Land the Dream Job as a Software Engineer at a Multinational Tech Company

A Story of Brian Mohammed Catraguna, Bangkit 2021 Graduate from Aerospace Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung
“Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.” – John Wooden, American Basketball Coach
Anyone can pursue a career in technology, regardless of their educational qualifications. This fact became the foundation of Brian Mohammed Catraguna’s journey in working towards his career as a software engineer. Despite studying Aerospace Engineering at Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Brian’s heart was drawn to the dynamic world of software engineering.

Wishing to kickstart his tech career shortly, Brian gave his best when in Bangkit 2021. After graduating from Bangkit, he pursued higher education at New York University and landed at Meta as a software engineer.

Curious how Bangkit contributed to Brian’s success in earning a master’s degree in the United States and ultimately joining one of the giant tech companies in the world? Get ready to be amazed by his story!

Aerospace Engineer Who Was Interested in Software Engineering

Brian was born in Bandung, moved to Jakarta at four, and lived there until high school. Later, he returned to Bandung to study at Institut Teknologi Bandung. Brian is the eldest of two, with his father having a background in finance and his mother as a housewife.

Despite his family’s inclination towards finance due to his father’s background, Brian’s heart belongs to tech. Despite finding the financial sector’s stability appealing, Brian was more interested in the tech industry’s rapid pace and creative freedom.

Brian might have studied Aerospace Engineering at ITB, but the subject was challenging, especially the complex calculus involved. Therefore, the dynamic and creative nature of programming captivated him more, where one could build innovative solutions quickly with minimum resources. Then he realized his true passion lies in software engineering.
“That's the exciting part; you can build things quickly and scale them to millions as quickly as possible. That’s why I was fascinated with software engineering from the start.”
Brian’s interest in software engineering deepened during his final year of college in 2020, coinciding with the rising popularity of Machine Learning. He delved into Machine Learning both academically and practically, incorporating it into his final project. Despite starting his coding journey relatively late, Brian was determined to catch up.

However, his steadfast dedication to coding emerged before joining Bangkit, where he immersed himself in Python through online courses and self-directed projects, dedicating up to 8 hours a day to mastering his craft.

The Capstone Project is Brian’s Favorite Part of Bangkit

Brian’s journey in Bangkit began with a click on LinkedIn, where he stumbled upon the program thanks to a senior who had enrolled in 2020. Initially drawn to Machine Learning, his passion led him to select that path. However, he eventually immersed himself in Mobile Development (Android)–a shift that didn’t deter his enthusiasm for Bangkit.

His time in Bangkit was marked by the excitement of building apps from scratch despite having no prior experience with Android development. Starting with the basics like Kotlin and crafting simple apps such as calculators, Brian found joy in creating applications that could be used on his device.
“Bangkit provided ample opportunities for me to work on various projects, including integrating APIs like GitHub and crafting apps for movie enthusiasts to explore catalogs, favorite movies, and even watch its trailers.”
Delving deeper into Android development throughout the program and participating in the capstone project was particularly exhilarating for Brian. As the project lead, he spearheaded the creation of an app designed to detect emergencies, enabling users to record and transcribe emergency messages for classification into categories like criminal, fire, or traffic incidents.
“Although not directly related to Machine Learning or Cloud Computing, I honed my skills as a full-stack developer, gaining valuable experience in app development. This became a portfolio asset that proved invaluable for job applications.”
After graduating from Bangkit and ITB, he embarked on GudangAda as a software engineer (Android), which enriched his expertise. Working remotely with a diverse team, Brian embraced the opportunity to collaborate with international colleagues, honing his communication skills in English daily.

The technical skills acquired through Bangkit were complemented by essential soft skills, including resume preparation and interview etiquette, ensuring that Brian was well-prepared for the professional world. Bangkit’s comprehensive curriculum equipped Brian with a strong foundation that continues to serve him well in his future career.
“Bangkit’s intensive learning, despite its short duration, provided a lasting foundation for my career. Strong fundamentals are key, and Bangkit ensures all graduates are well-equipped. Bangkit also teaches about the importance of personal branding. That’s how you'll get recognized.”

Brian’s Journey in the United States: Study at New York University, Work at Meta

Brian had always harbored ambitions beyond the confines of his current job. Despite being employed, he yearned to broaden his horizons and delve deeper into tech. It was a desire fueled by his aspirations and his father’s hopes for him to assume leadership roles in the tech industry.

Driven by this ambition, Brian embarked on a journey to pursue a master’s degree abroad, recognizing the need to fortify his foundation in technology. The path to securing admission was arduous.
“The process also took a long time because there was much to prepare, such as the GRE and TOEFL. And I customized everything while working.”
However, Brian’s dream of attending a prestigious university almost evaporated. Out of the 10 universities he applied, 9 rejection letters filled him with disappointment. However, Brian refused to give up. He relentlessly polished his essays, boosted his test scores, and finally, a miracle arrived. An acceptance letter from New York University (NYU) landed in his hands.

Brian’s academic journey was marked by accelerated progress, as he completed his master's program in Computer Engineering ahead of schedule, graduating in December 2023. Amidst his educational endeavors, Brian seized a golden opportunity to interview with Google for a software engineer internship during the summer of 2023.
“Drawing upon my extensive preparation, including tackling over 500 Leetcode questions, I navigated the interview process with finesse, securing offers from Google, precisely at the YouTube team.”
However, a twist of fate led Brian to miss this prestigious internship opportunity with Google. Undeterred by setbacks, Brian persevered, leveraging his academic achievements to secure an internship position at GameChanger.

Not long after that, a referral from a friend opened doors to another opportunity at Meta, aligning perfectly with Brian’s passion for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Through a rigorous recruitment process, he passed it and continued the interview process. There, Brian received help with mock interviews from his mentor.
“Mas Gogo, who had worked at Facebook for over seven years, helped me prepare for the interview. He’s my mentor and role model, who grew from a junior engineer to a staff engineer at Facebook. He told me I was not ready and would fail, which motivated me to study even harder.”
Finally, Brian must face the behavioral interview. Here, the STAR method, a valuable technique he’d acquired during the Bangkit program, proved essential in crafting compelling stories to showcase his capabilities.

Brian was declared passed three days after the interview. After passing the team match, he was offered to join Meta’s AI Infra Efficiency team. Here, he enhanced the efficiency of Machine Learning training and inference processes across Meta’s diverse AI teams. The goal is to optimize resources to drive tangible results and cost savings for the team.

5 Strategies for Landing a Job at Meta

Brian’s extraordinary journey, from his humble beginnings at ITB to pursuing his dreams as a software engineer in America, is remarkable. Along the way, he encountered challenges and obstacles that tested his resolve, but his unwavering determination propelled him forward.

When asked about his strategy for breaking into giant tech companies like Meta, Brian was eager to share some valuable tips:
  1. Networking: Brian emphasized the importance of building strong connections in the industry. He attributed much of his success to networking and advised aspiring engineers to cultivate relationships with individuals they admire. These connections provide valuable insights and can open doors to recruitment processes through referrals and help navigate the interview process effectively.
  2. Research: Brian highlighted the significance of thorough research when preparing for interviews. Understanding what the companies look for, whether algorithm and data structure proficiency or project-based skills, is crucial. He encouraged us to invest time in practicing relevant skills as mastery breeds confidence and ease during interviews.
  3. Time management: Balancing work, study, and personal life is essential to avoid burnout. Brian emphasized the importance of effective time management, allocating time for learning, leisure activities, and rest. While some overtime might be necessary, it’s crucial to prioritize tasks that contribute to achieving one’s goals.
  4. Strong resume: The capstone project from Bangkit showcases practical skills and demonstrates the ability to tackle real-world challenges. Also, consider expanding your project portfolio and strategically aligning your skillset with the requirements. Most importantly, strive to have a quantifiable impact on the business in every role you take.
  5. Discipline: Above all, Brian emphasized the importance of discipline. You need to be consistent with your practice, whether working on LeetCode problems for data structure and algorithm or practicing other interview questions. In Brian's case, he had completed over 800 LeetCode questions before the interview at Meta.
Lastly, regardless of academic background, Brian believes anyone can succeed in the tech field if willing to put in the effort and persevere through challenges. He advised approaching learning enthusiastically, making it enjoyable by working on projects that spark curiosity and passion.
“If you're passionate about a particular field, especially software engineering, don’t give up because you didn’t study Computer Science. Everyone can learn and compete with anyone. As long as you desire to stick with a problem until you can solve it.”
To end this interview, Brian says not to give up easily and despair over your problems. Make it fun because learning Computer Science is exciting, so don’t take it too seriously.


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