A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.
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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I have recounted my position a few times before here.
About 8 years ago I wrote some software that was actually light years ahead of the competition. Not that what I did was as cool as perhaps a 3d game engine etc. I wrote a business tool. The competition was slow and buggy in comparison to mine.
So I got lucky. An income comparable and at times much better than my previous corporate salaries rolled in.
A couple of years ago I enrolled in a part-time university course. In between assignments I managed to bash out something that would be comparable to good research from a university department. And on my own. I published the software as a free website. Actually the work was in part inspired by a university research course that went badly wrong a long time ago. Actually Microsoft has their own version of what I published. Microsoft software runs faster than mine, but my software actually works perfectly whereas Microsoft's implementation misses things. I don't wish to boast but I am giving away for free what I think is one of the few through and systematic implementations of its kind. Most people I guess might think what I have done is small and stupid.
Apart from the odd bit of depression from not working with other people, I'm getting along fine.
More and more billion dollar companies purchase site licenses for my software. The money rolls in.
Anyway last week a Facebook recruiter contacted me about applying for a job in one of their offices that is about to double in size. I hadn't contacted Facebook previously at all. I spoke to the guy on the telephone for about half an hour. He said he was impressed by my computer science background etc. He said he could pass my resume/CV to the hiring manager for the next step.
Well it seems the hiring manager isn't interested. I've been rejected for a job I didn't quite apply for!
It could be that I am in my forties now. It could be my work has moved from Unix/C/C++ to Microsoft technologies.
In the past I have worked for famous technology companies that certainly have more complex codebases than Facebook and have their fingers in more complex scenarios.
The fact I didn't get past the first hoop doesn't really matter. It obviously isn't meant to be.
I am doing fine on my own. In a way I'm glad I washed out at an early stage as I have too many ideas of my own at the moment and feel I must implement them.
But the thought did cross my mind that somehow now I am all washed up for the corporate world. Not that it really matters! All you need is your own computer and development software and you can show the world what you can do and this is the beauty of software development.
You don't need big corporations to shine.
That's a hard one.
I'm doing both - working full time in a huge IT company and running my shareware business.
I could go independent with another successful product, but I'm afraid what I'm gonna do when my products fail in the long run and corporations will no longer want to hire me.
But the idea of independence is bugging me everyday.
I totally understand the OP. My business is doing fine using an old technology (C++ on Windows), but because my libraries are so tuned to this problem domain, I can spin up solutions very quickly.
But put me back into the job pool with a different technology stack and I'm not sure I'd get a job.
So this mISV of mine MUST survive long enough for me to retire! And it's looking like it will :)
I too suspect it'd be quite hard for me to get a job in the "real world". Definitely not permanent and probably not even as a contractor.
I have decades of experience, in various industries (i-banking, insurance, military, telecoms, utilities, global retail, etc), but I've been my own boss for so long, it'd be hard for me to adapt.
Then there's the fact that I'm really only motivated by interesting challenges and easily bored by mundane tasks, which tends to incorrectly be interpreted as "not a team player".
Oh well, guess I'll keep on with the startup life. Worked out well for me so far (started my first business at nine, still going strong forty years later).
I have no doubt the OP could have adapted to any new language or technology that Facebook was using, if properly motivated. I don't think it has anything to do with not knowing the bleeding edge web app stuff.
I think the hiring manager rejected the OP because he wasn't 20 something, working 60 hours a week for an entry level salary plus free t-shirts and lunch. But you're probably wise enough to know that's not a good deal and you have a life outside of work.
Why should you care ? You didn't want to work at FB and you didn't even know anything about the position.
I think it's true for most of us that you'd have to break our legs and drag us, screaming and wiggling, through a corporate office door.
I'm truly not interested if any conventional firm would hire me or not, because I already know I'm 100% not interested in working for them.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
That's my fear of going full time with my mISV.
You never know what technology will look like in a few years and might leave my software obsolete and me without relevant experience to find a job.
Luckily, it doesn't require 40 hours a week, more like 5 or 6, so I can keep my job and still make some extra money almost passively.
There is a solution how to up to date with new technologies:
1. Make your own project bring $$$$.
2. Hire employees to do mundane tasks: new versions and bugfixing.
3. Learn new technologies yourself.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Ageism is alive and well in IT, but only when it comes to permie, career type positions. If you're contracting, nobody cares how old you are, only that you can do the job. I've worked for companies where the oldest programmers were always the contractors.
For older developers who run their own business, I'd recommend the contract life style. As well as earning more than you would in a permanent role, it has the flexibility you need to take a month or two off to build a new product yourself.
Job hopping every 6 months or year in permanent roles would raise all sorts of red flags. It's normal for contractors.
Sounds like a recruiter did a "used car sales" job on you to try and squeeze a buck out of fecebook. How surprisingly mercenary for a recruiter.
The OP wasn't rejected for any job because they didn't seek it - the recruiter was rejected for a lousy effort.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
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