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].
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.