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Go West - Part II (Seattle area)

Much like the previous "Go West Young Man" post, I am in a similar situation. I'm 23 and just about to complete my Masters in Computer Engineering (software focus).

Currently I'm searching looking for employment in the Manhattan area (my parents live 20 minutes outside Manhattan so its an easy fallback). I'm trying to look for employment in the one of the following fields/intrests:
  - Financial Services (trading systems and such)
  - Technical Consulting
  - Web based applications
  - Windows app development

Right now it seems a bit difficult to find any of the three: 1) Financial companies want either 2-3 years work experience or a more formal business background, 2) technical consulting opportunities seem more along the lines of system administration and 3) there aren't many web services/Win app companies that are large enough to take in new meat.

So as a result I've been looking into the Seattle area for employment.

For anyone familiar with Seattle’s technology market, how are the employment opportunities for some one coming out of school with a Masters? If you have any specific suggestions in terms of companies, let me know (I already met with Microsoft in Redmond and they said no).

Also, how is the cost of living in Seattle compared to Manhattan?

Thursday, July 8, 2004

I am consistently amazed at how much I don't know about the Seattle market.

There is one rule which seems pretty solid here: Its a Microsoft town with lots of Microsoft opportunities.  (But that does not exclude other things, it just means there is a background color to everything).

The empire is hiring.  I just got a call from a consulting group that places people in Microsoft's hardware innovation group.

B-square is hiring, and they are primarily a Microsoft add-on shop.  Some of the smartest people I've ever met come from B-square.  Smart - like scary smart.

What is the surprise is just how many other companies are hiring.  Aviation: Universal Avionics, Honeywell, Boeing.  All hiring.

Motorola is starting to hire here, specific to cable products.

I've gotten calls from quite a few small startups, with under 100 employees - mostly embedded work.

Amazon is hiring.

Washington Mutual is hiring (like mad).  You would probably find this appealing based on your post.

All are being extremely selective.  Gotta be a perfect fit - and I do mean perfect in every way.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

I can't overemphasize just how bad the weather is in Seattle.  You can't see it in the rainfall statiistics, because usually, only a tiny bit of rain actually falls when you have the mile-thick cloud layer hanging over the region.  Seattle isn't like most places, where, when it rains, it'll partially clear up later in the day so you see a little glimpse of sky.  Seattle doesn't do that.  It gets dark grey and gloomy and doesn't change for weeks.   
When I lived in Seattle, we went 100 straight days without the sun coming out once.  Not once in a hundred days!  It damn near killed me.  It's hard to really describe that kind of continous midday darkness to someone who hasn't experienced it.  There is a reason why Seattle is the suicide capital of America. 

It's way worse than you think.
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Having moved to Seattle from Manhattan, I can confidently assert that the cost of living is significantly lower. Differences:

There's no state or city income tax. That alone leaves something like 10% more in your pocket.

Rents are far, far lower -- and because the house-buying market has been so hot due to low interest rates, it's a serious renters' market. My reasonably-sized 1BR with deck and killer views (180-degree panorama of the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, Lake Washington, etc.) in a good neighborhood is $900 a month (and hasn't increased in 4 years), vs. more than $2000 a month I was paying in Manhattan. Also unlike Manhattan, you don't need to pay broker's fees, security deposits are very low, and you can often get a free month of rent if you sign a one-year lease.

House prices, though not inexpensive, are also much more manageable than Manhattan, where the average 2BR apartment sold for over $1,000,000 in the first quarter.

Things like groceries, restaurants, movies, etc. tend to be somewhat less expensive than in Manhattan. There are also endless opportunities for low-cost activities like hiking.

On the other hand, you're likely to need (or at least want) a car in Seattle, which you probably wouldn't need to worry about in Manhattan. That's an easy way to spend money if you're not careful. Also, you want to be careful where you live relative to work so you can avoid a hellacious commute. (The biggest key is to avoid needing to take the floating bridges, particularly route 520.)

Job situation? I don't have so much firsthand knowledge. Microsoft does cast a huge shadow over the town and is definitely hiring. Amazon has lots of open dev positions. I don't know if Adobe or WRQ are hiring. Expedia might be worth looking into. Things are not good at Real or most of the telecom companies. Boeing maybe. There are lots of small ISVs and consulting companies and a number of retailers with seemingly significant Web operations (like Nordstrom and REI).

John C.
Thursday, July 8, 2004

A previous poster mentioned the weather. He's right: the winters are long and gray and very disheartening. On the whole, though, I personally prefer Seattle's weather to New York's. It almost never gets too cold (only snows about once a year, and it melts off in a day or so) or too hot (rarely above 90). Summers can be glorious: day after day of 80-degree highs with nearly clear skies and sunlight until almost 10pm. Winters, well, I've found it helps to plan a few trips to someplace sunny so I can make sure I don't go insane.

John C.
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Dern, I've read in other posts that everyone is hiring everywhere. Dern.  I think Amazon is always hiring. I did an interview there. They don't read your code, they ask you dumb questions, it was awful. I love the guy who says they only hire the best ... dern,  are there only jobs for the best? Yankees are doing well but do they have the best in every position? Think not. It's the team. So these companies end up hiring the people who are best at answering stupid questions. Is it no wonder linux is going so strong. But I gotta give Amazon credit, I do like their site and their service.

If I were you I'd get more focused.  What do you really want to do or where do you thing you want to go. Then find user groups etc. in the NYC area and try some old fashioned networking.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

hoser, I'm gonna ... uh ... disagree with you ... on the BSQUARE bit.

I worked there in the Products group, from June 2000 to the layoffs in January 2002.  I can only really speak for the Products group, but there was a lot of cluelessness there. 

BSQUARE originally was where Microsoft contracted a lot of its early CE work.  The services half of the company was probably pretty well run; it made the company a lot of money initially.  Needless to say nobody expected that gravy train to run forever, and so around the time I was there, they were working feverishly to build the products group.

The products group was a whole nother ball of wax.  They had very poor product planning there, poor coding practices, and bad business sense.  Anything that actually made money was quickly killed.  Last time I checked, they're still working on "Maui", which is like a Pocket PC, except it's version 1.0 and doesn't work.

I wouldn't go back there.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

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