'Work, work, work, die': a programmer from Ukraine talked about moving to Silicon Valley and working at Netflix
If you want to work in Silicon Valley, then this text is for you. Dmitry Ocheretyany moved from Ukraine to the United States four years ago. He currently works at Netflix.
Especially for Rusbase he talked about what is behind the scenes and high salaries. It turned out that this lack of cultural life, fines and premiums, wild prices, a specific corporate code and more.
“The first computer appeared in 15 years”
My name is Dmitry, I’m 35 years old, I was born and raised in Ukraine. I have been working at Netflix for a little over two years. I got a computer quite early - around the 1998-2000 years, when I was 14-15 years old. I played a lot of different games, and then I became interested in how everything works inside. I liked it so much that I entered the mathematics programmer at Dnepropetrovsk National University. He worked in Ukrainian IT companies for about 10 years. Then I realized that if I want more serious projects, to develop and grow, I need to move to the USA.
“Two years I could not get a work visa”
Moving to the USA was hard. For a couple of years I had seven offers, however, I could not go through the lottery.
Why a lottery? Because the United States gives a limited number of work visas per year: 65 thousand to all and 20 thousand for holders of an American university diploma. And there are much more applications - over 200 thousand. Therefore, the process of obtaining a work visa is as follows: from 1 to 5 in April applications are accepted, and if there are more than visas, a lottery is held. If you didn’t pass, wait again for a year. And you can get permission for a visa, but then they may not give it. There was such a moment when my wife and I were already sitting on the suitcases, with tickets, but the refusal came - the company messed up something in the documents. We realized that you can play this lottery for years and get nothing.
I decided to go the other way: I entered a university in the city of San Jose. Foreigners come to this university to study. It’s easy to get there, and training costs $ 20 thousand per year. On weekdays, students practice at friendly IT companies, and on weekends they study.
For three months I lived without days off: five days a week I worked full time in a startup, from 8 in the morning until 5 in the evening I studied on weekends, and even - evening study on Monday. This is a nightmare.
Then it became easier: a weekend appeared every two weeks. There was no money: everything went to training. The startup paid a little since I was on a student visa. My wife and I rented a room: a bed got in and there was very little free space left. In addition to us, five more people rented rooms in the house. Living room and kitchen were shared. To put it mildly, it was not easy, although fun - lucky with the neighbors.
I worked in a startup on a student visa for 14-15 months. The startup helped to get a work visa, and besides, I was already a master, which greatly simplified the process.
As soon as I received the documents, I began to look for another job. I went to Netflix consciously: I liked their corporate culture and products.
How I got a job at Netflix
Getting a job at a company is difficult. To be one step ahead, I used Netflix development and libraries. The company publishes its developments in the public domain and makes it possible for any developer to use them for projects. I also read a lot about Netflix, understood the corporate culture.
In parallel, I had offers from Google and Atlassian, but I chose Netflix. There were no difficulties or surprises at the interviews, since I had studied the company's requests well before. A technical interview was typical of the Valley: programming tasks, system architecture, IT problems.
I do not know if it is important for Netflix to have a diploma, rather, this is a significant factor in obtaining a work visa in the United States. It is very difficult to get it without a diploma: you need to work for a long time so that you will be credited with experience instead of education.
I won’t say exactly what helped me find a job: I wrote to recruiters on LinkedIn, left applications on the site, went to meetings of the company where the products were advertised, got acquainted with speakers, asked about vacancies and sent my resume.
Why it’s hard to get into Netflix and what does the corporate culture have to do with it
We always have open vacancies, but I don’t know how many concrete resumes come. The recruiter says that sometimes a few thousand come in a couple of days.
What will help get into the company?
- Experience. Unlike Google, Facebook and Amazon, Netflix does not take people without work experience. You can get into the company only if your level is Senior or higher.
- Understanding and sharing corporate values. Netflix, to the point of fanaticism, requires employees to understand and share the company's philosophy. It can be expressed in two principles: “Act in the best interests of the company” and “Freedom and responsibility”.
The company does not have micromanagement: each employee decides for himself how much he should work, when to go on vacation, for how many days, and so on. No matter how many days you work and how much you relax, it is important that your tasks are completed.
I do not like control at work: I am used to solving everything myself and distributing my time. Netflix says: “We give you freedom if you are willing to take responsibility for it. And we trust any decision you make if you act in the interests of the company. ”
For example, if an employee needs to go on a business trip, he goes. And then it provides bills for the hotel, daily expenses for food, flight. Nobody sets a framework: how much is your flight and dinner, how many stars will be in the hotel, and so on. The employee himself can ask himself the question: “Am I acting in the best interests of the company?”. And if so, then he will most likely not even be asked what he spent the money on - they will just reimburse the expenses.
The lack of micromanagement and the ability to make decisions yourself - how and what to do - are not suitable for everyone. Netflix devotes a lot of time to interviewing to find out if a person can work in this format. Testing soft skills is a very important part of the interview. Therefore, the company involves people who share its values. Perhaps the work itself in such an environment somehow affects people, I won’t say for sure. Or maybe a good salary is the reason that you don’t make sense to “go on a break”.
On the subject: Three ways to get to work for Americans
Before the interview, the company sends a large document with values - Netflix Culture Deck. It can be found on the Internet. For example, one of the points says that "We are not a family - we are a team of professionals who have gathered to achieve our goals." If the candidate answered the technical questions well, but doesn’t share the values, the recruiter will easily refuse the job.
Netflix has a Senior Engineer and higher, so there is no youth there. Mostly my colleagues are the people behind 30. There are many Russian speakers: only in my environment is 10 person from different countries of the post-Soviet space.
I repeat that the main idea of the company is that we are professionals, not a family. Our families are at home, and we, as a team of basketball players, get together and win the Super Bowl.
“We have no bonuses, fines, traditions. And they can fire at any time. ”
Netflix is paid more than many companies in the market. Salary comes every two weeks.
The company has no cash bonuses and bonuses. Netflix, as it were, says: “If we hired you, then you should work with maximum efficiency right now. We do not need other people. ” If you do not hold out, you are quickly fired. Perhaps this is uncomfortable, but, on the other hand, you are warned about this right away. Upon dismissal, you are paid four salaries. Well, after Netflix you can easily find a new job.
They can dismiss for failure to comply with KPI, disrespect for colleagues. In the United States, racial, sexual, or gender-based abuse is very serious. For this they dismiss instantly and without benefits.
They may warn you at first. If you do not work better, dismissal will follow. In other companies, a manager cannot do it just like this: he must first write you a plan to improve your work, then check progress every week, write reports about it - a lot of work, it's easier to transfer you to another team. Our manager decides everything with lightning speed.
It may not be entirely right to give such power to people, but the company has been successfully operating under such a scheme for many years.
There are no traditions in the company. None. Because, again, "We are not a family, but a team of professionals."
Unless the Waffle Day takes place every six months: there are tents for employees for an hour in the courtyard, where we prepare waffles.
On the subject: How to get an internship with payment to US museums
The company does not consider it necessary to motivate the employee to grow further. A person must understand for himself that he needs new knowledge: then the company can pay for his studies. We have free workshops inside, but no one obliges you to go to them.
How much do they get at Neflix?
It makes no sense to compare my salary with the average for the USA or New York. It is not correct. The fact is that the Valley has some of the most expensive living conditions in the world.
- A family is considered poor if its income is less than $ 117 thousand.
I will say this: working in top companies is profitable, so the salary in them covers crazy prices. A good programmer can easily earn several hundred thousand dollars a year. Those with extensive experience and specifically demanded knowledge can receive seven-digit amounts per year. If a company needs some kind of specialist with a rare skill set, then this is real to find. For example, in Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Self-Driving Cars. Ordinary engineers like me are far from them ...
On the subject: 24 ways to make extra money
Yes, the Valley has the largest number of millionaires - people with free assets of $ 1 million, not including an apartment building. Among them, a lot of programmers. But most of them have become millionaires, since they have gone with the explosive growth of the last 10 years together with companies. For example, those who came to Facebook or Google at an early stage, where they not only pay you for the work, but also give you shares. Working in a top company now, you can live comfortably, buy a couple of cars, but housing is not so simple, except on credit.
“Nobody sleeps in the office: at 5 hours everyone is already diverging”
Nobody lives and does not sleep in our office. The working day, in comparison with other companies in the Valley, ends early: at four, people begin to disperse. At five in the evening, 80% of those working in the office are already gone, at six - absolutely no one.
Everyone comes to the office between 9 and 10 in the morning. We have an open space: you can arrange it yourself, choose a chair and a table. You can work even while standing. For employees there are free breakfasts and lunches, snacks and drinks. Each building has its own dining room, where there is a buffet in the morning and afternoon, and on each floor there is a kitchenette with snacks and drinks. There are cabinets with small equipment: flash drives, mice, cables that you can use.
I come to the office at different times: it depends on my mood. I can work in the morning from home and come to dinner if there are no workshops. But I can also come to work in 8 in the morning. Once or twice a week I try to work completely from home. I am leaving approximately at 4: 30 – 5 evenings, depending on the workload.
As I said, our vacation is not limited in time. People can easily take a vacation of a month or more if they manage to solve their problems and other people will not suffer from the vacation. I myself take a vacation of about four weeks a year.
Why I don't like living in Silicon Valley
I rather dislike living in the Valley. I'm here primarily because of work. There are many things that are difficult to accept.
The valley is divided into five counties (county - districts. - Approx.). In two districts, there are already more Asian people than indigenous people. There are cities where there are many Chinese, Indians, which leaves its mark, because each people brings something of its own to the culture.
There are things that people with a European mentality are hard to accept. For example, Asians have a notion of personal space that is completely different from Americans. An American will never stand in line closer than one and a half meters from you. Asians come close. Because of the migrants, it’s very dirty on the highway: garbage is simply thrown out onto the road. Sometimes it can even be cabinets with mattresses. And it's not a joke. You come, like, to America, and then there will not be a single American in your team, which is a bit strange.
But here it’s an awesome climate, it’s always warm, a lot of sun, rarely there is heat and very beautiful nature - mountains, ocean, coast. In two or three hours drive ski resorts, Yosemite National Park.
It’s not easy for locals. People here are evil compared to the rest of America: if you work in the Valley in the service sector, you have a very low income - you can’t afford expenses. Often people live in cars, because housing prices are sky-high.
In the Valley, investors from China are buying up real estate, so at some point, prices rose cosmicly fast. For example, the house of the 50's in a village, where there is only a shopping center and nothing else - no cultural life - could cost $ 1,5 million. A man came who was ready to pay $ 2 million of cache for him. To rent a decent apartment costs from $ 3-4 thousand per month. A normal family home, depending on the area, can easily cost $ 4-10 thousand.
Government does nothing to resolve housing crisis. But this is only in the Valley, in the whole country this is not.
To be honest, I don’t look at the price of every little thing - I just put the necessary products into the basket. Usually my wife goes shopping, and I just ride the cart. But I can say that good bread costs $ 4, a gallon of milk - $ 3, a pack of Italian pasta - a dollar.
Nobody drives buses from residents: everyone is trying to buy their own car. But public transport remains either to those who did not have time to get rights, or to homeless people, the poor, the crazy. The fare is $ 2,5. My wife also first traveled by public transport. It was a lot of stress! She had to quickly get right, and we bought her a car.
“The valley is a big village. It's very boring here. ”
The valley is the most boring place where I lived. In fact, this is a village on which huge money fell at some point - and people don’t know what to do with it.
There is something in San Francisco, at least some entertainment. Nothing at all here! Entertainment here - go eat, go shopping, to the movies. You can’t travel much to San Francisco: it’s 40 kilometers of traffic jams - you need to spend three hours. At nine in the evening - emptiness, no nightclubs.
In the Valley there is such an expression: "Work, work, work, die." You have to work hard to achieve comfort. But at the same time you spend life only on a career. Someone is leaving. Family, perhaps this is suitable: during the day you work, and then all the time with the children. I'm bored. I love the city, the movement more - and this is not enough for me.
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