[Baypiggies] Career Advice

Bob Van Zant bob at eventbrite.com
Tue Feb 15 19:24:21 CET 2011

As someone who has interviewed hundreds of developer candidates during
the past few years I can tell you that there are at least a few ways
to be a nice, smart guy or gal that doesn't get a job offer:

- No basic set of computer science fundamentals. Know the difference
in time and space complexity for various operations on lists, hash
tables and trees. You may never implement any of these data structures
but if you don't know how they work the likelihood of you choosing the
wrong one on the job is high. We're not looking for the next Knuth,
you just need the basics but most candidates seem to have never
learned them.

- Can't write good, clean, testable, maintainable code. There's no
faking this one. While you're writing code today focus on making it
better. How can it be more testable? How can you make it easier to
refactor in the future? More readable? Ask yourself these questions
every time you write code and eventually you'll start writing
beautiful stuff and you'll be able to speak intelligently about it
during an interview. Many open source projects have horrible code. Be
careful if you're using them as an example.

Probably every developer job I've ever interviewed for, on either side
of the table, has required these skills. On the interviewer side of
the table the majority of candidates fail on these two fronts.

By the way, eventbrite.com is hiring python people :-)


On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM, Bryce Verdier <bryceverdier at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello Fellow Bay Piggies,
> I would really appreciate the help as I have an interesting situation that I
> can't seem to figure out.
> My current job title is System Engineer. Although I do a fair amount of
> script writing (in python) I am performing a Systems Administrator job role.
> I took this job a little over a year ago because I had experience as such
> before I went back to school and I graduated during a pretty rough economy.
> I do not regret taking this job as I've learned some pretty cool things.
> However, I'm at the point where I realized I want my first programming job
> and I would really like it to be a python based job.
> Somehow my resume looks good enough for me to get the occasional programming
> interview. But this is where the problem starts. While I do believe that
> scripting has helped me keep my programming skills from going completely
> dull, I don't spend forty plus hours a week doing it. Thus when I do enter
> an interview, the interviewer is asking me questions that I haven't seen or
> even thought about since I was in school. Or asking me about the esoteric
> aspects of a language that I don't get exposure to as scripting doesn't
> required them.
> I realize that the economy still isn't great and that most companies aren't
> hiring junior level programmers right now, as there are enough mid-level
> programmers unemployed and willing to work for the same salary.
> My question for the group is, what can I do to position myself better
> towards getting a junior developer job when those start to open up again? Or
> what should I prioritize in my studying to help me cross over from sys.
> admin. to developer? Are there any jobs that you guys are aware of that a
> hybrid job between these two roles that would help facilitate the cross
> over? I am aware of the option to program for an open source project, but
> I'm not sure which one. Though I am looking. ;)
> Thanks in advance for your time and any thoughts you may share,
> Bryce
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