Edmund Xin

Recruiting for New Grad

December 24, 2023

About a week ago, I graduated from Georgia Tech with a computer science degree. I'm very fortunate that I've been able to secure a job during this tough recruiting seasons and I wanted to talk a bit about my experience and how I prepared for interviews.


Disclaimer: I truly have no idea what I'm talking about

Now I'm not a economist but I think the past recession can be logically explained with the patterns from the past year. During 2020 pandemic, the globe effectively stopped which caused the economic to grind to a halt. In response, the Federal Reserve set the interest rate to zero percent in an attempt to kickstart the economy, and it worked. There was an initial crash but economy jumped back far higher than it was even before the pandemic. Banks, and in turn people, were borrowing money like there was no tomorrow (as it seemed at the time) and spending increased by a lot.

How did this effect the tech industry? Just like every other industry. Increased spending meant companies had record-breaking earning reports. To keep up with demand, companies began hiring like crazy since they had so much capital. For software engineers, this was an amazing time to recruit. It was very much an employees market which meant hiring was easier and salaries were higher. This environment set up a chain of cause and effects that has led to the economic situation we have today. The zero percent interest rate led to many companies to borrow billions of dollars. This flooded the economy with capital which naturally increasings inflation. This may or may not be the main cause, since this also occurred during an unpredecendent time period. The world is slowly recovering from a global pandemic and a major war started in Ukraine by Russia which has had several major effects:

  • Europe had a shift away from Russia gas which led to a rise in gas prices.
  • Major investments have been made in Ukraine for the defense effort.
  • Uncertainty and fear have led to increased defense spending everywhere.
  • Globalization has been hindered which leads to inflated prices.

Companies in the tech industry have responded by laying off engineers to save costs. Others have seized this opportunity to refresh talent by cutting underperformers and rehiring new developers. This is all to say, the economy is now terrible.

Interview Prep

As a graduate from class of 2024, I think it's fair to say that we've had a tough time during this recruiting season. The tech layoffs have flooded the market with talented developers and universities are pumping out computer science graduates in record numbers. These conditions have created a recipe for disaster, and I knew this during the fall. I was cautious about expecting a return offer from Apple so I created several backup plans. This included heavily prepping for interviews and applying for grad school if that didn't pan out.

My daily routine saw my regular schoolwork like projects and homework but I set aside an hour every evening to work on Leetcode questions, however, I would regularly work on problems for 4+ hours per day. These are just some of the things I would do during those three months:

  • Random Leetcode questions for a couple hours
  • Leetcode daily for 47 days
  • 4-5 Leetcode contests on Saturdays
  • CSES Problem Set
  • Codeforces contests (They ended up being too hard for me)

Everyone's study routine is different for everyone but for me, I focused on one category of question at a time. When I focused on graph problems, I would only do DFS, BFS, and Dijkstra's problems. Every couple weeks, I would switch topics but I would always revisit them. This is very important! Even after working on a topic for a couple weeks, you need to come back to them so you can regular refresh your knowledge and more importantly, see whether or not you can still recognize the pattern that the question is asking about. Here are some of the most useful resources that I used:

The last resource is honestly what helped me the most by far. Again, all technical questions fall under a couple of categories and these categories can often be solved with a template. They just need to be modified to fit the specific question you're working on.

One last thing. I know you've heard it over and over again but it's true. The market is just terrible. I know extremely talented developers with FAANG internships that can't even get an interview right now. You're not alone. Even if you can't find a job right now, people won't refuse to hire you just because you couldn't find a job right out of college. Even employers understand the current situation and as long as you talk about the work you've done during that time, your interviewer will understand. Keep sending applications and I wish you luck!



Software Engineer