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How do I balance my time between studying DSA and fleshing out my portfolio?

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Aspiring Software Engineer2 years ago

I'm a self-taught, aspiring Android engineer, looking to land my 1st full-time role. I have around 4 hours a day to learn software development, and I'm wondering how I can spend my time the most efficiently. Here are the 2 core things I want to understand how to balance my time between:

  • DSA (data structures and algorithms)
  • Building projects for portfolio


(1 comment)
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • In a nutshell, invest more in your portfolio if you don't really have interviews lined up and invest more in interview prep if you do have interviews lined up. Even if you have interviews lined up, don't invest in DSA study unless you're pretty sure the interviews will have these types of problems.
    • Core principle to remember: DSA is a parasitic time-suck in a vacuum. It lives in its own bubble, so DSA knowledge quickly decays in your brain over time. It is not really applicable to your day job.
    • DSA heavy interviews are generally from larger tech companies where you can space out your rounds. My interview process at Meta took around 3 months end to end. You can do the same - When you get a Big Tech interview, make the interviews really far out and apart, so you can study DSA for it.
    • Your situation is also unique as an aspiring Android engineer as personal side projects are especially effective for you given the more visual nature of the platform and ease of publishing. From my experience, a lot of the engineers I know with similar backgrounds got hired into a scrappy startup as their 1st job. These companies usually couldn't care less about DSA; they just want to know if you can build stuff.

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