American Millenial Expat: I need a job in 12 weeks


Hey, a probationary period cuts both ways. I don’t think you need to tell them upfront that you’ll probably split. If you want the job now, then take the job;and if you don’t want the job up to 3 months from now, you have that grace period kinda built in anyway.


If an interview questions asks about computational complexity, most likely they are looking for an answer in Big O notation. It is maybe an easier question than you think if you read up on how to determine big O for algorithms

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So, you have a job basically, if that is your only criteria. Congratulations!

And I agree about becoming a developer via ESL teaching. After you get the hang of it it can leave you with a lot of mental space as well as time to focus on improving your coding. I’ve even set up a couple of little things that I can use in class.

I understand your perspective on your current offers. My take on it is that, as self-taught devs with no on-the-job experience, the key really is to get in that 12-18 months of initial experience. After that you are probably going to be moving on, because you’ll be much more valuable/attractive. So, I personally am not picky about where I will get that experience, because it’s just a short period of time that has to be done. As long as I can pay the bills, learn stuff, and be relatively certain about the stability of the job lasting that long, that’d be good for me.

My point here is that 1) you have a very stable offer from your gf’s dad. That’s almost an ideal situation, because you know someone higher up that will help you and is offering you this stepping stone. And 2) if you would consider doing the probationary period for the other offer, that’s already 25% of the time you’d need to spend there anyway. Might be worth considering just biting the bullet on either one of these, but I don’t think you will be left high and dry if you decide to wait for other offers (after all, you said you haven’t been applying to a ton of jobs, and it hasn’t been very long, and you already have multiple offers).

Also, small note regarding the computational complexity/big O question. I also had no idea about this stuff and thought it looked intimidating until I read Interviewcake’s Big O Guide. It’s actually quite simple as someone else said.


So everyone I ended up turning down the start-up job offer. @JacksonBates I was definitely considering taking it for the experience working in a high-pressure, I need to succeed or nobody succeeds environment, as well as getting exposure to new project demands (online stores, WeChat apps, etc). However, ultimately I decided that it’s not what I’m looking for mostly because I won’t have anyone to learn from, and as well staying in China/Shenzhen is not what I’m looking for. I’d feel bad as well leaving them high and dry since they have other candidates now that they can choose, but in a month and a half they may need to do another round of interviews.

I think it could be argued that this sort of consideration is not 100% needed/relevant as far as professional relationships, which is true to some degree and in some sense. However, I also think, even if we think that you don’t need to worry about this sort of thing, that there’s still the potential professional con of a company looking at my resume in 2 months and thinking, “Hmm, he worked for this start-up for a month and a half and then left. How can we be sure he will stay here any longer?”

@Lewis65 If the offer comes through from Hawaii, I would most likely accept that. But you’re right, it would be a super good offer. It would be great for my girlfriend because she would be close to family, as well the company is exactly what I’m looking for as far as developer team with experienced developers to learn from. So far, though, I have only submitted my resume and cover letter, so there’s no indication yet that I’ll even get the interview. The cat situation would be really tragic (we have two cats in China (locals)), but I think we would get through it with the help of family on the mainland for their pre-Hawaii tests and such.

As for the computational complexity, I think I did okay @Lewis65 @psychometry. I figured out the O notation stuff and I’m pretty sure I was right… Here was my algorithm:

/*Write a function that takes two arrays as input, each array contains a list of A-Z; Your program should return True if the 2nd
array is a subset of 1st array, or False if not.
For example:
isSubset([A,B,C,D,E], [A,E,D]) = true
isSubset([A,B,C,D,E], [A,D,Z]) = false
isSubset([A,D,E], [A,A,D,E]) = true*/

function isSubset(arr1, arr2) {
  //loop over every element in arr2...could use es6 every() 
  for (let i=0; i<arr2.length; i++) {
    //test log for clarity
    //console.log('looking for '+arr2[i]+' in '+[arr1]);
    //check if arr2[i] can be found in arr1, exit with an early return if the element isn't found
    if (!arr1.includes(arr2[i])) {
      //console.log('could not find '+arr2[i]+' in '+[arr1]);
      return false;
  //if the for loop runs without early exit, return true
  return true;

console.log(isSubset(['A','D','E'], ['A','F','D','E']));

So that answered question 1, and then the follow-up question about computational complexity had multiple choices, which I replied:

I believe the computational complexity above is O(n^2).

I have to admit this is not an area I've covered in my curriculum.

But it would seem that, in the worst case scenario, this algorithm is the square of the number of inputs. 

It seems similar to a selection sort algorithm wherein this algorithm sorts through the first list with a for loop. 

Then for every element it uses another for loop to sort through the second list.

Not sure how good of a response to either those are, would love feedback, but might be out of the scope of this thread. They did reply to me after submitting my answers, asking about my visa and clarifying that I was applying for a full-time position, which is both a good and bad thing. Good because I think they would have rejected me at this point if my answers weren’t sufficient, and bad because Hong Kong visas aren’t so easy to get.


Hi Ethan,

Thanks for keep us folks updated. I am really enjoying reading about your journey. Keep us all informed, I hope you get the job you want. :slight_smile:

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Awesome! Small world, huh? Where in Korea are you? I’m in Daegu now, though I was open to moving anywhere (though probably Seoul) when I was looking for work.

I’m actually from Hawaii! That’s so funny. Good luck with that offer! Hawaii is a great place to live and work, especially if you live in or around Honolulu. Traffic is a real killer. And yes, the rules regarding pets are a bummer, and far too strict in my opinion. A friend of mine recently moved from Hawaii to Japan and back within a year. They started getting the tests done in Japan before they left, and were able to send their dog to his wife’s family on the mainland for the remainder of the quarantine period. It all worked out fine, but it was tough on all of them.

All that said, good luck! Keep us posted.

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@john1 Thanks man, fingers crossed. I’m hoping by documenting this week by week, it may help others as well with motivation, and preparing for the difficulties that crop up.

@scissorsneedfoodtoo We’ve brought our pets back from China to the US once already, but the mainland doesn’t have any quarantine requirements. Your friend was pretty lucky being able to start everything in Japan…we probably could have figured something out here as well. There’s a huge animal rescue community here (for obvious reasons), so they probably are familiar enough with the process.

I think I would be in Maui if that offer came through. That’s where my girlfriend’s family is based, except her brother goes to school in O’ahu, somewhere called Manoa. I’m not very familiar with Hawaii and everything but would be pretty excited to move there! I’ve only been once when we first started dating a long, long time ago.

Week #7
This was a pretty productive week. As mentioned, I turned down the start-up job offer :sweat_smile:. I still think this was the best decision, so not really sweating it. Ask me again in 5 weeks :joy:. I need to really start applying for jobs in the US and make sure to keep on applying for jobs in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong market so far has been really receptive.

I haven’t heard back for the second-round of interviews yet from the HK-cats-in-the-office company. I also haven’t heard anything from the Hawaii company (applied). I did get rejected by a company in Boulder, and haven’t heard anything from a few job applications in Denver/Boulder from this week.

I did just get off Skype with a recruiter from a giant multinational company looking for a senior React developer in Hong Kong. It was exploratory, and if the team is willing to accept someone more junior, then I’ll have a technical interview. I’m not so worried about that since I fit the job requirements and can be humble. And a technical test is only ever going to help me learn more (e.g. computational complexity last week). However, after that, apparently I’m to go to the office and get my Mandarin tested :cold_sweat:. At least it’s not Cantonese.

I do keep getting interview invitations, 1 or 2/week, for companies entirely in Chinese. Hm, maybe I should have kept studying my HSK flashcards.

Projects worked on:

Things learned:

  • Feeling a lot more comfortable with Redux. Also my next app is going to actually make it necessary.
  • Read through docs


  • I’m getting a lot of hits back from Hong Kong sending my resume out. As well, applying for jobs here is a click of a button, whereas in the U.S. every single company makes you fill out what seems like 5 pages of forms. Maybe I should make searching for a job in Shenzhen/Hong Kong my primary goal, and moving back to the U.S. my secondary?

Goals for the week:

  • Make a few more components with Redux
  • If I finish the components, hook it all up with

Moving forward:
Apply, apply, apply, learn new tech, make project, make project, make project, pack, pack, get cats export documents, give students finals, grade finals…it’s getting hectic over here.

Solace in knowing that I’m on the path I want to be on. Someone, somewhere, someday will want to hire me :crossed_fingers:t3::crossed_fingers:t3::crossed_fingers:t3:.

I’m part of the Chingu cohort starting soon. The pre-project phase is supposed to start any day now, which is a simple consume-an-API project a la FCC’s Wikipedia viewer style. Then it’s pair programming working through some algorithm or something, I think. Then the big pair-programming project which lasts something like 6 weeks. So that’s going to be a nice experience getting to code with someone. Stoked on that.


Week #9
I didn’t hear anything back from the multinational.

I did hear back from the cats-in-the-office company. I’ve pretty much identified my ideal first job and they check the boxes. Only issue, the second-part, 3-hour over Skype interview isn’t until June 14th, and things may be moving forward with a different company.

Hong Kong remains receptive. I’ve added to my cover letters that I don’t speak Cantonese and Mandarin isn’t office-level. Commuting is going to cost 1500-3000/month.

My girlfriend signed a contract for another year, so I’m either staying here or, worst case, if nothing comes through around the end of June, we’ll be spending some time on different continents.

My ideal job, see, is a team-based developer studio, junior role, where I can learn best practices and get feedback, and ideally working with a modern, evolving tech-stack. The cat-company fits that bill.

Another company, though, has enough that I’d be extremely attempted to accept the offer, salary depending. Essentially, they’re a design studio that outsources their development. Their competitive advantage is their designs, which are nice/beautiful/cutting-edge enough to let them charge above market average. However, they’re designers are getting told “no, can’t be done” by the front-end freelancers. My job, narrow in scope, would be to take the designs and not say “no”, essentially. Then those would get sent off to the freelancers to hook up the back-ends and CMSs.

However, I told them straight up, when looking through examples of what they wanted, that I could only guess how some of it was done and had never done anything like that before. I told them it would be awesome if they could give me some sort of example design over a weekend to work on, and then I could figure out if I would even be comfortable/capable of doing the job. They agreed, and I’m working on that now.

  • Pros: a ton of front-end experience, would really push me in that regard and I would have the ability to make super cool websites eventually like this one:, no OT-culture, narrow enough in scope, super cool owners, small, culture-first mentality.

  • Cons: no developers to learn from, no Cantonese for me == not fitting in at first/getting office jokes/chatter, they don’t want to use React or anything that has to be compiled (?), so using jQuery.

As well, finished the Chingu pre-work. Found a new front-end tool, got to pair program, and was able to bounce ideas off of and help others in the Discord.

I’ve got a Skype interview coming up for another company. And a couple interviews I don’t think I’m going to take due to time/effort required and them not being exactly what I’m looking for.

Projects worked on:

  • Finished a few more React/redux components for my personal project before running out of personal-project free-time
  • Finished Chingu pre-work using Antd for the Table/pagination (, and added it to my portfolio
  • Started working on take-home project/test for the design studio

Things learned:

  • Used Antd library
  • Making carousels, specifically react-slick


  • Only 3-4 weeks before I need to have a job or have to make a tough decision. Since the girlfriend is on contract now, and lease expires soon, housing decisions are coming up which obviously will be different depending on number of occupants.
  • The company I think would be the best fit scheduled the interview really far off, and I may end up with an offer before then.
  • Found a 1-click to apply job board for US companies, but some declined outright allegedly due to wanting to hire local, so I may need a Skype phone number, use a friend’s address, etc.
  • The design studio would be a really fun job working on super cool front-ends. But, they don’t want to use React. The reason in interview was it has to be compiled, which makes it hard for the designers to go into the code and change a color, or other minor change. Surely there must be a way around this? I think that means that I won’t be able to use things like SASS as well? Also, if you see here (How to preview non-react website while working?), I struggled to set-up my working environment for this test project.

Goals for the week:

  • Finish take-home test
  • Try to move the cats-in-the-office interview up
  • Start Chingu Voyage
  • Apply to more HK and US jobs (1-click only)

Moving forward:
I should be pretty busy with Chingu and take-home projects/interviews. Ideally it stays that way until something like June 21st and then I get a job :joy:.

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Hoping things begin to shape up significantly for you soon. I know you’re a hardworking individual, so I’m confident that you’ll be writing your own ticket at some point not too far off.

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Hope so. This front-end take home test has been a lot more work than I expected. Definitely humbling. I don’t know if sole-developer jobs are really a good idea starting out or not…feeling a bit overwhelmed and I imagine the day-to-day would be the same.

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How are things friend :slight_smile:

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@john1 Hey! Interviews and Chingu, as well as deciding what we’ll be doing for the next year or two within the next couple weeks has been the major theme this last week.

Week #10
I finished my take-home test and sent that on Monday to the design studio, but haven’t heard back yet. My girlfriend wants me to follow-up, but I’m going to wait the weekend.

I was able to push up and had a Github-repo test for the cats-in-office company. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get past the Docker/Python setup required to even start :sweat_smile:.

I had an interview this week which was a technical interview. That went so-so. Dialogue and culture-wise, it would work, but the majority of the questions I wasn’t prepared for. Things like, “What’s the difference between a promise and a callback? What’s the benefit of using Mongoose? What’s the difference between noSQL and SQL databases?” I was able to take a crack at these, but surely wasn’t giving the “right” answer so to speak.

I’m working on a take-home test right now. This one seems more up my alley.

Chingu projects are rounding out their first week. My project is using a swath of new technologies for me, so I’m doing my best to balance time with interviews, take home tests, and figuring out the next two weeks. Ideally I will come out of this with real experience and knowledge of using Git (pull requests, branches, issues, etc), a shiny project for my portfolio, and experience working with a lot of unfamiliar technologies at once.

Projects worked on:

Things learned:

  • Initial look at using GitHub issues and projects
  • Started studying JavaScript interview questions lists, in case I run into any more interviews like that last one


  • Worst case scenario, can’t land a HK job and I’m moving back to the US. Worst case only because my girlfriend signed a 1 year contract already for China. In reality, the US is the best fit, I think, as far as culture, salary, and job opportunities.

Goals for the week:

  • Start working on Chingu MVP for 1st week
  • Finish take-home test
  • Start applying in more earnest to US jobs (more than 1-click)


Take home test, interviews, and side projects. As well, I’m finishing up my teaching contract the next couple weeks. Most classes grades will be finalized by this time next week, the other few still have finals to do.

Moving in the next couple weeks as well. My girlfriend to a new apartment in Shenzhen, me to either a tiny studio for during the week in Hong Kong, or back to the US.

Still staying active, playing football (soccer) ~6 hours/week.


Keep it going player. You’ll get your right fitting job soon I know it. Keep up the hard work.

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Week #11
@psychometry great advice to join Chingu, I would recommend it to any aspiring developer at any stage in their learning. I said in our community chat, but when it’s just you and you’re making your own project idea…it’s really easy to just come up with something that you are comfortable with. With this project I’m doing so much that I would have never tried on my own. For example, I’ve (foolishly) avoided user sign-up pages, authorization, etc. in every one of my previous projects and it’s such a ubiquitous part of the internet. In this project we’re adding a sign-up form.

The design studio got back to me. In a nutshell, they said that they weren’t 100% satisfied, but saw potential, and want to see more. Instead of doing another take-home for free, they’re going to pay me as a freelancer and give me more guidance.

And so, I’ve got a plane ticket for the US June 24th. The idea is to live with family in LA first. Then, either look for jobs there, or find a temporary room-for-rent on craigslist/bnb in Denver and (after a couple weeks of visiting family and adjusting to life back in the US) move there to look for jobs.

Projects worked on:

  • ClimateSpy (chingu)

Things learned:

  • Github branching, pull requests, etc - one of the questions in my technical interview was, “How familiar are you with using Github?” If I encounter that question again, thanks a lot to @willjw3, I’ll have a lot more to say.
  • Just in general collaborating with someone else and reading/understanding their code
  • using eslint


  • Ideally I would find a job in Denver, because that’s the place my girlfriend and I agree on most. However, do I need to move there to find a job (req. paying rent while unemployed), or can I find a job in Denver while living with family in LA temporarily rent-free (~2 months)?

Goals for the week:

  • We used AliPay to get my Skype number…and I think there was an issue with making an out-of-country payment, because it’s pending (TIC problems). So I’m a bit behind on applying for jobs. Get the US phone number, use a different pay method if needed - don’t wait for the pending to fall-off.
  • Apply to 7 jobs/day (make up for lost time)
  • git commit daily (probably all Chingu project)
  • Finish 2 algorithms on CodeWars
  • Study JS interview questions for >1 hour

In a way, this thread has been a success. If the title had been, “I need a job offer in 12 weeks”, then it would be done. I got the initial startup company offer (declined) and now I’ve got a freelance “job” offer. I think next week will be my last update as after that, it’s off to the US to try my luck there.

Although I have about 12 months expenses saved for life in the US, I hope I can find a job within 3 months of landing. I’ve set some SMART goals for the next month, and will continue to do so each month as it really helps me narrow my focus and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Thank you so much to everyone on here for all the support on this thread and elsewhere. When I go back and read my first post, I’m amazed at how much of a change this thread made in my focus and progress. I feel like I’m actually a candidate now that companies should take seriously. I have so much more to learn, of course, and I still feel like a huge amateur, but I really believe there is the right company out there, with the right team and culture, that’s going to help me grow and, in turn, I will be able to give back to once up to speed.


great, you seem like you know quite a lot. Well you can go to Udemy and take a course, but you will practice these things by really working with other developers. If you would take a junior job, you would be probably OK, still the pay wont be that high. If you wanted to take senior job, i think you would have to persuade the managers, you are a fast learner and you somehow already study these things and you are more or less able to get to a decent level.
That is all I have…
Best of luck :wink:

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@SimonB87 Good advice. This Chingu deal has really helped me a lot so far, and it’s only the first week of actually coding. I’m not sure what my first pay will look like. I’m pretty frugal, so I can make it with anything really. More important to me is that I’m on a team, I have other developers I can work alongside and learn from.

I got a Skype number today. Denver area code. I also updated all my resumes, social media, etc to say Denver, CO. Just getting and testing that Skype number made everything feel so real today!

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Your story sounds pretty similar to me (Japan though), and I’m hoping to make the same career transition and move to Denver/Boulder. Currently 7 weeks in to full-time study. I read elsewhere that the local Denver area code and/or address is especially useful there because of high local demand. Keep at it!


This morning I got a job offer for Chicago. I will start next Wednesday. This is pretty exciting and still a little surreal right now. It’s hard to imagine that next week I’ll be coding in a professional environment as a salaried employee.

It does mean the next several days are going to be really busy. In addition to packing, finding a place to stay, and buying a plane ticket, I also have a project due by Monday. It’s a ~15 page website for a company in Hong Kong. The first draft is due Monday, but ideally the first draft won’t require too many revisions. It is only front-end, but this company’s design challenged by CSS/HTML skills last time and this one probably will as well.