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Developers’ Take: Gen Z Developers are Looking to Make an Impact but not Necessarily in Silicon Valley

This is part 1 of a 3-part series where we interviewed Gen Z developers around the world about their views on job opportunities, their workplaces, developer communities, and more. 

You can read the second installment of the series to learn about developer culture in Brazil and India. To find out what it’s like to be a developer in Nigeria or the San Francisco Bay Area, check out part 3 of this series. 


Gen Z (those born in 1997 onward) is about to enter the workforce starting this year so this week HackerRank sat down with Nisha and Clarisse, two Gen Z developers from different parts of the world. We wanted to learn how they got interested in coding, what kind of work they’re looking to pursue, and how they feel about working in Silicon Valley.

Nisha and Clarisse both became interested in programming because they recognized the effect that technology has on our lives and that what they built with their code has real-world implications. Given this, they made it clear that they are looking to make an impact from the start –  be it during an internship or in their first jobs out of university.

Clarisse, a student in the UK, also discussed her waning interest in working in Silicon Valley, which aligns with findings from HackerRank’s research where Gen Z women reported less confidence in Silicon Valley than generations before them.

Find out more about what they had to say below:

Clarisse is originally from France and is currently pursuing an engineering degree at Imperial College London.

Jump ahead:

HackerRank: What got you interested in coding and how did you learn how to code?

Clarisse: I started looking into learning how to code on my own through Code Academy and other online resources when I was 14 years old to create things like my own games. I’ve always been really interested in coding and the digital world. Coding is very accessible, you can do it wherever you want and it’s freeing in a way. If I have an idea for say an app, I can quickly code a prototype and test it – I think that’s super powerful.   

[Find out more about how often students teach themselves coding.]

HackerRank: What are the most important things you look for in a company when seeking job or internship opportunities?

Clarisse: I’m not attracted to big companies. I’m used to taking on big projects that I work on from the beginning to the end at university, so from thinking about what the solution is going to going all the way to implementing, prototyping, and testing the solution. In a big company, I won’t be able to get as involved in the beginning and I might have to do the same small task over and over again. I’d have to climb the ladder to be able to do the kind of projects I want to. I like the spirit of startups and small companies because there you can get better results faster.

HackerRank: Do you think there’s a difference in attitudes between your generation (Gen Z) and Millennials in terms of how they approach the workplace or technology?  

Clarisse: I think my generation approaches jobs differently than Millennials. I think it’s hard for us to accept the fact that we’ll be playing a small role in a big company. Gen Z wants to have an impact straight away. While we know that we have to wait, it’s a bit frustrating to feel like we’re not contributing anything meaningful to the company.   

HackerRank: What do you think the tech industry will look like in 5 years?

Clarisse: I actually interned in San Francisco for 2 months and it seemed to me that in Silicon Valley, people have their one thing in mind and they’ll do anything to achieve it even if it means working 60 hours per week. There didn’t seem to be a work-life balance in Silicon Valley and people there didn’t seem to have the time to actually enjoy what they had worked so hard to create. It shouldn’t be about working that much – it should be about being effective. In Europe, people are more aware of work-life balance and they’re good at taking a step back, which makes me want to work in Europe.


Nisha is originally from New Jersey and is currently pursuing a degree in computer science and math at New York University.

Jump ahead:

HackerRank: What got you interested in coding and how did you learn how to code?

Nisha: I had a vague notion about coding because my parents are both programmers and then in middle school, I took a computer science elective class (optional classes offered by the school). While I was taking the class, I realized I was good at coding and I really liked how I could write programs for real-life situations. At that time, the programs were just simple Java programs, but I ended up becoming interested in learning more about coding. I learned to really code through computer science classes in high school starting my junior year when I was 16 years old.

[Learn more about how Gen Z women are learning code at a younger age than previous generations.]

HackerRank: What are the most important things you look for in a company when seeking job or internship opportunities?

Nisha: I am currently searching for tech-related internships and the first thing I look for is what projects I will be involved in during my time interning at the company. I like when the company allows the interns to actually work on a project with mentors and have something to show after their internship. I also look for companies that are open to teaching their interns on the job.

HackerRank: Do you think there’s a difference in attitudes between your generation (Gen Z) and Millennials in terms of how they approach the workplace, technology, or just generally speaking?

Nisha: From what I’ve seen and experienced, I feel like Gen Z people are more collaborative in the workplace. I also think that we are more comfortable with technology since a lot of us grew up with the current tech. We also use technology, like phones and laptops, more often and use it to communicate with each other, not just through text or social media but also through memes and viral internet things which connects my generation in a way that is different from Millennials.

HackerRank: What do you think the tech industry will look like in 5 years?

Nisha: I think that technology is always changing and to accommodate that, the industry has to change as well. I don’t know a lot about the industry, but during my recent hackathon, I saw there were more sponsorships and API’s dedicated to AI, VR, and especially Cloud. I think that the tech industry is using these relatively new technologies more and it’s becoming the standard.

[Learn more about what technologies developers predict will soon be the most adopted new technology.]

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