How do I make it to the Valley as a complete outsider?

New EtGR04
Aug 22 62 Comments

- I'm 29.
- Not American - also from one of those countries for which US visa is a huge pain.
- Don't have a degree.
- I can pass an LC + GrokkingSystemDesign style interview.
- Got 10 years of experience doing full stack work, but nothing at scale.
- I got no family commitments as such, single etc.

I want the huge comps y'all are making in the US. What is a good strategy for me to make it into FAANG in either the valley / Seattle / NYC? Here's what I'm thinking of:

OPTION 1:
- Get into FAANG in home country or wherever else they will take me, that's not US.
- Work for a couple years and try to transfer to US offices.

OPTION 2:
- Come to US to study a UG course in CS.
- Get a job 4-5 years from now out of college (I'll be 'old', though?).

OPTION 3:
- Get a distance UG degree from Coursera in CS, while continuing to work outside US, and keep trying stuff in Option 1. (I guess I should be doing this anyhow).

Questions:
1. Is there another option I'm not seeing?
2. What are possible things that can go wrong in my strategy?

Last TC outside US (in SG), noname consulting company: USD 72K.

Good advice on this can change my life. Look forward to your thoughts.

comments

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TOP 62 Comments
  • New jobt777
    Dude 72k usd in Singapore is way better than 200k usd in sv/sf
    Aug 22 8
    • Google / Eng batmobile
      Is it really? I thought SG COL was no joke?
      Aug 22
    • Fast Enterprises, LLC $€£¥
      Lol you are delusional if you actually believe $72k in Singapore is better or even close to $200k in the bay!
      Aug 22
    • Chase / Eng
      mFDp62

      Chase Eng

      PRE
      JPMorgan Chase & Co., Google
      mFDp62more
      Do people people not realize how expensive Singapore is?
      Aug 22
    • MongoDB tlb_miss
      It really depends on lifestyle. And YoE. Fresh grad at $200k in Bay will have higher potential to grow then $72k in SG at 8 YoE.

      But disregarding all of that, $72K USD in SG is almost equivalent to $200K in the bay
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Singapore is extremely expensive, and S$100k is “good” but the growth potential is limited (I’ve heard of S$150k on the upper end, anything above that for engineers is fairly unheard of).
      Aug 22
  • Yelp Lwj
    Why not just apply directly to the companies you are interested in. If you are good enough they will probably sponsor your visa directly. Otherwise option 1.
    Aug 22 11
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Thanks @cbzz - yes I do believe USCIS will consider it equivalent - as the CS course is from the University of London (via Coursera). But it’s a great point that I better check with a lawyer just to be sure. Also, if the current regime is re-elected, they may eventually make it tighter and this may not work. So probably brick & mortar on US soil (or elsewhere) is the very safest bet...
      Aug 22
    • Microsoft cbzz
      Wish you all the best!!
      Aug 22
    • DigitalOcean 447gd
      you're gonna need a real degree, not a coursera one
      Aug 23
    • DigitalOcean 447gd
      you could study elsewhere than the US, although the US degree makes visas easier if you do graduate school
      Aug 23
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Noted, thanks for chipping in!
      Aug 23
  • BYTON cJKu57
    Sg = Singapore?
    72K local currency or converted to USD?
    Aug 22 19
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      @opsDude, I want to do better work than at a body shop. I’ll work to earn that privilege of not having to go through a body shop.

      @loopgarou, hmm, noted on that. My trajectory coming out of UG might be slightly diff though, considering I had experience before it? Will have to explore if that makes any sense at all.
      Aug 22
    • BYTON cJKu57
      Nothing wrong with working the angle in a body shop to get here and switch job.
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      That makes sense too, BYTON. Thing is overseas postings at body shops are coveted and skill is no guarantee of being sent over. I’m terrible at politics and even worse at sucking up, so I would rather try a path that relies on my ability to exert effort. Idealistic perhaps, but just exploring the possibilities.
      Aug 22
    • BYTON cJKu57
      Yea. If that’s the case I agree.
      I suck at those skills too. So I hear u.

      But fact of the matter is you (and I) better learn those skills as it matters any where u r.
      FAANG is also made up of people. Given politics might not be as blatant as body shops. But u have to have those skills to get ahead.

      Even Nikola tesla got short changed cuz he lacked those skills. And we are no tesla. 😂
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Great points, makes sense.. food for thought.
      Aug 22
  • Microsoft techladki
    Find any Master programs that will take you without a UG degree?
    Aug 22 6
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      @techladki - ah, yes I once heard about that, but didn’t find any US based Unis that will do it (did find a UK option). Thanks for reminding me.

      I will also consult an Immi lawyer as well to understand my options - I will ask them if USCIS looks poorly on people who have an MS without a BS.
      Aug 22
    • BYTON cJKu57
      I think u can find us university for ms without undergrad degree.

      USCIS doesn’t give a fuck for student visa if u have ug or not as long as the uni u r coming to here is good.
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      @BYTON Right, but afterward, for the H1B, won’t it matter that I have an MS but no UG? YANAL I know :-) still very interested to hear what people think.
      Aug 22
    • BYTON cJKu57
      It wont. Ur years of Exp and Masters will be waay more than enuf for h1 or gc
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Wow.. this is actually news to me! A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one... I will look carefully into this! Thank you..
      Aug 23
  • DigitalOcean 447gd
    UG is your best bet, and you won't be "old". This "old" stuff is bs.
    Aug 22 4
    • New EtGR04
      OP
      Thank you, more and more, I am coming to realise this path seems to make sense... I wasn't very accepting of it initially.
      Aug 22
    • Taylor Farms azerty_
      What is UG? University Graduate?
      Aug 22
    • Epic we_north
      Undergrad prolly
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Yep, UnderGraduate {degree, program}
      Aug 22
  • Airbnb fJmd3s
    Come to the US on vacation and charm yourself into an American wife
    Aug 22 2
    • New EtGR04
      OP
      That sounds like an interesting Option 4 :-D I keep forgetting about it. TBH I want to feel like I made it by myself though... also I heard that the US govt. interviews on whether your marriage is 'real' or just for the GC - are very invasive and humiliating - "Do you share your toothbrush" was one such thing someone told me they were asked. Nasty.
      Aug 22
    • BYTON cJKu57
      I don’t find anything about this particular q very humiliating.
      They do get v personal I understand.

      U can also come here on vacation and do interviews. V hard path.
      Aug 22
  • Apple 🥭mango
    I would say start with Option 1, give yourself a timeline, if Option 1 does not work move to Option 2.
    Aug 22 3
    • New EtGR04
      OP
      Interesting... I already feel worried that starting now down the road of Option 2 would mean I'm around 34 by the time I'm a fresh grad, and also I don't know how long the journey to L5/L6 will take (that's my goal) after that. Risking another 2 years trying to make Option 1 work, sounds painful at this time... but thanks for chipping in and will consider it.
      Aug 22
    • Oath meal
      OP, you may be able to make #2 shorter if you start a UG degree in SG and then transfer to a US college to complete the degree. Don't know how much credit you'll get, but it's worth looking into.
      Btw, based on the numbers I see around here, you need at least L6 for those 400k's. If you make it, it'll take you quit a few years, and given your UG plans, you're late into the game. Nothing wrong with setting stretch goals, but have a plan b.
      Aug 22
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      @meal thanks for the advice.
      Aug 22
  • Carvana dgvx07
    You don’t need a degree
    Aug 22 1
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      Could you please expand a bit more? How would you go about it?
      Aug 22

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