As an engineer, Haseeb Qureshi hustled Airbnb’s starting-pay package from $120,000 to $250,000.
Qureshi, a former professional poker player with an English degree, recently wrote a blog post sharing his tips on how to navigate the work space and land job interviews.
According to his website, Qureshi stumbled into poker as a teenager and played his way to his first million at the age of 19. He published his first book, “How to Be a Poker Player: The Philosophy of Poker”, which is available on Amazon. In 2011, Qureshi became entangled in the “Girah Scandal” related with the online poker community and soon retired from the game.
Unfulfilled with his life, Qureshi decided to dedicate his life to altruism by donating a substantial portion of his lifetime income to charities. Last year, he graduated from an elite coding bootcamp in San Francisco called App Academy to pursue a career in tech. After two months in the three-month boot camp, Qureshi was invited to join the instructional team and was later promoted to Director of Product.
Today, he works as an engineer at Airbnb and claims to donate 33% of his income to charities. Qureshi was offered eight jobs at notable tech firms such as Google, Uber and Yelp. The advice from his blog post is geared towards software engineers in the Bay Area, however a good part of it is applicable to the general population.
“If I told you that you have a 4% chance of getting an offer from any application, that might seem dishearteningly low. But mathematically that means that 50 such applications will give you an 87% chance of getting at least one job offer.”
“Just buy everyone coffee. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone who works at a tech company.
“Every time you meet someone in tech, and I mean anyone at all, you should tell them, ‘Hey, that’s really cool. I’m actually trying to get a job as a software engineer. I don’t know very much about [the thing you do]. I’d love to buy you coffee and pick your brain about it. Are you free sometime this week around [time]?’
How do you meet tech people in the first place? Go to meetups. Go to local events. Go to developer conferences. Go to house parties. (Techies are normal people, and people are everywhere.)
Get creative, @Message people on Twitter or cold-email them (specific people, not companies). Don’t be creepy, but it’s totally okay to reach out to people out of the blue, learn about them online, and ask directly if you can buy them coffee.
First, learn everything and anything you can about this person. Learn everything you can about their company. Learn everything you can about the industry or technology they work with.
Notice I didn’t say “ask for a job.” Don’t ask for a job. This is not about you asking for a job. This is about everything other than you asking for a job.
At the end of the conversation, go for the close—which, most of the time, is not to ask for a job referral. Do not ask for a referral unless they bring it up. Rather, ask them: “who else do you know who’d be a good person for me to talk to?” Tell them you want to learn more about front-end development, or cryptography, or iOS, or whatever you were asking them questions about.
Chances are, you already have contacts in the tech industry. Even if you think you don’t, you probably do. Go scour your LinkedIn, your Facebook, ask your family, talk to people you kinda knew in high school. Nothing is off limits.
Make a spreadsheet of every single person you know who works for a tech company. Mark down what company they work for, and what their role is at that company.
To reiterate this again: approach every interview as a learning experience. Stop caring whether you’ll get the job or not. The first few times, you’ll almost certainly bomb. It’s okay. Expect that and roll with it.
Interviewing is a skill, and not a particularly mysterious one. Trust that the more times you do it and the more deliberately you analyze your mistakes, the better you’ll get at it.