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I am Brian Holt. Ask me anything.

Brian is currently working as a senior cloud developer advocate at Microsoft and he's all about developers, developers, developers. Previously he was a JavaScript engineer at Netflix, LinkedIn and Reddit. When not working, Brian finds time to teach on Frontend Masters, run his mouth on Front End Happy Hour, travel all over the world, and play with his adorable dog. Brian is currently a resident of Seattle, WA.

Ask Brian Holt about:

  • Cloud Infrastructure
  • Cloud Computing
  • JavaScript advice
  • Working at Microsoft
  • Getting started with programming
  • Open Source Ecosystem

This was super fun!! Thanks for all the great questions, hopefully I was able to answer the questions burning your mind! Feel free as always to reach out to me on Twitter!

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69 discussions

How to get a job in a big tech company like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook? And what should I do for it?

Hey Ajit!

Great question. My first "big tech job" was Reddit. I got that job by posting in the JavaScript subreddit and they messaged me so not super reproducible.

My best advice see if you can make friends with people that work at those companies. They'll be able to give you advice on how to pass the interviews, what they ask, and if you want to work there. Sarah Drasner helped me get my job at Microsoft and Derrick Showers helped me get my job at LinkedIn. Knowing someone always helps.

Beyond that, brushing up on your interview skills is essential. Being a good engineer and a good interviewee are (unfortunately) orthogonal skill sets. Cracking the Coding Interview, Code Katas, and all those things that help you reason through abstract problems quickly will help with Big Tech's silly interview process.

Hope that helps!

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Hi Brian! Thanks for doing this AMA. I am a huge fan of your work.

This question might be a bit out of context, but I want to hear your opinion as a developer and not as a Microsoft employee.

Q: What's your thoughts on Microsoft acquiring Github?

Hey Jill! I'm a huge fan of your avatar.

Real talk: with the landscape as it is today, I think it was the best landing place for GitHub. Satya Nadella's Microsoft is pretty heavily committed to not losing your trust and we all know if that we mess this up that we lose everyone's trust forever. From my perspective (I don't know anything more about it than you do) this acquisition was about acquiring more good will from developers, really cementing our new stance of being a developer-first company.

What you could be worried about is what happens post-Satya Nadella (again, I don't know anything more than you do, just speculating.) Companies change and maybe some future CEO wants to monetize the hell out of it and ruin it in the process. But for now, for today, I think Satya Nadella and Nat Friedman are going to GitHub in a great direction.

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Here are some of my questions.

  1. What are some of your suggestions for new developers for learning streaming based cloud apps? (like netflix)

  2. What's your opinion on future of cloud ? (As in where it is going with changes in AI and ML and cloud along with privacy aspect)

  3. How do you learn any cloud specific skills quickly? What are your go to resources for learning server side or front end etc?

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Thanks Brian much appreciated :)

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How was your experience working at Netflix on JavaScript stack?

Good and bad, like any tech stack. It has its tech debt which was painful to work with at times but the advantage is having a lot of smart people always striving for great code together. It's a complicated beast so that did make working on parts of it tough but on the whole I enjoyed writing code there.

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What's in your dev toolkit? (editors prefs, SaaS software​, etc).

  1. Visual Studio Code. I used it before I was at MSFT but I just love it. Amazing for writing code, managing Azure stuff, and staying organized.

  2. I love Kaleidoscope for doing git diffs and merge conflicts.

  3. Firefox Stable for browsing the Interwebs.

  4. I write my articles in MacDown for a simple markdown based editor

  5. Spotify 24/7

  6. I have a little Microsoft Surface Go that I travel with now. Great for watching videos, writing a little Node.js and playing old games like Dungeon Keeper II.

  7. iTerm2 w/ fish. I usually work with bash since I teach a lot but man I love fish shell.

  8. Dank Mono font and @Sarah Drasner's Night Owl theme for VSCode.

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