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"10 Offers in One Year" - Sumayyah Ahmed
With Sumayyah Ahmed Google Developer Expert Android & Senior Android Engineer Square
This week I had the honor to speak to Sumayyah Ahmed; you can watch the entire interview on YoutTube, or listen to all podcasts. Sumayyah is a Senior Software Engineer at Square and a regular conference speaker. She’s been developing Android apps for ten years, ever since she fell in love with a summer post-college project. Since then, she’s worked in early-stage startups and large companies and built apps in all kinds of spaces: social media, video streaming, smart home integration, and finance.
She gets really passionate about engineering resilient, performant apps that delight people and building strong team processes to support those. Sumayyah’s second love is community engagement, so you’ll also find her onstage at conferences, writing on her blog, or mentoring one-on-one. When she’s not working on Android things, you’ll find her very likely at home, despairing at all her reading/gardening/crafting projects.
Sumayyah has traveled the world sharing her knowledge, and in this article, she talks about how she got ten offers in one year.
We also had a great talk, and she answered some of the questions for our audience.
The current layoffs are affecting engineers, which means many engineers will be looking for jobs - how do you stand out in a poll of incredible talent? - What makes you unique?
This is a tough situation to be in. What makes it more difficult is that there is often a disconnect between hard reality on the ground (mobile teams are perennially short staffed) and leadership strategy (hiring is the first thing to go when it’s cost cutting time). So I wouldn’t rely on management suddenly listening to their engineers and hiring again.
REFERRALS. Having someone on the inside to vouch for you is HUGE, because the hardest part is getting the interview on the calendar. Referrals is how I got multiple companies on the calendar, even when the automated system rejected my resume. Build a network. Ask people for referrals. Pro tip: you don’t need to know people deeply or personally to ask for a referral! Being part of a community can help enormously for this.
What are your best resources when preparing for an interview?
Other engineers. Google. If at all possible, narrow down search by level, role, and team.
What’s NOT helpful - the generic “here’s how my interview with Google went”. Interviews vary hugely by team, level, scope of the role; and even then two people interviewing for hte same role can have completely different experiences.
What is different about the Android interview process vs. the generic software engineering interview?
It depends on the company. There are three things that pop up quite often:
The take home project, the project extension, the bug finder.
Most of the time, these are things that test the things an Android developer would do day-to-day: adding new lists, adding a new screen, finding bugs like janky listviews, etc.
How can you evaluate the company or team that’s interviewing you?
Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to tell them upfront that you have questions, or ask for another session with a hiring manager or senior engineer. Ask questions about the day-to-day, the future of the company and the team, their decision-making, their culture, attitude towards mentoring, anything else that’s important to you.
How can you bounce back from a bad or failed interview?
Remember that it’s fine to flunk an interview. Figure out what kind of prep works for you and what your weak points are.
Don’t front load with your most critical interviews, because inevitably the first interviews will be you getting in the groove.
Remember that an interview is not a referendum on whether you’re “good enough” or not.
How can you approach a difficult interview from a position of strength?
Drive the interview. Ask questions, and push back if needed. Do mock interviews to gain confidence.
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