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My job search isn't going well, especially if you take into account
that I've been actively looking for quite some time; much longer than
since the layoff was announced. I'm starting to wonder if I'm going
to wind up having to leave the computer industry as have some people
I've been reading about in Norm Matloff's analysis of the (myth of)
software labor shortages.

In other news, it looks like I'm going to go ahead with the bolero
routine for now. I learned about a third of it last week at my dance
lessons. As far as the piano recital goes, I will probably decline
this time, but I may do one in the fall (assuming I'm still living
here). I still don't feel ready yet, plus I'd be the only adult.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2004 04:54 am (UTC)
hey stuy alum! You should move down to Southern California. You are smart you will find something soon, be patient. I faced two laidoffs too. My first startup lost its venture capital funding and my second job laid me off after spending a few months there. I'm struggling at my third job and its only been 3 years out of college for me and it's lacking structure and I'm praying I can be productive there and I won't be canned. It's hard I know. I know its also hard facing a laidoff. Keep updating your skills, network, and really understand the interview process. Read How to Move Mount Fiji by William Poundstone. I also been feeling that I'm not that smart and that going to good schools doesn't necessary translate to I'll be smart in everything in my life. Maybe I'm just booksmart and not street smart. After going to Stuy and figuring out I was average among the brightest and going to another school that made me feel like average pitted against the brightest in grades and social skills based on a curve, I also felt I reach my glass ceiling for my smarts. All the things you wrote about so eloquently I felt. I'm too lazy to write in full sentences at times. Don't give up. Stuy people strive on! You made it through many tough circles you can make it through any hard obstacles. I hope Im not being intrusive. I wanted to connect to other stuy folks around my age and who has moved out of the area.
Jan. 20th, 2004 07:35 pm (UTC)
Re: hello
Thanks for the good words. Actually, I graduated from Stuy back
in 1979.
Jan. 20th, 2004 07:32 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry the job search is being such a challenge. That seems to be happening to a lot of good people, though, so don't be too quick to conclude that it's you. The market is still pretty bad from what I've seen.

How committed to your current location are you? I don't know how the California market is in general, but there might be places that are doing better. (If you've got Java skills and would consider moving to Pittsburgh, let me know.)
Jan. 20th, 2004 09:27 pm (UTC)
Actually, I know several people who are in similar situations as
myself, who have been (or are about to be) laid off. Some of us
(myself included) are 30+, which seems to be the point where one
becomes less employable as a software engineer. (Some exceptions are
if one has significant recent management experience, or works on a hot

I did some Java programming, but it was about seven years ago, long
before the existence of the things that are in demand now (J2EE,
Swing, etc.). As part of my current job, I have to read a lot of Java
code (the AV web servers are written in Java), but that's not the same
as actually doing the development. So I don't know how well I'd do in
an interview that was highly technical, that covered aspects of Java
that I either never used or never had to worry about. What kind of
work does your company do?

In general, I think I would have been better off if I'd been allowed
to leave my current project (web server traffic analysis) three years
ago and join the index build team. Instead, I got stuck on my
project. Furthermore, our funding got cut, so we were not able to
build the kind of reporting system that Yahoo would have been
interested in. Finally, I just got burned out trying to cover all of
my responsibilities, dealing with political battles, etc.

Jan. 21st, 2004 05:02 am (UTC)
Some of us
(myself included) are 30+, which seems to be the point where one
becomes less employable as a software engineer.

Haven't seen that here, for what that's worth. The engineering group at my company runs the gamut from fresh grads (20ish) to folks who've got to be in their 50s. While there are more younger than older (I'm above the apparent median at 40), it's not completely an under-30 crowd. Just one person's experiences, though, and I know that age discrimination (formal or informal) does happen -- my father was a victim of it when he was 55.

We do collaborative visualization. (Pause while you try to parse that. :-) ) Specifically, we help organizations view data in meaningful ways that allow them to work together more easily. There's more here: MAYA Viz. So it's a mix of interaction design, visualization design, data crunching, client-server and peer-to-peer communications, and a bunch of related issues like security, transport protocols, etc. And yeah, some Swing and the like. :-) No one is expected to be an expert in everything; people tend to specialize some, but learn enough about other areas to be flexible. We're in Pittsburgh, and we're looking for engineers and technically-inclined QA folks. While we want Java programmers specifically, 'cause that's what we use, my impression is that a good programmer who seems to be a fast learner but who doesn't have the Java keyword right now would probably be acceptable. I mean, after a point, languages are languages -- the underlying concepts are much more important. If you've got OOP clues, it wouldn't hurt to apply. Assuming, as I said before, you'd be willing to move acoss the country.

Gotta run right now, but if you've got questions, feel free to ask!
Jan. 21st, 2004 11:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link to your site. Based on what I saw and some things
you've written, I would probably have to review a lot of OO concepts
(and more Java code) before I felt comfortable interviewing. Your work
is the sort of thing the people who develop the AV web server code are
more familiar with.

In general, I'm feeling pretty burned out, so even if I were able to
get a dream job (developing networking algorithms or protocols for a
place like Cisco or Juniper Networks), I'm not sure I could do the
job, especially if it was in a high-pressure situation. Sometimes I
think I might be better off not working for a while, but I'm concerned
that the longer I'm not working, the less qualified I'll be to work
(in the computer industry). For example, in a phone interview I had
with Google some time back, I was asked a lot of questions that I
either didn't remember or took me a while to answer, whereas a few
years ago I was actively working with the subject matter so I could
answer the questions right off the bat. (I didn't get the job.)

Are you having trouble filling some of these positions? If so, I'm
surprised, because there are lots of people (including lots of
unemployed people) in the SF bay area who have these types of
qualifications. Regarding the 30+ thing, it's discussed in Matloff's
research, but it may be more common to places like the SF bay area
with lots of young programmers graduating or getting certified.

Jan. 22nd, 2004 06:29 pm (UTC)
Burnout: I hear you. Sometimes the best thing to do is take a deliberate several-month vacation. The challenge, of course, is to move past decompression to jump-starting the career, and that's hard.

Time unemployed (and not formally in school) doesn't look so bad to an employer if you've been using the time for self-study and have something to show for it. I think employers in high-stress fields understand the idea of a mental-health break, though.

You sound pretty down, which isn't surprising in the face of layoffs. I hope you're able to find something you like and that you have (or can acquire) the skills for.

Are you having trouble filling some of these positions?

They're new positions resulting from significant new work, so we haven't been looking that long yet. We're seeing lots of candidates, some of whom are definitely worth looking at. (The Pittsburgh market got hit in the downturn too, after all.) But our director of engineering told us that we shouldn't limit referrals to locals, so when you mentioned your situation it seemed appropriate to mention ours. :-)
Jan. 23rd, 2004 01:59 am (UTC)
"Time unemployed (and not formally in school) doesn't look so bad
to an employer if you've been using the time for self-study and have
something to show for it."

A lot of my concern about employability comes from some trends I
noticed after not working in the networking area for a few years and
applying for jobs. For example, this recruiter I've been working with
sent me a job description a while back for someone needed to implement
protocols to run over Infiniband and some other high-speed media. I
told him that I hadn't worked on anything like that in about ten
years, and he replied that we probably shouldn't proceed with that
lead. I tend to think that if I'd been able to stay in networking,
the logical progression of projects would have enabled me to work on
that sort of thing, or perhaps some other hot technologies such as
VoIP or VPN. Yet, this isn't a guarantee of a job, and several people
I know who have that kind of background are out of work now.

Matloff's research discusses people who try to train themselves (or go
to school) for new jobs. His findings show that some employers aren't
interested in people who don't have project experience in what they're
trying to learn. A few people I know have been able to parlay unpaid
work on open-source projects and/or IETF protocols into consulting, a
startup, or a position at another company. I was thinking if I did
wind up unemployed that I'd try to participate in an IETF working
group and possibly go to a conference that wasn't too far away.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )