Job Hunt 2023
This is insight into my job hunt after being laid off from Micron.
After being laid off, I was pretty down if I am being honest, but at least I wasn’t alone. I made a post on LinkedIn expressing my current situation, and I had a lot of connections reach out to either express sympathy or to provide a lead. I followed up on these leads, but nothing really piqued my interest. I wanted to continue working on a piece of software I was passionate about.
Immediately after the layoff my team had a group chat going. Some people had the idea that perhaps there would be some company out there that would see the value in the Heterogeneous-Memory Storage Engine (HSE). My boss compiled a list of companies he had contacts at that might be interested in the software and maybe picking some of us up to continue working on it. Every day he would send out more emails, but only ever heard back positively from two companies. One of them actually met with my boss to discuss the possibility because they were looking to expand their storage engine team, but that never materialized into anything.
During this same time, I had made a post on Blind that expressed the situation my team was in. One person from MongoDB who worked in recruiting got me an interview where I would be working on their C/C++ drivers. This seemed like a pretty good fit given I had maintained a C library during my time at Micron. I went through an interview loop which consisted of about 6 or 7 interviews/screenings. I felt that I did pretty well, and the interviewers seemed like really great people to work with. MongoDB ended up extending a verbal offer on , and I began compensation negotiations. My recruiter told me that I would hear back either later that day or the next day. Tuesday came and went, but I didn’t hear from the recruiter, so I emailed her. Wednesday again, no response so I sent another email. On Thursday, I headed to Houston, and on my drive, I received an email from the recruiter stating that the position I had been offered was eliminated due to “reprioritization”, but that she had another position in mind for me on the Storage Execution team. On Friday, she sent me a job description, and I sent my availability for interviewing the following week. The weekend went by, and I got an email on Monday that the Storage Execution role had been eliminated, again, due to “reprioritization”. Needless to say, at this point, I was pretty peeved.
Tesla also happened to contact me while I had been talking to MongoDB. They were looking to fill me into a firmware position. I pretty quickly realized that this probably wasn’t for me, but beggars can’t be choosers. One of the cons of this role is that it would have been in-office. The Tesla office in Austin is pretty far from my apartment, so I wasn’t exactly anticipating the commute. I had my first interview, which went pretty poorly in my opinion, but was moved on to a coding test. I took the test on Coderpad and notified the recruiter, but I never heard back from Tesla again.
After getting screwed by MongoDB twice, I felt pretty re-energized to apply to more jobs. Once I had started interviewing with MongoDB, I kind of just stopped applying to places because I felt pretty content with situation. I learned how to use LinkedIn’s search function to narrow down jobs that I might be interested in, which really helped me out. In addition, I reached out to a ton of contacts to get referrals to various companies that might be looking for someone with my background.
Later that week on , I reached out to a guy that I knew to work in the Postgres space. I had interacted with him through the Meson IRC/Matrix channel. Essentially I asked if he knew of companies that might be hiring and would appreciate my background in storage development experience. He only knew of one company, which was Neon. I saw that they had a Rust Software Engineer position, so I sent an application.
Also during that same week, I found Y Combinator’s job board. I saw a company called QuestDB that was hiring for a position I would be interested in. I sent an application, and in addition sent a message to a recruiter/engineer at the company just to emphasize my application and experience a bit. This was a practice I had picked up during this second round of applications. I am not sure how much it helped however.
On , I had my first interview with Neon. I had an email from the CTO/Co-founder on Sunday with the interview the following day. It was a great conversation. He wanted me to instead interview for the Postgres Hacker position, so I moved onto the next round which was scheduled for that Wednesday. That happened to go well too. Then the last interview with Neon was a conversation with my future manager1. That was scheduled on and went fairly well. From there, I had to submit a code contribution that I was proud of and some references, which I had never had to give before. Luckily, some people from my team were willing to provide them. Then I just waited for a bit.
A day prior to my last interview with Neon, I finally had a recruiter screening with QuestDB. It took them a while to get back to me, but I was happy to just have an opportunity. That went alright, but I didn’t hear back from QuestDB again until to schedule a meeting with their CTO.
Backing up a bit, in the week after my last interview with Neon, I applied to a few more jobs. Another tool that I found useful for this job hunt was the monthly HackerNews “Who’s Hiring” thread. There are quite a few people posting open positions at companies. One such company in there was CodeWeavers. They are contributors to a software called WINE, which allows you to run Windows software on Linux. I sent an application to them, and actually heard back positively which I hadn’t really been expecting. they gave me a coding test to do which I completed on .
Believe it or not, but I had also found a few new positions at MongoDB that I thought I might be a good fit for. I got in contact with my same recruiter from before and sent her 3 positions. 1 team came back with interest, which was the Query Optimization team. I setup the first interview on , which went well enough to move me on to a virtual on-site that was scheduled partially for the 4th.
During the waiting period for Neon, I heard back from some of my references that they had had their conversations, so I knew this particular process would be coming to a head soon. On , I received an email from Neon telling me they would make a decision within the next two days. On the 3rd, I got good news that I had received an offer. I called up my parents to tell them my vacation was over. Given that I was currently in interview loops with the 3 other companies (QuestDB, MongoDB, and CodeWeavers), I thought it would be a good idea to expedite those processes to give myself all the possible options. I set myself a deadline to decide on Neon by .
The next day after getting the offer was . I had 3 interviews scheduled that day. One of them with QuestDB and two with MongoDB. First came the QuestDB interview. It went well enough that I moved onto the next part of the process where they wanted me to essentially contribute a new feature to their open-source codebase. This would become scheduled for some time in the next week. The first MongoDB interview did not go that well from my perspective if I am being honest. I felt like I just underperformed for whatever reason. Luckily the interviewer and I had a great chat at the end of it. The second MongoDB interview came and went pretty smoothly. At the end of the day, I resigned myself to the fact that I would be ok if MongoDB decided not to move forward. You can’t win ’em all unfortunately, and I guess today was just not my day.
I heard back on that Friday from CodeWeavers, and I guess my coding test was not up to snuff, so I didn’t move forward there. The weekend gave me a lot of time to think. I ended up deciding that I should just accept the Neon opportunity and also pulled myself out of the MongoDB and QuestDB interview loops. Out of every possible outcome, Neon’s was the one I was most excited about anyway.
I will say that being laid off is rough. I was lucky to have runway accumulated for times like this, but even then I found my spirits not as high as usual. Trying to fill 8 hours a day can be so hard. I am not sure what that says about me, but I felt like I lacked motivation to be productive at times. Filling parts of my days with chores were good ways to sidestep the situation. Needless to say, I am happy that I can leave this poor mentality in the dust.
The last thing I will say is that I have a great professional network and awesome friends. I had a ton of people reach out to me with potential opportunities and sympathetic statements. Many connections helped get me referrals at companies too. A network isn’t something you value until you need it, and this seemed to be the first time in my career that I needed it. Luckily I was able to expand my network quite a bit with a ton of domain-specific connections.
Given all that, I start at Neon on where I will be working on Postgres since that is what Neon, the database, is built on.
My manager actually switched to the first interviewer, Heikki. ↩︎