I graduated from college in December 2014 with a computer science BS degree. I have a 3.4 GPA and had two summer internships as a software developer with a top-tier tech company during my undergraduate study, and my last internship was with a so-called "rockstar" team. I've gained several very demanded skills from these internships. (big data and cloud computing related skills)
I accepted a full-time job offer in February 2015.
However, I'm a foreigner, and I experienced some trouble obtaining my work visa (EAD) due to some stupid mistake I made filling my work visa application forms. When my work visa finally came to me on December 2015, the company withdrew the offer.
Right now I just got my US green card through family immigration.
When I restarted searching for jobs I find myself no longer favored by the job market. I got a good amount of interviews and my job offer fairly easily during February 2015. Only several months ago I would still get 1 or 2 emails every month asking me if I'm interested in some decent job opportunities.
But suddenly I find companies ignoring my resume even if I have friends who work in these companies referring me while my resume have been polished by a couple of software developer friends. And I can't even get any responses from any company I applied for three weeks.
I've been doing algorithms problems to prepare for interviews, but didn't really do any projects on my own.
One of my friends told me not to explain the gap year at all in cover letters, but only try to sound positive by telling I hold a US green card.
Another friend suggests me to find a testing job first, then become a software developer, but I'm really not interested in pure testing work though.
I still claim myself to be a new graduate sometimes when applying for companies.
I've thought about taking nano-degrees with Udacity to reengage with the IT community and build up portfolio, but these nano-degrees take months to complete.
I have no financial concern, but I do hope to get a job as soon as possible. And I hope my salary won't be lower than my internships during college (about 40/hour + housing stipend).
I'm interested to hear from recruiters on the forum. What do you think about a gap year after college? Would it look suspicious to you? What kind of opportunities should I look for? Should I explain honestly about the paperwork problem I experienced last year in cover letters? Should I mention that I was holding a job offer all the time last year? How can I get recognized by the job market as soon as possible again? Should I get an online degree? Or do HackerRank problem all day long? Or make some mini projects of my own?
Should I significantly lower my expectation? Although my skills haven't change that much?
Thanks in advance.