#107: Rich Smith – How A College Dropout Became A Senior Engineer at Netflix

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Rich Smith is a Senior UI engineer at Netflix but did you know this was his 17th job?

Today, he talks about how he started hustling as early as 4th grader and eventually discovered his interest in coding!

On the episode, he covers a lot of topics as what it was like growing up with role models who were athletes, which a lot of us could relate with. And how not until he dropped out of college that Rich stumbled upon coding and later realized that this could be a viable career path!

Rich’s journey to become a Senior Engineer at Netflix was certainly not an easy feat, but he lays out the roadmap on this episode that anyone can follow to attain the same results.

Hint: it doesn’t involve a computer science degree 🙂

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Lives In:Bay Area
Current JobSenior Engineer @ Netflix
Date Recorded6/15/2018

Contact Info:

Rich Smith


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richsmith31

Twitter: @RichCSmith

Instagram: @RichCSmith

Articles & Mentioned Resources:

Learning Resources



Personal Projects/Partnerships:



Show Notes:

[02:22] Why Netflix only attracts senior level engineers and the differences between UI engineer versus full-stack and back-end engineers

[06:35] Rich talks about the importance of internet access, his athletic background, coping with depression, and what you can do to set yourself up for success everyday!

[13:15] A hustler since 4th grade, he talks about the spark that got him interested in tech by 8th grade. By 10th grade, Rich began writing programs for formulas taught in class.

[19:33] Upon joining an Eminem forum, he came across a thread about graphic designs. He ended up learning design, creating shirts and selling them during Junior year.

[24:45] Why Rich went on from taking a CS major to doing web design, becoming a hobbyist PC builder as a college kid, and landing his first corporate role

[32:26] Having both experiences in design and coding, he began creating his own design agency, which he leveraged to build his portfolio and get his first job in Silicon Valley.

[36:40] Netflix is Rich's 17th job! He talks about how he re-designed his portfolio including a list of references from people of different roles.

[39:23] Maintaining a standard of excellence: He underlines the power of proofreading your work, discipline, getting feedback, and designing a resume that rocks!

[42:00] Rich talks about his job hunt experience, having a process that he trusts, and why he thinks people end up switching companies (startups vs large companies)

[48:25] How you can break into working at these large companies (Google, Netflix, etc.): Rich took the startup route!

[49:15] Supporting mentorship programs: Rich began mentoring kids even at college. Then he got involved in nonprofits such as CodeNow and /dev/color.

[53:15] Rich explains the power of peer mentorship and some insights into mentoring people dealing with self-doubt.

[01:01:10] Why Rich resonates with Eminem, why he thinks learning how to code is a superpower, and why you have to be the creator versus being just a consumer.

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