Thursday, March 06, 2008

My new job

Okay, I admit it: I deliberately avoided posting that I lost my job. It's not that I wanted to hide anything, and I'm sure I would have gotten a lot of supportive comments. But I know there are also a small contingent of people (hello, Amway distributors?) who would have enjoyed the opportunity to make snide remarks. And since I was a little down about losing the job in the first place, I just didn't want to deal with it.

So I didn't post that I lost my job, but I'm definitely posting that I got a new one. This past Monday evening I found out that I've been hired to start next Monday. I won't identify the company -- not because I'm paranoid but because I don't know the company culture well and can't be sure if they'll approve of being blogged about. I'll just say that it's a medium sized company, much smaller and hopefully less bureaucratic than IBM. The company manages data about cars. Enormous database which keeps track of cars and parts being purchased from lots of dealerships, all of which has to get passed around quickly in real time. There's a lot of emphasis on efficient data management algorithms, and I believe my data mining education served me well in the interview process.

This job is a raise for me -- not as much of a raise as I was hoping for, but still pretty substantial. Unfortunately I'm not a salaried employee yet, but since it is contract-to-hire, if all goes well then I'll have a salary and benefits right around my birthday this September.

I will immodestly state that I did an outstanding job in the interviews overall, which consisted of a half-hour phone call followed by a four hour on-site interview. I met four people and they all liked me. The interview involved solving a lot of logical puzzles, such as "Tell me what kind of code you would write to match a certain number of buyers and sellers in a reasonable amount of time." I'm really good at those. However, in the end they expressed some reservations about how I lacked recent professional (non-school) experience with SQL databases.

It came down a choice between me and another person who had a stronger background. The feedback I got from my recruiter was "They really like you, they think you've got the best educational background of any candidate, and if they had two positions they'd hire you on the spot." I really wanted the job, so I pestered my recruiter to see if there was anything I could do to sway them further. She suggested something vague about studying more and telling them what I was learning.

I went one better. I said "Tell them I'll write a Java program that solves one of the interview questions and shows off my ability to use SQL." And I did, in two evenings, and also wrote a rudimentary design document for the thing. (Thank you, Suzanne Barber, for your Software Requirements class!)

Anyway, it worked. They still hired the other guy, but apparently they created a second contract position just so they could, in fact, bring us both in. If I hadn't decided to write that program, I might not have gotten it.

So as I said, I'm starting Monday. I'm excited and nervous, because I still have a lot to prove. But I'm glad that I only spent a week unemployed.

I've already emailed a bunch of people, but in case I missed any: Heartfelt thanks to everyone I wrote or called asking for job leads. A lot of the help I got was not just with new jobs, but also with meetings I attended that helped me get my confidence, morale, and presentation straight. Everything was a big help.

Besides which, last Friday I was treated to lunch at the County Line BBQ and got a really nice send-off. My team and I left on good terms. It was understood when I was getting my Master's that I was planning to look for more fruitful work after school, and I only lost my job at this point due to budget cuts within IBM.

And finally, having the week off is pretty nice. I'm doing the very Serious and Important Work of getting a second World o' Warcraft character to level 70.


  1. Congrats, and good luck with making new friends.

  2. Congratulations, Russell! Job hunting sucks, but I'm glad you were able to find one in a fairly short time. Sounds like the position will be a good fit for you, and that's great that your initiative most likely got you the job.

  3. Sorry to hear about being laid off your job. But I was very glad to hear that you caught on right away with another firm.
    Especially considering the dreadful state of job prospects in the Information Technology field in general, thanks to the usual suspects, greedy IT CEOs and compliant politicians over-saturating the IT field with non-immigrant foreign labor (H-1B visa...aka...low-paid indentured servants. I feel for those people).

    I was laid off my programming job (ADABAS/Natural) at NASA 3 years ago (NASA no longer maintain Shuttle-based softwre systems) and ended up changing fields entirely (van driver across the country). Driving a NASA van may not be the same as sitting at a computer in a comfortable office but it pays OK.

    Still though, I'm glad NASA's retiring that obsolete space-faring dipsty dumpster and may actually get back to what NASA did so well back in the 1960s. But I have my high-strung doubts, considering the state of NASA management which I know about first hand.