There is a lack of engineers everywhere, but finding talent is especially hard in the Bay Area.
I’m from Spain but 5 years ago I went three months to SF, to attend a couple of conferences and visited some friends.
At that time I was trying to start something, but I changed my mind and I started looking for jobs in the US instead.
Getting in contact
Every single company I visited was recruiting.
Tech companies provided pizza, beers and tons of famous, smart people to talk about smart things. All to attract talent.
I sent out many resumes, but 90% of the times I didn’t receive any response, and I couldn’t figure out what was missing.
I have a CS degree, five years of experience and lots of open source contributions in cutting edge technologies. My best guess was that US companies were not willing to sponsor me a `H-1B` visa.
I was close to giving up and going back to Spain when I received two calls from a couple of companies. One of them was Klout, the social media analytics company that sold for $200 million. The second call was from a company that was just starting up at the time, they wanted to disrupt the transportation industry.
The first interviews are always done by telephone. They ask you about your background, some theoretical questions and some *puzzles*.
When they have decided that you’re smart enough to meet face to face, the real interview starts, and it’s not a normal meet and greet, it can last up to three hours.
You talk with people from different departments, answer more questions and solve more *puzzles* on whiteboards.
– Implement a function that calculates square roots
— Sort and concat arrays in a optimal way
— Guess the two missing numbers in a array with `n — 2` length containing `1..n` unsorted numbers
— Calculate the number of digits for a given number
— Implement a function to detect palindromes
Most of them were doable, but I think they were missing some amazing developers that may not know how to solve those problems,
but they are capable of solving real-life problems (fix this bug, port this library, refactor this code…).
– What is a closure and which disadvantages does it have:
— What is hoisting.
— How does `this` work.
— How `float` works and which issues does it have.
— How does the event loop work on the browser and how to delay a function to the next tick.
— How to optimize CSS, and how does specificity work.
Both companies I interviewed for offered to sponsor me a H-1B visa and a good salary.
I ended up accepting one of the offers because they where more transparent with the stock options (which I later discovered not to be so great after all), and because they told me that I could work remotely until getting the visa.
I signed the contract, opened a bank account, left my job and came back to Spain.
Back in Spain I started to prepare myself for the new job — I was looking forward joining a new team. I learnt Python because I saw some people using it at that company’s offices.
I was super motivated and willing to start! I even sent some emails to the CTO to get some instructions on how to setup my development environment.
At my starting date I received the first email from the CTO saying that they were not able to get my visa and that they were thinking about the aspect of working remotely.
I answered them that it wasn’t a problem for me. I had been working remotely for a while and it had never been an issue.
What happened next? Nothing. Silence. I was completely ignored.
Getting a working visa in the US is not easy. If it was, most developers would be working there. It has gotten a lot better the last years, but companies should start to be more open minded about hiring remote workers.
There is a huge deficit of talent in the US, and a lot of wasted (and way cheaper) talent in other countries around the world. An average engineer in the Bay Area can cost around $100k+. In Spain, the same engineer costs significantly less.
Even though I’m happy I didn’t end up in the states, it would have been cool to be one of the first developers at Uber.
It was an amazing experience, the development was happening 24 hours a day. The git repository was constantly receiving commits, never sleeping.
Luckily there’s more and more great companies being built in Europe, and there’s no need to go to the US to land a fantastic job as a developer. Both Madrid (14th) and Barcelona (9th)are climbing on EDCI’s digital city index list every year, and more and more startups are getting funded.
A recent report by Atomico predicts even greater times for European tech in the years to come, so no need to apply for the green card lottery this year, just hold on to your European passport.
This memoir was written by the CTO of Factorial.