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Jul. 4th, 2006

Over the past couple of days, I've had a debate with IncrediBILL in WebmasterWorld about different polices regarding blocking access to sites. It actually was a good debate. I learned a few things. However, it left me feeling somewhat disturbed. Unfortunately I don't have much time to go into why; suffice it to say that it brought back a lot of unpleasant memories of trying to explain the consequences of certain decisions.

I wonder if I'm still feeling burned out (and yes, burned) by my experiences at AV. If so, I wonder if I will always feel this way. I feel like I need a really good work situation, the kind where the company is doing really well, there is a good roadmap for the company's success, everyone buys into it, and if there are problems it's possible to air them out in such a way that everyone's needs are met and progress can continue to be made.

I heard back from the InfiniBand people at Cisco. They want me to come back for another interview with two other members of the group on Wednesday. So I've been trying to go over some things that tripped me up in past interviews. However, I'm still feeling kind of vulnerable about the whole thing, like there are still lots of ways that I could be stumped by interview questions and there's not much I can do about it, practically speaking.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
gconnor
Jul. 4th, 2006 09:11 am (UTC)
I still very much identify myself by what I did at Altavista. I felt that what I was doing there was important, but also that it was a large part of who I was. I felt connected to work in a way that I haven't felt at other jobs before or after that.

I don't think this is really because Altavista itself was something special (it might have been, but if so, that wasn't why I felt connected to it). At the time I thought the work we were doing was important, and that AV was providing a useful service that the world needed, and as Bryant put it, that we were changing the world by what we were doing. But, looking back now I don't think that was why *I* felt connected to it... The reason I felt connected to my work in a way that influenced the way I identify myself is 1. I grew a lot while I was there, and 2. I was privileged to work with some really good people.

This comparison of AV to other jobs strikes me as similar to the way I felt about private high school vs. public high school. When I was in public high school, I was forced to deal with kids who didn't really want to be there, but when I was in private school, anyone who didn't want to be there was pretty soon wasn't. In the general category of "high school students" there was probably a large overlap, but the experience felt different.

I have now been at SGI for 2 years, but I don't feel as connected to it as I did (and probably still do) to AV. Probably there are multiple reasons: I don't manage others, I was a contractor for 18 of 26 months, my team has shifted a lot... but mostly I don't feel a strong sense of pride in saying "I work for SGI" (and therefore I don't feel identified by it. It is a job, but it's not who I am. Even now my work at AV identifies me more than my work at SGI.
gregbo
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
I didn't really learn much at AV (at least not technically). I also felt like my interactions with others weren't of a peer-to-peer nature, as I've written before. If you look at this accuracy of web analytics thread, especially messages 31-40, you'll see the kind of interaction I wanted to be able to have with peers. I wanted there to be discussion of approaches, tradeoffs, etc., in the way that other people in other groups (especially other software engineers) were able to have.

Also, when I look at the profiles of people who used to work at AV who are in my LinkedIn network, I feel like I fared worst among almost everyone. Practically everyone else (including people outside of engineering and ops) either has been able to continue to do what they did before or has been able to move up the ladder.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, and due to the glass ceiling and floor, I would have been laid off one way or another even if Overture or even AV hadn't been bought. Maybe someone would have said that they couldn't pay me any more because they could pay five people from a low-income country less to cover my assignments and get the same productivity. But there's nothing I could do about that either. I just wish there could have been a way for me to work on projects that would have enabled me to retain parity with other software engineers.
figmo
Jul. 4th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
Good luck with the interview. My suggestion: If you don't know something, just say "I don't know, but I can learn." Being willing and able to learn scores more points than BSing through stuff.

If the interview is a "personality match" interview, then your technical knowledge will be irrelevant anyway.
gregbo
Jul. 4th, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
Good luck with the interview. My suggestion: If you don't know something, just say "I don't know, but I can learn."

Actually, I've said things like that in interviews. Usually, it isn't even a matter of me not knowing something; it's not remembering something. I just say I don't remember because I haven't done it in a long time and I can look it up.

Being willing and able to learn scores more points than BSing through stuff.

True, but I don't think this is relevant for the jobs I've been interviewing for. It seems to be as it is said on sites such as JoelonSoftware that demonstrating competence in the interview matters far more than anything else. I'm willing and able to learn, but that's not what's asked for on the interviews I've had.

Hopefully things will turn out better this time.

aelfsciene
Jul. 4th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
I have nothing constructive to say (I've forgotten half of what I learned at AV thanks to non-use) except to wish you the best of luck on your next interview round. I'm terrified of when I have to start doing such things, even though it's likely years off, and have a lot of sympathy for you now.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )