- January 5th, 2008
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Well, it’s that time of year. No, not that time of year when people screw you over; it seems to be a departure from previous years. I mean that it’s winter break approaching the final spring semester before I graduate college. And that means it’s time to begin looking for a job.
I’ve been writing my resume this past winter break, as well as thinking and planning out my course of action as far as applying.
The resume writing took a while because I’ve never officially written one before. I’ve informally written out resume-like things, but I’ve never taken the time to write a proper one out and get everything right – the formatting, the wording, the length, etc. After a lot of research on various websites to learn about the format of a resume and things to do and not do on it, and even more research about what computer programmer resumes should and shouldn’t have, I think I’ve gotten something that I would at least be willing to send out. It still requires minor tweaking, which is something I’ve been doing as I go along.
One person whom I’m very grateful to have the support of is Mike Pinkerton – you may know him as the project lead for Mozilla‘s Camino project. I had him as a professor for GWU’s CS193, Development of Open Source Software, a year ago. It was a really great class because we got to learn all about open source software, which I like a lot (although, admittedly, I knew most of it already – I got over 100% in that class). In addition, he taught about many of the software design patterns (factories, singletons, decorators, etc) which I believe to be critical concepts of software design, but for some reason, are not required in GWU’s lackluster CS curriculum.
I think my skills and knowledge showed in that class, and when there was an assignment to present on an open source project, I of course chose the one I’ve worked on the most – Spring. I got to really shine by going into depth about the workings of the project and what kinds of obstacles I had to overcome when going cross platform, and I think it left a good impression.
Professor Pinkerton (he’s not my professor anymore, but I’m still in the habit of calling him that) has been gracious enough to be a reference on my resume, as well as write a letter of recommendation for me. Many thanks.
I think that will help me a great deal; a reference that works in the real world (especially a lead of a fairly high-profile Mozilla project) will have more recognition than a lot of the professors that suffer from academic inbreeding and haven’t had any real-world experience for decades, and are teaching ancient concepts and procedures that have long been surpassed and abandoned.
Can you tell I hate GW’s CS department yet? The senior design class is teaching archaic methods and programs that are very rarely used, and I’ve had long discussions with the professor and made clear my opinions, and I think he was at least partially receptive to some of the points I brought up – The Pilot System, the fact that the waterfall model is very uncommon these days in comparison to iterative development, etc.
I am going to post my resume on the site in case anyone (potential employers, anyone? anyone? Bueller?) is interested. Please note that it could be updated at any time and that contact information other than email is omitted from the web version due to privacy concerns. Also, due to the nature of HTML and WordPress, a certain degree of formatting will be lost (and actually, due to the theme’s CSS, a certain degree of formatting is added. The real version doesn’t have colored headings). This finally gives me something to put on the “About” page, so that will come back. Heck, maybe I’ll actually write something about myself to add there, too.
As far as the actual application process goes – right now, I’m forming a list of companies to apply to. I’m probably going to split my applications into two tiers. My first choice of companies are video game studios. I am going to try to apply to a number of them, and hopefully they will see my past experience with Spring and take it positively. Unfortunately, the game development industry is very much a closed circle – they often require a certain number of years working in the industry already, and a certain number of published games. Now the problem is, if all the video game industries require industry experience, then how exactly does one enter the industry? What am I supposed to do, self-publish a game?
Fortunately, it seems that a small portion of the studios are a little lax with that requirement. For example, both Epic and Bungie, while still offering preference to it, don’t have a minimum requirement of experience or published games, unlike a lot of other companies (I’m looking at you, Valve and Harmonix). I am making a list of video game companies, and then trying to narrow it down by looking at the requirements.
As I have mentioned before, although video game studios are my first choice, they are also very hard to get into. So I am probably going to try to apply to these studios in February, as early as possible, to try and beat the college rush. That gives them about a month or two to reply, which is fine. By the time April rolls around, I will probably have heard from all of them, and will know the outlook and be able to decide whether I should start my second round in April of all the other companies that aren’t video-game related and therefore aren’t my first choice – Google, Mozilla, etc.
I am very nervous about these next few months of my job hunt. I’m going to have to do phone and on-site interviews, which I’ve never really done before. Plus, being on the spot and having to talk has never been my strong suit; I’ve always been a little awkward doing presentations and public speaking, or having discussions. I’m just not a talkative person. Plus, I’m probably going to get quizzed on programming issues – not usually a problem for me, but it still means I need to brush up. And inevitably, you get asked that one programming question that you’ve forgotten and don’t know off of the top of your head, but could easy look up with a quick web search.
But, well, I guess being nervous is normal.
Since a job is such a large turning point in my life, I’ll probably update if anything significant changes.
Wish me luck.