[Baypiggies] Career Advice

Zachary Collins recursive.cookie.jar at gmail.com
Tue Feb 15 20:27:31 CET 2011

  It's funny, because, I'm a software engineer who has little trouble
getting jobs, does really strongly in interviews, and have been at it
for years but... I don't really spend much time reviewing things like
algorithms and complexity.  Sure, I studied them in school, and it's
worth keeping them "on your mind", but I think recruiters and other
programmers kid themselves if they think that knowledge of that stuff
is decisive in their hiring habits.  You can know every algorithm in
the book and it won't necessarily make you a better or more attractive

  Because if it's useful and relevant, you'll learn it.  I know alot
about algorithmic complexity and algorithms only because they apply to
my work on a regular basis.  I say, if you're really looking for a way
to get up to speed on the relevant skills to make a good impression,
do it the same way you did it with learning your first language, how
you learned to ride your bike, or how you learnt to drive:  just do
it, alot.  Find anything, at all, that seems interesting and primarily
focuses in programming, and start doing it alot in your spare time.
My gateway drug (and to this day I still get my jollies from) was
programming video games, might be worth considering.

   The best programmers in the world are the ones who just have
buckled a certain amount of hours down.  Your code will be cleaner,
your knowledge of algorithms will be wider, and everything that is
relevant to your area will become clearer naturally as you explore
programming fully on your own.  Don't waste time with classes or books
unless they are interesting and motivate you to code more.  Don't
believe that there's a magic formula of smarts and advice that's going
to give you a secret edge.  The edge is experience.

  That's my feeling.  It's not remotely hard or worth worrying about.
Just do it.  Anyone can program well.

2011/2/15 Glen Jarvis <glen at glenjarvis.com>:
> Bryce,
>    I was in your shoes a few years ago. I felt so awkward at the interviews
> too because it felt like such a let-down after every interview. It was
> emotionally hard to go to an interview because I wanted to get the job,
> didn't, and I felt let down... disappointed.. and mostly discouraged....
>    If you're in that situation now, it *does* get better :)  I promise :)
>  if you keep at it...
>    That isn't really the question that you asked though :(
>     So, for advice: I don't think it hurts to get a mentor. I found someone
> on BayPIGgies to be my Python mentor when I first started -- he gave me
> small assignments and we did code reviews -- although he started doing Ruby
> professionally and I didn't use that resource much at all the past few years
> (I really should have) :(
>     I also learned a lot by doing interviews. Painful or not, it was very
> educational. For example, I did a Python interview for a company stationed
> at Pivotal labs. It was the best interview in my life--so exciting. We had
> two screens: one on the left, and one on the right. The left had the
> beginning of a UnitTest. The one on the right was where we were to write
> Python. We implemented a small feature (just a lifo queue)... it was pair
> programming, so he started as we worked through issues and before the
> interview was over, I was doing real test-driven-development, driving and
> felt I "leveled up" (I'd been stuck on how to just "do" TDD for several
> years -- this was all I needed to get through it). That weekend
> I re-factored a good deal of my own code to have tests....
>     I also took itty-bitty jobs on Elance and other sites until I improved
> my skills through practice. It didn't pay much, but it gave me real
> experience...
>     I personally don't have a silver bullet, I'm afraid....  But, if you can
> stick at it in your own time... you *will* eventually get there :)
> Good luck, and keep at it! :)
> Cheers,
> Glen
> On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM, Venkatraman S <venkat83 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:37 PM, Bryce Verdier <bryceverdier at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> I am aware of the option to program for an open source project, but I'm
>>> not sure which one. Though I am looking. ;)
>> Why not try Python-core or Django or Pinax (check on the status of Pinax
>> before you start though)?
>> Probably port a few apps over to Python 3?
>> Some experience with GAE would be an added icing to show that you can 'do'
>> stuff?
>> Btw, you will learn hell a lot by just hanging around in #python or
>> python-dev mailing list.
>> I have never committed anything in python, but did look at peephole
>> optimization before the unladen
>> efforts took place - learnt hell a lot. Though i hardly touch that arena
>> any more.
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