If you recall from my last blog post I finished the Coder Camps bootcamp at the end of February. Obviously I have been busy since then (or you would have heard from me before), but thought I should catch you up on what’s been happening.
The first order of business was a week off! It’s not easy slogging through up to 80 hours a week of study, coding, troubleshooting, and more studying for 12 weeks. I needed a break to just do not much of anything for a week (although I didn’t stop coding/studying altogether)! I had my first interview after a week which went very well – I think if they had not decided to pull the job altogether I might have actually got that position. Great company, great people, but it wasn’t to be.
Then I spent a couple of weeks visiting family in England – it’s rare to get the opportunity to get a whole two weeks there. While there I had another couple of interviews and got to the “testing” round for one of those. Let me just sidetrack for a moment on the subject of putting candidates through tests.
I fully understand the desire to put candidates through their paces. After all, how else do you get to determine whether they’re truly any good or not? However, I have to disagree that testing (as in online, multiple choice, broad-based tests) is necessarily the best way to go. Now, I think there is a place for some screening questions, and an online test is one way to do that, but sometimes the tests bear very little resemblance to what one would actually do as a developer. Case in point: a well known company had me participate in their online test. It took me three hours (it was timed) and covered everything from vocabulary to spatial manipulation, to questions about how much I liked to take things apart (I suppose this was testing my love of engineering?) and word algebra problems.
Now, here’s the issue I have with that kind of test. First, testing subjects that are covered in school, but not generally encountered in real life (such as algebra word problems) is going to automatically – albeit unintentionally – discriminate against those of us who have been out of school for a while. Of course, I can practice those skills, but when I have a three or four day time limit on getting the entire test done there’s a limit to just how good I can get on something I’ve not done in … well, a good number of years.
Second, the engineering questions really had little to do with development. Is a love of taking things apart really the only measure of software development aptitude? I did fiddle with things as a kid (most notably the TV) but I didn’t really have anything at home I was allowed to fiddle with (especially after fiddling with the TV!) I like solving logic and workflow problems, but there was not one question that related to those abilities. Just lots about how much I liked taking things apart and putting them back together again. I never cared for jigsaw puzzles that much either ….
But all that aside, I was surprised that most of the interviews I had were mostly not all that difficult on the technical side. Oh there were a couple of interviews where I think really they wanted someone with a couple of years under their belt, but for the true “entry level” positions I was surprised that the questions were not more difficult than they were. In fact at one interview I almost asked “is that it?” for the coding problem they gave me!
Saving the best until last: the good news is that I did get a job – and more quickly than I honestly expected, being a “non-traditional” candidate. I start on Monday with a great company, and I am truly excited! I am also nervous – after 18 years in one industry I am now starting a new career path in an industry I know almost nothing about. But if I can get through a coding bootcamp, I can surely survive my new job. It won’t be easy (is coding ever easy?) but it will be fun!