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From "Graham Dumpleton" <grah...@dscpl.com.au>
Subject OT: Breaking into the US job market?
Date Mon, 18 Sep 2006 00:16:28 GMT
I know this email is off topic for the mod_python developers list, but I hope
you might tolerate this from me this once. I sort of thought this might be a
good place to ask as people here know me and the sort of work I can produce.
I also know that some people here have their fingers in some interesting
work with various companies. Certainly beats wading through a lot of stupid
comments if I were for example to get the question posted under "Ask
Slashdot". :-)

Some recent events have got me thinking about whether I should contemplate a
move from down under here in Australia to somewhere in the USA (sorry Jim,
Canada is probably too cold for me). The problem is how does one actually break
into the US job market when you aren't actually in the US. One has to contend
with the whole problem of needing to find a company that values you enough that
they will sponsor you for all the required work visas. Having them pay some
relocation costs would also be nice.

My experience over the years with recruiting agencies is that in general they
are pretty useless even when dealing with them locally, let alone half way
around the other side of the world. The big problem with agencies and also a
lot of companies as well, is that they attempt to screen you out by making you
go through interviews where they ask you lots of little questions about
programming languages, algorithms, data structures etc. For me, who is rapidly
on my way to being classified as an old fart, it has been many a year since I did
formal studies or had to worry about things like this. This is not to say I
can't work at the level, it is just that I encapsulated all that sort of low
level crud in libraries or frameworks long ago and thus my job these days
consists mainly of looking at the bigger picture of how to glue all these
larger components of software together and get it working.

Has anyone got any suggestions of what to do or leads I might follow? In short
I am after a job situation which is challenging and where the company isn't
going to simply pass me up because they use a screening process which is more
focused on academic abilities over experience and breadth of knowledge.

The ideal company which might give me the break I might need would be one that
actually uses participation in Open Source projects and the output generated
from that as a major input into their selection process. This is because
mod_python isn't the only Open Source project I have been involved in others over
the years as well. I even have my own which has been running since 1990 and
contains about 200000 lines of C++ code as well as Python code which provides
a wrapper around that.

Like a professional photographer, this in effect represents my portfolio of the
type of work that I am capable of producing. In all my years though, I have
never found a company who could be bothered looking at it. To me this is
bonkers really, as you wouldn't get that photographer to do your wedding
without looking at what his output is like. The company mentality as it is
applied to software developers would be akin to asking that photographer how to
develop film or how lenses work and then using that as the means to determine
if they might be good or not. In practice such questions generally have little
relevance to what is required on a day to day basis for getting one's job done
though. Sure some companies may eventually get around to looking at your actual
past work, but if you can't work the required magic tricks they expect to be
performed in the screening interviews to their level of expectation, what
chance does one really have.

Am I just getting too pessimistic in my old age? :-)

So, anyone know of any good jobs or companies to work for in the USA? It doesn't
have to be specifically related to mod_python, Apache or web development, as I
am quite open to a change and I have worked in many different areas over the
years anyway and so am quite flexible.

Finally, apologies if people see this as simply SPAM.

Graham

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