|Date:||August 9, 2006|
Industries is a squat building in an industrial area outside of [Town]
PA. The building's entrance leads to a small waiting area containing four plush chairs, a plant, a receptionist behind a glass window, a stairway leading up, and a door with a digital combination lock. On the walls are framed pictures of the company's products. In the plant pot there is a diagram showing the layout of the building from the alarm system's point of view. There is no other reading material.
While I am waiting, a young woman in jeans exits from the locked door and greets the receptionist on her way out of the building Along with another fellow-employee greeting later, it is the only idle conversation overheard during my two hours at the company. Either everyone at [Name]
uses email for *everything*, or this is a company of taciturn people.[VP-HR]
lets me in through the locked door. The contrast is extreme: the inside hallways have not been refurbished in quite some time. I pass by some cubicles, including one that appears to be the official shingle for a one-desk company residing within [Name]
's offices. The cafeteria has some of [Name]
's machines in it and employees are playing with their own products.[VP-HR]
takes me to [VP-Software]
, then returns to his own office. [VP-Software]
gives me the "five cent tour". The QA department seems reasonable enough. The software development area is extremely dark, with table lamps on some desks; something about the mood in that area brings a smile to my face. There is no talking. The production area is not air-conditioned. There is little or no talking. There is a ramp leading up to the second floor, but I am told it is "just for storage" and the tour does not include any of the various stairways to the upper floor.[VP-Software]
and we find a conference room. [VP-Software]
is quite talkative, while [Director-Software]
says almost nothing. [VP-Software]
repeats some questions from the phone interview. It seems the job basically involves refactoring some software that has been patched to death over the last five years. [Director-Software]
asks about my first refactoring job back in 1983, and about [a Company ℱ product]
(which unfortunately is an engine to help people take tests, not a method of automated QA that he was looking for).
For the "whiteboard" part of the interview, I was supposed to talk about software encapsulation. I chose [another Company ℱ product]
, which I haven't worked on for six years. And it was written in C and [VP-Software]
believes C is obsolete and everyone should use C++. So I'm not sure how well this part went.[VP-Software]
has strongly-held beliefs about software methodology which are more aligned with academic thought than with what the world's leading sofrware engineers actually do. It is not clear how much a VP's opinion on such things really matters, but [Director-Software]
neither supports nor opposes what [VP-Software]
says. After the interview, [Director-Software]
can't wait to take his leave and run back to his desk. It seems he has real work to do.[VP-Software]
brings me back to [VP-HR]
, who asks typical HR questions ("What do you like in a manager? What do you dislike in a fellow employee?") [VP-HR]
is proud that people who leave [Name]
often come back to their jobs, but the same thing used to happen at [Company ℱ]
— I think it indicates a workplace with many minor irritations that are never resolved. The company's core hours are 10-4, but [VP-HR]
disagrees with his own company's policies and believes there is no reason why every employee can't get to work at 9 AM. (In college I got poor grades in every class that met before 10.) He also contradicts what [VP-Software]
said in the phone interview about [Name's owner]
being a conglomerate of troubled companies. No no, [Name]
isn't troubled! [Conglomerate]
as a cash cow! He downplays the declining-industry aspect of tavern gaming by eliding the differences between [Name]
and its sister company [Other name]
. I would not want to take this job if it involved frequent contact with [VP-HR]
, but it probably doesn't.
Useful nugget from [VP-HR]
: the refactoring project is [VP-Software]'
s baby; he went to [Conglomerate]
and got them to authorize it. Since [VP-Software]
is so new, I suspect that [Conglomerate]
brought him in as a turnaround specialist.
Overall, the two main demerits I see are the lighting in the software development area (which strongly suggests that no one ever sits back to read a printout) and the VP-HR's attitude towards work hours. Neither seems a strong enough reason to reject a job offer. I think the main demerit that I presented to the company is that I am not the strong advocate of C++ design patterns that [VP-Software]
seems to be looking for. I prefer to do what works, what can be maintained, what scales well to large projects. I expect that I would work well with [Director-Software]
, if that is what the day-to-day job actually entails.
In my previous email to [Recruiter]
, I forgot to give as a reference my current employer, [Company 𝔾]
California [Telephone number]
. He recently wrote: "I am really enjoying the rapid pace of progress working with you".