Cracking Code with White Boards and Pizza

by Evyatar Cohen, Baruch College/ Macaulay Honors College

Unknown.jpegMany of the events I’ve attended have been focused on meeting employees at companies I’d like to work for. It’s a good way to stand out, but there’s a lot more to actually getting the job. Once you do get in the door, coding interviews can be quite difficult. 

Last week I was fortunate enough to take part in cracking the coding interview’s (CTCI) first meetup, hosted at IBM Watson. It was a beautiful office in a convenient location. The room was filled with eager hackers, fresh pizza and 10 white boards. 

We sat at tables of 6. Each respective group started to eat and mingle before the start of any speaker. As I introduced myself to the gentleman sitting across from me he went on to tell me that he was “from upstate New York… *Pause*…. Kinda.” This was a line I am all too familiar with because I too use it when describing my hometown. I followed up with “Oh yeah. Where?” He proceeded to name the county I’m from. Again from me – “Oh yeah. Where?” Funny enough he then said the same street that my mother still lives on. 

Our host started the conversation by introducing CTCI New York meetup and its founders. After which, he told us to each work out some ice breakers amongst ourselves. Many of us had already gone through introductions, so it was a good time to really have fun with one another. The host then went into reviewing the 5 main strategies from the book Cracking the Coding Interview and listing an example problem to solve with each method. We were tasked with working amongst our table to solve some of the problems listed earlier or any problems we felt like trying out (pens, paper and white boards – courtesy of IBM). There was a strong recommendation not to use laptops. It was asked that we find every solution by hand. Mid work we were invited to step outside, but we were having such a good time we continued on. Our host circled the room throughout and asked questions to lead us in the right direction when we were stuck. 

The order of events worked out really well – super interesting to first learn of people backgrounds and then see their approach to problem solving. The event was closed with a talk on IBM Watson. Overall an awesome first CTCI meetup – great activities and awesome people. I highly recommend attending future events!

Be sure to check out IBM chef Watson and other APIs!

Evyatar Cohen is a senior at Macaulay Honors College, at Baruch College, majoring in math.  When he’s not attending a tech event, he can be found reading up on VCs and pondering how to use data analysis to find solutions to transit and business pain points. 

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