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How to optimize career direction as a grad school student?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

Hello Taro Community, I hope you are doing well.

I was hit by a lay off mid sept and I have been unable to land a job. I enrolled in Grad school since I have limited unemployment days because of my student visa. My degree starts Jan 2024.

During Grad School, I am only allowed part time work. I am still looking for part time work in the tech industry. And currently on 3 years of work experience.

I want to do things right this time when I graduate and go back into the job market again after Grad School.

An obvious mistake I made which was I didn’t have a clear direction of career in mind. I kinda wanted to have a tech job where I get to code, pretty vague and my applications were also shooting blind darts and seeing what sticks. I did land my first job quite fast after graduation from undergrad and got a new one a year after with a better pay and change of location which was my recent company I worked in for almost 2 years.

But these last 3 months were pretty brutal, I know the market wasn’t the best but I could’ve also been more prepared. I want to improve my odds for my next job hunt.

My goal after graduation: Front End Developer/ Full Stack Developer Position. Preferably in a non tech company example: Starbucks, Nike, H and M, Chase Bank etc.

and I set location and pay range goal too.

Question: From the seasoned in the industry here, what are some actions I can take on daily consistent basis during my Grad School to move closer to this goal and possibly achieve it when I graduate?

My plan:

  • Keep revising the fundamentals of Front End and Back End to have strong grip on interviews.
  • Personal Projects for a stronger portfolio

Open to any suggestions.

Thanks in advance.



  • 4
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    Senior Software Engineer at Intuit
    2 months ago

    To clarify, did you complete your undergraduate degree here, and are you now pursuing graduate studies due to the current job market? I earned my master's degree here and received job offers in 2012 when the job market was strong. Here's my advice: focus on mastering the fundamentals during your time in school; they will serve you well throughout your career. For a full-stack role, you'll need expertise in both front-end and back-end development, which is quite extensive. Consider selecting two programming languages ( eg : Java / JavaScript) to specialize in, and it's also beneficial to learn Python for interviews. Begin searching for a high-quality internship with the hope that it may lead to a full-time position, as that's often the easiest route to secure permanent employment. Additionally, during your two years of grad school, make friends and create lasting memories; they can become valuable resources in the future.

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    Helpful Tarodactyl
    Taro Community
    2 months ago

    Preferably in a non tech company

    Curious why you have this as a criteria? (It's not wrong, genuinely curious)

    If your grad school is 2 years, I'd spend the first few months working to secure an internship (Leetcode prep). Once you have that, you can build out personal projects near the end of your first year (helpful in the long term, not in short term).

    Similar for the 2nd year.

  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Here's my advice:

    Preferably in a non tech company example: Starbucks, Nike, H and M, Chase Bank etc.

    I'm also curious about this. Is the idea that a non-tech company is more relaxed? I would actually strongly advise against this, because companies that don't have software at their core see engineers as a cost center (instead of a profit center) and treat them poorly as a result of that. The compensation will also be far lower.

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    2 months ago

    Hey guys, I appreciate your detailed insight and will be checking out these resources too, to clarify the questions here.


    Yes, I did complete my Undergraduate here, I graduated in May 2021, started my OPT and just got hit by a lay off last November, my OPT unemployment dates start Feb which will be too late to enroll in Grad school, so I just went for it. I was barely able to land interviews in two months so did not want to risk my visa status.

    Helpful Tarodactyl and Alex:

    A few reasons and thank you for your perspectives. When I say non-tech, I am just referring to the current stage of life I am in, I am totally open to it in future.

    1- My experience in the last two companies was quite amazing despite them being non tech compensation wise too maybe cuz I worked in the corporate office or just the job itself was fun. Just my general experience.

    2- The few companies I specifically mentioned I am generally very passionate about their products.

    3- I generally spent a lot of time during my college years, high school and my early career working and studying a lot, since I had to support myself, a part of me does want to experience life a little more, network, hobbies, etc. and I am currently 27. Looking back, I did miss out on a lot. Hence that is why I am looking for a more relaxed job, where yes, it is challenging but not super long hours for a long period of time (5 years+) for at least this phase of life. But I am definitely open to changing my mind after grad school, on this as I learn more about the tech industry. Preparation wise, I will prepare as if I am going to enter Big Tech, because I am sure as a Developer, I will learn a lot and be a strong candidate.