Monday, May 30, 2016

So What Happened with the Job Interview?

Well it's been two years since my last post. In my last post, I talked about a job interview with a small startup where if I was extended an offer and decided to take it, I would walk away from a mega-company that I've been working at for twenty-five years.

Well I did get an offer. And it did pay more than my salary at the mega-company so I left the mega-company after twenty-five years. Pretty stupid ah? I left without taking an early retirement or downsizing severance package because I promised myself I wouldn't leave unless I had a comparable or better paying new job. The timing, of course, never worked out.

The position with the startup didn't last - the startup didn't have product or a viable idea for a product. I see that the startup's name is still mounted on the side of the building but I don't know how the startup could possibly be sustained at this point.

Nevertheless, I was a fifty-plus-year-old out of a job in the midst of Obama's utopian shrinking economy. That'll put a spring back into my step.

So what happened to me? Are you dying to know? You would be amazed.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Dreaded Software Job Interview

I was at a job interview the other week. It's something I dread. It's like taking tests in college, I just freeze up over the easiest of technical questions. I practically have to start counting with my fingers and toes. Also, while my brain freezes, my mouth starts to run, talking about all the observations and strange things that occur in the software industry and in my current job. These observations are sometimes perceived as painting me as being a maverick, someone who bucks the system, someone who is not optimistic and can drag a team down. This perception can't be further from the truth.

Many companies do a terrible job at evaluating candidates - and I'm talking about both small and mega companies. In a typical interview, there is usually the "How would you move Mount Fuji" type questions. That is, they want to see your thought process in approaching and attempting to solve an impossible task. For me, the problem is not the question, but that it's asked in a highly stressful situation. So in a sense it's a stress test. Here's the problem with a stress test for software engineering candidates: it's not reality. Good software choices can never be rushed and good software practises never come out of a stressed, quick-turnaround environment. Good software takes research, collaboration, a lot of rework, a lot of testing, making trade offs and back-of-the-mind, secondary, subconscious thought. The usual form is you take all of that and ram it into a time-table that in no way can resemble a schedule that can be depended upon. To me, the formulation and translation of tasks to scheduled releases is pure hocus-pocus - only managed by extraordinary individuals possessing great common-sense, experience (in regards to "real" software engineering) and patience. A good software engineer has to deny himself and quietly and quickly advance the judgement of others.

I have to tell to you though, I was very encouraged by this last interview. Why? Because one of my interviewers shared with me his thoughts about how so many software companies interview candidates wrong. Wow, I thought to myself, this guy gets it. I WANT TO WORK HERE!

I don't know if I'm going to get an offer but I hope I do. My opinions and observations that I can't help myself from expressing are opportunities. That is, opportunities to create something really special, to increase the efficacy of a project team or product, to meet customer needs, etc... Really, they're just problems that I observe and notice that might have a solution. A solution to implement and move forward from so that the next problem can be taken on.

If I get hired, I might start like going to work again. Wow, what a concept. (But really, I never stopped working.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I'm back.

I started reading a book entitled "Choosing Yourself" by James Altucher. The author is pretty eccentric. But I'm starting to implement what the author calls "Daily Practice." Why? Because I have to get out of my current blood sucking employment situation where I've been for twenty plus years. Yes, I'm a software developer working for a major corporation. James Altucher contends that the days of cradle-to-grave corporations are toast. That corporations really, really want to get rid of their cubicle employees (and remote employees, for that matter). And I see this on a daily basis, the desperation is thick.

I really need to stop blogging about politics and the stupid stuff I hear in the news. In fact, I have to stop watching the news because there is nothing I can do about it. It makes my head explode. Instead I'm going to blog about what I know about - me. HA! I choose me to blog about. AND GUESS WHAT - I'M MORE INTERESTING than the crap on the news. Just ask my friends. Accept for Chris, he's really an interesting tormented soul - maybe more about him later.

OK, let me talk about one of the many things that happened at work this last week. It's so funny and typical.

A colleague and friend of mine, who is the smartest guy I know, had to integrate a software change (get it in the finished product). However, the software change had to be matched in two software repositories. (For those not in the industry, a repository is where to place your supposedly finished, tested, and approved software changes so the changes can be bundled into the customer installable software product). If the software change was not matched in the two separate repositories, the change is rejected. So my brilliant friend submits the same change to repository A and then to repository B, because there is no way to submit to both A and B at the same time. The change is rejected with a grammatically and semantically incorrect error message that I wish I could share with you but I can't. So my brilliant friend submits the change to repository B and followed by repository A. Same rejection and error message. And as you could of guessed, there was only one person in the entire corporation that knew how to get around the problem. And yes, he wasn't available. I think my friend and I going to have tee shirts made with the text of the error message - IT WAS THAT FUNNY!

The tee shirt will go something like this:
"I work at a place where I get this error message:
[Error Message]
Can you help me?"

Going on sale soon. Please submit your orders.

A new business idea: a tee shirt company which makes tee shirts with real world examples of implemented gibberish. (Coming up with new business ideas is part of my "Daily Practice" - thank you Mr. Altucher)