Get hired by Google, Facebook, Dropbox, or Zipline.
Success! I started at Dropbox on August 6th as a “Senior Full-Stack Software Engineer”. I list my take-aways from the process at the bottom of the article.
- Secure Internal Referrals when possible
- 1 LeetCode problem per day, record / review myself solving it
- Skim CLRS Intro to Algorithms
- Read Cracking the Coding Interview
The studying is more necessary for FB / Google / Dropbox, as they want to remove bias as they screen LOTS of engineering candidates each year. They’re actually more concerned with false-positives (accidentally hiring someone mediocre) than with false-negatives (passing on a good candidate). So, they ask more classic computer-science algorithm questions, which are slightly more standardized than typical platform-specific interviews, but unfortunately most people don’t deal with classic algorithms much after school… so, it’s time to study!
I hope to start the phone-screens in July.
Why Not Another Early-Stage Startup?
I want to re-train myself to think deeply & solve difficult problems, at scale, in a sustainable way.
It wasn’t an easy decision, because I loved working at startups & learned a broad spectrum of things by taking on responsibilities far outside the range of a typical engineer.
I’m also eager to surround myself with world-class engineers, learn the skills needed to impact change within a large organization, and grow my personal network. I hope the network will improve my access to better CoFounders, Investors, Clients, and Engineering Recruits for my next venture 5-10 years from now.
Why These 4?
Facebook, Dropbox, and Google are recognizable brand-names that most people associate with a good engineering culture. They work on difficult problems at scale & offer a decent work/life balance.
Zipline is sort-of a wildcard, but it’s just such an interesting company, and I would get to travel to Rwanda & work on a real problem at a point where I could make a significant impact. I think drone technology will be very important in years to come, and the one engineer I know there is certainly world-class. I would just learn so much!
I have only just begun the application process at these companies, and I’m not guaranteed an offer at any of them. In fact, there is a lot of variability in the hiring process at these places… 🤞🏼
It’s been quite a month! I’ll avoid specifics here, but here’s how it went:
- Callback from 3 / 4 companies
- Passed every phone screen
- Failed 1 on-site interview
- Accepted better job offer
Overall, I didn’t love the interview process, but I learned a lot about all of these companies, and I can’t think of a better process that would work on the scale at which these companies operate. It never felt unfair – at the very worst, it’s at least fair in the Thanos sense! But really, even though I was upset after receiving one “thanks, but no thanks” call, I’m pretty happy about how things turned out. I got good vibes & a great offer from Dropbox, so that’s where I now work!!
I’m VERY GLAD that I interviewed at multiple places. My take-aways:
- Interview lots of places (more than 3)
- Be patient (process can take months)
- Stuuuuudy (mostly LeetCode, some CTCI & CLRS)
- Do mock interviews with people who actually do interviews at these companies, and solicit CRITICAL feedback.
- Film yourself solving problems “out-loud”, and prepare for the cringe as you play it back.
- RELAX. The best interviews were strongly correlated with the least nerves on my part.
- Before coding a solution, talk it to death. Explain the crap out of the solution, until you feel like a broken record, THEN solve it.
- State simple truths during the interviews, don’t assume anything is obvious or given – this was actually a challenge for me during practice.
- Don’t try to put on a big show of professionalism – I performed every interview in jeans & a T-Shirt, and smiled / laughed at some questions.
- When you receive an offer, DO NOT accept it immediately, but DO be genuinely excited about it. All deadlines from recruiters are imaginary, and they act like used-car salespeople whenever you discuss numbers (let me check with X department, I got these numbers from Y, they don’t change, etc…). You won’t lose a good offer by asking for more, ESPECIALLY if you ask with the right attitude.
// 5 months later
How’s it going?
- I’ve worked at Dropbox for 5 months, and it’s great.
- The food & baristas are truly incredible
- The work-life balance is amazing
- They increased paternity leave to 6 months, and I’ve been encouraged to take the full leave
- My soul hasn’t died like I thought it would.
- I was able to buy a house close to downtown Austin.
I’m spending more time tweaking 3rd-party configuration settings than I’d like, but the work is mostly interesting. I’ve shipped a chatbot & lots of small features that incrementally improve our customer support experience (for both customers & agents). I’ve been able to mentor others & learn new things about impacting change in a larger org. There has been some leadership turnover, but that’s pretty normal post-IPO, and none of it has affected me yet.
There are only 6 total engineers in Austin, and the other 200-ish people are sales & support. I’ve already been to SF twice & Vegas once… hopefully I’ll get to Dublin soon! But my co-workers are all interesting people who I enjoy seeing daily-ish, which is a blessing!