How I Got a Programming Job in Los Angeles Bustling Tech Hub

Searching for a job as a software engineer is really painful. There’s a new tech company popping up every minute of the day, and it’s tough to know which one to choose from.

Obviously, I should be grateful for all the opportunities I’m afforded as a software engineer, and I do, but man is this an annoying problem.

The Problem

The software industry is getting a continuous flow of money from VC’s that are just crossing their fingers, hoping that 1/10 of their investments goes IPO or gets acquired.

So that means there’s a lot of cash being invested into all sorts of ideas. Some of these ideas are good, and most of them are crap. Ideally, you want to land at a company where there’s less crap.

Since a lot of these companies are popping up, there are tons of job opportunities. What I’ve found though is that a lot of these companies have hiring managers that simply aren’t prepared to interview software engineers.

These companies don’t know any better, so they use hiring practices that are popular amongst the top tier tech companies like Google and Facebook as a crutch. This makes the job interview process feel really unforgiving for new and existing software engineers alike.

I recently put myself back out there to find a new job. It’s through this long and grueling process that I figured out a few tactics that helped me circumvent many of the common software job search headaches.

Job Search Begins

I kicked off my job search for Senior Android Engineer positions back in June 2018 and started preparing for interviews. You can imagine that I’d have to be quite unhappy at my existing job to have to deal with the aforementioned job search process. Here comes all those fun whiteboard algorithms, yay.

I needed to leave my employer at the time because my goals were no longer lining up with what I was doing. This feeling is something that I’ve learned to pay a lot of attention to. It’s hard to stay excited about anything if you no longer see much value doing it.

My short-term goal at the time was relatively simple: be part of a product-oriented team at a company that focuses on software. Additionally, my long-term goal has been to become a better leader, so I can one day confidently lead teams of my own.

With these goals in mind, it really helped me filter out the job opportunities that were presented to me.

Finding Opportunities

Having been so disappointed with previous job search processes, I desperately looked for a better way to interview with companies. That’s when I came across this very eye-catching ad while I was perusing Quora. It said something like “skip the whiteboard interview”. I was sold.

I am thoroughly convinced that the whiteboard interview has caused more people great pain during their careers as software engineers than helped hiring managers narrow down candidates. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing and demoralizing interview “strategies” I’ve ever experienced.

Whiteboarding is a topic I could rant about for hours. It was my main motivator for finding a new way to job hunt, and this anti-whiteboard ad I found for a company called Triplebyte, was my holy grail.

I applied for their developer exam immediately. Since I’m an Android developer, I chose their mobile specialty exam and raced through the timed questions. I soon got confirmation that I was good enough to get a follow-up interview, and went from there to schedule it.

The whole process, from initial exam through to their video call screening, and eventually to the onsite interviews was fantastic. I really felt I was getting taken care of. This is how interviewing should be!

That wasn’t the end of my interviewing journey though; it was really just the beginning. Even though Triplebyte set me up with five great companies to interview within San Francisco, they didn’t have the clientele at the time to help me search more local. Since I live in Orange County, I had to find job opportunities out here the more traditional way.

I reached out to everyone in my network that could help me out with this. Previous co-workers, friends, family, and anyone else who could point me to a company with the values I was looking for. I set my LinkedIn profile to “searching for a job”, and tidied up my resume.

I got into contact with a few different interesting companies this way. Some in LA, some in OC, and more — many more — in the Bay Area. I really didn’t want to have to go to the Bay Area.

Besides the obvious factors of the Bay Area — like it’s way too expensive — I knew that moving there would be tough for my wife. It would be much easier to be able to pack everything up and move up there with all the industry elites if I was just a single dude. I had to think about my wife’s family, my family, and the future we’re trying to build together.

That said, I knew that I wanted to get as much interview experience as possible. From previous interview experiences, I anticipated a certain ramp-up time needed to get my mind warmed up for the oncoming onslaught of interviews. The more interviews I got through, the better I felt about the next one.

I ended up narrowing down my search to seven companies: one in LA, one in OC, and the five Triplebyte had arranged for me in the Bay Area. It was time to buckle down, so I took a week off from work and got ready to dive deep into my interviews.

The Interviews

Triplebyte’s process promises that once you are through their initial screening period, you’ll skip ahead to every company’s final interview.

Every company evaluates their software engineers differently. Some throw many hypothetical and theoretical technical problems at their candidates, whilst other companies stick to more practical job-related interview questions.

One thing that really stuck out to me in my round of interviews is just how inconsistently the idea of a “Senior Developer” is defined. Some companies have a list of skills they expect from their “Senior” people, and others just want to see how many hoops you can jump through before getting to the real work.

This made me realize just how fluid job titles are from one business to another. A “Senior” developer at one company could very well be a “Junior” developer at the next one over. Title definitions all come down to the business’ needs, their existing pool of talent, and how desperate they are to hire developers.

Having caught on to this very strange phenomenon, I knew I had to problem-solve my way out of it. So I started explaining to companies what I thought was “Senior” to me. I made sure to highlight my experience leading teams, my abilities outside of programming, and of course proving this all via different code challenges and Q&A.

It actually worked. Of course, the caveat here being that my strategy only worked on companies that I could truly add value to. Meaning that I had to have already been a solid candidate; I just used my “Senior” story to help tip things in my favor.

Out of the seven companies I interviewed with, I received offer letters from five of them. It’s not a bad batting average at all, and I felt rather proud of myself for getting this far.

It wasn’t long after my interviews were over, however, that the final challenge would prove to be most difficult. I had to make a choice as to which company to go to.

Making a Decision

I was staring at a list of five incredibly impressive businesses, with similarly incredible offers. I took a tip I got from one of the recruiters and started on a spreadsheet with all the companies I was considering.

I ended up with a whopping seventeen different categories that I used to compare all of these companies. Let me say that this helped immensely. It gave me a high-level look into all the things that I cared about. Here, I’ll list them out so you can laugh at how thorough this ended up being.

The categories in no particular order: pay, equity, 401(k), relocation bonuses, benefits (like medical), extra perks (like lunch catering, cell phone allowance, etc), vacation policy, company culture, engineering culture, product pros and cons, social impact, audience size, industry, gut feeling, location, commute, and work hours.

The Winner

All things considered, I ended up at my current employer, Weedmaps! I honestly surprised myself at this one too. I’m not a cannabis user, but I was so impressed with everything they were offering that I felt like it was a no-brainer to me.

What really tipped it in Weedmaps’ favor too is that I didn’t have to move. I could stay in beautiful OC, and be close to all my family. I think that’s something that people don’t value enough when considering their next job.

So far though, I’ve been thoroughly pleased with my choice to work at Weedmaps as a Senior Android Engineer. Having been here for just a few months now, I’ve really grown to enjoy working here. I’m so impressed with just how welcoming, and collaborative of an environment Weedmaps is.

It’s the collaboration, the willingness to compromise, and the desire to be better that makes a place like Weedmaps feel like home to me. I think those three traits are what foster growth, and build great teams.

For now, I’m focused on really maxing out the value I can bring to my team at Weedmaps. It’s a place that I feel will grow with me as I continue to push towards my career goals.

Maybe next time I can talk more about those dreaded whiteboard problems. Sigh.

Check these 50 Hottest LA Startups to Work For Right Now

Ryan Simon
Author Details
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.
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Ryan Simon
Ryan Simon is a Senior Android Engineer for Weedmaps. He has taken his background in investing, his degree in business and applied to the world of a software engineer. Ryan spends his free time cooking with his wife or playing Overwatch.
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This Fried Chicken Delivery Service Is New But Its LA-Native Chef Is Legendary

This Fried Chicken Delivery Service Is New But Its LA-Native Chef Is Legendary

Have you heard great things about the new LA fried chicken delivery and pickup service called DFC Ghost Kitchen? If you have heard news about this setup, then chances are that you’re considering trying it out. Here are some cool facts you should know:

  • The “DFC” in the name stands for Dante Fried Chicken, and that’s because it was founded by the legendary LA chef Dante Gonzales.
  • This service’s headquarters is in the Hotel Normandie in Koreatown.
  • It began in late August of 2018 so it’s very new, and it can be found on food delivery apps from Wednesday through Sunday evenings.
  • They make deliveries in the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, and East Hollywood. However, Dante plans to expand their delivery radius, through Grubhub, Caviar, and Postmates. You can also look forward to having them on Door Dash and Uber Eats.

  • If you’d rather pick up the food yourself because it’s on your way, you can place your order and then pick up the food at Cassell’s Hamburgers in the Hotel Normandie. You can place your order by sending an Instagram message to DFC Ghost Kitchen or by calling them at (323) 813-1424.
  • Aside from the obvious chicken, they also offer ribs with 15 spices, tomatillo collard greens, and mac n’ cheese with smoked pimento.
  • Many of these recipes used for DFC Ghost Kitchen are the versions of Dante based on his grandma’s cooking. His grandma grew in in New Orleans and she especially appreciated the cultures of Mexico and Guatemala. This helps explain why half the menu is fried chicken and meats roasted slowly, while a significant number of sides are vegan.
  • Dante calls his style of cooking not as soul food but as “Transatlantic African”. This is a combo of African, European, and Native American culture and cuisine. Dante wants to remain creative and thoughtful with his dish creations, to honor his grandma.
  • One of Dante’s most popular dishes here is the Sock-It-To-Me Fried Chicken Tenders. The strips he uses are coated in some special type of granola. Its ingredients include crusts and seeds he has found on his travels around the world, with unusual elements like Rice Krispies, Swedish crackers, and Cheerios cereals.

  • The menu also includes versions of Dante’s grandma’s coconut honey biscuits and pineapple shallot skillet rolls. It’s just that he has adjusted them somewhat to fit his own taste buds.
  • You can also try the fantastic smoked brisket, which is first coated in a chocolate cocoa powder dry rub along with 5 types of peppers. It’s somewhat like mole as a result. The smoking process lasts 6 hours, and then it’s braised in orange juice and stout.
  • Dante Gonzales started his career by throwing underground music, film, and fried chicken parties in his loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Partygoers included famous rappers, and he then launched a YouTube channel. This led to a New York food delivery service in 2009, which became popular when it was featured by the Cooking Chanel.

He raised $10,000 to set up a food truck in LA, and that led to a cookbook deal and culinary fame.

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

How to Find Motivated Job Applicants

How to Find Motivated Job Applicants

We all have to admit that some job applicants aren’t properly motivated. Perhaps they’re unemployed and they just want any job. Maybe they’re dilettantes who just like to do the job because they’re bored with their life. Sometimes it’s all about the money.

Companies want properly motivated applicants because those are the ones who generally do their best. What’s more, they tend to stay on and they don’t leave the company in a lurch.

So if you’re sifting through job candidates, here are some tips that can help you find the applicants with the proper motivation:

Ask the Right Questions

You can ask a question that shed light on why the applicants are interested in the job. So you can ask for reasons why they love the job, or about when they realized that they wanted a job like the one you’re offering. Ask about what accomplishments they’ve achieved that gave them the best feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Let them tell you about times they’ve worked beyond their job description just to help out. All these questions can give you a clearer idea of what motivates the applicant.

Focus on the Body Language (Not Just on the Spoken Words)

Sometimes a person’s body language and facial expressions can tell you more about what they’re really feeling instead of the words they use. Those who are interested in the job and the industry often lean in towards you. They smile and exhibit obvious signs of interest. In some cases, you may even notice a definite sparkle in their eyes that demonstrates their undeniable motivation and interest.

Signs of disinterest include closed arms over the chest. You may even find some applicants with their eyes glazing over.

You should also pay attention to the tone of the voice as well. It’s easy enough to notice when a person is bored or is passionate about the industry. The tone of the voice can demonstrate clearly the applicant’s level of excitement for the job and the industry.

“What Will You Do on the First Day?”

This is a key question to ask in an interview for 2 reasons. If they have a ready answer, then they may have already imagined themselves working at your company. That shows they want the job. In addition, if they have plans for what to do then it shows that they have initiative and can act without being told what to do.

A person who doesn’t have a ready answer to this question may have questionable motivations. It’s better for the applicant if they already have an inkling of what the first day will be like.

In the end, it’s true that an applicant’s qualifications, skills, and knowledge do affect their eligibility for the job. But it’s also true that their motivations matter. Their motivations ensure that they will work hard to do the job even if no one’s looking over their shoulder. If they’re not motivated, then their skills and knowledge won’t really matter. After all, it’s not as if they care!

Josh Stomel
Author Details
Founded Neohire in 2007, a top-tier recruiting agency based in Santa Monica, CA. Neohire offers its clients a variety of flexible recruiting solutions to help you scale your business with the highest quality talent available. We are always actively recruiting professionals from the internet space.
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Josh Stomel
Founded Neohire in 2007, a top-tier recruiting agency based in Santa Monica, CA. Neohire offers its clients a variety of flexible recruiting solutions to help you scale your business with the highest quality talent available. We are always actively recruiting professionals from the internet space.

Day of the Dead Playing Cards Made in LA by Local Artist Steve Minty

Day of the Dead Playing Cards Made in LA by Local Artist Steve Minty

The Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos in Spanish, is a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico and the United States. The holiday actually spans several days when family and friends gather to remember and pray for their deceased loved ones. Most people also visit the graves of their loved ones, and light candles and place flowers on them, as well as enjoy a picnic with their family.

In modern times, it’s celebrated from October 31 to November 2.

The Day of the Dead is the inspiration behind the Muertos Playing Cards. Steve Minty designed the deck of cards while the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC) manufactured them.

Every card is designed with the theme of celebrating life and death in the tradition of Dia de Muertos. The history of the Day of the Dead tradition in particular and Mexican culture, in general, is reflected in the design, while the social classes present in the past are also depicted. The deck has a contemporary feel complemented by an elegant look with its gold-on-black design.

Each deck comes with 54 custom playing cards and two gaff cards. The characters and numbers are printed with gold ink on a black background, a combination that makes them pop out. The deck is packaged in a gold foil and embossed tuck box, too, for added luxury.  

Steve Minty drew inspiration for his designs from the message of the Day of the Dead. He was also influenced by Aztec art, the Mexico-American Wars, and the works of Jose Posada.

The cards are then creatively named to reflect characters although the usual card characters – spade, hearts, clubs, and diamonds – are still used. The card characters include El Padre, La Hermana, El Soldado, El Catrin, La Viuda, El Bandito, El Caudillo, La Bailarina, El Campesino, El Azteca, La Catrina, and El Caballero. The Joker cards have the Muertos insignia and the sugar skull (i.e., Calaveras).

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
×
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com