By: Jesse Forristal, Recruiter for Workbridge Los Angeles
I want to start off by saying that I do not have a technical degree or any programming experience. However, I have something that some might consider more valuable – an ear to the market (and an eye for talent if we’re keeping with the body part metaphors).
One of the biggest trends I’ve come across in my search for talented mobile developers (I specialize in placing Java and Mobile developers) is that everyone wants to be one. Many engineers either want to be a mobile developer or they claim they already have become one. You don’t need professional experience if your primary purpose for moving to the Android platform is to make a tip calculator for fun; however, if your goal is the title “Mobile Developer” at an established company, you need some experience. Now this proves to be somewhat of a Catch-22. You can’t get that job without experience and you can’t get experience without that job. No one wants to hire an inexperienced mobile developer.
So where do these mobile engineers even come from? Well, with most companies embracing the mobile platform – iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry OS etc., students are starting to focus their entire Computer Science degrees on mobile development. This is a brand new trend considering the relatively recent inception of these mobile platforms. This trend brings about an ever changing landscape for both established and aspiring developers.
Through my experiences as a recruiter of mobile developers, I’ve started to become a de facto adviser to aspiring mobile developers. A couple pieces of advice for those who want to get into mobile development:
- Play to your strengths. If you are a Java developer, mess around with Eclipse and build an Android application to have something to show off. Port it to the store and get some downloads. This cannot be said enough. Without an actual application, your experience is theoretical.
- Know that you might have to take a pay cut. Until you have professional experience, you might not command your expected salary.
- Take a class. Take an in person class if you have the time; take an online class if you don’t.
- Go to meet-ups. This cannot be stressed enough. You’ll meet people from all walks of life that can influence your career path in countless ways.
- Find a friend or colleague who does it for fun, or better yet, does it professionally. Pick their brain. Ask if you can contribute to their project.
- Ask your manager at work if there’s a chance you can work on a mobile project. Chances are that if you’re working right now, and your title isn’t related to mobile, a mobile developer will be added to your team sometime soon. Maybe that could be you. Prove you have the ability.
Don’t worry if you can’t get that mobile position just yet – the mobile platform is just beginning its takeover. Just do what you can and, slowly but surely, you’ll get there.
Workbridge OC was able to ask Einar a couple of questions before his travels.
WB: What is your favorite thing about writing code and working as a developer?
EI: Tough one; to me its more of a lifestyle. I started writing code when I was 9 years old. But I guess the joy of just being able to create things, the creativity that goes with it and also the ability to engage with users to get things right for them; solve problems for end users.
WB: Being an international coder, do you find that coding is an international language? What are some of the pro’s of traveling as a programmer for work?
EI: It is certainly an ice breaker and makes it easier to get conversations started. To me the traveling lets me meet people, learn new things and gain perspective on how to solve code problems, a big plus. One gets to see the world, which to me is a major thing; I'm curious by nature.
WB: What advice do you have for young techies?
EI: Never forget who you're making the software for; end-users. We're seldom the users of our own software and we must never forget that. Don't sacrifice quality because someone else is trying to dictate deadlines, engage in the planning instead, try to be realistic in estimation so that you can deliver quality products rather than tons of features at the cost of poorer quality. Also; don't get caught up in the this is better than that thingy. Chances are that there is room for a variety of technologies to solve the end-users problems.
WB: You've discussed what you think will be the "next big thing" in technology - so on the flip side, what do you see fading in the near future?
EI: I think the focus that companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple wants to have end-users think about; the operating system is a fading thing. End-users don't really care that much what the name of the OS is, as long as they can get their job done. Also I think a lot of established truths in software architecture and design is about to change, mainly because some of the practices are based on the fact that they got established in the 70s and the 80s with poorer hardware, but maybe even more importantly, less users and less demand from users. Users are waking up and demanding more of the software we're making, this puts pressure on our software, which leads to new ways of thinking. Established things like SQL and classic N-tier architectures I think are prime subjects for change and from my experience, something I want to see less and less in my software.
This is going to be a great experience that's really a once-in-a-lifetime event in Orange County! Make sure you RSVP to secure your spot by clicking here.
Wednesday night at the Microsoft NERD Center, Tech in Motion:Boston hosted their monthly meet-up with a discussion on "The DevOps Movement." Thomas McGonagle, Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat and Rich Paret, Senior Engineering Manager at Twitter (previously Crashlytics) gave presentations on a few different aspects of DevOps followed by a Q&A session.
The night started off with Tom's presentation on the coding side of DevOps. Focusing on "agility, application and automation," he discussed how to implement DevOps by using measurement and incentives to change culture, unified processes, and unified tooling. His lecture also touched upon Cloud Infrastructure Automation and Configuration Management using the software tools Puppet and Chef. To view his presentation slides, click here.
Rich then dived into the logistics of building a successful DevOps team within a corporate setting. Stressing that actual tech skills can be learned and improved but someone's behavior seldom will change, we left with the feeling that behaviors, not skills, are critical. Rich pulled from his personal experience and offered great insight on how to build a strong and collaborative product team.
Overall it was a fantastic night and we want to thank everyone who came out to join us as well as Tom and Rich for their insightful presentations.
Want to hear more from Tom and Rich? Follow them on Twitter:
Tech in Motion Interview Series: We had the opportunity to ask Tom McGonagle a few questions about his engineering experience and any advice to give techies that are just starting out.
WB: Did you always want to be a Software Engineer?
TM: "No, I had a more operations/systems engineering path to becoming a software engineer. My first job was at the Volpe National Transportation Center where I worked as an operator on the FAA's Air Traffic Management Network. It was a very large distributed Linux network, and we used a proprietary (it didn't even use TCP/IP for networking) system for configuration management and command and control of the hundreds of servers. My employer paid for me to get a graduate degree in Information Technology, and it was in graduate school that I focused on mesh wireless networking. Eventually, I heard about the DevOps tool Puppet and it clicked with me, because of my distributed and mesh wireless networking experience. Puppet was basically an advanced version of the system I used at the FAA, and a tool I desperately needed for configuration management and command and control of large mesh wireless networks. This sent me down the path of specializing in Puppet for the last several years. Based on this experience I was hired to work at Red Hat as a Senior Software Engineer working on OpenShift. Red Hat's free auto-scaling Platform as a Service (PaaS) for applications. As an application platform in the cloud, OpenShift manages the stack so you can focus on your code."
WB: You have so much experience working with different platforms such as Linux, DevOps, Puppet, and OpenShift, what is your favorite to work with?
TM: "I experienced a "gestalt" the first time I heard about Linux, Puppet, and OpenShift. Each technology clicked with me, and I have recognized each to be the "the next big thing". If I were to choose a favorite, I would probably have to say Linux. I got into it when I was 19 and in college, and it has been the foundation that I have earned my living from ever since."
WB: What advice can you give people starting out as a Software Engineer?
TM: "It can be hard to do, but try to focus on an up and coming language or technology that you expect will become popular. Node.js is an example of one such language; it is being touted as the "next Ruby on Rails". Another would be R the analytics language or even Big Data (Hadoop, etc.) in general. It can be difficult to identify the up and comers, and it will be hard work developing the skills, but getting in early on a technology has its benefits. In order to figure out what the next big thing is, attend meetups, talk to lots of people, read blogs, and industry periodicals. Try to make an informed decision, try to get a sense for where things are going and then jump in with both feet. It will certainly be an adventurous and wild ride."
Tech in Motion:Boston is a monthly meetup group centered around anything and everything tech. We have a lot of exciting events in the works so stay tuned and be sure to check out our Tech Mixer on March 13th from 6:30-8:30pm at Lir on Boylston St. We hope to see you there.
In the market for a new tech job? Check our listings here.
Follow Workbridge Boston on Twitter: @WorkbridgeMA
Last week we had the opportunity to welcome Jeffrey Eliasen to speak for Tech in Motion: Los Angeles.
After he gave a great presentation on interviewing for tech jobs and keeping tech skills current, we were able to find out about more about his experience with technology.
WB: When did you first discover your love of technology?
JE: I had access to an Apple II+ in third grade and have used computers ever since. I taught myself Basic and then Assembly language, and eventually started programming solutions to math problems to see if I understood the algorithms. Ever since then, I've been fascinated with using technology as a way to gain deeper understanding into the world. And to watch cat videos.
WB: What is your favorite part of your job?
JE: As a consultant, I am often brought in to straighten out problems with existing systems. I very much enjoy analyzing existing code to figure out what it does and then refactoring or re-architecting it to do what it was meant to do while at the same time making it faster, more readable, and more elegant.
WB: How long have you been in the technology field?
JE: I've been a professional software developer for 12 years. Prior to that, I had my own company making web pages (when pages were static and HTML was crafted by hand) and fixing small-business networks. Before that, I was a sonar operator/technician on submarines in the US Navy. So I've been paid one way or another for working with tech since 1988.
WB: What was one of your favorite projects?
JE: My first project as an analyst rather than a developer required that I shift my focus from thinking about algorithms and implementation to actually assessing the needs of the client in the first place. The project mostly involved interviewing stakeholders (users, managers, the project owner, etc) and listing and prioritizing a wide variety of needs and goals, then summarizing this into a Project Strategy document that included a recommended approach to solving these needs. Thinking about the solution from the perspectives of multiple users gave me an entirely different insight into assessing the best use of my time and resources on many projects since then.
WB: What in your opinion is the next big thing in technology?
JE: I believe the next big revolution will be connecting people with each other in mutually-beneficial ways. Let's say I need a lawyer, but I don't know any. I want someone I can trust, so friend recommendations and testimonials are valuable, but even more useful is the combined influence of my extended social network (second and third generation connections). This is already starting to happen on LinkedIn and Facebook, but it will go much deeper than it currently does as these and other companies figure out ways to weight the relative connections based on features in the data that are not yet understood.
We would like to thank Jeff for speaking at Tech in Motion: Los Angeles and to The Satellite for providing event space!
Workbridge OC was lucky enough to host their networking group, Tech In Motion:OC at Amazon in Orange County last week. It was one of our biggest events yet with almost 100 members coming out to listen to Phil Schlesinger speak about what's going on at PICS Auditing.
We were lucky enough to grab Phil for a couple moments after his presentation to ask him a few questions about why he loves his job.
WB: What made you choose to make IT your profession?
PS: I've always seemed to understand computers innately. What compounded that was my horrible handwriting as a child -- so much so that at the moment I finished elementary school, my sixth grade teachers begged my parents to buy me a computer so I could type my papers when I started junior high. The rest, as they say, is history.
WB: What is your favorite part of your job?
PS: The coordination, facilitation, and coaching. The project and process management. Working with my coworkers (whom are a great bunch).
WB: What was one of your favorite projects?
PS: By far it was the DARPA Grand Challenge work back at UC Irvine.
On a shoestring budget, using whatever we could beg, borrow, or...well, borrow...we got a car robotically driving itself around a parking lot with no human interaction required, along the way avoiding unexpected obstacles put directly in its path -- all via a high-accuracy GPS, a LIDAR sensor, an in-house built AI running on a single Pentium 3 computer (that's not a typo), a scrap window motor adapted to turn the steering wheel, and an elevator door motor adapted to press and release the brake pedal. If I ever win the lottery big time, I want to get the band...ahem...the project team back together again.
WB: What in your opinion is the next big thing in technology?
PS: Wearable technology (which will comprise new mobile technology, further miniaturized electronics, improvements to power storage and usage, as well as flexible electronics). Virtual reality (a la Michael Chricton's novel 'Disclosure' -- read the book before watching the movie). Robotics (self-driving cars, prosthesis, helping the elderly, etc.).
WB:If there was one thing you could do professionally, what would it be?
PS: I'd love to work in another country for six months or a year where I'd be required to speak in a different language to get the job done -- and (oh gee, what a shame!) I might have to enjoy the food and culture while I was there
It was great to get the inside scoop on PICS at the same time seeing the 14th floor of Amazon's Orange County offices. The group learned a ton of helpful information on how to run a successful engineer team. The biggest tip we took away? Make sure to test your product!
Check out some pictures from the event below:
Thanks so much to Amazon for letting us host in their space and to Phil for putting on a great talk!
By: Stephen Vaughan, Lead Recruiter of Workbridge Boston
This is the most difficult market to hire quality technical talent since the dot com boom. And unless you have been living underneath a rock in an obscurely deep, dark cave on the South Shore or are new to the hiring scene, you are probably already aware of this.
Highly talented technical engineers are so few and far between, that holding out for that perfect person to help grow your team with is akin to a Buffalo sports fan holding their breath in hopes for a championship.
To properly introduce myself, I specialize only in Java and open source languages (PHP, Python, Ruby) specifically within the 495 loop of Boston. The location and languages I recruit for are among the most difficult positions to fill nationwide across any industry – it certainly is no walk in the park. After about a year of feeling the pressures in the front line, the Boston Globe reported on the hardships of tech hiring (and again, here).
So what do you do when you are actually introduced to somebody who does have the skills or the potential to fit the role of that perfect person? (From here on out I will be referring to this perfect person as: the "Purple Unicorn.") The knee jerk reaction is to speak with that individual on the phone and to make sure that their personality/ cultural aspects are as great as their technical skills, right?
I can’t stress how many times I consult and then witness my new clients miss out on that “Purple Unicorn” by sticking to their "typical" hiring process. The hiring market is constantly moving no matter what the demand cycle is and unfortunately, the current market is moving at a pace at which many people may deem uncomfortable.
The number one thing to do, and what we do here at Workbridge Associates, is to set up a time to meet with that “Purple Unicorn” face to face. 70% of communication is non-verbal and by taking the exact same amount of time out of your day to meet with that candidate rather than putting a phone up to your ear allows you to cover 70% more. This puts your company well ahead of the other 500 opportunities he/she is checking out.
By meeting with candidates every single day and understanding their ongoing job search activity, we make such a stronger connection meeting face to face. The proof is in the pudding. Workbridge physically meets with and sits down with any and every candidate who might be qualified for our clients. By doing this we truly understand what these Purple Unicorns are looking for in their next adventure and where the companies they have been interviewing with are falling short.
Remember that information is power and the more knowledgeable you are about those Unicorns, the higher your chances are to land one. HAPPY HUNTING! Don’t hesitate to give me a call at my office if you have any questions. The advice is free.
Want to hear more from Stephen Vaughan?
Follow him on Twitter @SteVaughan15
Connect with him on LinkedIn
Shoot him an email or give him a call at (617) 622-2600