessing wasn't her first, no less!


Completely agree - My eyes were glued to the screen start to finish and felt like I was on the journey with you! Awesome work!


Hi! I have some statements and one question. I love seeing women making their way into the field of technology and I truly wish you the best of luck. I have two daughters who are interested in computer science and engineering, and my oldest will be attending University this fall after being accepted at age 16. She has had to fight for things which would have been, in my opinion, granted without thought if she were male.

Thank you for being awesome! The world is already a better place with you in it!

As for my question, a friend of mine from Palestine told me that if I ever make it to Palestine that I must try ice cream from Rukab's Ice Cream. I've never made it there, and I'm not sure that I ever will. Have you eaten this? How does it compare to the ice cream in Europe?


Manara's Polish-American co-founder catching up late here to say I never tried that ice cream, but I do recommend eating knafeh in the West Bank and fattet hummus in Gaza! The food in in West Bank vs Gaza is quite different... I think Gaza is particularly good... but unfortunately it's almost impossible to get there unless you're a humanitarian worker or a journalist.

NOTE: if you work in tech and want to mentor in Palestine, check out Gaza Sky Geeks and Code for Palestine. They organize on-site travel for select volunteers (full transparency: I'm involved with both organizations)


Mmmm, knafeh!


Rukab’s is in Ramallah, in the West Bank. It looks tasty, and stretches like taffy.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/08/438473615/go...


I don’t in any way want to diminish the many good spirits here. Just to add a little fire under western readers’ butts.

It’s good to know when talking about Palestine whether you’re geographically talking about the West Bank or Gaza. They’re separated by not a lot of distance but a lot of different kinds of restrictions.

A lot of the rule over the West Bank vacillates between heavy lockdown and expansion of Israeli urban development. Most (not all) Gazans don’t get to experience even that flux.


Looks like Turkish ice cream (I don't know who invented it, it's what I've seen people call it). The article mentions this a bit.

There is a place in Sydney in Newtown that makes a great tasting one, and I had some from a theatrical man in a stall in Singapore once so something similar can be found around the world.


Hakiki is amazing. Get the chocolate baklava flavour, or the rose water flavour


Yes that's the one, I think I tried some kind of chocolate/hazelnut but it's been a while.

I strangely detest rose flavour unless it's also mixed with chocolate in which case I love it (and will devour a bag of chocolate coated Turkish delight).


The generic name is "booza", and it's popular in lost of countries in the region. The most famous comes from a shop in the souq in the Old City in Damascus, which is also the most efficient shop I've ever seen. The number of people they serve per minute is quite a sight. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booza


You're doing so much for Palestine just by blogging and being the intelligent girl you are


Such an uplifting post! Your story is one of hope and if it inspires at least one more person, it will have achieved its purpose.

Congrats to you, Dalia, and best wishes / good luck to your mates as well.

To all - investment in girls' education lifts the entire society [1][2].

[1] https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/girlseducation [2] https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education


PLAN is a great charity for that. They do things like give girls food to take home from school. It made it so the family would be better off sending their girl to school. Efficient and effective!

PLAN has low overhead, too. They don't spend fortunes on marketing. A high percentage of donations (~90% IIRC) goes to the people in need.

I learned this from PLAN Canada, but I'm sure it is the same elsewhere. I have no relation, just a fan of their work.


Nothing against educating girls, but this is probably the wrong conclusion. Economic situation determines whether girls can get an education or not, so educated girls correlate with a good economic situation. Not the other way round (educated girls causing a good economic situation).

Personally, I think this focus on girls only is sexist and I take care to never donate to charities that only want to help girls.


I think in areas with more traditional cultures, educating girls DOES improve the situation over a longer time horizon.

Those girls will become mothers, and their education will translate to providing better opportunities and a more sophisticated outlook for their children.

I agree it seems sexist to only help girls, but helping anyone is good.


The argument that mothers can educate their kids seems good.


Congratulations!

Your enthusiasm is actually charming. I'm sure it has put smile on many faces. It brings this nostalgic feeling of how many actually started. Have a blast in your career!


Congratulations! Have a great time at Google.

On another note, the repl.it interview sounds awesome. It's a rare interview process where the candidate gets to do useful and interesting work (in this case, work with operational transformations) as part of the interview process. Kudos to repl.it for their awesome sounding interview process and to you for crushing it. :)


OT? I read a post about CRDTs being more useful https://josephg.com/blog/crdts-are-the-future/


End of the day, both are hard to implement. On bugout.dev, I chose to go with a simple locking mechanism for collaboration (similar to WebDAV).


Congrats Dalia! And may your story - that someone from Gaza, especially a girl, is a talented dev (and writer!), and has landed a top global tech job - one day be so commonplace that it's not breaking news.


Congratulations from the MIT App Inventor Team. We're glad we could play a small part in your success. Wishing you continued success and happiness.


I am so happy for you. Obviously you are very talented and determined and despite the obvious handicaps this too often shitty world gave you, you are breaking out to the world stage. Congratulations!

How can we help? Do you need money for housing in Europe, better computers, anything? I am quite sure a lot of us would be glad to chip in.


Oh this is so kind of you. Right now I am all set but it is possible that I need help especially with simple things like how to find a place to stay when I arrive in Germany this summer. Again, thank you for offering help :)


The email is in my profile. Please do reach out should you need help.


Yes! How can we help? Having been helped in the past I’d be more than happy to pass it on!

Super happy for you!


Congratulations!

I'm curious: do people from Gaza primarily identify as "Gazan" versus "Palestinian"? I was confused for a moment by the title before I clicked, as I'd not seen that adjective used in that way before.


In my experience, yes: Palestinians from Gaza usually explicitly refer to themselves as Gazan (in Arabic: غزّاوي).

Source: lived in the UAE and have a number of Palestinian friends.


No, it's not about "Gazan vs Palestinian". It's that Arabs sometimes refer to someone using his city. For example, if someone is from the city of Khalil (Jericho), he might be called as "khalili", people from Nablus as nabulsi. This is a trend in most Arab countries, in Jordan, people from city of Maan refer themselves as Maanis, from Irbid as irbidawi, etc...


I think of myself as Gazan and Palestinian. Just like a Newyorker and American. But it was important to choose the word Gazan in the title because the Gaza situation is different from other parts of Palestine. Gaza is a very small piece of Palestine near the mediterranean sea. It’s 35 km long and 7 km wide. We are surrounded by walls on 3 sides and most of us have never been able to travel, that’s why I said Gazans because Google seemed as distant as an alien planet.


Congratulations and thank you for posting this inspirational story! I became interested in programming 26 years ago after taking the same class you did. So thanks to David Malan and his forebearer Margo Seltzer for CS50.


Congrats Dalia. I read your post and then returned here hoping that you were active in the comments. Not only are you clearly a strong engineer, but you're also a great writer which is an extremely valuable skill as you'll hopefully discover. Best of luck at Google!


Congrats Dalia! Thank you for sharing your story. I just about teared up in public reading it. I hope you have a great summer.


Me too! Very uplifting!!!


Really cool Dalia ! I hope you become a great coder and find your purpose :)

If after Google you're interested in sustainability and want to come work at a cool startup in France, let me know haha!


Ooooh thank you so much! That's great! Also, why don’t you hire someone else from Palestine though? They’re just as good and they’re available now…

I was in Manara’s 4th cohort. The 5th cohort just started hunting for internships and jobs. Two of them are my friends Hend and Rula, they’re just like me, they went to RBK and then Manara. You can meet them by emailing Manara (www.manara.tech)


What an incredibly gracious and thoughtful reply. Bravo to you for suggesting other folks.

I hope the parent poster contacts your friends.

I wish you much success this summer!


Hi, if I can ask, what are your choices for ISPs in Gaza? What is the situation like for residential fixed broadband, and for LTE services?


Well, we have good wired connections here in Gaza from Paltel and other companies but our phones only have 2G because of the political situation. The main problem can be with the electricity going off for long hours but we have alternative solutions: generators, batteries, etc.


Congrats, Dalia! I hope we'll continue to see posts from you in the future, documenting your progress.


Thank you so much! Sure I can come back and share more updates! :)


Mashallah, congratulations!


Dalia I want to wish you the best of luck. I am an Israeli and I loved reading this. I really hope to see more and more engineers from Gaza getting opportunities like the one you have.

In a previous role of mine I had the privilege of meeting and working with some Palestinian Engineers from the West Bank. It was only for a few days as it was an internal company hackathon, but it was still great and we are still in contact today.

Sure there were some differences and some interesting conversations but it also allowed us to hear each other’s perspective and to solve engineering problems together.

I hope to see more Palestinian Engineers succeeding like you are and also more Israeli and Palestinian engineers working on projects together.

Good luck and all the best!


Thank you for posting this. It reminds us that in any difficult situation the common man and woman on the ground can still be civil and have mutual respect


More often than not the common people on the ground have no personal reason to hate each other. Activists (I’m using this term to refer to all politically engaged individuals taking action according to their camp) and politicians are the ones stoking the tensions and creating situations to their advantage.


Peace is around the corner. Soon more opportunities will open up for more Gazans. .(edit: i'm looking forward to the day)


Leadership will need to change first.


It's happening already! The Abraham Accords are the first step. Another half- generation or so, leadership issues will have resolved themselves. There's no point twiddling thumbs and waiting for bibi or abbas to expire.


Mabrook

Really happy to read about your journey, incredibly inspirational.


Since you passed the bar at repl.it too, after your google internship you could get back in touch with repl.it and tell them you are now more experienced and still want an internship, they might just add you for the next summer.

I have to add, your story is heartwarming and I hope other people who aren't so fortunate will be able to learn and get more opportunity and achieve like you have.


Congratulations Dalia!

Did Google tell you that you will go physically to Europe for the internship? Last summer internships were virtual due to covid19 restrictions, and with the measures from most countries, I'd be surprised if this summer internships are held on the phyisical office, while Google still has WFH.


You can do anything! You are so powerful. Thank you for sharing your story with us.


Congratulations Dalia! Best of luck with your new adventures in and outside of Google!

Your story motivated me even more to keep nurturing my niece's interest in programming :)


Which country(ies) in Europe you're going to? Hope COVID-19 doesn't spoil your travel opportunities!


The team I will be working with is located in Poland. But the internship will be remotely so I am working on getting a visa to Germany because Germany has a consulate service in Gaza so it’s easier for me to get that visa. I heard about another Manara participant who got into Google Poland and then had to wait 8 months for his visa because of Covid-19. He’s actually in West Bank and there is consulate service there but they stopped during Covid and he recommended I try Germany instead.


Oh wow, that's not good. In normal times, I know some European countries allowed you to enter with a tourist visa, which is much easier, then let you apply for a work visa once you got a job offer... and if you told them you came into the country for the personal job interview, you could wait for the visa while in the country! I know because I've done it... but that was many years ago and with COVID-19 now, I don't think they're even issuing tourist visas anyway. In any case, hope you manage without issues... I've been to both countries and they are both beautiful and very "European" (as in, lovely little towns, great food and very kind people).


Thank you for sharing! The world is a dark place right now, and your story is very uplifting.


This is a very uplifting post. Thanks for sharing. I hope more people will follow in your footprints, when they see it's possible.

About racism, it is sadly alive and well in Europe also. I think the tech hubs are likely better than many other places as they are more diverse. In Stockholm, where I am, we have had to import lots of SW developers as the industry demand is much larger than the local supply (SW developer is the single most common occupation, all categories) but I still see occasional instances of under-the-table racism - e.g. a landlord might prefer to rent out an apartment to a native swede before an immigrant. And women can also find themselves isolated and sometimes have to work much harder to prove themselves in a very male-dominated segment. But I think we're heading in the right direction at least. Hopefully, my daughters will not experience these things, if they choose to work in SW development when they're adults.

Keep up the trailblazing!


It's unfortunate, but it's understandable that "regular" people want to minimize risks by e.g. avoiding the unknown. What I mean is that you can't really blame the typical citizen who sees something unknown, reads the news and is concerned about his/her property.

Non-western immigrants in Sweden have a bad reputation, simply because integration has been handled poorly by the government (and their immigration policies have arguably been way too open), and that people come with all kinds of backgrounds, war torn countries etc.

It's a chicken and egg situation, I think the best thing Sweden can do at this point is to partly shut the doors on immigration and focus on integrating the population currently living in ghetto like suburbs.


Understanding is not condoning. Their motivation for discriminating people on the basis of their ethnicity may be understandable, but cannot be forgiven. You can improve integration while also letting immigration in.


Do you program in - or what do you prefer - right to left as in Arabic or left to right as in Latin ? edit: I see now that the image was taken through a mirror, I thought it was right-to-left programming.


it's not a choice, we program LTR and in latin because it's a requirement of all programming languages (apart from insignificant exceptions)


There have been a couple of big HN threads about this - but IIRC, it's an art project rather than an executable language:

قلب: a non-ASCII programming language written in Arabic - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21352508 - Oct 2019 (623 comments)

Ramsey Nasser's Arabic programming language artwork - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7700691 - May 2014 (108 comments)


FWIW, it's the same in Israel.

Despite Hebrew and Arabic being right-to-left languages, all coding is done in normal left-to-right Latin (really, English) programming frameworks.

As Dalia noted, all major programming languages are left-to-right with Latin alphabet, and their frameworks/SDKs/APIs are filled with English words for functions and classes.


This can be amusingly seen peeking through in PHP sometimes. The scope-resolution operator appears in the code as "Paamayim Nekudotayim" (double-colon in Hebrew, for non-speakers). You can see it in parse errors:

> $ php -r :: > Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scope_resolution_operator#PHP


People then keep the IDEs in English? Or the UI is set up to the right-to-left flow, only the text blocks with the code itself are left-to-right?


My Iranian coworker leaves everything in English for what it’s worth. I can ask her what she would prefer and why?


we keep it in LTR although some prefer to set up the IDE for their preferred latin based non english language. it's because some software messes RTL and the translations for the technical keywords in arabic are not standardized. For example I can't tell you what "Refactoring" would be translated to in arabic


My first assumption (which I guess was correct) was that the image was flipped, but then I got confused because I started looking closer and, while I could see some English syntax ("for { ..."), it also looked as if there were Arabic characters mixed in, so I wondered if it was some interesting mix, and also that they were rendering English RTL.

Then I realized that was much less likely than simply having flipped the image.


Exactly! I program left to right in English like the whole world I think. :)


Congratulations! Your story is really inspiring.


Mabrook ya Dalia!


Congrats on your achievement and thank you for sharing your experiences. Best of luck in your future endeavors!


Congrats on your achievement! Do you plan on getting a degree or skipping it if you get an offer?


Thank you! I am planning to continue my studies after the internship :)


Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story which I am sure will inspire many others.


Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story! Best of luck to you!!


Welcome to Google!

Excited for your new adventures - congratulations!


Congratulations! Your story is very inspiring.


Congratulations, and I am very proud of you!


Thank you! Wish you all the best!


Congratulations and good luck!


Congratulations!


Congrats!!!!


Thank you for sharing this. It was a pleasure to read - the youthful zest of your excitement and passion really expresses itself in your writing. I was also touched by how one of your immediate priorities is to help your parents and brothers financially. (Hope you are able fulfill all your wishes).

If you don't mind sharing with us - I am curious how educated your parents are and what their profession is currently?


Thank you! My father is an engineer and my mother has a master degree in psychology. My father works for al-baladiyya, I think in English it’s called the municipality. My mother is working with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program which is an NGO. My mom’s salary is stable but my dad’s is not.

The problem is that there are few jobs in Gaza due to the wars and the closed borders. Lucky us they are working but my father is earning just 50% of the actual salary. This happens a lot in Gaza nowadays. The economic situation has been getting a lot worse for the last few years.


Forgive my ignorance and curiosity - but why is your father's pay not steady if he works in a municipality? If he works at a Muncipality, it should mean he works for the government, and everywhere in the world government jobs pay may be low but it is supposed to be steady with good job security?


I interviewed Dalia and a few other people referred to us by Manara at Repl.it. It was such a pleasure meeting kids that are so smart and have an insane drive.

We have a really high bar for hiring at Repl.it, Dalia and the other youngsters from Palestine performed better than at least half the experienced engineers I've interviewed in the past. We extended an offer to one Dalia's classmates and he started yesterday as an intern with high potential for full-time, as our internships usually are since we invest a lot in them.

It was such a pleasure meeting you Dalia, wish you all the best. Hope to work with you in the future (maybe when we can offer US visas).

P.S. We're still hiring


Thank you so much Faris! It was such an amazing experience interviewing at Repl.it and I am glad I got to know you. For sure, I will come back and reapply to to join your team :)


> We have a really high bar for hiring at Repl.it, Dalia and the other youngsters from Palestine performed better than at least half the experienced engineers I've interviewed in the past.

I really don't want to sound negative, but I find this difficult to believe. Sorry if I sound too harsh, but experienced engineers who don't perform better than recent graduates sure it's a thing, but 50% of the ones you have interviewed don't perform better than a recent graduate? Perhaps you were exaggerating? Or perhaps your interview process is really focused on what recent graduates know best (popular algorithms) and not in what experienced engineers know best (how to deal with real world codebases). Again, I don't mean to sound harsh, I think perhaps that "...at least half..." was just a way of saying "Dalia was really good" (which sounds more credible).


Experienced engineers who perform better than a recent graduate are usually not interviewing. They have jobs that pay them extremely well.

There's an adverse selection problem with interviewing, in that people who are good tend to disappear from the labor market and when they do appear on the labor market they get snapped up quickly. New grads don't have this adverse selection effect: there is a very good reason why they don't already have a job. This is why companies invest so much in internships: this will often be the only time to snap up a promising young developer before they start building a career at your competitor.

https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2006/09/06/finding-great-deve...


> Experienced engineers who perform better than a recent graduate are usually not interviewing. They have jobs that pay them extremely well.

Doubtful. There is constant churn in tech, as the best way to get a raise is to switch jobs. It's well documented that junior/senior engineers (and beyond) switch jobs, on average, every 2-3 years. Longer tenures are generally favored due to vesting schedules (though I've had several friends ditch Amazon before the [iirc] 4-year cliff).


Eventually you hit a ceiling, and there aren't companies that pay better than your current employer. You're getting raises each time you switch jobs because your experience & job performance qualifies you for jobs at progressively more economically successful businesses, which both can and will pay you better. This can't last forever: eventually you get to the "center" of your industry, the set of companies with more money than everyone else, and you're better off performing better within them than finding another job.

(Or alternatively, you find a fast-growing startup that's growing faster than the wealthiest companies in your industry, hop on the ground floor for stock options, and ride the stock up. Once that happens you don't need money, though.)


This has been my personal experience as well. Stay at the company and get a 6-10% raise or jump ship and get a 50% raise.


Try doing the numbers in your head.

You switch jobs every two years, applying to four companies, getting two offers and taking the one that most closely doubles your salary, then you’re gone from the market again.

Meanwhile the other 1000 guys who applied for that gig you took are still out there looking. They'll apply for 50 jobs this week, 50 next week, and 50 more every week for the next two years. They’ll be your competition again next time you’re on the market.

Now think about how many of “you” it will take doing your four interviews every 2 years before you are anything but noise in the process from a hiring perspective.

It’s the reason guys like you get offered nearly every job you apply for. Because the person in charge of hiring is amazed to have found somebody capable of programming computers at all.


A few years back when I was not so good at being a leveraged employee delivering value, I remember doing ~30 interviews in a single week because I needed to talk to that many people to find a job in a timely manner.


Is the constant churn just a Silicon Valley thing? I get a raise every year of about 8% which keeps me well compensated even after working at the same job for 8 years. It’s possible the company I work for is an outlier? We have lots of engineers who have been working here for 15+ years.

As a result, my interviewing skills have deteriorated significantly. I wouldn’t be surprised if a talented programmer straight out of college could out-interview me even though I have much more experience.


I doubled my salary each time I changed jobs, from internship -> first job out of high school -> first job out of college -> Google. When I got to Google I said, "I guess that's the end of the doubling." Nope, my compensation doubled again while I was an employee there, and then doubled again. Left to do a startup and then went back - at double the compensation.


Just need to double your job about 25 times and then you'll make as much money as Jeff Bezos


The "problem" that I have now is that there are few companies that can offer me double my salary, and none in my area. I'm not willing to relocate so my only hope is that FAANG-type companies start to hire remote developers.

I put problem in quotations because it is very hard to complain about being paid too much :(


You're an exception. In developed countries for sure most companies don't give out raises higher than a few percentage points, and definitely not constantly 8%. For reference, at your current rate in 10 years you're doubling your salary.

In developing countries your story is a bit more common but even there you can accelerate things by switching companies once every few years (somewhere between 3-5). After a while you probably want to stay put to get promotions.


It also depends where in your career are you. When I started as a junior and improved year by year, my salary grew 10% yearly in the same company, for 6 years.


It definitely depends on industry location. In the big tech centers, 10% avg increase over time would be, well average (Seattle, Austin, NY, Boston, bay area). I was shocked when I learned my last company was paying new college grads more than 100k. Then it got to be 120, 130 (total comp, salary, bonus, stock). I think the starting salary could have gone up 10% a year. This was a company that wasn't a faang but competed with the faangs for hiring.


Interview skills do degrade. You have to practice before you interview if you haven't been doing it recently. Interviewing is a performance, it's different than normal programming, but the world mostly expects you to handle that difference.

1. You have to solve a problem immediately (whiteboard or now in a webbrowser)

2. It's often frowned upon to research via google search something, although in real life most people do it all the time.

3. you have only an hour to solve a problem, and what if you don't see the 'right and easy way' to do it? In real life things aren't so simple.

4. Don't forget it's a performance! You have to be on your best, sharpest most intelligent and witty behavior, think through things, it can be exhausting.

These are just a few of the ways that interviewing is artificial.


Interviewing is a performance, it's different than normal programming, but the world mostly expects you to handle that difference.

I was looking last year, I flunked my few interviews. Then I paused and spent a few weeks working through CtCI. After that I was easily getting offers. Was I a better programmer than before? No, of course not, I had just learned how to put on a show, and I forgot it all the moment I had an offer I was happy with.


What is CtCI?


I think you need to define "interview". I recently just got a new job and in the interview process I definitely did worse on the algorithms than I would've done right out of college, but everything else went great. "Here's how I've done it for 8 years that has been to the satisfaction of people who write paychecks" goes a long way for many companies.


Yes, that's true. It depends on how the interview is structured. I would not excel in an interview that relies on whiteboard coding, algorithm problems, and CS trivia, but I can talk for hours about the projects that I have worked on and real problems that I have solved.


A steady raise rate of 8% when not being promoted would be phenomenal. After 15 years you'd be triple your original pay, which, for non-promo compensation, is unheard of.


I agree that it is pretty great. I think triple my starting pay is very doable at my company. I know that the people at the top of the engineering org chart are doing quite well for themselves.


Looking at my friend group, it seems like a mixed bag.

We're in our early 40s. About half have been at their current place of employment for close to 10 years now. The other half seem to change jobs every couple of years, although some of those had a long tenure before the recent bought of job swapping (they haven't found a new place they like).


that's only a 6% increase (accounting for us inflation). I am sure you can get more if you change jobs.


Yes, but even in that case, they tend to get picked up quickly. They're not staying in the pool for months and months and months, racking up dozens of interviews.


Yep. Last time I interviewed I did one interview at a random place I didn't care about just to get rid of jitters, one at a mid-tier place I'd actually accept if I didn't get another offer and then two at FANG companies. I easily passed all of them except one of the FANGs and then I was off the market. The time before that I did a single interview. The time before that though I wasn't as experience and probably interviewed at 20-30 places before I got a job.


> I did one interview at a random place I didn't care about just to get rid of jitters,

What a shitty thing to do.


This is such a weird comment to make: these are companies that can quite literally (and quite often) let you go for any reason at all (if you live in an at-will-employment state). I've done this exact thing before, and I've also resigned without 2 weeks notice to chase greener pastures. Business decisions should always be purely transactional and borne out of your own interest. Anything else is self-sabotage.

Companies sure as shit don't care about you, and you caring about them gives them a leg up, not you.


Most of the time when people do this, they're open to accepting an offer if it turned out to be really great. They just know that such an offer from a particular company is really unlikely.

I don't see a big problem with it. While it may 'waste' some time on the company's part, it also sends a signal of, "hey, you could get some of these really high quality engineers if you were willing to [pay more/offer more vacation/offer remote work/etc.]".

Now, if you're unwilling to accept an offer from a particular company even if their terms blow you away, then yeah, that's a dick move.


This is exactly what I've done the last few interview cycles I went through. For me, my screening interview was with a company that had a tone of public problems with treatment of female engineers and fired the ceo soon after. But they had some good engineers too. I interviewed with them and it was a mess, but I did get good experience. I thought I failed, they never told me, then 6 months later tried to get me to come do a full loop.

I think it's a smart strategy to pick 1 or 2 companies you'd never want to work out, including for low pay, and do your practice there. You should tell them if you pass why you don't want to come there, including for the low pay.


How so? If they turned out to be amazing then I would have considered an offer, I just didn't go into it expecting to accept anything.


Exactly. People who are good are always going to be referrals, once they've worked at a few places, their networks are just not going to let them get away. The only times I've found where you are interviewing someone experienced who turns out good is

1) someone coming from a big corporate job where they were undervalued/underutilized

2) someone coming from a different region, different country, where they have no local network


Exactly. People who are good are always going to be referrals

Only inside a community, not coming from outside.


Also, referrals still have to go through interviews, so it's not really unusual to interview someone who is senior and skilled.


Right, and that's why we still source and recruit, to pull in people from outside of our community. It just has a much lower hit rate.


That’s not true. You can have people who are in multiple communities refer in someone from outside.

I’ve had it happen to me and done it for others.


Its the old boys club. You do realize there are tons of programmers in just the US that have no contacts with the coasts? This is what makes the Ivy League so valuable which is very good at discriminating over large groups of people.

My favorite is businesses and colleges that don't take applicants from PO Boxes.


Sounds nice and awfully convenient for those supporting the current interviewing practices. But does this apply to all experienced engineers, 50%, 5% ? US only, Europe, Russia, India?

We need better proof and better data than a 2006 blog post.


It doesn't have to apply to all experienced engineers to make a big difference. Say that only 50% of engineers on the job market are bad, but the bad ones apply for 100 jobs and the good ones apply to 2. Then of the interviews conducted, 98% of them will be with bad engineers.


You’re simply taking away from an incredible achievement here.

She cleared interviews at both Repl.it and Google. She implemented an assignment based on operational transformations and having studied this myself it’s far from trivial. If you folks ever retire this question Id love to have a crack at it.

She also cleared the Google interview which goes deep into algorithmic aspects and system design. Which means that she’s brilliant at both abstract design and execution.

To be able to do both while graduating does place someone in the upper brackets of engineering skill. Some don’t fulfill it because of other reasons but that’s another matter.

It’s not like the bar is being lowered. They’re held to the same bar as Stanford and MIT grads who apply and they come from a third world country with only a bit of remedial coaching. It’s what top school grads already know from their campus coaching and tips from their seniors.

People who say this is akin to gaming the process you too can easily get the same by dropping a trivial amount of money on CTCI, EPI and Pramp for mock interviews.

I wrote this a little bit too much in frustration but I’m tired of these assumptions that people from the third world cannot show incredible potential sometimes exceeding their first world peers and are only held back by bad systems and politics.

There are untold depths of genius all over the planet. We haven’t even come CLOSE to most people on earth realizing even a fraction of their potential.

“ I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” - Stephen Jay Gould


I feel like you’re projecting unrelated frustrations onto the questions being asked:

> taking away from an incredible achievement here

> held to the same bar as Stanford and MIT grad

> you too can easily get the same

> assumptions that people from the third world cannot

These have nothing to do with the discussion, which is that it’s disingenuous to call a new grad better than an experienced engineer in that the interview process is obviously biased towards new grads.

No one is complaining that she got the job. We all know how to “game the system.” Whether from Stanford or community college, anyone with Leetcode and a few weeks can easily pass these interviews. So I am not sure why you are implying that people are bitter about some perceived inability to get such a position.

People are just pointing out how disingenuous of a statement it is for the OP to say “better than an experienced engineer” when they have literally no metric to judge this. And no, system design interviews don’t really count. A few days with the System Design Primer will solve that.


Rubbish.

>These have nothing to do with the discussion, which is that it’s disingenuous to call a new grad better than an experienced engineer in that the interview process is obviously biased towards new grads.

From root comment: “Dalia and the other youngsters from Palestine performed better than at least half the experienced engineers I've interviewed in the past.”. There’s nothing disingenuous about the interviewer’s belief.

From Dalia’s article: “repl.it’s interviews were really different. First they gave me an operational transformation homework assignment.”, “For my second interview, about two weeks later, I had to prepare a presentation with ideas to improve the product.”.

You are making stuff up about Leetcode and whatever - the article itself has facts that show your assumptions to be wildly incorrect.


> Whether from Stanford or community college, anyone with Leetcode and a few weeks can easily pass these interviews.

That is, of course, if your resume doesn't get tossed out for not being diverse enough [0][1].

[0] https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/2/17070624/google-youtube-wi...

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/new-lawsuit-exposes-googles-desp...


But this is what people are objecting to, isn't it?

That anyone reasonably clever which spends months studying CTCI, EPI and Pramp and whatever else and doing mock interviews will pass the interview, while an experienced programmer will not just by virtue of their skills and knowledge.


> anyone reasonably clever which spends months studying CTCI, EPI and Pramp and whatever else and doing mock interviews will pass the interview

Spoken like someone who has never interviewed at Google.

I have 6 years experience, a M.S. in CS, have worked at SV unicorns, and studied for 2 months for my Google interview and still failed. Am I an idiot? Possibly, but more likely that the interviews are hard and there is a lot of randomness.

Until you actually study and try yourself, don't talk about how easy it is for anyone "reasonably clever".


Randomness is definitely a factor, there are so many things that can go wrong, from having a bad day, an interviewer having a bad day, just bad luck on the set of questions you are asked, the list goes on.

I have performed a lot of coding interviews (probably 400+), I'm painfully aware of how limited the signal is that I can reliably read from 45 minutes with a candidate

I deliberately ask a question that has no algorithmic or data structure component to it (and tell candidates that) it's just a simple problem solving coding question which allows some insight into general coding and engineering chops

I still see experienced engineers struggle. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why, but lack of preparation/practice definitely seems to be a problem

Covid appears (at least for me) to have killed off the whiteboard


> I still see experienced engineers struggle

I've seen experienced engineers who I know for a fact can code and solve problems decently completely freeze and blank out during easy live coding challenges.

I think interviewing is a stressful situation. It's hard for reasons outside an applicant's knowledge or intelligence. Interviewing seems to be a skill in itself. I know I hate it... :(


I give out a certain coding question to my candidates. I recently interviewed and was given the exact question - and I blanked! Like, this was a coding kata style problem that I’ve done in several languages and seen done in others. I just absolutely blanked. Brains are strange.


Steve Yegge famously talked about Google's "interview anti-loop", where you get two interviewers in your process who wouldn't have hired each other, so the things one of them values are actually negatives for the other, and viceversa.

I don't know if that's still a problem at Google, but it could explain why some people don't pass the interview process even though they are reasonably clever.


From my more than 5 years at google I saw a lot of random stupid interview questions. I was astounding. 10 years ago they didn't seem to do any interview question checking, you could ask anything.


Sorry, "I was astounding" was meant to be "It was astounding". I felt only average at google ;-)


I was referring to tech interviews in general, not a specific company. Interviewing's like dating: if you do all the right things you may still not charm the person you want, but the odds are very good that you will be able to find a good partner.


People with MS and 6 years of experience are judged differently from fresh graduates.


But OP also passed a different kind of interview so it’s a moot point in this case.


The Repl.it OT question is easily accessible by just applying to one of their postings.

I did it a little while ago, this is the question: https://otcatchup.util.repl.co/


I believe all of the Palestinians Repl.it has interviewed have come from Manara. Manara has a pretty strong vetting system and in order for applicants to be accepted into the cohorts, they have to pass a coding assessment, video interviews, etc. Manara takes strong Palestinian talent and tries to make them exceptional. This is the reason why they might be performing better than more experienced engineers.


Our interview has almost zero traditional algorithms. And no, he’s not exaggerating. I’ve been interviewing people for a decade now and neither experience or pedigree is a good predictor of success.

Read the post if you haven’t because it touched on our process. And watch this video to learn more: https://youtu.be/kABh44IVWMo


College kids often just took an algorithms course. Experienced devs have to brush up on this stuff to jump through the hoops while also managing their day job and any other commitments.

I do a lot of hiring at a "big n" company and I'd agree with this


We don't really do an "Algorithms and Data structures" interview, our interview questions are modeled after real world problems we face(d).


I'll wager doing well in interviews isn't a good predicator of success either.


In our interview it is because it’s modeled after the real world as opposed to LARPing computer science.


It sounds like you simply don't have experience interviewing engineers, especially since you don't cite any such experience to back up your beliefs. I interviewed exactly 151 engineers over the last year for a mix of entry-level and senior roles, using the same format for all the interviews. The interview is a mix of scenario-based questions and actual coding. There is no discussion of data structures or algorithms, the coding exercise requires no special knowledge and can be done in any language, and there are no trick questions. If you can build useable software you can ace the interview.

My experience lines up exactly with what the GP said. The overwhelming majority of experienced engineers that are interviewing simply can't write useable code. I understand it's hard to believe, but it is the reality whether you believe it or not.


Can you elaborate? I believe that a fair amount of people coming out of college cannot merge 2 sorted linked lists, they can't code even fizzbuzz. But for people that write code every day, I think all of them could do those things. PMs and managers who used to code 10 years ago (like me, ahem) should be able to do that but they might be rusty.


https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2006/09/06/finding-great-deve...

Interview processes are significantly biased towards seeing large numbers of non-hire-able people over hire-able people. It's not surprising that someone with few connections and just starting their career could perform well against the biased view of an unfiltered interview pipeline.

oh, nostrademons beat me to the punch.


That’s because the interview is basically memorizing algorithms.

A real on-site interview should be:

1) give vague instructions on a fixing/modifying a moderately complex piece of software

2) have them ask good questions until they get to the heart of what they are supposed to do.

3) work with someone to accomplish this task. Use google or whatever else you need to finish it.

This interview should be 5 hours long including lunch. This is your best indicator of success.


When did 5 hour interviews become the new normal? That seems sadistic to me.


Seriously.

My wife just interviewed and got a new job in the past week, for a proposal writing job at a decent-sized tech consulting firm (300 employees) where she'll be making six figures.

To get this job, she spent about two hours of preparation learning about the company and hunting down samples of past proposals (this is her standard process for preparing for an interview, by the way), then had one 30 minute interview with her would-be boss, and one 30 minute interview with three would-be coworkers (at the same time). She had a job offer a few hours after the second interview.

Now she's had several years of prior experience for some pretty large companies and worked on very large proposals in the past, but the difference seems to be in her industry they trust past experience, whereas in tech it has almost zero value, they just care about whether you can past their coding exercises.

The programmer/software engineer interview process is just so broken. I have to grind toy algorithm coding problems and rewatch algorithm lectures for weeks just to psyche myself up to go through the interview gauntlet again.

I've even neglected getting back to pings from recruiters just because I wasn't feeling up for going through the whole process at that point in my life and/or I knew I wouldn't have enough time to prepare myself for the interview to even have a chance to make it through it and I'd be wasting my time.

I get that employers are getting inundated with people that they at least feel they couldn't code (I bet they'd think that about me as well if they brought me in to interview today, even though I've been basically a one man dev team for startups before and currently developing and supporting software that services millions of customers) so they feel the need to verify the skills.

I just find verifying skills in the midst of the interview very difficult, especially if it's testing knowledge I haven't used very recently, since my brain is constantly context switching out technical details and platforms and apis based on my current work needs.

There needs to be a good way I can prove "Hey, I really can code" outside of an interview, once, that's somehow trusted. I thought that's what a degree in Computer Science was supposed to prove, but apparently that was a waste of money.


There needs to be a good way I can prove "Hey, I really can code" outside of an interview, once, that's somehow trusted.

Some people say this is what fizzbuzz is supposed to do. Others, particularly people outside the USA, say the solution is engineering licensure. A lot of people in hiring think that's not enough. But what is definitely lacking is institutional trust between companies outside the FAANG bubble, and perhaps blue chip companies like IBM.

The problem of low institutional trust means that working for Company A as a programmer for years means nothing to Company B, and you have to prove yourself all over again if you have to interview for Company B even if your GitHub is loaded with open source side projects. So the problem is not proprietary code or not being able to show your work to a new employer, it's trust.

Anyway, the developer interview culture is severely broken, and it's been discussed a lot elsewhere on HN, yet nobody has been able to solve the problem. We have smart thermostats, can order books with our voice from the couch, and 3D print a house, but we can't solve hiring and just have to accept the status quo if we work in tech.


> the difference seems to be in her industry they trust past experience, whereas in tech it has almost zero value, they just care about whether you can past their coding exercises.

I'm of two thoughts.

One, the hazing ritual (reversion to mean) is because we forgot how to interview properly and can't think of any other strategies. For this, I mostly blame corporate HR wankery and failings.

Two, some Mensa style geeks do a weird bully flex, probably out of insecurity. And per our common negative attribution bias, these few "bad apples" are the ones we remember.


Well in academia, and generally in research, interviews are about 1.5 days of solid interviews, plus an hour presentation. In normal times, add a good dose of jetlag.

I once interviewed at a place that was almost two solid days of 30 minute interviews, one after another. By the end of the second day I completely didn't care about anything they wanted to ask about or what they thought about my responses. I think this stamina crushing test was actually part of the evaluation. Not kidding about that.


Right, I can understand that's normal in academia, but I thought the context here is software development interviews.


Yeah was just a comment about how widespread sadism is.


Microsoft had all day interviews back in the 90s. It’s more efficient for both parties and has been for decades.


They didn't say all recent graduates performed better than 50%, just the ones that they interviewed from Palestine. It sounds plausible that they only interviewed a handful and they were better than that 50%.


Then the numbers are too low to draw conclusions.


where did he draw any conclusion?? It seem like you're the one who jump to conclusion here.

It was just merely stating a fact that Dalia and her acquaintance perform better in the hiring process than at least half the experienced engineers he has ever interview.

If anyone is jumping to conclusion its you guys


"It seem" you're the one jumping for a fight. My comment still stands regardless of anyone coming to any conclusion.

I don't know who "you guys" is.


take it as whatever it is you want.


Yea, the numbers would be if that was the case. I don't think the person that said that statistic was saying it like it passed the 5 sigma mark. It was given as an offhand anecdote and I didn't see a reason for the overly negative post that I responded to originally.


The interview process is being gamed. Just read the article. I am not trying to single out her. It is an industry wide practice. You mostly get people who are good at passing the interview versus who know how to program. But that is ok, because the promotion process is being gamed too. You have people who know how to get promoted vs who know how to provide value. Don’t worry, our educational system is being gamed as well.


I agree with this. Here's some truths:

* Experienced engineers will perform better than graduates in general

* The distribution of experienced engineers who are poor performers won't over represent application to one particular company unless they are an outlier (Repl.it is not Google)

This makes me wonder what Repl.it's hiring process is and why it is not doing well at attracting good people.


> Experienced engineers will perform better than graduates in general

In my experience there are a lot of experienced engineers that are very low quality, and it isn’t uncommon to have experienced engineers that have negative productivity (working with them costs more than they produce). See https://thedailywtf.com/ . Starting with recent grads (filtered for potential) can easily be more productive over time, because you can teach them good habits.

> The distribution of experienced engineers who are poor performers won't over represent application

Hiring being inundated with poor quality candidates is a common problem due to adverse selection: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26254114


That Joel article is enlightening. Thanks.


Not sure who owns pedantic.com or why it doesn't redirect to HN. It certainly should.


Dalia doesn't appear to be a kid.


I'm sure Dalia is great.

"other youngsters from Palestine performed better than at least half the experienced engineers I've interviewed in the past."

This comment caught me a little off guard. You are saying that these young people with no experience perform better than half of the experienced engineers you interview.

My question is what is wrong with your hiring process? It sounds broken.. What part of the process are the experienced developers failing in? What are you asking for in candidates that these experienced developers lack but can be found in this group of inexperienced engineers? Curious about salary, would you say Dalia friends makes the same as an experienced developer?


I've interviewed hundreds of "experienced" engineers who could not code for the life of them. Not sure why you assumed the process is broken without first asking about it.


I agree with this (maybe not the "you sound bitter" part), but it still seems like there's something interesting going on. Why are Palestinian youngsters outperforming experienced engineers from elsewhere? Presumably we would expect Palestinian youngsters to perform on par with youngsters elsewhere unless they had access to additional relevant education or experiences, right? Maybe there's some selection process that filters out all of the under qualified Palestinian youngsters before they enter repl.it's pipeline?


Hi all, jumping in here as the CEO and co-founder of Manara just to say that all the Palestinians that Repl.it interviewed came from Manara (I think). We have in place a very intense vetting system and a training program to teach these CS grads how to interview effectively. At Google our referral-to-hire rate is 67%. That probably explains this experience.

The talent in the Middle East & North Africa is very strong. We believe it's the next Eastern Europe, which used to export refugees and is now a hub of world-class talent.


It's simply selection bias. Anyone can write up a resume and land an interview. Most great people have jobs and aren't interviewing, so the talent pool of 'active interviewees' is limited to those who either couldn't land jobs elsewhere or are new. It's rare, but sometimes someone takes time off.

The quality of folks coming from a very selective program in a different country, however, has selection bias in the opposite direction; nearly everyone from there is going to be better, on average, than the 'average' interviewer, because as mentioned elsewhere, roughly half (likely a bit more) of people we interviewed could not pass FizzBuzz, despite having stellar resumes.

We saw the same thing with MEET, which I helped teach a decade ago too.


Exactly. I was reflecting on this topic as well and for lack of a better word I started calling it "code fluency" [1].

These kind of programs select developers with much higher code fluency, which is usually the result of a deeper dedication to coding, either in a previous work experience, in their free time or taking part in additional training.

[1] https://thomasvilhena.com/2021/01/code-fluency


you probably mean Leetcode, right ?


Can you please omit personal swipes from your HN comments? Your post would be fine without the "you sound bitter" bit.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Done. Thanks for the feedback.


You've either have interviewed "hundreds of experienced engineers" who truely couldn't code well

Or

You've interviewed hundreds of experienced engineers who are bad at coding during interviews and under the problems you're asking.

There's a person on the other end of that table. They haven't had the time to think about the problem that you have had.


I was taken by that statement that more than half of the people you considered experienced engineers you also judged them to have no ability to code.

But you said I shouldn't assume your process is broken. If those are your results the process is broken.

Either your pipeline of experienced engineers needs to be fixed.

Or your ability to judge either who is experienced

Or your ability to judge who can't code for the life of them.

Your comment made it sound like 51% of experienced ngineers looking for a job can't code when the truth is 51% of your experienced candidates can't. It is broken..


This is not a random sampling of youngsters; it's presumably an interested, motivated, and exceptional group.


This is trite, but I am replying for the sake of learning how to phrase it. A candidate can be broken down into a lot of characteristics:

1. Base technical skills - typing (yes, typing), ability to recognize and solve standard problems, and ability to process information quickly.

2. Familiarity with specific technologies (.NET, Angular, SQL, whatever you are working with). This is vastly underrated for line of business applications.

3. Architectural patterns - DRY, SRP, dependency injection, inversion of control, queue/msg based patterns, etc.

4. Domain knowledge, perhaps company specific

5. Social skills, etc

A lot of senior devs ride out their career on number 4. For a new hire, especially for a junior position, #1 is critical, because there is no #4 to speak of and #3 and #2 are handled by other devs.

From that perspective, it makes perfect sense.


Might it be pay?


100%. Younger devs are more eager to work and prove themselves as well, and that's very valuable for a lot of the lower level work. Those are definitely the reasons for perceived and actual ageism.


Most interviewing is broken and assesses your skill at “programming interviews” and not “programming.”

Experienced engineers can help unfuck a massive complex system. They might not nail your napsack problem right out the gate.

But if you want someone who can nail napsack for you, look no further than fresh grads.


If other people's hiring and firing processes are broken, it might be the case that experienced engineers aren't that skillful.

I'm sure many people's anecdata agrees :)


Skillful judged in broken system is like not being judged at all. If I select who is hired based in their birth month what are we really judging?


The pool is already pre-vetted through another company so in essence they are going to two sets of interviews. If you've already passed one set of interview then the probability that you pass the second one is much higher. That's how you can have a situation where a group of inexperienced candidates perform better than experienced interviewees.


Hit the nail on he head. You could do that with nearly any group. Coal miners, orphans, community college dropouts, deaf people, whatever. As long as your pool is large enough and you select the top handful out of that pool.


I would assume that the employer has to take the statements of these experienced engineers on faith until interviewed where as the student may be a more easily known quantity in advance.

Hard(er) to fudge your knowledge when your standing (even virtually) in front of someone.


Why trust the employer can judge talent?


First of all - big props to Dalia. She clearly worked her behind off to earn those offers.

Second - this definitely, to me, proves that Manara has a good business model. I actually don't think the fact that the Manara students are from MENA is all that important though. However, I do think that their extremely hands-on, and intensive "bootcamp for FAANG interviewing" model is clearly an advantage for early career technical candidates.

Thinking back to my college days (in the US, mid 2010s) - we were not given any sort of class that focused on professional interviewing. The college career center was also very general, and not knowledgeable about the specifics of passing the coding interviews. The best advice I got was a recommendation from a guest lecturer to read "cracking the coding interview" (which to be fair, was better than nothing).

As a result, the people from my school who did the best right out of the gate, were largely people who already knew people already in a FAANG roles and who could rely on that person for a referral, interview advice and practice feedback. Our school was not in SV (or anywhere close), so realistically, that was not an option for most of us. Additionally, I always applied for internships at FAANG companies while I was still a student - but never even got called in to interview - so it wasn't like I could practice that way either. I ended up doing fine for myself by accumulating a good base of practical experience from local non-FAANG companies before graduating, but I really believe my peers, and aspirational novice engineers of all backgrounds would have benefited greatly from having a hands-on course like Dalia described. I especially would love to see efforts like that extending out to under-served communities here in the US as well (native american reservations, appalachians, rust belt cities).


Thanks so much for sharing this perspective! I'm Manara's Co-Founder and CEO. I wish that we could tackle all these communities at once because you're right - there's undiscovered talent in many underserved communities and everyone (them, employers, society) would benefit from bridging the small gap they're facing to world-class employment.

We chose to focus on MENA for a few reasons. First, it's the region that we know best and can therefore be competitive in.

Second, it truly is a large, exceptional pool of diverse STEM talent - it will soon be as many STEM grads as Eastern Europe (and more than half of them are women!)

Third, we can scale our impact by building a brand for this talent pool & referral networks. Similar to what happened in Eastern Europe.

Finally, our focus helps to attract precisely the resource we need to fulfill our mission: highly talented engineers from top tech companies around the world. Some are alumni, most are currently volunteers who care about MENA. They volunteer to do mock interviews, mentor the participants, etc. We could never do this without them.

My co-founder Laila (who is from Gaza, and like Dalia, made it to Silicon Valley... but back in 2016) and I are both passionate about untapping human potential. While we can't tackle all underserved communities at once, we are actively sharing lessons learned with organizations doing similar things in other regions. :)


Thanks for responding! It absolutely makes sense that Manara is targeting a specific talent pool in order to leverage the founders' personal skills, experiences and connections. If anything, targeting the entire MENA region seems like incredibly ambitious undertaking on it's own. I certainly didn't intend to imply that the burden to serve those other communities in similar ways should fall on Manara in particular!

Rather, I think everyone who cares about those communities I mentioned should be paying very close attention the work you're doing, and the exceptional results you're seeing. The fact that you are already sharing those lessons with other regions - well, that just gives me another reason to keep cheering you on. Wishing you all the best!


Thank you for sharing your experiences, here Dalia. I have not heard a first person account like yours from Gaza before. The news we see from Gaza in Australia is almost exclusively bleak - a never ending tale of injustices, deprivation, losses, and endurance. Your story is a wonderful counterpoint that lifts my feelings.

Congratulations for being recognised as a capable engineer by two organisations that you hold in high regard. In addition to your engineering aptitude, it sounds like you know how to direct yourself and to connect with your poise in professional circumstances that some other talented engineers might find trying. These capabilities are rare and valued, because they distinguish you as someone who can join a group and move it forward.

Please keep posting here at HN from time to time. I wish you happiness and satisfaction, and look forward to hearing how you get on with whatever you choose to work at and discover.


Yes I know! Gaza is so much more than that. There are a lot of smart motivated people. Did you know that one of the people who worked on the Mars Helicopter - NASA that just landed on Mars is from Gaza? https://www.linkedin.com/in/elbasyouni/

I want you to know that I’m not the only one. I worked hard but so did lots of other people and some of them are even smarter than me. 4 people from Manara in Palestine got into Google this year and I think there will be more (I was in Manara’s 4th cohort and the 5th cohort is just applying to jobs now. I think at least 6 people are interviewing at Google from both West Bank and Gaza).

I’ll keep you updated and if you want I can tell them to share their stories here too :)


I worked in Gaza for close to 3 years and led a team of 6 software engineers. We worked on a pretty complicated business app (UN project). We were a very quality-focused team and did some pretty cool and advanced stuff.

What I can say from my time in Gaza is that there are many very driven, talented software engineers there. Some of the best engineers I ever worked with were Palestinians (and I don't say this lightly).


Was electricity reliability a problem for working in Gaza? Just curious.


I'm an Israeli/American founder of a software company. I'm very happy to hear your story. I hope you inspire many other Gazans. I'd hire Palestinians remotely too.I recall my first airplane trip. Very exciting times for you. I wish you lots of success and happiness in your journey. You've chosen a fantastic path that will God-willing reward you and your family. May there be peace between our people soon!


How feasible is it for Palestinian developers to get work in Israel? As far as I understand, all Palestinians speak fluent hebrew.


I wouldn't really say that...the newer generation knows much less Hebrew than the older ones that used to work in Israel, and in Gaza probably even more so than the West Bank. But all the hitech work is in English so it is not really a problem in this sense. I know Mellanox has some: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-israel...

But the bigger issue is the willingness to hire Palestinians(and legal issues as well), and afterwards to work with them as well, as there is animosity on both sides, especially with people who currently live in Israel/Palestine as opposed to ones that live in Europe.


This brought a smile to my face :)

> Repl.it is my best friend as a developer. I use it every day. I didn’t realize I could work there!

This reminded me of when I first came to the US from India and started realizing that all the software I used (Windows, Gmail etc) and videogames I played were made by ordinary people like me.


Love this! I'm Manara's co-founder and CEO. One of the things we hear from people like Dalia is how much they LOVE getting mock interviews & mentorship from people who work at Google, Netflix, Amazon, Wayfair, Spotify, Twitter, etc. Over and over again they say, "I thought you had to be a genius to work there, but after meeting these people, I feel like I could do it too."


Congrats, Dalia! I understand why chose Google over us -- the chance to travel is hard to pass on -- but maybe we'll get you next year ;)


Thank you so much Amjad! I really love Repl.it and I think I am a startup person in my heart. If you have a fall or spring internship opportunity don’t forget about me!


I'm curious what visa you'd be using to work at Repl.it (if you were going to move to the USA). I'm wondering if our startup should be using Manara.


Moving to the United States is almost impossible for junior engineers from the Middle East. They can relocate to Europe quite easily though. Dalia is going to relocate to Germany or Poland.

They can come to the USA for an internship quite easily on a J-1 visa, but they won't be able to stay easily once you want to hire them full-time.

Have you considered remote work or opening an office in Europe? Feel free to contact us at www.manara.tech/hire-engineers and we can set up a call.


Do you think Poland is a good place to relocate to for person from the Middle East? I'm Polish and the country never struck me as particularly tolerant for foreign cultures, although I have some anecdotal evidence of Indian people who relocated here and they do quite well from what I understand. I don't have any first hand account, but there is a sizable group of doctors and civil engineers from the Middle East / North Africa who I believe migrated here during the communist period (as our government back then had good relationships with some of their governments, they've often arrived on students exchanges and stayed).

Note, I don't want to discourage anyone, I hope Dalia and people in the similar situation have a great career in front of here. I'm curios about the outside perspective and why you've indicated Poland as a potential destination to relocate to the EU.


Germany would be best


First time I heard of repl.it. I read your message and went to the home page. I saw you name under Multiplayer code together. And I thought, doesn’t that name sound familiar. Lol. Best wishes.


It's hard to overstate how great FAANG internships are for giving a leg up in life to third world university students.

Like Dalia, I thought it would be almost impossible to get a good job on a developed country if you didn't do well in the birth lottery until Google figured out I was good at programming and gave me a nice internship project.

I bombed that first internship, but with the extra experience and the knowledge that I had more open doors than I thought allowed me to get a nice job in the UK after the second one.


How did you bomb that first internship? I wonder if there's a useful lesson to share here with Dalia and our broader community.


I got the internship after only one year of college, and I had nowhere near the amount of experience necessary to solve the particularly complex project I was in: I was a very good programmer but a very bad engineer.

When I got accepted for my second internship years later I decided to get a real job 3 months prior to learn how to work in teams in the industry. I think this gave me the correct context to do well later.

If I were to give an advice to other third worlders with FAANG internships: work like you've never worked before and like you'll never work afterwards. This will change your life if you do it right.


> I became passionate about programming in high school. My teacher selected me for a robotics competition. We built a line follower robot using Arduino.

To me this is important to know how to get younger people interested in programming. The application approach seems better than the "cool, trendy online class" approach.

I also think Dalia is an exception and not the norm. I also want to know about those that didn't succeed and what obstacles they faced, and as an instructor what can we do differently?


Just give a damn and focus on passionate students who are actually interested in something rather than the superficial students doing it to look good for a college application.

Sorry if I use this bit to rant but I'm still mad at a teacher from high school decades later. As a child I was mad at the injustice done to me. Thinking back as an adult I'm mad at all the potential she probably squandered in others.

She taught the electronics classes and was put in charge of the cube satellite project. It was an extracurricular activity where students work with volunteers to design and build a small cube satellite that would launch into space.

It wasn't announced to the school and I only caught word of it from a friend. I rushed to get an application filled out and turned in but the teacher said that I missed the cut off by one day (a date arbitrarily set by her). I was devastated. A few weeks later I was told by a volunteer I could still join in and help, so I did. I put in some serious work and at some point I find out I missed a big meeting. I asked the teacher about it and she refused to believe I was a participant and would not add me to the mailing list.

All my passion and love for wanted to building something and send it into space was converted into vengeful teenage angst and by that young logic I wanted to see her name plastered all over the failure. The best way to accomplish that was to stop showing up and helping. Times goes by and right after all the college applications are submitted I find out that most of the students immediately stopped working on it. Went from something like 100 students down to 3. The satellite was never finished and didn't get launched into space.

I'm probably the exception with the after story: taught myself some rudimentary things from a RadioShack book, got into college and graduated with a BS in EE. Now a days I see all these cool youtube videos and how easily it is for kids to discover things but have may not necessarily have the resources or guidance to get going.


> Just give a damn and focus on passionate students who are actually interested in something rather than the superficial students doing it to look good for a college application.

It's not that easy. Teachers are evaluated on the competency of the entire class, not just the ones who want to be there to learn.


in algebra, sure. like it or not, everyone is expected to attain some basic level of competency by the end of the course. GP is describing something that sounds like an extracurricular/club activity. grades are not involved, and it's pretty common for students to abuse these sorts of activities to pad out their college applications. as a kid, it was dead obvious who was genuinely interested and who was just doing it for college applications.


Try to forgive her, you'll make yourself a favor.


I can't begin to say how nice it is, seeing something like this. So often, we see complaints (often, accurate, but still complaints) about how bad things are. For myself, I try not to whine too much (with debatable results).

TBH, when I read the title, I was expecting this to be one of those posts that exposes the industry and the process as some kind of abusive fraud. I was really happy to see it be pure joy and positive affirmation.

I have more than a few qualms about the way things are, but it's still an awesome field to be in. I am glad to see you do well, and get acclimated to the engineering culture at these corporations. I suspect that you will have many opportunities, and wish you, and your classmates, well.


This is awesome!

In my graduating class (at a top engineering/cs school) the smartest person with the most consistent high grades was a palestinian immigrant (who would always whisper the correct pronunciations when the professors were butchering the pronunciation of a TA's names). I don't think I fully understood the life he had come from, but this is a reminder that we should stop saddling the youth with the battles of their parents.

Glad to hear you're getting some freedom.


I gave a few workshops on golang development in Jordan and what i noticed is that women were much more common in the comp sci department. They also were way more interested in the topic- is the situation in gaza similiar? This was really refreshing to see


Yup! In Palestine 52% of CS students are women. In Tunisia 62%. In Qatar 80%. This is one of the main reasons Laila and I decided to launch Manara. :) Our 5th cohort (the one after Dalia's... they're just starting to hunt for internships & jobs now) is 100% women by the way! They're a mix of interns, junior engineers, and mid-level engineers.

A bit of our story in case it's interesting: I was working at Upwork with an engineering team that could hire talent from anywhere in the world... and still our engineers were almost all men from Eastern Europe. I loved them but also missed having a more diverse team and worried that our company wasn't going to be competitive... diverse teams usually outperform non-diverse was, and for a company like Upwork, being familiar with users around the world is critical.

I had met Laila in Gaza. Like Dalia, she studied computer engineering there. She moved to Silicon Valley in 2016.

In 2017 (or was it 2018? hard to remember now) we started working nights and weekends on what we thought would be an all-volunteer side project to connect the talent we knew from Palestine to employers in Silicon Valley. Already in our 2nd cohort someone got into Google. That's when we realized we had created something that worked. Last October we couldn't keep up with helping Cohort #4 search for internships & jobs (that's the one Dalia was in) and training Cohort #5 so I took the plunge and started working on Manara full-time. :)


Wow thanks for the detailed answer!

Can you point to reasons why IT is not as male-dominated in those countries?


Best wishes to you both. Solidarity forever.


In my experience, pretty much everywhere else out of the US you will find plenty of women in STEM. Admittedly not 50% but it’s certainly much more common.


In my experience that's not the case in quite many countries. Most of western Europe is the same as the US though it varies from country to country; e.g. the nordics are a bit better on this front then e.g. Germany or my home country the Netherlands. I suspect most of South America has similar demographics.

As far as I know Asia is generally better on this front I suspect it has a lot to do with women being more interested in things that give them economic opportunities.

This is something driven by women themselves. IMHO women are actually also part of the problem in the west. There seems to be a dynamic where women self select out of career paths long before they would even be in a position to be subjected to the type of workplace abuse that is often blamed for this. Don't get me wrong, that abuse needs to be fought and challenged and rooted out. But it's not going to be enough.

You see similar dynamics across many developing nations where women empower themselves by taking on anything that earns money. Many of these countries are otherwise pretty conservative/unremarkable when it comes to women rights and arguably a lot worse than most of the west. But that doesn't seem to stop women being successful doing all sorts of things for which many high-school girls would pull up their noses.


I am from germany so this is at least not just a US thing.

Isn't it well known that there are way more male IT people in all western countries?


Wow, it really irks me that truthful comments that add something to the discussion gets down votes as soon as it is stating anything that could maybe be construed as negative against the US.


70% of STEM graduates in Iran are women.

https://engineering.purdue.edu/ENE/News/the-stem-paradox-why...


>At Google there were interviews exactly like what Manara prepared us for: data structures & algorithms problem-solving.

I'm surprised this hasn't become the main point of discussion here yet.

Edit: I mean Google's interview technique, and how people prepare for it


I think it does its job perfectly; gives them candidates who are willing to put up with 10 hour study sessions for weeks OR people who are naturally brilliant (and don't break under pressure while being watched). It filters out a lot of insanely good candidates by doing so, but who cares when you have 100,000+ job applications?


Do those qualities actually correlate with what you want in an engineer?


Today I learned about Manara. I'd never heard of it before, but I look forward to using it the next time I need to hire someone! Sounds like an awesome platform.


Yes you should! The Manara community is amaaazing. They are super smart motivated people who already have computer science or engineering degrees. Manara teach us how to interview at companies… both technical and soft skills… I have a bunch of friends in their 5th cohort who are looking for opportunities right now.

By the way the CTO of Manara is from Gaza too. She often tells me I remind her of her a few years ago. :))) She lives in Silicon Valley now and started Manara because she knew how many smart people there are in Palestine.


Really nice ! I have seen code written by folks who have participated in Gaza Sky Geeks program. I was really impressed. Almost every one I interacted with virtually were very good at html / css / js.


Seconded!


Wow, sometimes I get so caught up in my dislike of social media (especially facebook), that I forget how useful it is for certain underprivileged demographics. Good on you Dalia for grabbing the opportunities with both hands :)


Your story is awe-inspiring!

> We will meet for the first time in Europe this summer! The other 3 classmates (Muath, Mohammed, and Hamza) live in the West Bank. I live in Gaza. It’s not far away but I can’t go to the West Bank and they can’t come here. I can’t wait to take a selfie in front of the Google office together and share it with everyone at Manara. :-)

This is so surreal to me that it sounds like something from a book or an odd dream. Super happy for you!


I feel like there are a large number of comments here stating how many obstacles the author is likely to face going forward because of race and gender.

I wonder whether people have really examined the utility of repeating this claim.

The huge obstacle in the author’s story was country of birth.

OTOH race and gender can have pluses and minuses. There is casual and subconscious bias on one side, but on the other side we have explicit corporate hiring policies that seek to counteract this. It is possible that the net balance is in favor of the author because of this.

Members of underrepresented groups could benefit greatly from knowing how many programs are in place to encourage, nurture, and welcome them into this industry. This could make it seem more achievable and encourage people to try.

Members of underrepresented groups do not benefit from being told how hard it will be in tech, and I think it isn’t in even in evidence when all factors are included. Saying ‘you are going to face tons of discrimination’ is a form of keeping people out. It may seem like it is empathy, but it can just have the effect of discouraging people.

If we want more diversity in tech, we should be saying things like ‘This is great! And you will find many people will be very welcoming. Please join us.’


> The huge obstacle in the author’s story was country of birth.

At least much more so than gender or race will be going forward :)


Congrats, well-deserved. I hope you encourage other Palestinians and Arabs to follow suit!


Yaasss of course! This is why I wrote this post and am sharing on social media too. :) lots of people are contacting me now on facebook asking how to do it. www.manara.tech will help them. that’s how I got into these companies. their mission is to help palestinian and middle east engineers fulfill their dreams and work at international startups & companies! Now that I got in, I am going to go back and mentor the next Manara cohorts to help more people do it


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