I’ve been working in the San Francisco Bay Area for about 5 years, but I’ve never publicly said where I’ve worked. Well, I was a Software QA Engineer at Apple Inc., on the Applications team.

As of last week, I handed in my resignation. While I am thankful for the opportunities I have had at Apple, it is time for me to pursue working in other areas I am passionate about and search for other companies to further my personal growth and technical skills. Resigning from a good job to look for something new might defy conventional wisdom, but the time is right for me to make this bold career move.

My Apple Story

I graduated with university honors at Carnegie Mellon University, from the Tepper School of Business with a focus on Computing and Information Technology (i.e. data architecture and coding algorithms), and a minor in Statistics.

At the end of my senior year, I received an e-mail from a Software QA Manager at Apple (who followed my comments at the bottom of TechCrunch articles) inviting me for an on-site interview. Following an offer, I moved to the Bay Area to start my first post-undergrad job in Cupertino.

While I can’t really talk about what I worked on at Apple, I genuinely enjoyed the work, the product, and team. I had a high impact on the final result and I successfully helped qualify many major software releases. However, after a few years, I realized that my technical skill growth was stalling, so I looked for an an internal transfer to another department, ideally in a data analysis/software engineering role.

Having received no responses internally, I realized I would have to expand my search to outside of Apple.

My Job Hunt

I have a strong technical background from my CMU classes, but not having an explicit Computer Science degree has made it difficult to prove aptitude despite my positive annual reviews and proven experience / technical skills at Apple. So I made the decision to blog with a technical focus here at minimaxir.com, which gave me an avenue to showcase my programmatic skills and the opportunity to self-learn practical new tools not covered during the school curriculum, such as Python, ggplot2, version control with git, and reproducible analyses via Jupyter/IPython Notebooks.

This approach has been successful and many readers have liked my my blog posts: often topping Reddit and Hacker News, driving hundreds of thousands of pageviews. Additionally, a couple of my posts were even cited in larger publications such as the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

I also published many open-source technical projects to my GitHub. My Big List of Naughty Strings, a project I made in a couple hours on a weekend inspired by my QA-ing at work, is now at 20,000+ Stars on GitHub. My Facebook Page Post Scraper, which does what the name implies, is now at 1,000+ Stars and has been used by many other businesses and journalists.

Developers have long argued that job seekers should have a strong public portfolio, as demonstrated experience can account for the lack of a relevant degree. After years of building up my portfolio, it became apparent that most outside recruiters I talked with never looked at my blog/GitHub, despite a strong emphasis of both on my résumé.

I subsequently rededicated my blog as a pragmatic demonstration of relevant skills in the data analysis job market, focusing more on practical analysis instead of quirky insights and thoughts. In the process, I obtained proficiency in a number of modern tools, including interactive data visualizations on the web with Plotly, processing big data with Apache Spark, high-performance machine learning with xgboost and LightGBM, and even deep learning with Keras and TensorFlow.

I am now actively looking for a data analyst/software engineering job within San Francisco. If you are interested or if you know of companies who are looking for qualified people, please send me an email at [email protected].

Next Steps

So I’ll be using my time over the next couple weeks to openly look for a new job, and to network with others in relevant industries (and be able to interview without taking a day off of work). Things have been improving: my comment in the Hacker News “Who wants to be hired?” thread generated many leads who really liked my blog/portfolio. If you’d like to meet up in San Francisco and talk about tech and data stuff, just let me know.

I still intend to continue blogging, not as a hobby but in a more purposeful way. I have very ambitious goals and now have more time to execute them at a deeper level. Plans include:

  • Web applications leveraging deep learning models, deployed at scale with Docker/Kubernetes.
  • Interactive data dashboards accompanying every analytical blog post with Shiny.
  • Code screencasts at 4k resolution on YouTube.
  • Data analysis live-streaming with augmented functionality on Twitch.

I have set up a Patreon in order to subsidize my machine learning/deep learning/software/hardware needs for my blog posts. If you have found any of my blog posts useful, a monetary contribution to my Patreon would be appreciated and will be put to good creative use.

If you want to keep up with me and my projects, feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter too.

Author

Max Woolf (@minimaxir) is currently a data scientist at BuzzFeed in San Francisco. He is also an ex-Apple employee and Carnegie Mellon University graduate.

In his spare time, Max uses Python to gather data from public APIs and ggplot2 to plot plenty of pretty charts from that data. On special occasions, he uses Keras for fancy deep learning projects.

You can learn more about Max here, view his data analysis portfolio here, or view his coding portfolio here.