Breaking into AI

Here’s a question for the more experienced developers out there.

I’ve been working as a freelance full stack web developer since last fall, thanks to FCC giving me the skills I needed to break in.

Now one of my clients is an AI company that does some really interesting work in sound recognition. They started me on some pretty superficial website stuff but they’re evaluating me for a position that will eventually have me working with their whole codebase, involving more math- and science-heavy work.

This seems like an amazing opportunity for me, since I want to turn my career toward that kind of software. But part of the deal is that the person they choose for this job will need to move to Silicon Valley, and my family is in a situation where that move would be really difficult this year.

So I’m wondering if anyone can shed some more light on the current job market. As a developer with a year of professional experience coding in a few different languages, should it be fairly easy for me to find remote jobs doing things like AI and machine learning? Or do you think the opportunity that’s come up now is a unique one for someone at this point in my career, and I should consider stomaching a major inconvenience in order to take a big step upward?

Without going into your personal life too much, it is a job at the end of the day. They would want you to commit to them if they are investing in you by hiring you. So the choice is do I want to go to San Francisco from where ever (you did not say) meaning you will be away from your family.
I think this is a decision you can only make with your family.
If I wanted to go live on the other side of the world I always know I am only one day away from home thanks to international travel. A luxury never afforded by any of our ancestors.

The question I’m trying to figure out right now is, do I hold out for a similar job closer to home (Minneapolis-based or remote), or is it not likely that I’ll find such a job?

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My gut feeling is that the ability to process big data, AI and robotics will be the most important things in the near future. That’s not based on any evidence but is my feeling.
Therefore, I presume jobs like these will increase in number.
The most long distance relationship I know, the father is in New Jersey and the mother and child are in North of England near me!
Work in SF for a month and then go home for a long weekend.

That’s a tough call. Will they give you the option to work remotely once you’re established? Do you want to stay where you are or are you willing to move when it’s not so difficult on your family? If you want to move later, will the company be willing to work with you to ease you and your family into the transition? I know that a lot of companies don’t do that, but they’re questions to ask regardless.

There are other questions besides location, which I think are worth looking into, especially as you apparently just recently learned JS (and perhaps just learned to program?). I don’t know your situation, and excuse me if the following is not relevant.

Key questions are: what language(s) you will be working in and, crucially, how big an expert do you think you will need to become to remain competitive in the future? Big data analysis seems to generally be done with Python, Matlab, R and some other languages, but definitely not javascript. If you only know JS (and Node, etc), then presumably you will have to learn at least one of these other languages and, very important, the extensive and hugely complex and mathematical libraries that go along with them. How rapidly will you have to do that?

AI/Big data is quite mathematical. Do you have any kind of background that will allow you to compete with people with math/science backgrounds? If not, you may be stuck in a place not too different from where you are now, or possibly even worse - running programs you don’t understand for people who may not respect your background - essentially a personal assistant.

It’s true that probably there will be lots of these jobs in the future, but it’s necessary to test your qualifications for the near future - 6months - 1 yr, so that you don’t disappoint and are not disappointed.

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Thanks for your reply!

I’ve done some professional work in Java and some personal projects in C++, Python, and LISP, and since I landed this client I’m taking some time to go through an online course for machine learning in Python. I’m far from an expert, but it’s coming along pretty fast. I haven’t seriously studied mathematics since high school, but I made it through two semesters of calculus at that time and none of the math that I’ve encountered so far in computer science has been over my head.

With all the hype going around about machine learning, I’m thinking that it won’t be a huge stretch for me to find other chances to break into the field, as long as I keep setting aside some time for technical development. It probably won’t put too big a hamper on my career if I stick with a more mundane job here at home until I can find a more challenging remote position or until moving away becomes easier.

I definitely need to ask a lot of those questions.

The CTO said they would probably specifically need someone to make on-site calls to clients in California, so I’m not sure how flexible they will be able to be. But who knows what will develop in the next six months.

That soulds like a smart decision. Good luck.

In case anyone likes to read success stories:

My other client dropped me suddenly and I stuck with this company. The CEO said it would be better for their business to keep me remote, they’re preparing an offer letter for me and they’re making tentative plans to open an office in my city and start hiring extra staff here for me to work locally with.

The on-site client visits they mentioned are actually worldwide so it wouldn’t matter where I live, and I’m probably going to end up in Japan, Korea, Mexico, and France in the next 12 months.

This could be a huge career move. I doubt you’re going to get an opportunity like this without relocating. Just my opinion, based on my own experiences in the job market. The most interesting positions are going to be in the SV area. Look at the jobs being listed in Minneapolis – mostly Microsoft/ Java corporate death sentences.

Only you can determine whether the move is worth it. One thing for sure, quality of life is lower in California. You’ll probably be commuting and everything is ten times as expensive.

This might be the kind of thing you invest in for a couple of years, in order to propel yourself to greater heights. That can be done by saving money, learning extremely valuable skills that you can use to get jobs more easily in the future, etc.

I can say this, I’d kill to get that kind of job.

Good luck, there’s no right choice - only what’s right for you and the family.

hit me up if u r in Mexico