Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: I'm feeling lost and don't know what route to take on my career/life
22 points by malzeno 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 18 comments
Hello everyone, I’ve been a HN reader for a long time and this is my first time posting here.

I’m currently doing my thesis for a CS degree about to graduate, but I don’t have internship or work experience any other than the work on my university courses.

I would appreciate any suggestions to prepare for the HR, behavioral and technical interviews and how all of the interview process works. Should I grind Leetcode or specialize in a specific framework?

I also get lost when I start searching for a job since all of them ask for a lot of qualifications that I don’t feel prepared for, hence I feel like I have to prepare and prepare but never actually apply for any job since I'm stuck in this "preparing loop" where I don't have a path to follow. I’m lost and not sure what to do or where to start.

Lastly, for economic reasons, I have a part time job (~30 hours a week) which is hard work and not tech related at all, which also makes me think about on what to spend my time on, whether to focus on my thesis, or preparing for interviews, or both? I've even considered getting a job as a help desk or something since my current job is very exhausting working under the heat, but again, I don't know what keywords to use when searching for a job. I don't have any contacts since I'm a (legal) immigrant and recently moved here (USA). I'd appreciate any advise for this.

Hi, so I hope anything I say is useful to you and not just a bunch of random shit spewing from my keyboard.

I don't want to echo what others have already said, e.g, part of the process is luck, so I'll share my approach.

I'm a high school drop out, so I couldn't rely on my educational background. Instead, I just focus on attributes that are core to who I am.

1. Show your potential; early in your career, people hire for what potential you have. 2. Be calm, but show how hungry you are to learn and grow. Don't come off scattered brained or all over the fucking place. 3. Remember, most job qualifications tend to represent the perfect candidate, but that's rare so don't let it discourage you. Just don't be stupid and apply for roles that are clearly outside of your experience. e.g., must have 10 years of programming in Java. 4. When you get a job that's technical, make the leap. Commit to what you want and don't distract yourself out of fear. 5. Always be networking, but don't network in a way that makes you look desperate.

Lastly, enjoy this experience. It's on temporary and just because someone says no, it doesn't mean you're a piece of shit. Finding a job is like dating - just because someone says they like you, it doesn't mean you'll be happy and just because someone rejects you, it doesn't mean you won't find someone.

On that note, enjoy your weekend.

develop good relationships with your professors, especially if they are adjuncts

they can help you get a job, infact many of them are actively looking for people and during the day work in industry

interviewing is only half the battle, to get the best jobs you need connections

Focus on finishing your degree, its summer so I’m guessing you graduate in December or end of summer? Or maybe when your thesis is turned in?

Talk to your university career planning department and your CS professors. They will know of local companies that might need programming/IT work or have internships available which might get you out of the heat and more aligned with something for your career.

Here’s the thing about working in software now: if its not doing tech support then nearly every role has programming in it. DevOps you are writing code to build systems, using things like kubernetes if its container related. Hardware and you’re writing firmware. SaaS companies and you’re likely doing web development. They can all get specialized and have different skill trees (like if its a role playing game) but the basis you have now with a CS degree is a great start for any of them.

If you want to attempt getting a job at a FAANG company then do the leetcode practice, get some interview practice and start applying. There are 1000’s of companies out there and FAANG is 5. I would suggest smaller companies/startups where you might get the chance to try out different roles or at least observe people that do those different roles to see what you might like.

Learn up some details about design patterns as it relates to web frameworks. Specifically MVC and different ways to break up an application. This lingo will help with interviews and more importantly you’ll come to the realization that all these web frameworks are very much alike.

Another consideration you didn’t specify is if you need a different visa for work vs. school - this will limit the companies you can apply to in some way.

Avoid non programming jobs. Do whatever it takes to get a job coding, even it's just website building.

Any kind of support role will signal future employers that your not a good programmer.

I got my first job on around interview 10 after sending my cv and tailored to each job cover letter to over 100 job ads and places I wanted to work. (Just because ethey don't have an ad up doesn't mean they're not hiring people interested in the company)

Be patient! Take a deep breath......

>> I also get lost when I start searching for a job since all of them ask for a lot of qualifications that I don’t feel prepared for, hence I feel like I have to prepare and prepare but never actually apply for any job since I'm stuck in this "preparing loop" where I don't have a path to follow. I’m lost and not sure what to do or where to start.

Start a work-out schedule: one day apply to 5 jobs (keep a job application spreadsheet and a history of all cover letters), next day work on leetcode, next day work on a project you LOVE (no matter how silly), next day rest. Repeat. Adjust as needed.

If your part-time job is draining your energy to the point you cannot do the above, then you must change the part-time job! The part-time job is only a stepping stone to your better job.

Most of job searching is luck based or network based. However, it’s not too terribly difficult to get lucky and it’s not too uncommon to have a direct or transitive connection in your network.

Out of college to present personally I’ll occasionally, for fun, learn something on a weekend and push to my GitHub. Sometimes those things turn into realllly fun conversations with people in interviews or otherwise. Stack that on top of 2 weeks of leetcode and you just secured about 75% of entry level dev jobs.

If your social anxiety is a hindrance, it helps to improve your mental image of yourself. Exercise, sleep and general positivity can take you far.

You’re finishing a thesis in a tough field, that’s a massive accomplishment that most people wouldn’t be able to endure. Latch onto that and keep growing.

Best of luck!

Edit: don’t specialize in a framework. Fundamentals always win.

The best thing to do in this scenario is to go ahead and interview in a few small companies and startup’s. At least 6 interviews ideally If you have no professional experience yet apply to companies asking for 1y experience. They are still open to fresh graduates and even if they’re not for that role they could open up an internship opportunity.

Don’t prepare for the first three interviews, just treat them as practice.

Prepare a little bit for the next three.

Internships are great if you want to experiment and see what you like. Do a couple internships in different kinds of roles or industries based on what you’re interested in.

Start interviewing without expecting to get a job or preparing. This will allow you to be less stressed during the interview and you will be able to learn better.

Treat interviewing like learning a new programming language. Start with a hello world.

I recommend reading the book "how to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie, if you have any second guesses about your 'soft skills' and people relations. Reading this book really changed my personality in interviews and the office for the better.

During university i did a lot of small jobs on rentacoder.com. By the time i applied to my first job i already had experience. If its not too late give freelancing websites a try. Even small tasks will expose you to new things and give you a bit of usable experience.

First of all, many people start at the very bottom. After all, not everyone is savvy in their specialty without any experience. Don't worry, in a couple of months you will find something, I assure you. Just as there is always someone better than you, there is always someone worse.

Prioritize not even what you learned but what you like. I have a master's degree in engineering, but I work in SEO and love it.

Congratulations and all the success on your thesis!

I'd say focus on your thesis; just be yourself when interviewing, what you are doing at school is already a good preparation. If you do have some spare time, after the part time job, work on a project!

Unfortunately, not everyone's privileged and I understand how hard life can be, but keep an eye and apply for jobs that your profile and knowledge might be a good fit and help!

Good luck!

It's hard making such a decision when you're exhausted.

When you get a chance to think about what -you- would really like to do -- by unloading the exhausting job in favor of a sustaining one -- then you can look for chances to say "I'd really like to work here, because it'd let me ..." do that. Then getting the experience won't be exhausting.

At least you have a master degree.. u r already better off because that. Try doing some personal projects that is related to the domain you are interested in, like if u want to be a mobile dev, u can try making a app, or an iot project if u want to work on embedded system, it will help a lot.

work for startups. exclusively. yes, you’ll leave some money on the table. you’ll run into some toxic environments. you’ll quit or get fired regularly. you’ll see some shit, the good, bad, the ugly.

more importantly, you will never be bored. you will never stop learning. you will never be unchallenged. whenever it’s needed, go next! there’s always more startups.

you can retire to faang later. postpone hr and leetcode mastery until then. it’s like mastering rando framework du jour: not intrinsically valuable.

Yep. Startup life is exciting. All my best and worst experiences. Tried Corporate life a few times. felt like a slow death.

rest and vest. it’s a good retirement. for the op, probably something interesting first.

Be more aggressive and reach out to people to give you a chance. Alumni also have a soft spot for new grads and know the pain of securing a new job. We've all been there.

One option is to go into academia, they don't care about private sector experience.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact