• Kseniya Lukyanova

[Webinar and Review] CAREER IN SILICON VALLEY

This content is not only constructive about methodologies, although the webinar can be used to build your roadmap if you are looking to start a career in Silicon Valley. By the way, not only in the valley but even if you want to build your ambitious career path, there is a lot to learn here. Because this content is about thinking. It is your way of thinking, attitude, and approach that often determines the outcome of your actions.


The webinar features four main bullets:

  1. What are startups and unicorns, what's common/special about top companies of Silicon Valley?

  2. Insights from working at Netflix, Google, Facebook, Snapchat.

  3. How to get into top Silicon Valley companies and what are the best approaches that worked for Igor and others?

  4. A short overview of IT jobs: QA, EM, PM/Design, and TPM. What is the difference between them and what are possible career paths in each of the areas?

I'll go over the topics briefly, but still highly recommend you watch the full webinar because it is really special and will be interesting whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee.

So what's the difference between a startup and a unicorn? There is a vision. It is the presence of a clear vision that often determines the success of a startup and further determines its price. Technically, Unicorn is a startup that hasn't yet gone public or sold but has already valued at least $ 1 billion. What does the vision have to do with it? For example, Yahoo offered Facebook $ 900 million, but they did not sell, because they had a clear vision and understanding of where to develop further and what the scale, as a result, now Facebook's estimate is a trillion dollars. Just think about it.

And let's speak about most greats companies of Silicon Valley.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Netflix culture?

Igor began communication with them in 2014 and at that moment did not know anything about them. He began to search for information and read on sites such as Glassdoor and found that there was an atmosphere of fear.

Igor began communication with them in 2014 and at that moment did not know anything about them. He began to search for information and read on sites such as Glassdoor and found that there was an atmosphere of fear. But he decided to communicate with people from within the company and then they perfectly conveyed the essence of their culture in the slogan: "

  • We are not a family, we are a professional football team"

This means that they try to hire the best players and make sure that they are motivated and will do their best for the company. They won't hold you back if you don't want to work for the company. So it's all about professionalism and the environment, you work surrounded by people who are great, who are delighted with the company, and are motivated for the result.

  • The second aspect of their culture is Freedom and Responsibility.

You have complete freedom to make decisions, actions, and your work. But this goes side by side with high responsibility. They implement such a strategy by hiring only highly qualified specialists, people with extensive experience, who are full of industry standards.

  • One more thing - they clearly say: "we are not 7-eleven, we are Southwest airlines".

Therefore, they are focused on one thing, but they do it best in the world. They have a clear focus on streaming cinematography and series, no advertising, they only have subscribers and that's it. No sports, events, etc. Therefore, they are focused on precise positioning like a laser. On their website, there is a description of their culture and vision, where they clearly and openly broadcast their values and principles.

Google

Here I was looking for opportunities for growing up, Igor says, I wanted to become a manager, I read a lot about leadership and skills development, and Netflix is not the kind of company that just invests in a person they like, there are nuances, they think for example that the Russian accent, poor understanding of American culture, etc. these are important criteria. One of my leaders was promoted, but he was from Canada. And he already had great knowledge and understanding of culture as well. With me, it would take more time to prepare for the position and study. These are the features of the corporate culture.

Google, in turn, invests in people, and their culture is more like a family culture.

They really want you to grow within the company. Here are some of the criteria that define their culture.

  • Engineering driving culture;

  • Career opportunities;

  • The ability to touch a product that is used by a billion people;

  • Сode owners. Each code has an owner and you must always get approval from him for any changes. It takes more time to approve, in contrast to Netflix, where changes are launched almost instantly;

  • High level of bureaucracy, but there are also good sides to this. For example, you make a career plan with your manager every 6 months;

  • google designed not for high-level engineers but for the smartest people at all different level of career stage, many of them join right after university;

Actually, Facebook is a good compromise. Google is too slow, but Netflix is too optimize.

There were a lot of opportunities in Snapchat in 2017-18, as in a young company, at that time only about 2,000 engineers were working there. The ability to influence the company and projects, quick response. Another unique feature of Snapchat is its focus on design, unlike most other companies in the valley, where the focus is more on technology. The founder of Snapchat is a designer and this can be strongly traced in their culture and the specifics of the relationship between teams and processes. But in young companies, there is an inevitable factor of uncertainty.


And then, in my opinion, one of the most interesting blocks of information. How to get there?


You don't have to be a genius in the first place, but you do have to be extremely motivated. You can start your career with small startups.

You must first start by working on your LinkedIn page. Most companies look for employees there and do the first rating on your page, so it's better to take the time and be careful about your personal brand on LinkedIn.


Here are some important points to help you increase your chances of success.


Prepare for the interview. It is quite easy, there are many books and in principle, interviews and questions are quite predictable.


Perseverance is very important, for example, Igor has failed Google three times. Therefore, it is quite normal to perceive this not as a failure, but as a lesson, a very valuable lesson, every time you have something to think about and understand how to do better next time. Even if you are applying to the same company, in principle it is normal to apply in the valley every 6 months.


But you must understand what in a particular company did not suit you, what they expect from you. For example, in Netflix - if you don't use Netflix if you don't know about it, there is no way that you will be included in the team. Try to understand what exactly in this company you like, what features, why you want to work there and understand what values they bring to their employees.


Well, promote yourself to Linkedin. Many people are too pushy, many are too shy, there must be a balance. Do not hesitate to write about your achievements and not only professional ones, many companies like Airbnb, for example, exited about mission, are also interested in your volunteer projects, that what you do for people, not only for the sake of money.


Therefore, it is important to talk about the good things you do. But it's also important to stay humble. For example, if you write that you made such a great project and you are so great and did not indicate anyone who was around, there are questions. Was it really ambitious if one person delivered such a project?


There are also professional companies and websites to help you. For example, as a Careerist or Pathrise. They will help you fine-tune everything like a LinkedIn, they will help you learn important and necessary skills and sometimes they don't even take money until you get a job and only take a percentage of your salary in the future.


One more point - Igor went through 40 interviews in 40 different companies and received about 8 offers, that is, I failed most of them, of course, every time I am more successful, but it is very important to never give up.



Now let's talk about the stages of the interview. Each of the stages is very important and you will not pass if you fail any of them, so it is important to prepare for each of them.

  • Recruiter call. Here are more informal interviews and the main goal is to check how your Linkedin and your resume correspond to you and reality. Did you really do this project do you know the insights and of course that you just like a person to talk with. But it's important not to tell long stories. the person who calls you may not be technically savvy, that is, respect him and speak in a complex way.


  • Hiring managers call. Not all companies do this. But if the company is serious and they are going to invest money in you, then there will be a call so that the manager would tell what a cool company and team, how everything will be arranged. But also at this stage, the person will check if it will be cool for them to work with you.


  • And the next one of the most important - Technical call usually takes about an hour and depends very much on the job you want to get, usually it is about your relevant experience.


  • Onsite comes next and this is the most important stage. And this is actually predictable, but they do a cool job. Tell everyone about their expectations. Like, for example, Microsoft and Google send huge letters on how to prepare for each stage, which books to read, which exercises to score.


  • And then if you were hired then the optional stage - Offer negotiation, if suddenly you are not satisfied with the offer - negotiations can also take some time.


But I also want to notice there is also a social part in the interview and not all people recognize this one. When we meet with a person, we have very little time to decide whether we like this person or not. In 15 seconds, on average, a person subconsciously makes this decision. That is why your intro interview is so important, you have 15 seconds. Every nuance matters - how you start a conversation, how you shake hands, say hi.


Many companies have Beer Test. Often they ask the interviewer to write their impressions about you because in most cases they will spend a lot of time with you. Therefore, they need to spend time with the people they intend to work with, have a beer, hang out, or even just chat. Therefore, it is important to showcase that you are a positive person, that you want to do good things, that you are a team player, and even just smiling helps at this stage.


It is important to think twice about what you are answering and saying. Make it clear. Because it often happens that you ask a question and people go in the wrong direction and it is also ugly to interrupt, so you just waste your time. Therefore, try to clearly understand the question and be sure that you understand it clearly, and then you can give a good answer. You have time to realize, think about your answer, and generally ask again - this is normal. Also, answer comprehensively, most likely the interviewer only has 40 minutes and it is important for you to allow him to discuss all the planned areas.


And one more specific part of the interview that not all companies have. Vision Values.

For some companies, this does not matter, but Airbnb pays great attention to this. For example, when they ask you what are the craziest things you did in your life? This does not mean that they want to hear what was the craziest, they want to understand your vision and your values. And first of all, it is, of course, important to study the vision and values of the company. You must be interested in the company, it must be felt. But this is also a question for you, do you have the same vision and values, is it interesting to you.


What are your values, what is the greatest success, what is the plan for 5-10 years, who do you want to become? And one of the most important questions in Silicon Valley is why do you want to join this company? What is special about us for you? It shouldn't be a salary, and I honestly recommend not joining the company just for this reason, this is very low motivation. We will never have enough of them. You should focus on something more than money, for example, you like the vision of the company or the cohort of engineers who work in it, you use the product from childhood, etc. It is very important to understand your motives and also what your career expectations are. Companies expect you to have a clear vision of your career expectations so they can check if it matches what they have to offer. Nobody wants to hire employees and not meet their expectations.


And achievement is also important, think about your recent accomplishments. Also, the question of what project you are proud of is quite a regular question. But it is also important to determine what your specific skills are, which helps you achieve results. What is special about you, why you and not other candidates. Reflect on this, it is also important to understand your weaknesses. Or what was your biggest failure? It is very important to be aware of and reason about that. Because you cannot overcome your weaknesses if you are not aware of them.


Technical Part This is an average of 45 minutes where they want you to solve some problem in a fairly optimal way. Therefore, it is important to be sure that you know all the requirements, that you understand the problem, that you thought about each case. Before preparing an algorithm, you need to understand what kind of problem you need to solve, what are the constraints. It is also important here to check whether you like your decision or whether you need to explain more through body language. It is difficult to tell people that they are wrong or to interrupt them, allow the interviewer to feel comfortable, show that you are ready for feedback, and open to dialogue. And think about how you can optimize your solution, even if the interviewer said everything is ok, you can say - okay, here's another possible idea of how we could optimize it in the future. And never say that the solution is ready until you have tested it.


Architectural Part. Most companies want to see you approach the issue from a high level. What system components do you want to provide and how they will cooperate. You will be given a whiteboard and you will have the opportunity to present everything visually. What are the names, API, details, how they collaborate? If this is not software development, it can be a presentation of a vision for the future of an organization or a project. This is also an important part of the high-level interview. It is important to be open and say that there are things that can be optimized, can be done, or say that here are the limitations of the system, here is the bottleneck. Do you want me to solve this problem? Then start thinking about components level and data flow. And always think "Best is the enemy of good". Don't try to make every component of your system and your solution perfect. This is usually not possible.


I have provided a review here for a small part of the content, but I recommend spending 1.5 hours and watching the webinar. You are guaranteed to get a lot of insights.



Ah! And here are two books that Igor Podkhodov approaches recommend reading. One of which he read 8 times, each time before each new stage of the interview and this was very helpful.


Cracking the Coding Interview. Gayle Laakmann McDowell https://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/148410382/

Radical Candor. Kim Scott

https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Kim-Scott/dp/B01KTIEFEE

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