Yesterday, I became old. I'm 29 now, which means I have entered my 30th year. Kinda crazy to think about.
Yes, 29 does mean I'm in my 30th year. My girlfriend didn't believe me, but think about it: Are you in your 0th or your 1st year when you are born?
Exactly. Birthdays denote the boundaries between years. Next year, I will have completed my 30th year and I will be 30. This year I am in my 30th year, and I am 29. Maths.
I learned two things yesterday:
- Taking an appropriate picture is difficult when you're not wearing a shirt.
- AMAs, even those with just 8 upvotes, are more work than you think.
Questions boiled down into two categories: “What makes you so special that you got the genius visa?” and “Why did you leave Slovenia? Is SF really better?”
What makes you so special?
Nothing. I am not unique. You, too, can get the "alien with extraordinary ability in X" visa! It's easier than it looks.
Unlike the normal H1B work visa, the O-1 visa doesn't involve a lottery. If you send an application, it will be considered. So that's easier.
And unlike the H1B, you don't have to graduate college or have a crazy amount of full-time employment experience either. You can get it in one of two ways:
- have 1 really big thing, like a Nobel prize or being Miss World
- have very many small things like →
Be a visible member of the community (talks, blogs, opensource, [self-]published tech books, all the fun stuff); have some friends who can write fancy-sounding recommendation letters (remember, you're visible in the community, you have them); perhaps do some consulting for other companies (freelancing/consulting is increasingly the norm for ambitious young people); and judge the works of others in a professional capacity (you're prominent in the community, selecting talks for conferences counts).
Could I have achieved all of that in a big country? Probably not. Did being from a small country with a small tech community help? Infinitely.
Longer answers on Reddit here, here, and here and on my blog here.
Oh, and the final ingredient: A lot of "Fuck it, let's try" when applying.
Why did you leave Slovenia? Is SF really better?
Slovenia (my hometown, Ljubljana):
In terms of quality of life, San Francisco is a shithole compared to Slovenia. I left because of the economy and the politics.
Slovenia is tiny. Like super tiny. 2 million people kind of tiny. And 25 years after becoming a country, it's still a country in transition because these things take time.
This brings with it a lot of problems. Our economy is small and extremely export-based. So much so that most of my friends either work for companies who sell to foreign companies, or they do remote work for foreign companies.
I figured I might as well go to the foreign lands directly.
Slovenia has seasons, which is nice. It's also a lot more easy going if you want it to. And smaller.
If I had to use one word to describe SF versus Slovenia, it's "more". There's just more everything. More people, more restaurants to try, more bars to go to, more tech to see, more opportunity to work at interesting companies, more potential to maybe change the world if you get lucky.
Longer answers on Reddit here, here, here, and here. Also on my blog here, and here
Oh, and there was a great question about self-promotion and sleaziness. But that deserves its own post :)
Learned something new?
Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Software Engineering Lessons from Production
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Senior Mindset Book
Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companiesLearn more
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️