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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

Dear Bob I'm going to do it...

Edit: 2005.06.16 - This post was originally friends only. It was hidden so that my employer would not see that I was interviewing externally.

The troubling part of the interview process is that I often feel like an idiot savant in a room full of PhDs.

The interview process has become "Please regurgitate this thing they taught you in your C.S. classes that would never happen in the real world"

For example the last time I interviewed I was asked to write malloc and free in C. In 45 minutes. I sat there for 45 minutes pseudo-coding what I'd have to do to make this happen.

I have no idea how to do a problem off the top of my head. I have to contemplate it. Make sure I have the right solution and then beat the hell out of it to make sure I didn't miss anything. In other words, I don't write malloc in C in 45 minutes. Me? I am a software engineer. I find a problem. I take it apart. I look at it from every conceivable angle. I look at it using things that no one else would. Analogy, simile, television, football, wine tasting, theatre, philosophy, comedy. Use comparison. Find answers. Play with tools, find solutions. See the big picture... put it together.

jnanacandra really wants to move back to Seattle. And to use Firefly speak, "I don't rightly blame her any." It's a beautiful city and there are some interesting venues open to me on several levels that I really can't elabourate on. (Not for secrecy reasons because I can't really find the words at this time)

But, the issue is, the companies that I have to look to in Seattle are less Mac friendly than most other cities. (No real surprise why)

So, it looks like I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to apply to Microsoft.

Now here's the problem. And here's a frightening admission: In a Microsoft world without Macs I fear that I might be nigh unto computer illiterate. I know C, C++, perl, PHP, SQL, several assemblers, etc. (Buzzwords to most)... But the interface to programming them has been: Codewarrior, emacs, BBEdit, XCode, MPW. I'm not even comfortable finding my way around XP.

If I can't get hired on by Amazon for Unix work. How am I going to convince Bill's Uber Corp that I can manage a project, developers, or even write code. (And no... never used MS Project in my life)

I am honestly terrified. Advice and pointers welcome.

Remember: HR wants 5 years of C#, 7 years of .NET, and 15 years of Java preferably not tainted with any Mac use. When what HR should be looking for is: 10 years of problem solving, 5 years of understanding and working under corporate abuse and slavery and a strong ability in ramping up in 6 months on proprietary undocumented code.

Java's been used in the work place for about 7 yrs, C#/.NET about 2 years.

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I haven't read the post yet, but I wanted to quickly point out that it's public, not friends-locked.

Thank you for the pointer!

I've been keeping my job search out of the public journal because the job situation is bad enough that letting them know you're even looking is enough to cause 'problems.'

Hopefully in the hour between posting and seeing your comment, not too much damage occured.

Thank you again, I really appreciate it. :)

Re: Thank you for the pointer!

You're welcome. :-) As soon as I saw the header and the lack of little lock symbol next to it, I quickly left the comment in hopes that you'd see it right away.

It reminds me of the last time I job hunted, right before I got the job where we were neighbors.

You know what year it was, and this one joint I was interested in told the recruiter that my resume was great, but I was lacking in experience. Minimum experience in Windows NT4 was 10 years, you see, and I only put down 5.

Windows NT4 came out in 1995/96, along with Windows 95.

Do the math.

Overall, I agree. We recently had a hiring fest in the QA department at Chimpco, where I work now. I had to sit in on the interview, and my God...if I were in those interviews, I wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes. Stupid 'tests' that have no set answer, so unless you give them precisely what they want you flunk. I saw more than one candidate who was very sharp and confident who said that he really didn't have any weaknesses as a QA person...and they didn't hire him because he had 'attitude'. Instead they hired a woman who couldn't test a toaster if I supplied the pop tarts.

The corporate world has gone MAD. Decades of affirmative action hiring and promotions based on EEOC quotas and bullshit MBA's won from schools that didn't teach them to even run a calculator have left us with corporate masters that don't even understand the most basic concept of running a company. That being, WE NEED PEOPLE TO DO SHIT IF WE'RE GOING TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF IT.


Good luck, I do not envy you.

P.S., lest I be accused of racism in my previous comments, I'd like to point out that it's common knowledge of the makeup of the computer industry when it comes to ethnicity and gender. While the field IS diversifying, (a good thing as far as I'm concerned) it's still primarily white guys like you and I who are the people who have years of experience dealing with this stuff.

Out of 11 QA people at my office, I'm the only white guy. We have six women. Only one of them is white.

Society just doesn't support those numbers, and from experience I can tell you that a big portion of these people were hired for their genetics and not for their ability.

you are hunting on SOOO much higher of an octave than me.

Right now I am stuck by dam-ned migraines in the world of little-to-no expansion. Who needs a parttime [according to Monster] "Web Graphic Designer" when they can pay people who are trained to handle far more complex tasks to handle idiot proofing cross-platform design and section508 issues, or get some college design intern to do it for free. I am stuck against the wall of my migraines now -- the visual aura (24/7) often causes something akin to dislexia, and BOTH the migraines and the migraine prophylactic meds have been interfering with my new matter retention, so trying to broaden myself into real programming has been very slow at best. I am so obsolete, it has gone all the way to very unamusing and come full circle back to downright hilarious in a valium sort of way :-)

I wish you all the luck in the world with the employment hunt; wish me luck with finding the door in my migraine wall :-)

@hopeful: You're still looking into foo at Apple, right?

It's still a tough time at my company (Sun Microsystems). If I ever hear of openings, I'll try to send them your way.

I have no real advice, but don't be afraid to tell them that, especially if you get a chance to actually talk to someone in the department. :)

Hey the next time you come to Seattle - email me sooner ;->
I received your email, but thought you meant next week, not this week.
Sorry about the interview. I wish you luck - would love to have you both here!

"So it looks like I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to apply to Microsoft."

Happy AFD?

I know it's a scary thought, but a man of your intelligence might want to consider joining the freelance world. It's stressful hustling for work all the time, but at least I get to do things MY way... and if/when I deciede to move out of L.A., I can keep all my clients as long as I've got a cellphone and Internet access.

Best of luck. This one didn't work out because it wasn't the right one. But the right one will come along. Be patient and persevere.

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