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Journal SamTheButcher's Journal: Just because I have to write about it 44

So, I've been MIA for a while, most especially since last Wednesday. Because it's last Wednesday that I took action on an e-mail I got from someone at a local company wanting to bring me in for an interview. I've gotten lots of e-mails from this or that recruiting company, misspelled words, people named Kunil or Padreeta. This was from a specific company, wanting to bring me in for a web dev position, and the site is music oriented.

Needless to say I freaked out for about 5 days, because, well, duh - another "perfect job" for me.

The interview was supposed to be on Friday, but was cancelled because of the snow. So I had extra time to mull over why they wanted to bring me in. My last webdev experience was, as of February, about 5 years ago. I knew a fair amount then, but when you don't use it....

So, I sought some counsel from some people and set about preparing for the interview over the whole weekend.

I might as well not have.

Wore the suit, drove up, went in, leafed over some papers.... ...I was out of there in less than a half hour.

I have to credit the senior half of the interview team, they were very polite about the fact that I couldn't answer one of the questions I was asked.




grepping for a word recursively through a directory.


They were nice and gave me their cards. I asked if there were things I could work on. They said they'd be hiring fairly regularly for a while.

I don't recall any interview I've had going that badly. Not that it was "bad". We were all nice and cordial. I just...the word I've used is "shellshocked". Sure, I feel a little depressed, but mostly just...winded. Flustered. Awed at the work I have to do to get to where I need to be.

Disappointed that I keep arriving at this same point, where I look back and think "If I had just focused on PHP & MySQL...." Some might say that I shouldn't second guess myself, but I've known this for years. Granted, it's only now that I'm getting the solid programming base that I need, but good grief. I've known I should be doing this for, what did I say, 5 years now. So...anyone know anything about CakePHP or symfony? (Down yet another rabbit hole....)

And then there's the fun game we play after such things where we think they must be thinking: "hey, look at the old guy in the suit, he doesn't know anything". The things I conjure up are worse than the interview actually was.

That's it, mostly. I'm just sad. Wait...I know the word I'm looking for.


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Just because I have to write about it

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  • ...of boomers are eligible to retire starting in 08.

    If the planet stays intact, that might help some... although with the way pensions and social security are..I am not counting on them *not* pulling a fast one or three

    in sales, we were always taught that noes were good, because the faster you get through the noes the quicker you get to the yesses

    I think that is supposed to work for guys in bars, too...or so this they guy sez
    • in sales, we were always taught that noes were good, because the faster you get through the noes the quicker you get to the yesses

      The 1 in 10 rule: For every successful pitch, there will be 10 failed ones. When I was in sales, it was scary how true that was.

      So, Sam, another 9 or 10 interviews and you're all set!
      • by zogger ( 617870 )
        One of my sales jobs was immensely better than that ratio, selling solar stuff during the tax credits days of the 80s. Man I wish they had kept that up for a few more years. I remember my very first sale, didn't even have to do the pitch! The client was an acountant, so he knew it was free as in beer at his tax bracket, I show up, he goes "where do I sign"? I think that is the most per hour I ever made, 400 clams commission for around 5 minutes work total at his kitchen table. Now today for me to make 400 b
        • I've reverse psychology sold before. "Oh, sir, you don't want THAT phone. That's got all the bells and whistles, most of which you'll never use. And it's SO expensive, it's just too frivolous... let me show you this model." Then they think... if I have the phone even the cell guy thinks is overkill, I'll be cool!
          • by zogger ( 617870 )
            HAHAHAHAHA! That's a good one man! I guess my funniest one was selling a superbeetle with no engine! The guy didn't even look,, didn't even want to test drive it, just bought it on exterior looks! I tell the mechanics after he leaves "you guys ain't going home until you go out to the scrap pile and piece together an engine that works!" and they did, too. Dude comes in, in the morning with the loot, we do the papers, he drives off.
            • NICE! SlashChick has told me several times that I should go into sales. She's never seen me actually selling goods, but she recognized my Mad Skillz just from witnessing me interact with people in the bar. Well that when I worked for Staples selling cell phones, I sold more phones in that WEEK than the store did the entire MONTH prior. And I was part time.
              • by zogger ( 617870 )
                IF you are naturally good at it, it's a wonderful job. I was only medicore and I like outdoor work the most, so that is what I do now, but am still considering going back to it part time just to scrape together some extra loot for some bills and stuff.

                I had a boss once was just aces at sales, he did it like an instinctual poker player, just read people, adjusted conversation/body language, etc. Just smoooooth as silk. That was insurance. He was set to retire in his 40s and was gonna move to switzerland and
                • The best thing I learned from him was when to shut up. He called it "the next guy who speaks, loses" rule.
                  Brilliant. I know exactly what he's talking about. You get to the point to where you've almost convinced them and they start to get defensive. If you keep pushing they balk. If you act like you don't care whether they buy it or not, it conveys the sense that you were telling them all this to help them, not to get over longer.
      • So, Sam, another 9 or 10 interviews and you're all set!

  • i hate those interviews, where you're convinced that you're the biggest dork in the universe. it's ok, sometimes, it works out better than you thought, and you actually show that you're able to think through a situation. sometimes, you end up looking up what you don't know, and thinking 'duh', why didn't i think of that? it sucks when you think you're going into something where you can't miss, and you end up feeling like you went down in flames. it happens to most of us.

    keep going forward, though. keep lear
    • i hate those interviews, where you're convinced that you're the biggest dork in the universe.

      Yeah, that's pretty much yesterday.

      sometimes, it works out better than you thought, and you actually show that you're able to think through a situation.

      I...I don't think that happened yesterday.

      keep going forward, though. keep learning, keep putting yourself out there. keep going. it's never easy to do that, but it's what brings success.

      That's the plan, I just think the "dusting off" process might take a little long
  • you know how to make a resume. obviously you're able to figure out what it is that gets you the interview. and you know what you need to learn. so when you've learned just a little more, you'll still know how to get the interview. then you'll get the job.
    • Yeah. And though it's not much consolation now, when you get the really good job later on, you'll be thankful you didn't have to work for those clods.



    • Yeah, I suppose. Except replace "...just a little more...." with "...a lot more...."
      • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
        One thing you can be glad about: you know where you want to go, and are working on getting there. I am still stuck at the "wtf do I want to do?" phase.
        • Yeah, but I knew where I wanted to go 5 years ago. It's frustrating the lack of progress I've (not) made in the meantime. And in the meantime I've turned 36. How old are you? I certainly expected to be farther along at this point.
          • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
            Weird disjointed ranty response follows :-)

            I am 36 too. I wish I was at the point I am now (at least slightly further down the path) back when I could have taken classes more easily. But keep in mind, neither you nor I wanna be 41 and still at the point we are at now, right? I could beat myself up about the "wouldashouldcouldas" all day long (trust me, I know how easy it is). And I totally understand the frustration of, "oh man, x number more years of school are ahead of me", but if you never start, you wil

            • Thanks for the perspective. It helps.

              And taking that damn "one class a semester" is progress.

              The ironic thing is, if they hired me at, say, ~50k, I could quit my second job and take at least one other class per semester.

              But they need someone who can roll the answers right off the top of their head. They need someone "who can hit the ground running".

              And that's not me. Not right now, and not likely soon.

              But thanks for writing.

              I don't doubt I'll get there. I just wonder if I'll stay sane long enough to enjoy i
              • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
                No; just go insane now and save time :-)

                Keep in mind that the journey is the thing, and you really have no idea where things will go or how long it will take. Plus keep in mind that most people are pretty much unhappy no matter what they have, so congrats you can be unhappy right now :-D Ok I want to write more, but I think I will just try to write a relevent long overdue journal instead. And if I can finish the damn thing (maybe tonight) you really should look at the next peice of artwork I am working on.

                • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
                  Finally finished it []. We really do tend to be our own worst enemy......
                • Keep in mind that the journey is the thing, and you really have no idea where things will go or how long it will take.

                  Yeah...I guess I just needed a good depression soak after all the tweaky jitteryness I had. The only thing that would have stopped it from happening would have been the endorphin rush of getting the job. :)

                  So...I'm going to stay in contact, I'm going to learn as much as I can in the next few weeks/months and hope that my next Java course hammers more on OOP.

                  I have not yet begun to fight! :)
    • Sorry, I also meant to thank you for your kind words and support.
      • by subgeek ( 263292 ) *
        no need to apologize, mr. thebutcher. i of all people can tell the difference between self-deprication and insults.

        what i meant by, "just a little more," was that you're farther along than you think. you haven't reached the part of the path you'd like to so it's hard for you to see how much of it you've already covered. now i'm going to try to take some of my own advice and apply that to my feelings of not getting it as well.
        • Ah, the taking of the own advice. Easy to say, but hard to do.

          It'll be interesting starting up class again.

          Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to hand in my paperwork to get reimbursed for the class I took last summer.

          The process takes that long.

  • As you continue with Java learning, you'll learn all about those anyway.

    The thing to do is to get to know the technology generally rather than "sticking with PHP and MySQL" - you're not wrong for doing something a bit broader. In the short run it'll take longer, but in the long run it'll open far more doors.

    • )As you continue with Java learning, you'll learn all about those anyway.

      Thing is, I've already learned about constructors, but I think my CS1 class was more about the principles of programming and not about explaining what these things are. Does that make sense? Teaching variables and arrays and scope and such, and not "this is specifically what a constructor does, this is what a mutator does...", although those things are easy to see in code, if someone says "what's a constructor" and you're not really so
      • i took a c class and had a greater understanding of unix. and it all clicked.

        i took a c++ class and they started in on objects and methods annd oop, and i was confused.

        i learned objective-c from a book, and somehow, all the talk of objects and methods made sense. it clicked, it was clear, and i appreciate mac os that much more.

        sometimes it's a knowledge accumulation thing, where you finally get all the pieces so it makes sense.
        sometimes it's just learning in a different way, having things explained better t
        • I've had little bits of the clicking, but I've got lots more to learn. I think concentrating on the OO side of things right now will help build a base. I'm still looking for some better explanations. :)

          Thanks for the support and encouragement. Maybe I'll look into buying a book or two. Maybe I'll look into the books I already have. :)
  • So...anyone know anything about CakePHP or symfony?

    They're so called "web frameworks", which take the basic PHP language, and add in templates, MVC, AJAX support, etc. to try and decrease development time. While such things are undoubtedly useful, I haven't personally seen any great demand for them in the job market, and I wouldn't waste time chasing them right now. If you have basic PHP knowledge, then you should be able to pick up one of the frameworks pretty quickly, and employers generally recognise t

  • There's always more interviews, plus you now are certain about at least a couple things you don't know, so go learn about those things. So the entire experience isn't completely a waste.

    Programming demands a huge amount of continuous education, and that more than anything drives people to specialization. Nobody can know all programming, or all fields, or all markets. So you do need to find something to specialize in, and then hunt jobs in your specialization. The task of keeping up with your specialization
    • by dthable ( 163749 )
      I agree that you need to figure out what you want to specialize in. That's been my problem to date.

      When I did my Microsoft interview, they wanted to know what area I was interested in. I told them I would do any job they wanted to throw at me. Turned out to be the wrong answer since they wanted people with a passion for things. Saying you'll do anything doesn't really show them you have a passion or are willing to stay in that job for the long haul.

      My problem is I've been a web developer in Java and LAMP fo
      • When I did my Microsoft interview, they wanted to know what area I was interested in. I told them I would do any job they wanted to throw at me.

        I didn't really even get to tell them the passion part. I did a bit, even said I'd switch from CS2 class this semester to database if it would help. It didn't.

        It's *so* what I want to be doing. I just don't know enough. (Here is where I'd put "yet", but I'm not even feeling that optimistic today.)
    • No, the experience wasn't a waste, but ... "deflated" says it best. It's just the post-freakout-way-cool-company-I-want-this-job-oh- my-god-I-have-no-business-interviewing-for-this letdown. In a nutshell. :)

      Thanks for the advice and counsel.
  • Fresh out of school, the career center pointed me at a job with an old computer manufacturer. They liked my resume. Somehow I didn't actually READ the job description.

    I had my EE, I was interviewing for a computer manufacturer, so of course I went on about how I wanted to design and build computers. A little ways into this, the guy looks at me and says "you know we were looking for a systems programmer, right?"

    Uh. Oh. Yeah. I can do that too. I'd been doing exactly that for about 6 months for the uni

    • My wife mentioned that they were just as at fault as I was, because they could've eliminated me in a 5-minute phone screen, but I don't want to blame them. I've been wanting to do the PHP/MySQL thing for years now, and have just never gotten started. Granted, the courses I'm taking now are teaching me the principles of programming, but, had I stuck with this path, I'd know plenty by now.

      It's just...I dunno...seeing paths not taken...where have my decisions gotten me, or not gotten me...that sort of thing.

  • The worst interview I had was at a friends company. I thought it went great and was super excited about it: only to find out that they thought I had bombed it and decided not to hire me solely because of how poor I had interviewed. In the long run though I am glad they didn't hire me, as the company has gone through much agony, stress, and variated management.

    So while you're not quite ready, yet, you will be. And when you are it will be a perfect fit for you. Good luck with the snow and such, too.

    • This one's only bad in my eyes because I couldn't answer any of their questions. It wasn't really "bad" bad...well...I guess it might have been, based on your story. :)

      Thanks for the encouragement and support. I hope it works out like that.
      • yeah, but we have this idiot at work who obviously interviews well, and has a resume made of gold, as he was hired for a supervisory position, but he can't supervise his way out of a wet paper bag with a hole already in it. he was taken off of one shift because he couldn't do the work, and put onto days, and one of the guys he supervises is coming to swings to get away from him.

        interviewing is a skill, but it's not always a skill that shows what a person can actually do in the position.
        • I think I interview well, but typically only when I know what the hell I'm talking about. :)

          I think I could do well there, but I would have to go through some intensive training, which they didn't seem to want to do, and I can't say that I blame them. I hope I can catch the next wave. Unless they move their offices farther north, in which case, it would make the commute difficult (and I realise I'm talking to someone who crosses Monument on her hour-give-or-take-each-way commute ;).

          Ah, well. I think it's th
        • but we have this idiot at work who obviously interviews well, and has a resume made of gold

          For the record, I do not work at KshGoddess' place of employment.
          That is all.
          • :D

            we found out that the idiot also has gold-plated referrals, glowing reviews from "previous employers", etc.

            for the record, the idiot's still on days, he's still not learned half a percentage point of what he needs to know. People have left that shift to get away from him.
  • And it certainly SHOULD be a language you have under your belt by the end of your schooling, if only because procedural set theory is so different than any other programming method I know of. But I disagree that you should concentrate on MySQL; instead I think you should start with Ansi SQL-89 or 92, those two flavors will give you a head start REGARDLESS of which back end you're programming against. From there, MySQL, Access, T-SQL (Sybase SQL Anywhere and Microsoft SQL Sever use T-SQL), Oracle, and Post

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