Programming Prep


As I am considering what is next for me, a friend has been lobbying for me to interview at google. She sent me a bunch of of programming interview books and told me to talk to coach!

Coaching is something that is fascinating to me. As a high school athlete I never had a good coach, so it was never something I considered. But when I was an adult and I read a bunch of ‘life hacking’ type books, they all extolled utility of a coach. And as an adult I see the benefit, a coach is helpful to learn new skills, to move to the next level in any endeavor, and to pinpoint and work on trouble spots.

When I spoke to this programming coach, she said 75% of her clients were programmers and only 25% were job seekers. This is fascinating. What sorts of issues were they going through?  Some of the issues were regular job issues, that perhaps would have been discussed with a therapist in the past, like how do I promote my work, or talk about a problem, or deal with a difficult colleague. Other issues are how do I deal with a thorny technical problem or learn something new.

We chatted for a bit and she said some interesting things. First, she said don’t do interview prep by doing hundreds of leetcode problems. That is more important to go deep and truly understand a few problems than superficially do hundreds of problems. This actually adds to anxiety, she said. And anxiety is worse than the actual problems themselves. Instead she suggested I get a programming problems book in the language I want to focus on, make a spreadsheet of the hardest 2 or 3 problems in each chapter and every day work for 90 min or on the next problem on the list. Dont spend more than 30 min on a problem. Play with the problem, dont just start coding. Color code the problems. The ones that give you problems make red, and as they become easier make them green. When you can do the problems in your sleep you are ready.

I am really excited to try this. This morning I created my spreadsheet and I am ready to rock and roll.