As I mentioned last Friday, I’ve lost track of the number of folks who have shared Michael Lynch’s piece about quitting Google with me. I suppose I should expect that, since I often rail against hiring practices that people associate with Google and similar companies. This includes the titular whiteboard interviews, of course. And, for good measure, I’ve even written a book in which I suggest simply not agreeing to do this style of interview.
Interestingly enough, though, I don’t have anything in particular against Google at all. Nor do I have anything against its contemporaries, all of whom I am coming to think of as Enterprise Silicon Valley, given their legacy of innovation combined with their increasing resemblance more to the IBMs and GMs of the world than the hottest new startups. I wouldn’t agree to interview at these companies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I mean, I like Chrome and Gmail and have an Android phone — keep pluggin’ away, guys.
I’ll even go so far as to say I don’t begrudge companies using whiteboard interviews nor do I think that it’s a bad idea for them to do so, in some cases.
But I’ll come back to the nuance of that later, leaving a dangling question of my hypocrisy until I do. In the meantime, I want to share a tweet and a story of my own failure to follow up on messaging.
A Twitter Conversation about Breaking into Software
Amid my (now often overwhelming, sorry to anyone who tweets at me and I don’t see it) mentions on Twitter, I noticed this one from a few days ago:
— Melissa McEwen (@melissamcewen) March 5, 2018
That’s true. In the part of Developer Hegemony where I explain my take on the path to, well, developer hegemony, I offer that advice. Simply refuse to do whiteboard interviews. Define and manage your career in such a way that you don’t need to do them.
The book covers a lot of ground, so I don’t place a ton of detailed emphasis on that point. But I think that I should have followed up with some content that did.
Zoom out and look at the conversation.
Melissa’s tweet comes in response to someone named Daniel asking about resources for breaking into the programming world. He appears to be attempting to synthesize the advice of people in that world, concluding that, no matter what, breaking in requires knowledge of “data structures [and] algos.”
I’ll leave it as a reader exercise to consider whether entry level work banging out forms-over-data web apps requires theoretical computer science experience.