You might want to post some sort of contact info as well, so people will know how to get in touch. Note that the email in your HN user profile is not visible to the public, just to YC / HN staff.
Normally, the best path for an Indian to get to the US is to study a degree in the US, gain some work experience in that year you are allowed H1-B work after your degree and then hope that the company you worked for wants to retain you (they usually do..). Plenty of people I know have followed this path.
May I ask though why you are restricting your search to the US ? There are many startup hubs around the world and interesting companies in Europe (Berlin, Amsterdam, etc.) or even South America (Santiago, Chile).
Also, there's a vibrant startup community in India as well. So what's wrong with India ?
Larger companies tend to be less averse, but even then it comes down to the candidate, hiring you has to be worth the expense and trouble they would have to go to to find a suitable local equivalent.
Clickable, since he screwed up :c
COMPANY PURPOSE-Define the company/business in a single declarative sentence.
PROBLEM-Describe the pain of the customer (or the customer's customer).-Outline how the customer addresses the issue today.
SOLUTION-Demonstrate your company's value proposition to make the customer's life better.-Show where your product physically sits.-Provide use cases.
WHY NOW-Set-up the historical evolution of your category.-Define recent trends that make your solution possible.
MARKET SIZE-Identify/profile the customer you cater to.-Calculate the TAM (top down), SAM (bottoms up) and SOM.
COMPETITION-List competitors-List competitive advantages
PRODUCT-Product line-up (form factor, functionality, features, architecture, intellectual property).-Development roadmap.
BUSINESS MODEL-Revenue model-Pricing-Average account size and/or lifetime value-Sales & distribution model-Customer/pipeline list
TEAM-Founders & Management-Board of Directors/Board of Advisors
FINANCIALS-P&L-Balance sheet-Cash flow-Cap table-The deal
What is the product? Do you have sales? What would you do with my money? ... http://liftdevelopment.com/2012/05/fifteen-valuable-question...
I'm not sure how you'd be able to charge for this - if you charge consulting rates for one-on-one then only expect a few large companies/startups to sign up - and these guys would probably just hire a design consultant directly. If you went for a cheap offering, you'd need to keep the advice very short and shallow so as to cover enough people to make a living wage - and shallow design advice is not that helpful.
1. I want to try stuff my own.
2. Then I want an expert to step in.
3. The expert should teach me how to improve the stuff I already started.
4. And now the important part: I need to understand why/what makes it better.
5. Teach my how to "think" like a pro.
There is a gazillion of tutorials and stuff out, but what I am missing the most is fixing the gap between what is going on in my head vs. what is going on in the head of the teacher.
Regarding a price point ... I don't have a huge hesitation dropping $5 or 10 for a 1 hour screencast. More than that makes me think.
Also, I'm not convinced good UI/UX can be taught.
If you do go through this, please dedicate a large portion of time on your workflow and tools. Not enough programming, design books do this. For example, when I learned Python and Django it took me a while to figure out VirtualEnv existed and things like Vagrant etc.
Put up a landing page and ask users to leave their email, it will help you gauge interest.
Not sure what I'd pay for one on one. If you were willing to look at my code and evaluate, I'd be more interested. Rather than something 'lecture' style. You could then do future posts/tutorials via my one on one. "This was the original code, it was good but XYZ was lacking. So we did THIS. Here is a before/after shot, etc".
The only issue I see is there is an inundation of YouTube tutorials in this area.
The procedure for both eyes required about an hour and I was allowed to leave -- but I was told to keep my eyes closed as much as possible for a number of hours afterwards, which I did.
For the first two years or so after the surgery, after dark, fine points of light like stars and headlights weren't points, they were blobs of light with radial extensions. I knew the reason -- it's caused by the irregular seam created during the surgery. Over a longer period of time (many years) that seam smoothed out and now I see stars as stars again.
Do remember that, as you get older, Presbyopia (a gradual stiffening of the eye's lens) will require you to wear one or another kind of corrective lens, probably for close vision, and Lasik can only allow you to choose which default correction you want to have (I chose distant vision).
Before Lasik I had to wear glasses for absolutely everything, now I wear glasses only for close work (I'm in my 60s).
So I have to say that, for me, Lasik was an unqualified success, and I would do it again -- no regrets. Also, I have no connection with the business, I'm just a recipient of the procedure.
The procedure itself was quite simple: after applying anesthetic to the eyes, the doctor performs an incision in your retina, then a fancy laser machine cuts the retina based on the data collected in the examination.
The sensation during the operation was a bit surreal - as the effect of the procedure is apparent immediately once it's done: I could see everything clearly after years of having to wear eyeglasses. After the surgery they gave me a pair of translucent goggles, which I had to wear for a couple of days, and some eyedrops against infection.
I came back for an examination a few days later and it turned out I had better than 20/20 vision. I hadn't had any examination since, but I still have very sharp vision, better than most people I know. The only downside I can tell is that my eyes seem to be more sensitive to bright sunlight than most people.
What really kept me in developing Node.js after the first few weeks was the amazing community. Basically everything is Open Source and happens on Github. New development happens basically on a daily basis, really impressive. And there a tons of awesome modules out there, from template engines to testing libraries.
So bottom line: I don't need to convince you to try Node.js, but I do want to convince you to try something else (not just in terms of languages and libraries - try different databases like Postgresql, MongoDB, CouchDB etc. as well. Working with MongoDB for more than a year also taught me a lot).
Btw: "Scaling" and "performance" doesn't really cut it, since Node.js isn't necessarily faster than other tools, it always depends on the type of application and the developers/admins knowledge.
As a Linux guy, massive bonus points that the ReadyNas boxes are just modified Debian and they will let you get root on them. http://www.readynas.com/forum
I'm a HUGE fan. You can get a diskless 6 drive bay one for:http://www.amazon.com/Readynas-Pro-6-Unified-Nas/dp/B004S9JX...
It is also a great time machine backup for my wife's crackbook pro lappy.
It's not super slick or cool but I don't care. I spend at least 8 hours a day at a Linux or Solaris terminal. When I'm ready to relax, I want everything to just work.
> Will someone please, please, please make a reasonable > Gmail facsimile that I can pay for, so that I don't have > to put up with these arbitrary changes?
If you want a bookmarkable full-screen compose page, that is still available. Go to http://mail.google.com/?ui=html , then click compose, and bookmark that page.
Personally I'd prefer to live and work in Mountain View. I've lived happily in East Palo Alto before without a car. Just had to take a bus to the Caltrain a couple times a week or so for an event, but ate and grocery shopped within walking distance most of the time. Very cost efficient.
I've had customers rent a car from my company, damage it, and then sue us to try and recover the damages after we bill them for it. They spend double the cost of the damages to have their lawyer file the lawsuit, and every one has lost the lawsuit so far. So why do they even bother? Because it gives people in a less-powerful position some semblance of control/power (which, by no coincidence, is where bullying often comes from.) - "This car was damaged under my watch, they used my deposit to bill me, I signed a contract agreeing to this scenario, but I'm not happy about any of this and I'm used to getting my way, so I'm going to sue."
Anyway - that's not advice, just background. My advice - if the situation is indeed as you present, is that as painful as it is, you need to defend yourself. If you don't, you risk the court entering what's called a 'default judgment', which is basically a loss on your part.
I'm not sure what the amount is (you said it's more than you were paid, but I don't know what order of magnitude that is) - if it's small-claims-scale, you do not need a lawyer and you can defend yourself in person in court. If it's above the small-claims threshold, you'll need to take it a step further.
In either case, I suggest you at least speak to a lawyer first. It will cost something, but it won't cost thousands to have a conversation, and it may not even cost that much to respond.
One thing that's important to remember: It gets VERY VERY VERY expensive to take a lawsuit beyond the initial filing and angry-letter-exchanging phase. Nobody wants to go there - not the plaintiff, and not the defendant. Filing a response costs time and money, but after that, a world of pain gets opened up with discovery, etc. etc. And that's on both sides -- to the tune of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. So honestly, very few people actually want to go that far unless there is a lot of money at stake.
So likely, you'll want to at least make contact with the plaintiff and figure out what they really want (it might be nothing more than making you pay for a lawyer to respond), but either way - get a lawyer and at least have a conversation.
Get the best attorney you can. Good lawyers cost much less than mediocre lawyers, even if they have a higher hourly rate. Good lawyers have plenty of clients and have more flexibility with how much they actually bill you.
A letter or two from your lawyer may resolve the whole mess. Anything you write could easily make things worse. The legal system is a dangerous jungle you've never seen before. You need expert help to navigate it.
EDIT: to find a lawyer, ask smart businesspeople for a referral
1) Do not "meet" with the the party suing you or the lawfirm representing them on your own. Do not sign anything they extend to you to "make it go away." Send all communications from them to your LAWYER first, never respond on your own.
Now, it seems that the party suing you is not in it for your money as they know you can't pay; besides, the lawsuit itself costs money, possibly more money than any judge or jury would reasonably award. Instead they're probably looking to:
I) Hurt you
II) Sue your current, previous, future, etc... employers who might actually have money.
If you sign something admitting guilt (even if you don't realize it), there is a chance (depending on what they've accused you of, probably not the case for breach of contract but I am not a lawyer) they might use it to start a criminal trial against you (which meets goal I). It is highly unlikely that this trial will happen or that you'll serve any jail time if it does, but it will be absolutely painful.
You've now also opened up the potential for your current employer to be sued (meeting goal II). In turn, your current employer, has the right to sue you (again, helping meet I) and in this case probably for good reason: either you're honest in having caused damage or you've given false testimony.
What the party suing you is counting on is for you to NOT get a LAWYER and to prevail against you in a system that is adversarial. I'm a big fan of the adversarial legal system: it works great for criminal cases where you're guaranteed many rights, most important presumption of evidence, and a defender. However the way it's currently practiced in civil cases is flawed: the goal is for attorney on the either side to win, rather than for both parties to work diligent towards uncovering the truth, but most people don't realize it.
On the other hand, if you do get a LAWYER and are found innocent, the other party will cover your legal fees. If you and your LAWYER settle without going to trial, the legal fees will also be much lower (and you will not have to pay damages).
If you lose, the lawyer can make the loss hurt less: e.g., lessen the damages, avoid a situation that opens you to a criminal trial, etc...
Disclaimer: have never been sued personally, know entrepreneurs who have. Not a lawyer but curious about law. Everyone should also read every comment by grellas and rayiner. If anything said in this comment contradicts the advice of a reputable lawyer you've hired, follow her advice instead.
Yes I have been in exactly the same situation.
Went all the way, they filed every possible paper they could file, but they did not succeed. Based on your description, I don't think that in your case it was actually filed yet (correct me if I'm wrong). In some cases they will just try to scary you, but if you don't break - they won't file. If they do - well, find a good lawyer (somebody already mentioned Grellas here).
Right now the first thing that you should do is go and talk to SEVERAL lawyers. Find the ones that have free initial consultation, spend 30 minutes with them, they will tell you what your options are. If there's a possibility for a counter suit - you should probably do that.
Also, read your employment agreement several times. In a lot of cases there's a statement that the defeated party will pay attorney's fees. In a lot of cases there is a statement that the company will pay all the fees except first $100-$500. And in a lot of cases the case must be filed with the arbitration, which is much cheaper and if you don't have money to pay for your lawyer - you might have a better chance there.
If you have no money and no assets (you've just commented you are a student), there is not much to be got from suing you so it's not such a hot strategy on his part.
Depending on where you are (you don't say), there can be legal clinics or even unions/professional bodies who can help out or have on-call lawyers for basic advice and to point you in the right direction. Perhaps the instutution you are studying with may have something to go to first.
I suspect a sensible lawyer would start with a counter suit and some publicity. The fresh oxygen of publicity often curbs bad and bullying behavior - just look at last week's HN for an example of that.
Don't worry about going pro se from a procedural standpoint - judges are quite accommodating (and frankly, amused) by those of us who choose to represent themselves. I did an exhaustive amount of research prior to trial, and the district attorneys were grossly under-prepared for the case, so I was able to easily put them to shame. Put time into your opening, closing, and preparing your witnesses (including yourself). Watch a few episodes of Law and Order. It actually ends up being a pretty awesome story, whichever way it turns out.
The whole situation is terrible, I've been there. Whatever happens, just know that it's all not a huge deal however it turns out. My current employer didn't have any issues with the suit or with the garnishment, it was fortunate that they gave me the chance to explain myself.
Let me know if you have any questions about anything, firstname.lastname@example.org, happy to discuss.
Lawyer up. Lawyer up. Lawyer up. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 until you lawyer up.
to see A) which lawyers and firms have represented your former employer, so you know who not to call, B) cases based on the same statute as yours, so you can find lawyers who are experienced in that particular domain, C) information about the judge in your case, and D) what similar case dockets tend to look like.
First thing they did was call the cops for "computer hacking". Cops laughed it off obviously. Then they went to their lawyer. They were desperate for money and thought they could exact revenge. Lawyers really know how to write scary letters and make it seem that you're in a world of trouble, I hope you're aware of that. Really what they're doing is trying to get you to reply to everything they throw at you, so that something can be used against you. They want an admission of guilt, and then they can force you to settle.
I sought free legal advice from a local charity, but they only operate once a month so I had to write back before then. I defended my actions and made allegations against them. Their response was always short, they would never address what I said to them, and they would always try to trip me up on what I said (poorly might I add, based on their poor understanding of technology). One lesson I learned from this is that nothing you say in those letters in your defence goes in your favour, it is only fodder that can be used against you.
The lawyer told me that when writing back to them I should put "without prejudice" on the letters, meaning the letter can't be used as evidence (this was not in the USA however!). Eventually I threw enough stuff at them about wages, their taxes and their activities, threatening to take them to the labour court, that I just stopped hearing from them. In the end they walked away with probably a $1500 bill from their lawyers and nothing to show for it. (good enough for them!)
In summary, don't panic, the lawyers are relying on you panicking. Get a lawyer. If you live in a sane country you can find a free one.
You can email me at email@example.com which is a temporary address that expires in 24 hours.
Try to get some pro-bono help first.
If it's a poorly designed system, then the view will be a muddy web of connections. On the other hand, if it's a well designed system, it will be highly modular, with each module being small enough to be readily comprehensible in one go and with very few connections between the modules. So I basically don't see a use for the system that you are describing.
So, visualizing myself tooling around in a shiny new Maserati with a 6' tall redheaded supermodel with a Scottish accent...
I also take special glee in proving people wrong who doubt me, so I visualize the opportunity to go visit $JOE_BIGSHOT who could have helped us, but didn't because he didn't believe in us... after he's crashed out of being a $BIGSHOT and is now selling cars at the local "buy here, pay here" car lot.
Music is big for me as well. Stuff like this:
Stuff like that. :-)
If you are just treading water, look for a way to get out or modify your work so you enjoy it more. To get to a +10, I think you need to dream big and set goals to achieve those dreams.
I also suggest you do whatever it takes to enjoy your work process. What helps for me is buying great software that removes points of friction from my workflow.
For instance, instead of getting annoyed at crappy, slow PDF reader software, I splurged and bought Nitro PDF which is like a Ginsu knife. Now, using and editing PDFs is sheer elation.
I'm actually launching a program that reveals how to become obsessed over anything - even stuff you used to hate doing. If you're interested you can sign up here: http://indoctrinator.com
In summary: WordPress has a neat dashboard, thousands of plugins, and wonderful themes. Writing and maintaining a blogging app is boring. I prefer to spend my time blogging and programming, rather than programming admin dashboards for blogging apps.
People will tell you that WordPress is slow, which is true. To remedy the situation, you should: (1) use a PHP opcode cache (I use php-apc) and (2) use a caching plugin (I use W3 Total Cache). That's about it.
I'm quite happy with my setup. It's not the fastest or the hippest, but it works great for my blogging needs. My advice would be to choose whatever makes you happy, and then stick with it.
You can then deploy to Github or just some CDN.
I don't particularly find it appropriate to use WordPress as a tech blog. It just sends the wrong message in my opinion.
That said, I am of the opinion that developers should take pride in developing their own blog platform. It's conventional wisdom after all that building a blog platform on a modern framework only takes (a few hours | a few days | certainly not a week).
"You agree that you will not, and will not assist or enable others to: use the API on behalf of any third party;"
So in other words, no one can use the API except to get Yelp information about themselves.
What a fucking joke.
I don't know what your exact circumstances are but here is how I went from there to working for Google.
1. I got exposure. I hung out online with open source developers and participated. I did stuff in perl and blogged about it.
2. I did whatever I needed to to survive and support my family while doing the above. For awhile I worked as temp manual labor for Labor Ready. It was first come first served but if you did a good job companies would request you and you would have a job any time you stepped in the door.
3. I eventually managed to get contract work and continued to hone my skills and ability as a coder.
4. Finally I got noticed and was recruited by a company in chicago that later got bought by Google. I survived the transition and have been working at Google ever since.
You're path might not be exactly the same as mine but there are two key parts of my experience that you can learn from. Fisrt OpenSource gives you Exposure and Skill building that you can leverage. Second that menial jobs are a sometimes a necessary stepping stone but that they can be temporary.
Good Luck and don't give up.
Those are my credentials, now here's my advice: build a portfolio. And I don't mean a portfolio site or physical portfolio per se (though that would be best), I mean a body of work you've done that you can show off. All a degree really is is a piece of paper that says "I know how to do all this stuff. Contact these people and they'll vouch for me." Sure, some companies simply won't hire people without a degree, but you don't want to work for them anyway. Remember, you're smart, you're technically savvy, you're young, you're ambitious. Companies want YOU. Now, all you have to do is PROVE to companies that you can do the job. That's what a portfolio is for - it's actual, physical (or virtual) examples of your work; it's evidence that you know what you're doing. Make a blog and write some compelling articles. The blog, design, and articles are all examples of what you can do. Are you a designer? Make some icons, logos for companies that don't exist, or redesign an existing popular website just because you can do better or can offer a fresh outlook on their design (here's a guy that did this to Facebook: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Facebook-New-Look-Concept/650...). Are you a developer? Find an interesting open source project (or 5), learn it, and start fixing bugs and adding features right away. Maybe even start your own open source project (you have a GitHub account, right?!). Remember, your portfolio doesn't have to contain work you've been paid for; it can be filled with things you did on your own simply because you love what you do. My portfolio is what got me hired when I first started out (it also pays to be confident and have some good interviewing/interpersonal skills; confidence is really all about perspective, though, and is, if you lack it, something you can achieve through things like reframing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_reframing, http://changingminds.org/techniques/general/reframing.htm).
A few more things:
1. Companies aren't charities (even many charities aren't charities when it comes to hiring). They aren't there to hand out jobs to people just because those people need a job. They hire people because they have a void and believe that person can fill it. It is necessarily a mutually beneficial arrangement. You have to show companies that you are the person that can fill whatever voids they have.
2. If you don't have a resume, make one! Then put it online, on every site you can think of (LinkedIn, careerbuilder.com, monster.com, etc). If you contact me (my email is on my HN profile) I'll help you with your resume!
3. Many companies put in job descriptions that they require a 2 or 4 year degree. Sometimes this isn't really the case and, if you can demonstrate that you are the right person for the job, they will hire you anyway. This is what happened to me for my first job (it was a Fortune 500 company, so even they'll hire people without degrees sometimes!). So respond to every job description that looks interesting to you!
4. When you get an interview, and I know you will, do some research on the company before hand. Look at their website, check out what their doing, learn about their business domain, etc. If you're a web designer and/or web developer, think about ways you can improve their website and let them know you "had some ideas" while you were checking it out (don't make it seem like you didn't like their site, even if you didn't; be diplomatic about it).
5. I know I said I have to beat recruiters off with a stick; I don't actually beat them. Pro-tip #5: Don't burn bridges with recruiters. I have turned down more recruiters than I can count while at my current job because I'm not looking for work, but I always a) respond to them quickly, b) thank them for taking the time to contact me, c) thank them for considering me for whatever jobs they have available, d) let them know why I'm not available, and e) let them know that I'll keep an eye out for them if someone I know that fits one of their job descriptions is looking for work (and I mean it; I have forwarded several friends to recruiters). Sometimes I'll even talk to recruiters on the phone so they can get to know me (I always tell them up front that I'm not looking for work, but sometimes they want to talk anyway). Because of this, I have a huge list of people I can contact that might be able to help me should I find myself out of work.
I'm sure other people will have other perspectives and experiences. I hope this or something else on this page helps you!
EDIT: Also, when you're not spending time working on your resume, contacting companies and recruiters, committing to open source projects, redesigning popular websites, making logos for non-existent companies, or otherwise beefing up your portfolio, spend time making yourself better (for free!): https://www.coursera.org/, https://www.edx.org/, http://ocw.mit.edu/, https://www.canvas.net/, https://www.udacity.com/, http://webcast.berkeley.edu/, http://www.academicearth.org/, http://ocw.tufts.edu/CourseList, http://www.open.edu/openlearn/tags, http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/, http://ocw.nd.edu/, http://law.duke.edu/webcast/, http://oyc.yale.edu/. There isn't much room for anything else if you're serious about this.
EDIT 2: Added udacity (thanks philwebster!)
1) See your local (you might have to travel a bit) recruiting station and ask to start the process in joining. I recommend the Navy of all branches, because I've worked with people of all the other branches and the Navy gives you the most potential to succeed long-term -- they are the only ones that promote the idea of cross-training, will burn away your outer weakness by some extremely crappy years of work ultimately making you a better person, and allow you more technological opportunities than any other branch.
2) Your recruiter will ask you about your past. This will include drug use, prior convictions, etc. Hopefully you don't have any felony charges, or you won't be able to join. There are waivers for various offenses, but some will preclude you from getting a security clearance job.
3) Take the ASVAB. It is an extremely simple test which tests very basic concepts that you should already have formed a mental model about if you're a halfway decent programmer. Example: This lamp post is 30 feet tall and casts a 50 foot shadow -- What is the hypotenuse? (That was a real question). There are also mechanical things (what type of wrench is this?) and basic english things. Score in the 80+ range (out of a possible 99...which I maxed out without breaking a sweat and I'm not a genius) and you can almost guarantee yourself a security clearance job.
4) Your recruiter will take you to a MEPS station. After they do a bunch of physical tests on you (normal physician tests like stripping you down and checking your parts), you will be taken to the most important leg of the journey -- the guy that will assign you your rating. If you did well on your ASVAB, this part will be a breeze, because he will mostly be interested in fitting you in to where you're comfortable. As a programmer, your goal is to get one of these ratings in order to get yourself into a job that can leverage your skills. Even though I was an arabic linguist, I was allowed to build unlimited amounts of tools in order to support missions, and that eventually just became my job. I was in the military and could come in to work whenever I wanted to and basically do whatever I wanted to. This is the exception more than the rule, however, but it's still a possibility if you have an excellent work ethic. The jobs that get you into said positions are: CTI, CTT, CTN, CTR, IT (secure). All of these will require a 6 year obligation (4 year + 2 year extension).
5) Boot camp. It was basically one of the more enjoyable periods of my life. Every day is mapped out on a bi-hourly basis about what you're going to be doing from the minute you get there to the minute you graduate. You can look on the schedule and see what you're going to be doing 2 hours and 4 weeks later, and that will be exactly what you'll be doing. The structure will allow you find out things about yourself and your capabilities which you might not be aware of. I had barely graduated high school (1.8 gpa) and had a couple months of work at subway, but the experience awakened a great motivation to succeed in me, and it just might do the same for you too.
6) A-School. Depending on the rating (job) you chose, this will be different. For the non-CTI jobs, you'll be going to lovely (sarcasm) Pensacola, FL. The experience is great, and it's a good stepping stone to re-introduce you back into the world after having everything taken away from you in boot camp. If you chose CTI then you'll be going to the Defense Language Institute (DLI). It's basically college, except you're paid to go. Would recommend.
7) C-School -- most likely still in Pensacola if you're a non-CTI, and if you're a CTI it will just be at your final duty station. This will be where you learn more advanced things, and will be influenced by your scores on tests in A school. The great part about this is that there's no homework since everything is classified, which is why I was able to do really well here. Only knowledge and practical ability matters (which is the common theme that you'll find in most of the Navy).
8) Final duty station. This can be many places around the world, but if you specifically want to program then you want to be stationed at an NSA facility. The NSA is the only government agency that really promotes people to think outside the box -- trust me, I've worked at all of the others. I never programmed anything for real until I went there, and there was a program we used where you had to add the number 9 to a calculation before entering it in. I asked "shouldn't the computer just do that?" and no matter how many trouble tickets we submitted, no one would resolve it. So, I asked the person who had created the program 20 years ago if I could modify the program to fix it -- he handed me the Perl cookbook and said go for it. That spawned an entire career. You'll find that people there, although odd, will be more open to change than anywhere else in the government.
Once you have 6 years in (which will be the minimum for a job like this), you'll be 28/29 with a lot of skills, experience, and a security clearance. You'll have met people working at various contracting companies that will hire you, or you can apply at various government agencies that will easily snatch you up.
About me: I started out as an EW (electronic warfare technician) tech which was 2 years of electronics schooling. I served on a ship for 2 years and cross-rated to CTI to learn arabic. After finishing 9 years total in the Navy, I collected a total of 62,000 dollars in bonus money. I left the Navy with no debt, a car, a lot of money in the bank, a 92k offer and a 102k offer and three full months of collecting my Navy paycheck after leaving (terminal pay). I took the higher job offer and worked that for a year, conceiving of, writing the requirements for, and building (by myself) a computer program that saved the government an estimated 3 million dollars (along with writing a bunch of piddly scripts and API's that have saved a few million more and continue to be used). I'm 29 now and have saved up enough money that I dont have to work for 2 years and can focus on bootstrapping my own startup. The Navy and my work ethic (and ability to save money) gave me that, and it can give it to you too.
If you'd like more information, message me and I'd be glad to help.
What I did:
1) found the first job I could in the Seattle area (it was a call center job)
2) attended tech / startup community events (meetups, hack days, etc)
3) got lucky by meeting helpful folks in the tech community
4) worked on side projects on nights and weekends to grow my web development skills
5) found my first paying freelance dev work
6) found more paying freelance dev work
7) took a webdev job at a startup
From there a lot more has happened, but I've been in a webdev role ever since and continued learning new skills and taking opportunities to grow and contribute.
This is only one story and one perspective, but I hope you find a way out of the problems you're facing.
I was literally where you are now when I was 22. I moved to the big city, homeless, scraped together cash working retail to put myself through one of those seedy, "recording arts" programs. Then I took out some pretty big loans to start my record label and begin living the dream. Boy was I out of touch because it didn't take long for that dream to come crashing down. Facing reality was one of the hardest things I had to do.
First, obligatory advice that ironically won't make sense until you're older and have your own story to tell: you're young and you'll get through this and you'll get old and have your own story to tell. Don't sweat it too much.
It took me almost nine years to pay off all the debt I had accumulated during that hard time. It was horrible at first. However you can beat it if you put your mind to it.
My life started turning around when I was living in a tiny room in the basement of a large boarding house in the worst part of the city. Here's how I did it:
1. I created a cash flow spreadsheet and budget. I stuck to it. The nice thing about having the cash flow though was that I could see what my finances would look like in the future. This helped me to plan things and having that really put my mind at ease because I could visualize the light at the end of the tunnel. It would take me a while but I eventually added an entertainment expense.
2. I don't recommend this long-term but when things got thin I learned how to make decent food on the cheap: lots of rice, bulk dried beans, and as much fresh produce as I could afford. I'd make a tonne of stir-fry and eat that throughout the week. It's important to eat well so the first thing I tried to expand was my food budget... this doesn't include eating out.
3. Snowball those debt payments. Pay the minimum on everything except the most important one. Put everything you can after you're most basic needs are met and the minimums are all paid out. Once that one is paid off, keep going. Pick the next highest one and don't shirk and think you have more money to start going out or something. Just make the payments bigger on the next one... they snowball into one another. After you've knocked a couple of the big ones out then start giving yourself a small weekly budget to go out (and learn to make that small budget stretch... I liked going to bars with friends and we found all of the places that had $2 beer nights and went out on those nights).
3. The best thing that happened to me was finding a job through a friend at a local hosting company making websites. It wasn't anything glamorous but it was my first salaried job and I did everything I could to land it: I brushed up on HTML, CSS, Perl, PHP... I made a rather simple little blog script that I could show them before I went into that interview. I spent as much time as I could online and at the library doing research and taking notes. I think it helped because I got that job and I hadn't done any web programming for a few years at that point.
4. I didn't stop pushing myself. I got better at what I did for a living a little bit each day. I tried learning one new thing each week. And after a couple of years I started to get calls from recruiters and have moved up from there.
(It turns out I love CS and probably should have gone to university instead of trying to be a rock star, but you live and learn)
I'm not sure if any of this will work for you but if there's anything I hope you will take away from this comment it's knowing that there's still plenty of time to work your way out of your situation and get to where you want to be. Don't spend time reading about the over-achievers who've been handed the right opportunities at the right time... and don't listen to the claim that it was because of their drive, determination, and all that. Just use your hustle and keep at it. Most of all, smile once in a while and remember that it's just life. It happens to all of us.
I live in San Francisco and love it, but the cost of living here isn't exactly low and unless you have a job lined up or are already freelancing, it's going to be tough.
Instead consider other towns. Others have already mentioned Seattle, but I'd also consider Austin, specially because you mentioned both tech AND audio engineering. Austin is the live music capital of the world for a reason, and it has a great tech scene to boot (not to mention a really low cost of living... I say all of this being born and raised in Austin).
If you'd like some contacts in Austin (or more advice) I know of a few tech startups hiring, freelancers who could help you find good first gigs, and have a ton of friends and even family in the music industry in the city. Shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Programmer" however will solve all of your financial problems for the rest of your life. Invest as much effort as you can into building up your skills and tell everyone you can about them. Email every business in town with a list of your tech skills. Go on ODesk make a profile and list those skills. Respond to every gig posted on there. Check Craigslist, Elance, rentacoder whatever. Find a few gigs, build your skillset and once you are confident enough in what you do, work will just start to find you. As soon as you can afford it get the hell out of your small town and move to a larger market. Everything will change
(Speaking of which, we should probably organize HN meet ups more often)
Step one is getting yourself happy. Punt the toxic people in your life, focus on friendships, exercise, and mental health (it sounds like you're depressed), and save up a few nickels. There'll be time enough for financial ambition down the road.
If you're interested in moving an hour and a half south, they have &yet, which is a strong agency but was just starting when I moved. I went through damn near every decent web company in the area before finally moving out to Portland because of how unhappy I was there and how uninspired I was by the quality of the work being put out by the area.
Eastern Washington - Spokane possibly excluded - is a barren wasteland for honest web/tech work outside of freelancing and working out at Hanford, and I'm not sure Yakima has anything worth investing time in either. The cost of living in the TC can be pretty cheap if you're able to find a gig there, but public transit sucks. If you want to apply to some dev jobs in Portland (which would probably be more difficult than finding some in the TC) and get an interview or two out here, you're welcome to stay with us. I have some friends your age that are also into audio production and we have jam sessions with our gear sometimes at our place. Would love to have you if you get any leads.
I am in touch with a few developers still living in the Tri-Cities, too, if you'd like me to reach out to them as well.
Second, transfer to somewhere that will take your GPA and translate it directly into scholarships to pay for the rest of your education. Transfer that into a masters.
The US college is made for poor people to aspire and start again. Don't take out Stafford loans until you're working on a bachelor's degree.
(Source: 23, no life, homeless, no money, no car. 3.93 in community college, transferred to university that covered 75% in scholarships and 25% was Pell/Stafford. Now 27, still degreeless, but by choice. Finally, landed a decent job.)
If college is not an option due to existing loans, and this is a complete shame, craigslist jobs can actually land you freelance work. If college is an option, ie: no existing loans, shoot me an email.
When I was there, I made a flyer: "Computer Whiz-kid Seeks Work" .. like a news paper headline. Did some bullet points:
* Website design/fixing * Desktop Publishing * Data entry * Virus Removal * Computer Speedup
then some blurb .. I'm 22 and really good with computers. Give me a call if I can help you out with anything.
I distributed 100 fliers in a trading estate and a shopping mall, and got 3 job offers. One turned sour and the guy tried to sue me, one was a one off, and the last one got me a job converting .eps and .ai files for a sign writing plotter machine.
This company had associations with gangs and a drug using boss, who sometimes slapped me on the back of the head and called me a fing idot. However that job set me up for my next job and following career.
At that time, I was 13k in debt, and had no degrees. To get off the street, I bought a car for $150 to live in. The Methodist city mission was very helpful to me, giving me free, or $2 meals once a day. Also the Hari Krishna restaurant had good cheap food.
From the car, I moved in to a friend's part-under-the-house where the supports and dirt is, and lived rent free in exchange for doing chores.
That's when I managed to get that job controlling a sign writing plotter. Also I had to go through 6 months of being sued and had a bit of a breakdown, but it's all good now.
At that time I was 20/21. Now I am 38.
I hope it works out. Just keep sowing seeds, and soon enough some will start to sprout. I think the best place to get work and help is the larger cities.
Offer to help people get their computers set up, or fixed up. Be scrupulously honest, do not lie and do not exaggerate and do not try to be anything except helpful. That will get you money to eat and buy the basics. You may still be homeless but you will start connecting with the community in a helpful way.
Yakima does have some electronics stores (BestBuy and Radio Shack) and if I were in your spot I would look to see if either of them needed technical help. Its not that hard to learn how to pull apart, clean, and re-assemble a desktop PC.
Don't give up, and each morning think of at least two things you can be thankful for and hold onto them all day. Be open to opportunities that may present themselves.
Best of luck to you.
You might look for jobs on Craigslist. It sounds like right now you're looking for anyjob, for cash/rent. Be willing to do about anything, you're not choosing a career right now you're just taking money from people without stealing. Depending on who you work for, some of them might have interesting ideas or contacts.
If you can get to North Dakota you might work in the oil fields, but I hear it's hard to find a place to stay; boom times and all.
I don't know the producer business, I'm guessing there's much more opportunity programming. Don't know your experience. Pick a language, start making stupid little things and put them on github. The first stuff doesn't have to be impressive, doesn't have to be web whiz bang, just anything that gets you thinking in the language. If you get far enough along before you get an interview you can take the earlier ones down. If you're lucky enough for someone to consider you earlier, for the type of job you might be talking about, you can point to even your small silly projects and say "hey, this is what I've been doing to build my skills."
Whatever language you pick, learn the debugger, it will teach you more than the debugger.
Read something enjoyable, it's a cheap way to do something good for yourself and to get your mind off your troubles. Make it non-career oriented at least some of the time. You can get things at the library, or a used book store. Finding a good, old, funky used book store is a delight.
Your health matters. Exercise as well as you're able. Challenge yourself to eat as well as you can on the least amount of money. Beans and such go a long way for very cheap. These two things can be some of your reading. Learn as much as you can practically use about them.
Alternatively they have a machine shop program which could exploit your programming skills.
I only mention it because young people often forget that there is a lot of need for people in these jobs which currently are dominated by older men preparing to retire.
You're already living in the United States, a dream for many.
There's probably an entry-level job in one of those chains or retail stores you can get which will allow you to study on the side - my brother moved from Uruguay to Canada at about your age, worked at KFC while studying and is now an extremely sucessful manager in the advertising business.
As zaphar says, if you're tech-savyy, you don't need the degree - getting exposure will do the trick.
Yakima looks relatively close to Seattle, which is a hot spot for tech, and I've heard Portland also has a good tech community. Try to go to events there and socialize. After you get better known, you might get some freelance work or maybe you can get a position and move there.
I don't know about rent in Yakima, but maybe you can share an apartment with someone interesting/who shares your interests, or at the very least is motivated.
I'd try to find some kind of counseling or support group. If you can't find any in Yakima, there are several in Seattle:
A non-refundable round trip bus ticket from Yakima to Seattle is about U$ 30 according to Google, so you might be better off paying for some local counseling.
Twenty three and so tired of life Such a shame to throw it all away The images grow darker still Could I have been anyone other than me?
It actually free and you only have to pay them once you get a job after graduating from their program. Plus the job will be in San Francisco area and will pay well like about 80K which will help you get out of your current situation and then you can decide what to do with your life after that.
You don't need money to get a degree. That's the point of student loans. Are you in-state in Washington? If you can take the SAT's you should be able to get into a decent, cheap state school. You can get a fee waiver for that, btw.
Here are three you might consider: working on a fishing boat / working on a oil rig / joining the US Armed Forces.
The first two of those are very good money with a bit of risk with not a particularly long time commitment. After you are out of your financial hole you can transition to doing something else. The Armed Forces is not a bad option if you are looking for something that could be a longer term option for you and potentially include training in skills you are interested in.
Also, in general, getting jobs is first and foremost about confidence. I suspect you don't have a lot, so going out there and doing something where you can build confidence (my suggestion not knowing you is through a body focused manual labor activity, but that may not be the best), and then use that confidence to build skills, and then go out and get a job that makes use of those skills. That's a general strategy that can carry you for your whole life, the trick is to avoid getting stuck in a depressive cycle (which seems like where you are now).
Anyways, good luck mate, wish you the best!
* ANY job, if you can pare down/get help with your living expenses, is a plus, especially now. Discipline yourself to save to go to the place where your best chances are. Leave no stone unturned.
* Get help! College environments have lots of services and opportunities for people your age - counselling, jobs lists, ride boards, tutoring opportunities. If you've gone to a college, go there. Don't be shy about spelling out your predicament. Someone may hear you who's been there.
* Avoid the drugs, make sure your personal appearance and demeanor is as good as you can make it. Don't give them any excuses to overlook what you know how to do. Doesn't matter whether you score high on their tests if they don't like your look. "Really tech savvy" is NOT easy to find these days, if by that you mean MAD SKILLS. Sell that hard. If you mean "learn fast and will study hard", sell that. And mean it.
P.S: I was on pills until recently, when my psychiatrist told me I can stop taking them to see if I still need them or not (they also make me very sick for a short while, roughly 20 to 60 minutes on average), and I am starting to fall into my old and bad habits, again. Just thought I'd add that if anyone's wondering about how I feel.
You sound pretty depressed - remember the best functional description of depression is an inability to create detailed mental images of the future - Your entire psyche is focussed on trying to solve all the things you've got going on (which is natural because want to fix this) but be careful about it distorting your perspective.
Slow down your thinking and try not to freak out - like others have said you are young and that gives you time to learn new skills. .
If things get bad or you just want to talk email the Samaritans in the UK - http://tinyurl.com/bfghx6q - it's all anonymous and they won't care or even know about the US connection unless you tell them (If anybody knows the US equivalent or one local to the area, post it below).There are literally hundreds of people out there that want and can help with these situation but you've got to seek them out - Western society is terrible dealing with mental health issues but once you fire up the bat signal decent people come running. Good luck
Or: do some overseas mission stuff. I don't mean church stuff, where you pay to go, and are in an isolated bubble of service. No, I mean give up your life, go somewhere for a year or two. You can live on dollars a day (and still live better than the natives), and I think it will greatly benefit your worldview.
Join the military. Regardless of the politics of it, I think most will agree it's an opportunity to learn, grow, and get away.
Contrary to what many commenters have indicated, don't get a job if you can avoid it. If you can get by without a job, put every last waking moment into your passion.
1) If you want to be a programmer, build something innovative and cool and tell the world about it. If nobody cares, try something else. Build a portfolio of things you've done that compensates for not having a degree.
2) Network. Meet people, talk to people and get involved. Help others and others will help on your projects. Network locally as well as with others in areas you want to live.
If you pour everything into your passion, you'll get better at what you do and everything will fall into place.
Go to any city you have a friend willing to take you in. Jump start from there.
Lastly, it will get better. Life can be hard sometimes, but you can always start over. I promise it will get better for you.
I also think getting a job - any job, McDonalds, Walmart, whatever - is an important (even if it's miserable) step, because it's SO MUCH EASIER to get a job when you already have one. Even if it takes several bounces up the ladder, it's very difficult to go from being unemployed to being employed in a good job in the field you're interested in. I've got no degree and no have an amazing job working as a developer for one of the most difficult-to-get-hired-at places in tech. I worked (I will omit the time from 17 years old to 27 years old, because I honestly can't remember all of the jobs I had in that period, but the last year or so I was unemployed) for an office furniture dealership (through a temp agency at first), then got a tech-support job for a small software company, worked hard enough to get a little more responsibility and learned some networking/sysadmin-type stuff, learned some sql, hacked around with Python and Ruby, and got a chance to be a developer. Never looked back. I'm 30, for reference, and I've also been homeless and had to sleep on friends' couches, lived paycheck-to-paycheck or sold belongings on craigslist to pay the rent at times, etc. Hang in there. It's hard to hear, but once things work out and you "get there", you tend not to give a fuck about the path it took to get there.
See if you can get to a tech meetup, or just hang out in IRC, post on tech forums, etc. Get the best job you can, but get any job before no job. Sometimes temp agencies can be a really good way to start - I've worked for several. They're usually indoor, business-casual, 9 to 5 office jobs. Don't expect it to be interesting, of course, but some of these places will get you _a_ job right away as long as you're reasonably polite/presentable and can type fast, and it'll probably be a little bit better than the bottom-end of the retail/fast-food spectrum in terms of pay.
Like zaphar said: Good luck and don't give up.
I believe the tech workers should be moving towards private unions to get standard wages and mentor programs. We need to move away from this dog eat dog individualistic suppository programmer complex.
Most tech managers are just trying to suck the life out you to further promote their career with zero consideration for you well being.
Of course you can go work for a Google or another large corporate outfit. Remember that for every job we hold we are cutting an unknown number of American jobs.
Food for thought, there is a special place in hell for the greedy and traitorous. Personally I feel as a part of the high tech sector we are heading in that direction. No one stands up for worker rights in high tech.
1) Get a job at a call center, this will suck but you can at least pay for rent off of this.
2) Make flyers and/or find a place that will hire you on to clean Bonsai Buddy off of grandmas computer. If the job pans out enough you can quit the call center.
3) Save up all the money you can.
4) Move to Southern California or anywhere with a growing tech scene. Rent an apartment / room in a cheap part of town (Oakland, parts of LA) that you can use public transit initially.
5) If necessary repeat steps 1 or 2 until you can get a job doing something more. In this time attend meetups to meet other people in the industry you want to be in.
Connect with people who have similar interests than you. They're out there either online or otherwise but find a group of like minded individuals - preferably find a group that gets you to connect face to face. If you aren't comfortable hanging out with them because you keep kicking yourself about your shortcomings, you need to get over that. But once you find a group just show up. 80% is just showing up.
Don't over-think. Find something that's interesting to you, and instead of thinking "wow I don't know if this will pan out" ask yourself "do I enjoy this?" If the answer is yes, do it. Don't worry too much if in three months from now you have a better idea and your current idea doesn't seem so interesting anymore. You're building up experience.
Be social, go someplace that's interesting. Talk to people, even if you're no good at it, you'll build up social skills. If people don't want to talk back, go find someone else that's interesting that's more receptive. Eventually you'll make friends and build up your social skills.
Build a support network from friends and family that you know love you and care for you. They are there even if it's a small group of people. Tell them what you're trying to do and talk to them. They may not have good advice but they'll listen and be supportive.
There's a lot of other good advice here, but these are just some of the things that I tell my brother who is almost twenty.
In life it is important to have the right perspective as this shapes your attitude and attitude is everything.
I am 32 now but in around 2001 I was about your age and I had an associate degree(CS), but the job situation sucked. The unemployment rate back then was much lower than it is today....perspective.
I think you need to consider taking any job until you can get on your feet. When I was 22 I was working at a call center taking 50+ abusive phone calls everyday, as I stated above I already had an associate degree...so again adjust your attitude.
Lastly, you may have hung around HN long enough to get the vibe that college isn't necessary, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Peter Thiel may tell kids already on their way to Harvard, Stanford et al to drop out and start a company, that advice is the absolute worse advice for 99.9% of kids....again perspective shapes attitude and attitude determines outcome... seriously figure out a way to enroll in college and get a degree....
hope this helps.
founder @APPYnotebook (www.appynotebook.com)
tl;dr. Don't overstress. Take problems one at a time. and grimace when some of them asplode anyway.
ps. you're only 22. I know folks in their 40's who still struggle! (but somehow they manage to be happy every day. <scratches head>) . I think you'll figure it out. Either the road to traditional western success... or maybe you'll find your own path. :-)
It's run by a group of hackers, and you can email Ned Ruggeri and apply once you check out the site. They have classes in San Francisco and NYC.
I hope everything works out for you man. Not to sound too cliche, but what I have found is it truly is the darkest before the dawn. I attended college (I'm 21), got tired of it, started a couple businesses but I wanted to do more. I applied to Dev Bootcamp and got in, and I will be there in April. Keep your head up and never stop hustling to get what YOU want.
Best of luck.
I moved into one of those apodment places once I got here during the summer. It's a dorm style place that comes w/ furniture,internet,electricity,heat,and water for like $700.
I then emailed a bunch of companies in the area and landed a junior dev job. The pay is low but I am learning a lot.
Just look at all the comments and suggestions all these people have posted. If you need help, just ask for it. But you will need to work on changing things that you can and they may be hard. Life can get you down. Even in the darkness of days, there are always bright sunny days ahead of you!
Serenity Prayer:God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
You might try thinking out -- and writing down -- specifically what sort of circumstances you think would help you to feel "ok." An apartment? A steady, stable job? A car? A group of reliable friends? You don't need a perfect answer, just try to flesh out some basic details.
Once you know where you want to be in life, you can start taking determined action to change your current circumstances. Where do you want to be ten years from today? Five years? Try to answer those questions, then work back to today, determining the requirements at each step.
So, if you have as your goal getting a job at $50k per year working as a web developer at a small to medium sized company, starting x years from today, then your requirements might be:
Living in a city with sufficient job opportunities in the IT industry; specific programming skills; interpersonal skills for working in an office environment; personal and professional references; a resume; some relevant work experience; basic interviewing skills; a permanent address; reliable transportation; food in your stomach; some reasonable clothes; and a few friends and a healthy way to relax during your downtime.
Take each of those criteria, compare to where you are now, figure out specifically what you can do to improve your circumstances, and take action!
Having it all written out can work wonders for your motivation and ability to stay on track. You can also include some goalposts in your plan with specific timeframes so that you can periodically remind yourself that you're making progress -- that can really help you make it through when things get difficult, which they sometimes will.
It sounds like right now you need to get traction and put some money in your pocket, and some more in the bank. That means you'll want to get your expenses down as low as possible and save as much of your income as you can. You may have to work some unpleasant jobs to get yourself started, but remember that they're not permanent, and stay focused on your goals.
I hope this was of some use for you. Good luck!
Seriously you're less then 40 miles away from tons of people going through the same thing trying to get themselves together. Even if you end up doing something completely different, it's a place to start and it's just a hitchhike with a bunch of people you'll probably want to meet anyways away.
It's 2.99 on Kindle, but send me an email and I'll send you a free pdf copy. email@example.com is my email.
It sucks, but it gets better.
Embrace this. You'll (ideally) never be here again.
Is there somewhere you've always wanted to live? Move there. I'm sure there's an airbnb for ridesharing to get there. If not, start building it.
Once you're there you need to find work. Working fast food? That's cash. That's not equity somewhere, that's immediate rent paying and food buying cash. You want this.
When you're not flipping burgers, try and find work that is at your technical level. Startups, firms, etc. You probably won't find any at the get go. That's fine. Put an hour a day into this search. The rest of it? Start fleshing out stuff on Github.
Don't necessarily take the first job that comes up; flipping burgers and waiting for the right job is better than a sucky job.
Final step, start living life.
Like I said, I've never been in the situation, but that's the advice I would give myself.
I'm personally a high school drop out and work as a developer in an up and coming startup.Prove that you're a good developer and you don't need a degree.
As people have already mentioned, taxes and housing will likely be your largest increased expenses when compared to an area like Boca Raton. I would go onto some home-search sites and start looking around at actual places for rent. You'll quickly get an idea of exactly what you would be paying if you moved out today. To give you a general idea, lots of very non-posh 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family homes in Santa Clara go for $3-5k/month. However, that number can differ wildly by moving even a few blocks in any direction.
Feel free to email me if you want to discuss specific areas further.
If you have a family with school age kids, the situation is far worse as the family friendly housing costs are closer to 3x-4x compared to other areas.
The above is true for most of the Bay Area, not just Silicon Valley, unless you are willing to live in bad neighbourhoods.
Check sfbay.craigslist.org to see what apartments are going for.
If you live in the Valley you're going to spend quite a bit of money (and time) commuting anywhere useful. If you live in SF your rent will be higher, but lower transportation costs.
If you work in Palo Alto or Mountain View, you can live in Santa Clara or San Jose and significantly lower cost. Additional commute is 10-30 minutes
If you work in SF you can live in Oakland or most of the East Bay (think El Cerrito, San Leandro, Hayward, etc)
I recently had an offer from a well-known SV company. It seemed really good, and was maybe 80% more than I was making in the sticks. But I also have a family, and in my case want to put the kids in reasonable public schools. After long study, I realized that this just wasn't possible, even on the generous salary.
Some people say that the Bay Area is simply full. For people with families, that might almost be true. Certainly it's a major challenge. Good luck!
Highest cost of living in the country in my opinion. There are ways to beat the system, but half the population are looking for those exceptions.
The registrar I'm using is about $48/year  with no price bumps for renewals.
See: segment.io, filepicker.io, etc.
These companies have adopted the ".io" as part of their company name, all in order to get a cheap domain. If you tried to buy a domain name like segment.com, that would be around $100k (ballpark). (Segment.com is probably not actually for sale, since an actual business is using it right now!)
Maybe also because it's one of those easy sounding, feels real short and quick like some other domains i.e. .in, .co and .ly. Nth beats a .com yet.
Anyway reason you think, we might start getting single character TLDs? As in .a, .k , .z &c?
Thread derail: I just bought that domain recently. What's the MVP for an engineer's personal site?
As psycr says, it's also a reference to I/O and could also represent 1 and 0.