hxu10's blog

By hxu10, history, 4 months ago, In English

Hello everyone. I am a codeforcer for two and half years. I took part more than 130 contests, write hundreds of comments and blogs. Now it's time to say goodbye, but not fairwell, to contests. My English is not very good, but my words are sincere.

As a Physics PhD new grad try to become a sofeware engineer, I took part in my first codeforces contest in 2020. My initial reason for the codeforces, is to practice algorithm, since I found it difficult to solve the hard tag problem in leetcode weekly contest, and a experience leetcoder told me: "if you want to solve harder problem in leetcode, try codeforces, and if you can solve 2400 rating problem in codeforces, leetcode problem is just piece of cake. "

So I took part my first contest: educational codeforces 97. The results was very good, I solved four problems and get a ranking of 600+. However, my second contest is a disaster and give me huge lesson. I found it difficult even for reaching blue. I keep practicing, focusing on problems that close to my rating. Efforts finally pay off. In my first contest, I thought 2000 rating problem is very hard and nearly unconquerable. But now, I can finish most of the 2000 rating problem during contest. I can even AC 2400 and 2500 rating problem.

I reached my highest rating 2204 last year, which make me, but it's a "fragile" high rating by luck since I just drop down to expert only a few contests. This time I reach candidate master again, but is more stable. If you believe, you can see my rating graph. In my most recent contest (round 875), I got a very good performance. I solved three problems, problem 1C is in last minute, and get top 200 in a contest that rated for only div1 users.

Thanks to codeforces, I also have much greater performance in leetcode contest. I reach top 20 many times and won a bunch of real prizes.

Thakns to codeforces, I entered Google Code Jam 2022 round 3, and won a T-shirt.

Besides contests, codeforces is also a lovely community. Comments and blogs are very interesting here, even some are highly downvoted. For me, I try to be sincere and friendly, so my contribution is also good. You are more than welcome to upvote this blog and leave comments.

Then you may ask: why I say goodbye for such a good platform? It's not platform, it's about jobs.

I faced very great difficulty finding jobs. I got a PhD in August 2022, and when I am looking for jobs in United states, I found it extremely difficult. I am good at algorithms, but they only ask very easy coding questions. The most difficult problem asked during interview is a 1300 rating codeforces problem. I solved it very quickly during interview but still cannot proceed next round, because I cannot write a "Thread safe singleton class".

More times, the HR just reject my resume because I have no experience, no internship. Even for Google and Amazon, I know I can pass coding interview, but they just threw my resume to rubbish bin and didn't gave me any chance.

Then, I just split myself into halves, preparing for jobs in days and practicing codeforces or leetcode in nights. However this is still not enough, I am still unemployed, and my money deposit is running out in a few months. Now I need to 100 percent focusing on my jobs. get a job, get a job, get a job!

If you are a software engineer in US, you are welcome to give me a reference if you can. I have physics PhD degree. I am good at Java, python, c++, backend technologies like SpringBoot, Feign clients, and frontend technologies like javascript and React. I also have experience in machine learning. What's more, I got AWS certificate recently.

I am not saying fairwell. If I find a stable paid job and I get used to the work environment, I will still come back for contests. I even want to be a problem setter for contest. It's just a goodbye. It's so enjoyable competing and solving problems in codeforces.

Finally, Thank you MikeMirzayanov for this great platform.

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4 months ago, # |
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Also applying right now (but for quant jobs, because I decided I don’t find SWE interesting enough in general)!

The US software market was extremely volatile near the end of 2022, but it has been getting much better recently. Notably, the big techs had a hiring freeze on many teams in the US during that period. It may be reasonable to expect some shift in the distribution of your interview experiences now vs. last year. Generally I find that hedge funds (D.E. Shaw, Jane, etc.) are more selective but also care about technical skills a lot more, so perhaps it may be easier to stand out if you apply there.

If you’re open to startups, I have heard good things about many of them. In particular, Modal and Ramp (disclaimer: I was working here until end of last year when I decided to resign for personal reasons) have employed a few LGMs (I won’t name names here, but perhaps they will see your post), and the larger startups like Ramp usually are more willing to sponsor Visas if that is an issue.

Feel free to keep in touch—applications and interviews are a tiring process.

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    Thank you very much ! I am currently on another interview, once finished, let's keep in touch. I saw your rating graph, it's amazing that you stay on competitive programming for more than 8 years.

    UPD: The interviewer just ghost me and said they have no headcount anymore. What a bad market!

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    Any Ramp LGMs seeing the post/my-comment, I would like a Referral!

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    I confirm that hedge funds are generally paying much more attention on things such as Codeforces rating. Master is not extremely impressive but may be enough to make you a good candidate especially given Phd.

    They also pay huge salaries and some of them have surprisingly good culture.

    Maybe worth trying to find a recruiter on LinkedIn who works with hedge funds and try to pitch yourself to him as a great problem solver.

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4 months ago, # |
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Sorry to hear that you couldn't get a job. Wish you the best of luck!!!

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4 months ago, # |
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Wishing you the very best!

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4 months ago, # |
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good luck in your upcoming days my friend, wishing the best for you!

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4 months ago, # |
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Good luck on getting a job!!

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4 months ago, # |
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Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle. Wish you the best of Luck !!! hxu10

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4 months ago, # |
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Are you seeking a job or simply money? It's important to differentiate between the two because they are often not the same thing.

If your primary goal is to earn money, a stable paid job is generally equivalent to any paid job. In the real world, there are plenty of tech jobs available that may not fully utilize your PhD but still offer financial stability. On the other hand, if a stable paid job is not necessarily equivalent to a paid job for you, it's unlikely that "stable paid" employers will consider your experience sufficient for a senior role. In such cases, it would be wise to consider intermediate positions.

Look, a thread-safe singleton class is not typically considered a more junior-level interview question. If you applied for a senior or mid-level role at a strong company and faced this question, don't be discouraged. The IQ to grasp concurrency concepts is not half as difficult as understanding binary search.

Nobody in their right mind, after seeing your physics PhD and Codeforces master rating, would dismiss you solely because you struggled with writing a thread-safe singleton class. More reasonable individuals understand that this is a false negative — and, should not be a decisive factor. Moreover, many people entering corporate Software Engineering roles underestimate their problem-solving skills, which are often far more valuable than the specific technical experience like concurrency and system design BS that many cynics demand recently.

For those who find themselves in a similar situation on Codeforces, let me offer some advice. Don't be overly selective, it is similar to going straight to difficult problems on CF as a beginner. None of the problems will accept you. If you need a job, take the first opportunity that comes your way. Any easy, non-prestigious job is far better than feeling unproductive at home. In summary, be honest with yourself, maintain the appropriate level of pride, and remember that humility should always accompany honesty.

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    If I find a stable paid job and I get used to the work environment, I will still come back for contests. I even want to be a problem setter for contest.

    Did you not just convincingly argue against the necessity of maintaining the habit of participating in contests to secure a stable paid job. Why would you still consider returning to this unproductive habit that holds little value in the real world?

    Don't you think it is worth contemplating whether this habit will be instrumental in achieving other significant career milestones such as becoming a team lead, manager, or even reaching financial milestones like making millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions.

    I think you need to evaluate the practical relevance and impact of this habit on long-term career growth and financial success. Good luck

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      4 months ago, # ^ |
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      First thank you so much for your comment and guidance to me.

      Actually, yes, you are right, because my parents said the same word to me. They said I should focus on more practical, like higher position, group leader, higher salary, rating than staying on this useless competitive programming.

      But, in my mind, I stay on this is because I enjoy it, it's just like playing game. You win the game, you are happy. You lose the game, you retrospect yourself and you gain experience for next game.

      I leave this platform is just because I am beaten by reality for short time, but I have a dream in my heart. A dream to become a red coder.

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4 months ago, # |
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The hiring market is a bit shit right now globally. I have a decade of experience and the same companies that were reaching out to me for positions in 2021, are now ghosting applications (even though I've improved significantly my CV in past couple of years). I think they get so many applications that they only choose the applicants which have exact experience on the technologies the job ad is for, disregarding the fact that smart people can just learn whatever very quickly.

That being said, if the feedback is "not able to write Thread safe singleton class", then you're right that you should focus on getting good on some software design skills, in addition to the algorithmic skills which you already got in the bag.

Also consider using a site like interviewing.io or igotanoffer.com to do mock interviews. It's possible that there's something else that you're doing wrong, and the interviewers there would tell you (note that those are paid services).

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    Yes, I can confirm. I think I have pretty impressive CV and only apply to well-matching positions with high-effort applications (tailoring, cover letter etc.)

    Still, 50%+ instant reject or ghosting.

    I believe that it is not very unusual to be able to interview 20 people and get 400 applications out of which 40 are very high quality, so half of applicants will get a reject despite they are a great match.

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Hey there hxu10. I am going to suggest you a few ways you can earn since you have physics in one and algos in other hand. I am not an expert or a very good at algo but I am just trying to help you out. You have a very good knowledge of physics and algorithms,so why don't you try sharing your knowledge with employees of top MNCs and you can charge them.There are many who can't even crack the coding rounds of companies which you find very easy, and also try yourself out in the open-source community. Also please join the twitter tech community, there's a lot of opportunity there.

All the best for future.

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Since you have a PhD in Physics, are you not considering academic jobs?

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    4 months ago, # ^ |
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    Actually I learn leetcode and codeforces is just because I don't want academic jobs, and I want to become a software engineer. But since one of my paper is under review with Science journal, I may change my mind if my paper is accepted by this journal.

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Hey hxu10, I feel compelled to write a reply to give you some encouragement because I have been following your posts/comments since I started CP around the same time and I feel we share similar growth trajectories (besides being a fellow python main!). Just wanted to say I can understand your frustration because I went through some job applications late last year too and I felt that my lack of experience and internship put me at a severe disadvantage and I would not be offered interviews even though I'm also pretty confident of solving the algorithms questions during interviews. That said, never give up, and I'm sure you will find a job that you desire.

Btw, I did came across a job opportunity in quantum computing where they are looking at research in quantum algorithms. I feel that that needs strong physics + algorithms, which is a niche combination that you would have. Companies like Microsoft might be looking to fill such roles. Maybe you can take a look! All the best!

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All the best brother, Congratulations for your new beginning hxu10