#69: Xuan Luong

“The New York Dream and Job Application at Google”

𝐗𝐮𝐚𝐧 𝐋𝐮𝐨𝐧𝐠 - 𝐀𝐝𝐦𝐢𝐧 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐭 𝐓𝐞𝐜𝐡 & 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐟𝐟 𝐒𝐨𝐟𝐭𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐭 𝐇𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫

After I graduated from Bach Khoa University, I chose to go to Europe to get my Master’s in Computer Science. I picked Switzerland because the price of education here fit with what my family could afford. I also had a plan to finish my studies, do internships, and make enough money to pay for my schooling and living costs, so that my finances would be in order. Also, the university I chose (EPFL) had strong connections with big tech companies and gave students the chance to work in many European countries, not just Switzerland. I applied to Bloomberg in the UK as soon as I left school and did two internships in Switzerland. That year, Bloomberg chose me as one of the trainees to keep working for them after a 12-week training programme. My journey from Switzerland to London officially started in this manner.

At the time, there was enough money in the UK after living expenses to allow for the occasional trip. Life was somewhat steady. My biggest dream then was to have just one business trip to Bloomberg HQ in New York, and that alone would have made me ecstatic. About 6 or 7 months later, by some stroke of luck, my company held an internal code competition. The prize was another trip to New York. I felt like I had won the lottery and was excited to take part in the qualifiers. I made it into the top 100, then the top 50, and finally into the finals. Only my coworker, a senior engineer from China, and I, from the commodities engineering team, made it to the final round. Everyone was supposed to fly to the US for the final battle, but I had trouble getting a visa, which kept me from going to New York. My dream of going to New York was flew, and I had to fight in the final round from afar, which was a bit disappointing.

But in return, I got my skip boss in New York to notice and care about me. She found out by chance that I wanted to work in the US and be with my family who had just moved there from Vietnam. My skip manager didn’t forget about that talk, but I almost did. A few months later, she helped me switch jobs and move to the US from Bloomberg UK in the easiest way possible. My dream of working in New York came true when I was moved to Bloomberg US.

From there, I also started my way to Google. After about 9 months on the new team at Bloomberg in New York, I was getting a little tired of my job. Even though the work in the new team and the old team wasn’t that different, the job market for software engineers in London and New York was like night and day. Since most big tech companies were based in the US, software engineers had a lot of chances there. At this point, I really felt like it was time to move on to a new, more difficult journey.

I started having interviews with companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Two Sigma, and Citadel.

I met with Amazon right next to the Empire State Building. On the first floor of the building, there was an Amazon Go store. The offices were on the second and third floors. The Amazon coding interview wasn’t too hard, but it was tiring because they talked a lot about their leadership ideals. They asked a lot of questions about my behaviour, and some were asked more than once by different interviewers. This made me feel tired after the interviews. At the time, I thought if I would like to work there if Amazon hired me.

Next, I went to Google’s main building between 7th and 8th Avenues for my interview. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Google’s office in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, they were probably taken at this building. The interviews went well, and I thought that I did a great job that day. If I hadn’t gotten an offer after that, I probably would have given up on Google and wouldn’t have known what else to do to improve my chances.

I got past the first round of phone calls with Facebook. They told me that I was moving on to the live round, but a little over a week later, they told me that they didn’t have enough people left to keep the interviews going.

At about the same time, I went to Chicago for an interview with Citadel for a job in New York. As I got ready for the on-site meeting with Two Sigma, I also got offers from Amazon and Google.

At the time, I wanted to work for an FAANG company, and Google and Facebook were my top two choices. I didn’t know anything about how companies like Citadel or Two Sigma paid their employees. So, I did three things wrong:

  1. Didn’t go through with the physical round with Two Sigma.
  2. I took my registration to Citadel back before I heard back about it. The agent called to see how things were going, but I told them I was leaving because I was joining Google.
  3. I took Google’s offer without making any more deals.

In January 2018, I moved to New York to work for Google. From my first job to my dream job, I had gone all the way. When dreams come true, it may be time to start looking for new, more difficult dreams. In another post, I’ll talk more about what it was like to work at Google.

P.S. Here’s a picture of me showing you around Google’s New York office.

Techie Story is a digital magazine about inspiring tech people who have contributed continuously to Science, Technology, and Innovation. Please contact us at team@techiestory.net if you want to contribute your inspiring story.
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