Eventually you, just like me, will want a job as a software engineer at a big tech company. Everyone’s seen the YouTube “Day in the Life of a SWE at <insert trendy company>” and the lift seems great, but it’s not a cakewalk to get to that spot. Here’s a bit of my (ongoing) process to get to the promised land and become a software engineer and move to a cool place like NYC. It’s a long one but it’s truly a good good guide.

Outreach

Like all things in life, the first step is putting yourself out there, and LinkedIn is the perfect place to start. I’ve started by revamping my LinkedIn page to really make sure recruiters can see who I am and my experience. I have relevant tags in my bio like my major, school, and any important awards I’ve won (but don’t over do the awards). My description is essentially my 30 second elevator pitch about the work I’ve done and how I can help the company achieve it’s goals, and my experience sections have descriptions of what I’ve worked on to they know I’m legit. Finally, there’s the “open to work” tag that allows recruiters to know that you are job hunting.

Extra points: Recruiters love DMing candidates so check those messages. I’ve had places like Apple and Pinterest reach out to me through there.

LinkedIn logo

Prep

If you don’t know what Leetcode is, I envy you (jk but lowkey serious). Technical interviews are the backbone of getting a good job. It’s pretty rare to get the job without paying technicals so this is an important part.

Jobs love to see that candidates have a great understanding of data structures and algorithms, so they ask lots of theoretical questions to test your skills. Leetcode is the place to not only brush up on those fundamental skills but legit practice the same questions you’ll get in interviews. Personally when I’ve interviews at places like Google and Facebook (before it was called Meta), the questions they’ve asked were all on Leetcode.

I know it can seem intimidating but I like to remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are coding skills. I try to do a problem a day, get some good understanding from it, and move on. It keeps my spirits high and, like going to the gym, I get better as time goes on.

Leetcode Log Light

The Interview

If you’ve gotten this far then it’s it’s basically the end. The interview is just putting into action all the things you’ve practiced.

One thing that is crucial and that I always practice is learning how to talk as I solve problems. Mose people don’t do well at explain their logic, they just solve the problem. As awkward as it can be, explaining your thinking while you solve the problem is exactly what people they want to see, so if I’m at home I legit talk to myself aka using the programmer Rubber Duck ***

*** this is a niche coding thing but basically some coders have a duck they pretend to talk to if they need to think things through.

Interview Illustration

And that’s it! That’s the basic template and it’s what’s getting me through this process. I’ve already got interviews lined up at Bloomberg, Google and Lyft with my fingers crossed for more to come. Hope this sheds some light into the recruiting process for soon-to-be software engineers!

Cameron Cole

Cameron Cole

MAJOR: Computer Science/Business Administration YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Chicago, Illinois PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @cxjcole On campus, I've been involved with USC's chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, the Alpha Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and I am a coach for Viterbi's ENGR 102: Engineering Freshman Academy.

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