aspose file tools*
The moose likes Jobs Discussion and the fly likes RANTS Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Careers » Jobs Discussion
Bookmark "RANTS" Watch "RANTS" New topic
Author

RANTS

Peter Hsu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 25, 2006
Posts: 72
Just had a chat with my boss this morning… It's nice that the working atmosphere is still pleasant even though I have given him 2 week resignation notice just 2 weeks after I started working here.

He was talking about the interviews processes of the very position I just resigned from. This is by all means not a great job. The pay is decent at best (more in the range of mediocre). The projects are simple: mostly C# desktop applications, sometimes backed by MS SQL database. Despite all these, it still attracted close to a hundred applicants.

They interviewed about 35 people in the first round. 3 survived. I remember the second of interview was pretty easy. They handed me a laptop and I was asked to write an algorithm and search for some text inputted by user in a form with multiple controls in it. I remember my solution was to keep a list of controls so when the user click “search”, the program would go through the list and look for the string user inputted in each controls. The list itself is lazy evaluated and would only populate when user first click “search”. Once the list is populated the form would remember it so it doesn’t have to populate it again. I have also taken the risk of implementing the tree traversal algorithm iteratively. I know that the recursive algorithm would be much easier and intuitive and my memory of the iterative algorithm is vague. I just had to go for the harder and more efficient solution to prove my skill. In the end, the algorithm worked perfectly.

I have always thought I got the job because I have came up with the best solution to the problem, but turns out I am the only person who finished the task at all (on time, at least).

This is an entry level job. There are 2 kinds of people I had to compete with: the ones with solid experience (for an entry level job? Yeah, this is how bad the job market is now), and the ones with good academic background. As for myself, I am a little in between. My work experience seems light and I have decent educational background. My boss used to work at a university. I guess that is why he is interested in people who possess strong knowledge in the fundamental level (For example, OO concept). This eliminated most people who are out of school and out of touch. According to my boss, the 3 finalist include a guy who just graduated from Waterloo (Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of it) with no experience, a 19 year old girl genius who also just graduate from a pretty good university in the U.S. (with software engineering degree), and me, someone who just obtained a Master degree from a unknown university.

According to my boss, surprisingly, the girl seems to know nothing about programming he has to teach her everything from ground up. Of course, she failed to complete the task. The Waterloo guy has the very good sense of getting the Microsoft certification before he graduate, but that doesn’t seem help him too much because he had to constantly ask for my boss’s assistant to move forward. (As someone who recently obtained SCJP, I really cannot believe that…) Naturally, it took him a lot longer to finish the test than my boss has originally scheduled.

This echoes the reason why I have been quite depressed lately.

I have wasted a lot of time in my life. I am in my late 20s. If I were in these two people’s age, would I have done that terribly on such simple project? No. I know that because I have written pretty complicated games in VB as hobby when I was even younger than both of them. Note that I have only learned a little bit about programming at that time and the most advanced data structure I know how to use was Array. I didn’t even know how to create my own classes. On the other hand, when these two reaches my age, would they be more successful than I am now? You can bet your ass they would.

Getting this job is like winning a small battle. At this pace, I would still lose the war eventually.

Your resume only shows how many chances you had to learn. It doesn’t show how much you were able to learn in a single experience. It doesn’t show how well you can remember this knowledge. It doesn’t show how well you can apply it in everything you do. In general, you are defined by the choices you have made in your life, not your potential.

No, I am not saying it is unfair. It is perfectly fair. Why would someone take the time to interview you just because you might be good? There just isn’t enough time in the world.

I have heard so many people saying: “Having a good degree doesn’t get you hired.” “Having a certification doesn’t get you hired.” It’s true.

You have to look at the problem from the other angle. Having a so-so resume would stop you from being hired. Sometimes people would interview you with prejudice and you wouldn’t even get to show your strength. Much more often, you just won’t get an interview at all.

And it cycles: so-so resume -> no interview -> no job -> worse resume -> less interview -> settle for a shitty job -> so-so resume -> no catching up, EVER
Mark Spritzler
ranger
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2001
Posts: 17250
    
    6

Well Peter, I guess you could say this is a bit more meaningful than for a meaningless Drivel, and maybe more for Jobs Discussion forum.

I think I will move it there.

Mark


Perfect World Programming, LLC - Two Laptop Bag - Tube Organizer
How to Ask Questions the Smart Way FAQ
Mark Spritzler
ranger
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2001
Posts: 17250
    
    6

Unfortunately, this is the way the world works. I know with 20 years of experience that someone fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the rate of pay that I am at now, maybe. But when they have 20 years experience those fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the same rate of pay that they are at. Just the cycle that it works.

"And so it goes."

Anyway, it always seems to be best when you are just average.

Mark
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Peter Hsu wrote:Just had a chat with my boss this morning… It's nice that the working atmosphere is still pleasant even though I have given him 2 week resignation notice just 2 weeks after I started working here.


I'm lost. You're unhappy at your career direction, but you quit a job you just started?

Luke
Peter Hsu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 25, 2006
Posts: 72
Mark Spritzler wrote:Unfortunately, this is the way the world works. I know with 20 years of experience that someone fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the rate of pay that I am at now, maybe. But when they have 20 years experience those fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the same rate of pay that they are at. Just the cycle that it works.

"And so it goes."

Anyway, it always seems to be best when you are just average.

Mark


That just made me so much sadder.
I am not a bad learner at all. At my age, I should at least be the same kind of spoiled brat you are talking about (5 years experience and reached the same level as you), that is, if I have played my cards right...

I am like a kid who has been left back a few grades and then finally toughen up and start studying. Sure, I am acing my courses now and I am even previewing materials at the level I should have been and maybe even slightly higher, but I know I have to sit and wait for so long to "graduate" and finally do the things I want. However, I know by then, some of those who hasn't been left back would have moved on to another level.

To put it another way. I am chasing the mental image of another version of me. The version who hasn't waste any time and lived up to his own potential. I just realized that no longer how hard I run, he would just run further away. This made it impossible for me to feel pleasure when my ability is proven. As my confident level move one step forward, the mental image would move at least two steps forward because I feel this just shows "he" could have done so much more.

about the reasons I resigned, it is another story...
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
A few comments.

First, it is possible for students to be a new graduate and not know how to code. MIT, for example, doesn't teach software engineering, bur rather computer science. When I was there, the only languages taught in CS where Scheme and Clu. There was one required software engineering lab for CS majors, although through my double major I was able to get out of it. If the student spends summers not programming (e.g. family business, volunteer work) and has a thesis not requiring programming, it is possible to graduate without really knowing how to code. In my case, the "how to program 1-2-3" really came from my high school days, although the CS program gave me the right theoretical underpinnings by which to make me a good one.

Many schools in the last 10 years have created software engineering programs, which are basically high end vocational schools. Top schools usually have faculty who resisted such change keeping it more CS focused. In the short term (1-3 years), those students come out of the gate with fewer practical skills; in the long term, they know the fundamentals and can learn faster and apply solutions to a wider range of problems. I think these schools are making the right call for themselves.

As for the regrets about the path not taken, as you note, it's a losing game. My suggestion is to focus on the life you are leading--we all have regrets, they can either hold you back, or inspire you to be better. If however you do occasionally look over to that parallel path, be sure to note the guy who took another 3-5 years to realize what you did, and will never catch up to you. :-)

--Mark
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Peter Hsu wrote:
Mark Spritzler wrote:Unfortunately, this is the way the world works. I know with 20 years of experience that someone fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the rate of pay that I am at now, maybe. But when they have 20 years experience those fresh out of college in only 5 years would reach the same rate of pay that they are at. Just the cycle that it works.

"And so it goes."

Anyway, it always seems to be best when you are just average.

Mark


I am not a bad learner at all. At my age, I should at least be the same kind of spoiled brat you are talking about (5 years experience and reached the same level as you), that is, if I have played my cards right...

I am like a kid who has been left back a few grades and then finally toughen up and start studying. Sure, I am acing my courses now and I am even previewing materials at the level I should have been and maybe even slightly higher, but I know I have to sit and wait for so long to "graduate" and finally do the things I want. However, I know by then, some of those who hasn't been left back would have moved on to another level.

To put it another way. I am chasing the mental image of another version of me. The version who hasn't waste any time and lived up to his own potential. I just realized that no longer how hard I run, he would just run further away. This made it impossible for me to feel pleasure when my ability is proven. As my confident level move one step forward, the mental image would move at least two steps forward because I feel this just shows "he" could have done so much more.
You are assuming that everyone keeps learning their whole life long at a fast pace. That is not true. Most people learn enough to do their job and then they stagnate. And for those who keep learning, a great deal of that is simply replacing knowledge of obsolete APIs with knowledge of new APIs. If you continue to learn at a fast pace, you will _eventually_ pass most of the people who had a head start on you. And even among life-long learners, eventually those few wasted years become merely a small fraction of the total, and your ultimate level will be limited not by your years of study but rather by your intelligence (e.g. speed of learning new things) and energy.
Marcel Wentink
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 19, 2008
Posts: 157
I have wasted a lot of time in my life. I am in my late 20s.


Ah come on! If you're that young that's not even possible! And sheer up Peter, it's just work. If your C.V. is the problem, smug it up legally a bit. Like in my first job, twenty years ago or so, I did C, C++ and Clipper. Which I happily wrote in my C.V. Nevertheless it was more like 10% C, 5% C++, and 85% Clipper. The recruiter did not ask the ratio's, so I did not lie and I got the programming C++ full time job. And a huge salary increase a year after because they liked my work so much!

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: RANTS