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"This is how I landed a big data engineer job at Facebook amid layoffs and hiring freezes" — Derek Chung

Posted on 
March 10, 2021
Ashmita Roy

Derek Chung enrolled with Interview Kickstart before SIP (Shelter in Place 2020) happened. So his options for companies decreased due to industry-wide layoffs and hiring freezes. However, that did not stop him from getting multiple offers from top tech companies. He finally joined Facebook as a Big Data Engineer. 

Read on to find out how he prepared for technical interviews and landed his dream job.

What were the challenges you faced when you started your technical interview prep journey?

Like many engineers in the industry, I struggled with technical/behavioral interviews. I also faced challenges with strategizing my interview preparation. This led to years of rejection by top tech companies. Most online materials are not right, and getting help from a FAANG engineer tuned to the interview process is difficult. 

Also, I had heard from many people that one needs to complete 200+ Leetcode questions to land a top offer. Like many engineers aspiring to ace the technical interview, I started preparing for coding interviews using this strategy. But, I failed because I didn’t have a gameplan.

How did Interview Kickstart (IK) help you?

Interview Kickstart gave me a success plan that I followed. Additionally, the team helped me build a stronger foundation in algorithmic fundamentals. They asked me to watch foundational videos and then take an actual class each week. 

They delved deep into each algorithm and explained it very well. IK’s classes allowed me to develop the foundational skills that led to my success.

What is the best part about the program?

IK helped me become more efficient. When I worked on a problem on the homework or had a question about a coding problem, I asked a technical coach to review my code or explain it. The coaches are coherent and explain problems well, which saves significant time. 

I reduced the time spent on guesswork. This allowed me to understand the problem and immediately move on to the next, saving me time and stress. I attended office hours if I had any doubts about my code. If I wasn’t able to complete a problem, I would stop and schedule a technical coaching session.

Also, there were some great classes by Nick Camilleri, the head of career coaching at IK. He taught us how to brand ourselves, how to job hunt, how to negotiate, and more. These are extremely useful, especially when one is trying to get a top offer. 

Did you leverage mock interviews offered by Interview Kickstart? If yes, how did they help you?

Yes, I did. Mock interviews are a necessary part of the interview process, and I am glad IK had them. I had mock interviews with FAANG engineers and hiring managers. They gave me detailed feedback and a formal scoring report on what was going on. 

After a couple of mock interviews, the interviewers conducted a check-in interview to ensure I was on the right track. This helped me build my confidence while I was interviewing and sharpened my skills. I would say that those mock interviews definitely translated over to my phone/onsite interviews as well. I signed up for algorithm, system design, ETL/data modeling, and behavioral mock interviews. 

Any advice for our existing and future students?

The camp is not a magic pill. You must put in the effort. Be proactive and follow Interview Kickstart’s success plan. I used the resources that I needed and studied when I had to. 

I tried my best not to lean too far away from Interview Kickstart’s success plan. They know what they’re doing and have a lot of success stories to prove it. 

Final thoughts?

Looking back, I am incredibly thankful to the staff at IK. They were just so professional and pleasant to work with. Working with IK maximized my interview performance. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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