I think the European practice of having a candidate on a 3 month evaluation period(when it is easy to fire) and then having a job security afterwards seems a reasonable balance between employer and employee needs.
It is hard to pull wool over someone's eyes for 3 months especially in a results oriented field like programming.
It started innocently enough when I asked a friend for Akira tape and instead he gave me a badly but sufficiently subbed copy of Kimagure Orange Road from infamous quantity fansubbers Arctic Animation.
That lead to a local chapter of Cal-Animage (University of California anime club), where I eventually became an officer in charge of acquisitions and fansubbing.
At first I traded 3rd or 4th generation VHS tapes, but that was not to last.
I scoured obscure Japanese family stores in greater LA for new finds. I bought a LD player, a number of S-VHS recorders not to mention regular VHS and Beta decks.
I shelled out $500 for a Genlock for PC. I secretly envied those with Amigas whose equipment was better suited than PC.
I suppose the highlight was subbing of Evangelion episode 1. a week after a release in Japan and showing it at the club.
Reportedly I was responsible for kickstarting Fushigi Yuugi when my raw copies made it to Tomodachi Anime who were the big time fansubbers back then.
There was no money in it, most reputable fansubbers wouldn't charge more than a buck over reproduction costs and offered an option of sending in your own tapes.
Fansubbing was a team effort as it was rare for a single person to know enough Japanese and also possess the technical chops for editing/timing, producing.
Fansubbing seemed to start to die when pretty much everything seemed to be picked up by commercial companies but apparently it has never gone away.
These days I seldom watch anime, but when I do it usually is a dubbed version with my kids. And I realize that all those sub/dub wars were a bit silly.
Who cares that you went to local community college for the AS and Chico State for the BS as long as you did graduate school at Harvard.
The catch is getting from Chico State to Harvard, but it should not be overly difficult if you show outstanding grades and work at BA level.
Anecdotal evidence, a friend/acquaintance of mine got his BA from an Eastern European university for free(actually with stipend) and now is doing Masters/PhD at MIT under a very famous adviser.
So how did he do it? From his first day at the university he must have kept his goal(Masters in US at a good university) in mind.
He aced all his courses(even though I was a bit disgusted how he sometimes squeezed professors to give him the highest grade). He took graduate level courses and aced them. He selected a highly cited prof with US connections as his bachelors thesis advisor and his thesis must have been quite good.
He only networked with people who could possibly help him. Sounds cynical, but he only friended me when he saw that I got good grades too and knew USA university system.
One last catch is same as the German catch you have to know the local language, as most schools do not offer all courses in English.
Reading, watching and in depth analysis might be necessary conditions for true greatness but they do not constitute the biggest part of improvement/greatness.
The biggest part is the ability to move a large part of the necessary skillset to your unconscious mind. As a joke Capablanca said "I only see one move ahead, but it is always the best one", this is how every strong chess player thinks, they can instantly evaluate the position. It is just like once you have learned to drive well, you would recognize a potentially dangerous situation(a child playing with a ball on a sidewalk) without actually thinking about it consciously.
I believe this is how the best programmers work too, they have an immediate grasp of possible techniques they can apply without necessarily thinking about them or looking them up in google.
You become great at your craft when you internalize/obtain unconscious mastery of a large number of techniques in your craft. You become truly great when you can combine these techniques in novel ways.
I will mostly speak about chess, because I am an average programmer and average mathematician but am a pretty good chess player near IM strength FM (2350) and have spoken to various strong chess players (up to 2700) on this subject.
There have been players who have become very strong with very little reading (GM Flohr is a famous example from 1930s) but with a lot of playing, however I am not aware of anyone who become good without practice.
So let's start with a simple example. You must absolutely learn how the pieces move, this would be equivalent to what loops and conditionals are in a programming language. If you have to think how the horsie jumps when playing, you are not going to get very far.
A more complicated example, it is very useful to be aware of the standard h7/h2 sacrifice. As you get stronger, you develop a better sense on when this sacrifice will be strong and when it will be likely fail, even before starting to calculate consciously.
How do you obtain this knowledge, the best way is iterative by playing and applying in practice what you learned.
Fantastic read, but the punchline is almost like that anecdote about how to make million dollars (you know the one about buying apple for 5 cents polishing it and selling it for 10 cents until the rich uncle dies).
The fastest way to green card in US is genius visa, but you need the credentials to pull it off. It has a ridiculously high acceptance rate I think about 90 %.