Need to escape the black hole of a Government job
TLDR: TC: 99k YOE 7, hate being underpaid and need advice getting into the private industry.
I work for the government. I moved up the ranks and gained a lot of respect in my organization but I realized too late that I should have gotten out a long time ago. I've always been a high performer at work but I never had a career mentor that had my best interests in mind (the team that hired me want me to stay for a long time in one position to make a lasting contribution which I naively followed) and I don't come from a family of successful people so no guidance there.
I know now that I need to get out of the government to salvage my career. I love software development and I want to realize my full potential. I'm sure everyone says it but I really believe I'm a talented dev. I actually do things on my own just for fun and to learn. I wrote my own infrastructure for an MMORPG (yes typical beginner mistake), GPU MD5 Renderer, explored other languages like Scheme, Clojure and now Rust, practiced crossplatform development with Windows/OS X/Linux, made a few contributions on Github, studied Doom source code just because John Carmack is my idol, etc. I don't just sit on my ass and do nothing. I'm overtasked at work and am constantly frustrated trying to do everything that's asked of me (impossible) in addition to helping everyone else on my team do their own job because they're incompetent (they usually mutilate their git repo and I have to fix it for them and explain to them what they did wrong). Most of my coworkers don't learn anything new and I'm the only one keeping up with technology like Rust, AWS etc. I'm the only one interested in reading/doing anything involving software development/education outside of work.
I applied for Google last year on their website and got a response 3 days later to set up a phone call. Long story short I didn't do too well onsite (SETI) and was rejected but encouraged to try again in a year's time (feedback: excellent coding skills [C++] but they want to see more strength with algorithms). Since then I've been waking up at 4:30 most days to read The Algorithm Design Manual before going to work. Haven't done much leetcoding or CTCI but I'll start ramping that up soon (my 1 year reinterview will be in April). I applied to other companies (Oculus/Facebook/Apple/Amazon/NVIDIA) via their job sites but got canned rejections or no response. I don't have referrals from any of the big companies, most of my colleagues either don't have LinkedIn or are at dead ends in their career.
So other than a miracle Google interview I've had no one even interested in a phone call, except for Pariveda Solutions. I had a technical phone interview and their feedback was I had excellent depth in my skillset, but they wanted to see more breadth in skills/technologies. I'm just hoping when I contact the Google recruiter as April approaches, she will actually follow through with a 1 year retry.
Sorry for the long rant, I guess I just wanted to put my story out there and see if anyone had any advice since guidance is something I never really had. I'm not saying I'm the greatest software dev ever, but I feel like I could work alongside a group of smart people and actually belong there. Working here is a black hole but I believe I'm still outside the event horizon. Thanks for reading. 😎