Neetcode struggled with unemployment as a fresh college graduate in 2020. To prepare for interviews, he started the (now massive) Neetcode YouTube channel and landed a job a year later at Google as an entry-level (L3) software engineer.
As his first full-time job, Neetcode was unsure if he'd succeed within Big Tech, but he was able to get promoted to mid-level engineer (L4) quickly.
Neetcode attributes his success within Google to 3 elements:
- Working independently: Don't be afraid to try things on your own. You should take advantage of the smart people around you, but you need an attitude of self-sufficiency. That means you should be willing to dive into the code, try out experiments, and read documentation as needed.
- Soft skills: Break down the work you're doing to discuss the parts that people care about and be proactive with giving status updates. If you feel like a project may get delayed, be very honest about that with your manager -- communicate what happened and what you're doing to fix it.
- Some luck: Neetcode had a great manager and his starter project turned out to have a larger scope than initially planned. This set him up for the L4 promotion.
Neetcode's (self-assessed) coding skills were average, but he performed better than most L3s due to his ability to work independently and superior soft skills.
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