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Interview Kickstart or formation.dev?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

Hi All,

Just want to say thank you to Rahul and Alex for creating this platform. I’ve gone through almost all of the free content and have found it very valuable in performing at my day job.

For my question:

I’m interested in getting into a Tier-1 company and have tried interview preparation on my own using NeetCode 150, Structy, etc., but am interested in a more structured learning approach. I have failed a couple of interviews and think half is due to anxiety/freezing up and the other half is inexperience with DSA. I have found it difficult to have the discipline to study after work and am interested in making a financial investment to facilitate this process. Also, I am looking to be more comfortable with the interview process through mock interviews.

I am currently trying to decide which platform to use to get an offer for a DE role at Tier-1. I’m deciding between Formation and Interview Kickstart.

Do you have any opinions on the quality of either program? For context, my current role consists of data engineering work but my role is a software engineer. Formation does not have any data eng specific content so I was thinking about IK. Do you think the quality of formation DSA outweighs the fact that I could learn some domain knowledge through IK? I’m currently enrolled to do to the trial with IK this week to see how the course is, but am still open to enrolling in formation. For DE roles, is DSA enough through formation and then I could supplement with SQL questions?

I know you guys just partnered with formation so you may be biased. Thank you in advance for your advice.



  • 6
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    I don't know much about the Data Engineer program for Interview Kickstart. I've heard decent things about the company overall, but I have also heard that quality has decreased over time (inevitable with scale). From my understanding, the main value you get from Interview Kickstart is the regular mock interviews, which you can theoretically get yourself as a part of Taro Premium already.

    I think what really changes the calculus is: Are you getting interviews?

    1. If you are and you just can't pass - I think these programs make sense then. Some people have a really hard time self-studying, and I totally get it. At this point, your ROI will be high.
    2. If you're not (likely in this economy) - I'm not sure how much either of these programs can help with that since it seems like they're much more focused on the mechanics of the interview. In this case, it's probably more impactful to really amp up your portfolio and boost your skills.

    These programs are insanely expensive, so I would be cautious around investing into them, especially now when the top-tier companies are pretty much not hiring at all.

  • 5
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    Data Engineer @ CI Financial
    a year ago

    As a Data Engineer currently applying to different places, I can second Alex's thought about being cautious. The programs are expensive and you want to make sure you can genuinely get a lot out of them.

    I did a lot of DSA prep last year on my own with AlgoExpert and found I largely haven't needed it (that could change) for a few reasons:

    1. The companies that ask DSA questions aren't hiring as much currently and haven't been since at least fall 2022.
    2. DE in general is a lot less heavy on DSA than SWE. The kinds of questions you get asked for a DE role will probably be medium-level at most, and more straightforward regarding the algos required.
    3. I'm in Canada (Toronto) which is not dominated by tech companies but instead by financial companies and other companies that have more individualized processes.

    I spoke to a Formation recruiter recently and think it's a good program if you're a SWE looking for a SWE role in the Bay area during a good economy (to use the opposite of me). But unless you know your problem is passing DSA interviews and you think you can get a steady stream of more of them, be wary. Also, try to find an alum who's working as a DE and in the same city as you so you can get their thoughts.

    Lastly, interviewing.io specializes in mocks, so they might also be worth checking out if you want to focus on that. I'm not affiliated with them in any way and haven't actually used them myself. But they do charge a lot per mock, and as Alex mentioned, you can find great people on Taro to do mocks with.

    Hope that helps!

  • 3
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    It's good you've done some reflection on what has historically been the issue when applying for these roles ("half is due to anxiety/freezing up and the other half is inexperience with DSA"). If you know you can get interviews and your reflections are indeed the primary issue, I think having some accountability would help. But because these programs require a big commitment, it's good to validate that through some failed interviews first.

    By the way, in the Taro Premium Slack, we have a few people who have done Formation.dev who may be worth talking to about their experience.