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Switching from ML to SWE

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Entry-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

In the video polish your resume in "Ace your tech interview and get a job as a software engineer", Alex mentioned that we should focus on the stack we're the most experienced in and pick a lane.

However, in my case, I only have ML experience and do not have specific stack that I am working on, even though I am fluent in .NET

Should I put my projects upfront instead of work experience?

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    When I say stack, I mean more of a domain like Android or back-end development. Machine learning is a domain. There's many different programming languages and frameworks used within it (as with Android, web, and all other domains), but it's all under the machine learning umbrella.

    In your case, I would recommend making a resume for MLE (Machine Learning Engineer) and rolling with that. But your discussion title is about ML -> SWE, so that's... tricky. In this market, I heavily recommend junior engineers to stick with their strengths (i.e. what they already have some experience in) instead of trying to pivot domains during a job search. There are very, very few companies who are willing to take in a junior who is also pivoting.

    If you are trying to come in as a SWE instead of MLE while all of your experience is in ML, then you will probably need to make some very strong side projects and/or open-source contributions to even have a chance. More thoughts here in a similar discussion here: "How to transition from back-end development to distributed systems?"

    • 1
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      Entry-Level Software Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      a month ago

      Hi Alex, thank you for your feedback. I would like to elaborate on my situation to make sure I will do the right thing to maximize my chances.

      Background: My title is Software development and data science specialist, and in my job, I do both: doing research in DS (2/3) and develop the software to deliver to the customer (1/3). My question: should I ignore the Data Science part and only "focus" on the software development in my resume? right now, the resume mentioned both.

      The reason I would like to switch is that I do not want to do the research part and it is super competitive in ML domain in this market right now. On the other hand, SWE is what I was trained and fall in love with since I choose this career, unfortunately the current job did not give me chance to improve my skill.

      So here is my solution:

      1. Retouch my resume that involved more SWE skills (Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qDcyi61JuD5ggkqu0E23orYI7uHtdBxW/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112179429367544959228&rtpof=true&sd=true)

      2. Build a strong portfolio that focus on the stack I am pursuing. => Question: How to measure a strong portfolio? appreciate if you can provide me some link for this topic that you have done?. ( I just became member yesterday)

    • 1
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      Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
      a month ago

      I quickly looked through your resume, and there's enough meat on the bone to make a case for SWE. In that case, make it focused on SWE then. This is a bit sleight of hand, but I recommend changing "Software Development Specialist" to "Software Engineer". Honestly, these 2 sound almost exactly the same, and I can easily see a recruiter not seeing "Software Engineer" and immediately tossing out your resume.

      Here's more advice on optimizing your resume: [Taro Top 10] How To Write A Better Engineering Resume To Get More Jobs

      Question: How to measure a strong portfolio?

      Most people do side projects and your resume has a couple projects, so I'll just comment on this angle: Number of users

      Your projects, like 99% of resume projects, seem like cookie-cutter projects that came from school/bootcamp/tutorials. Since everybody has those, they aren't special at all to recruiters. Remember, they have maybe 1-3 seconds to read those projects and your blurbs as is won't "Wow!" them in that time.

      On the other hand, I have gotten tons of interviews at top companies like Google, Block, Uber, Instacart and more from my resume projects. Why? Because I have built multiple side project apps with 500,000+ users. Some of these apps I built all the way back in college when I had almost 0 skills - Truly anybody can do this. I break down how I did that here: [Taro Top 10] Building Impressive Side Projects