Dropping out from Master's degree?

New moEt34
Dec 21, 2019 40 Comments

Hi everyone, I could use some advice.

I have a bachelor in engineering (not CS but with some CS courses) and one and a half years of SWE experience at good (not faang, more like Fortune 500) companies.

Last February I started a 2 years master's degree in CS because I wanted to try doing some research in ML and was considering doing a PhD (drank too much AI kool aid). After a couple of months I decided PhD was not for me and started prepping for coding interviews (along with doing some exams).

I applied and am now interviewing with several big tech companies (some faang or similar).

I'm halfway on my master: missing like 35% of courses plus the master thesis.

I'm gonna run out of money by March.

My options are:
1) keep grinding leetcode and try landing the best full-time job I can, start the job and drop out from my master.
2) same as 1), but once started try finishing the master working on it on the weekends.
3) join a less demanding company than faang (but that still pays well) and work there 8/12 months while leetcoding and finishing the master.
4) do an internship making a master thesis out of it (in a startup, which in some cases could be linked to a (top) university); leetcode couple of months and apply/interview with faang.

The companies I am in the process of interviewing with are Microsoft, Uber, Bloomberg, Databricks, Zalando, Jane Street and I'm about to get a strong referral for Google. Also, some noname startups (which pay well though because they're in Zurich).
Some of them I have an onsite, others I just passed the first screening, others am somewhere in between.

I'm in Europe and I'm interviewing for positions in Europe (considering moving to US at some point but also considering staying in Europe, don't know yet).

My favourite option is the first, because I feel like I already got what I wanted from my master and it gets straighter to the point to what I want (plus, if I'll need to learn something I can just do it, don't need an exam for it). Plus, it would be easy to schedule all the on-sites in the same period because I planned well so far.
I'm a bit scared of having that "dropped out" in the CV though and finishing the master feels cleaner.

My master is at a good (not top) university, similar (maybe even a bit worse) to my bachelor's university.

Some of the companies I'm interviewing with would allow me to postpone the rest of the interviews in case I decide to work on my thesis first, others might not allow that.

Deciding what I prefer would allow me to know what to do in the following two months: if focusing on leetcode or trying to finish my exams.

TC: 80k before starting my master, now is 0.
YoE: 1.5

#master #graduate #google #faang #swe

EDIT: if you're only reading the poll, beware that "faang and graduate" actually means "get into faang, then try graduating studying in your free time". Can't edit the poll naming.

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TOP 40 Comments
  • Google Mvrck9
    If you want to genuinely learn, skip that Masters and go work on real problems that FAANG has plenty of. Be very selective about what team you would like to work on. I have a masters but I learn a shit ton more everyday just from being around interesting problems and even more interesting people.
    Nail that interview and you'll have the pick of teams within FAANG. If you decide to go to Google, come back here and we can help recommending a team ;)
    Dec 22, 2019 5
    • Google Mvrck9
      Don't worry about the CV. Nobody cares if you spent a year pursuing masters or smoking pot. As long as you nail that interview, you'll most likely come in as an L3 and your very steep learning path begins.
      Fast growing teams are overrated - at your stage in career, I would recommend teams with a SOLID engineering culture where you get to work on fun problems and there are peers to mentor you.
      The fast growth matters if you're optimizing for a windfall through IPO in the next few years - then again, at your level, you're just not going to get enough equity for that to matter.
      The other case where it matters is if you're a manager looking to grow the team and learn from that experience.
      Of course I'd stay clear of dead or deprecated products in maintenance mode hence my advice to nail that interview - just getting that offer isn't enough (Anyone with enough prep can land an offer at FAANG, it's not as big a deal as people make it sound.). Comprende ?
      Dec 23, 2019
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Thanks again for the answer. I'll do my best! Gonna leetcode for Christmas lol 😎
      Dec 24, 2019
  • Apple KGHP41
    You have 35% courses left and the whole thesis? Did you’re barely 15% done with your masters. Cut your losses and get a job before you become homeless.
    Dec 21, 2019 3
    • Apple KGHP41
      lol. Nobody cares what your University thinks buddy. Thesis counts 50% in the industry. Do you think people give a rats ass about the courses you took?
      Dec 21, 2019
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Oh so you're that guy uh 😂😂 I'm not here to argue, thanks for your input.
      Dec 21, 2019
  • Synchrony —.—
    Get that Masters. Hang in there. Don’t dropout.
    Dec 21, 2019 2
    • Synchrony —.—
      If you get education loan that would be great. In US you could. Don’t know about Europe.
      Dec 21, 2019
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Here it's done only in the UK. Plus, I wouldn't do it. I'd rather do the thesis/internship if I wanted to finish it right away while getting some money to get by.
      Dec 21, 2019
  • E*Trade / Finance cbEV72
    Drop out. Education is a poison for mind
    Dec 21, 2019 1
    • New moEt34
      OP
      I also never really liked formal education to be honest, started the master's manly to consider PhD and have some time to study CS fundamentals well.
      Dec 21, 2019
  • Snapchat h2338762
    FANG doesn’t worth dropping out
    Dec 21, 2019 1
  • Cognizant / Eng
    outing

    Cognizant Eng

    BIO
    you're my bio
    outingmore
    Dude I started grad school and dropped out because it's not worth it to me, I did well in school, but grad school requires a lot of time commitment, which I didn't want to sacrifice.

    My undergrad is in CS, but I meet a lot of SWEs that aren't CS grads and I mean they aren't good, but that's a different story. Unless you want to work in research or academia, grad school isn't necessary for a lot of people imo.
    Dec 21, 2019 5
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Don't you have a hole in your CV? Like you have to say what you have been doing in that year
      Dec 21, 2019
    • Cognizant / Eng
      outing

      Cognizant Eng

      BIO
      you're my bio
      outingmore
      I was still working, but I did have a friend who did take off time from work, but he kept the one year he took off and got a job at a random company with a decent salary.

      I guess if you're not working keep it there. It would just be like quitting a job, if you don't like it you can quit. At least that's how I see it
      Dec 21, 2019
  • Move FOTu26
    A lot of those companies would be willing to help pay to finish the degree—just ask. That way you can get your cake and eat it too...and don’t feel pressure to finish in a certain time :) best of luck!
    Dec 21, 2019 1
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Thanks! ☺️
      Dec 21, 2019
  • SAP mi7
    Is taking a semester break not an option? LC. Get offer. Restart program. Reimbursement.
    Dec 21, 2019 3
    • SAP mi7
      Can’t you transfer to part-time programs. Am in similar situation. Half way thru. will try to see it through. In my experience education reaps it’s benefits in unexpected ways. Some day looking back. So don’t drop out and neither hold off everything else for it.
      Dec 21, 2019
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Yes I think I will now keep leetcoding and interviewing since I've already put in the work for it and have everything scheduled so it's not really worth it stop it now I think. Then I will see what offers I get and plan accordingly.
      Dec 21, 2019
  • Facebook aef
    Depends on what you want to do. Drop out if you want to be a code monkey forever. If you want to be doing research/ML at some point then MS will be useful (but of course there are alternatives like doing your MS later at a better place/self study/online MS etc.)
    Dec 22, 2019 2
    • New moEt34
      OP
      Not sure if you meant code monkey in a bad way. But to me some ML jobs in industry where you tune parameters and do experiments or keep building the same pipelines over and over are more monkey-like than actually building systems, unless maybe if you are in a hedge fund or in a really special team in faang (maybe there this stuff is actually worth doing). Not sure about this though, it's just my impression. But if I start out as an engineer I don't think I will go later on into research, I think it's more likely I'll stay in engineering or possibly end up in management. Anyway I think I'll start working and then if having this master ongoing will stress me too much I'll just drop out otherwise I'll just do the remaining exams and thesis with no hurry when I feel like I want to learn something new.
      Dec 22, 2019
    • E*Trade / Finance cbEV72
      Code 🐒 is pretty much everyone here, they code to earn living, the moment they stop coding they can’t maintain the same life style
      Dec 22, 2019
  • Verizon Media / Eng HG10TW
    Finish your master. You are almost there and will regret it later in your career. Some jobs (architects, director level) require a master or at least prefer it.
    Dec 21, 2019 2
    • New moEt34
      OP
      I think this (having a master to get a director job) doesn't apply to faang companies. Or does it?
      Dec 21, 2019
    • Verizon Media / Eng HG10TW
      Check this: Google Staff Software Engineer https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/1554435199
      Preferred qualifications: Master or PhD.

      Not a requirement, but can certainly help, even at FAANG, at least at higher levels.
      Dec 21, 2019

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