lördag, januari 27, 2007


I usually don't like to use this blog for strictly personal reasons, but I will do an exception for once, to get advice from y'all.

Hypothetically, I would like to know what kind of work opportunities I should look for, if I was in a situation where my current work situation was alright, but not satisfactory (since I've been at the same place for 6 years.) Further, I'm interested in getting away from Sweden. The places I would most likely want to be situated in would be SF or London.

The picture is complicated by my lack of academic degrees. The kind of experience I have is strictly professional and recreational. (In which category should I put my work on JRuby?). Apart from that, my interests are in the region of work where I can use different languages, and will not be constrained by Java. I haven't done consulting, and maybe I should do that. On the other hand, I'm not sure that is the right thing for me either.

So, please. I need advice. What should I do with my professional life at this moment?

8 kommentarer:

Per sa...

It's of course hard to give advice to a person I don't know too well. If you don't have an academic degree, you will need to seek out places that don't strictly require that. Some places do, some places don't. Then you need to focus on your personal strengths and achievements. One achievement is this blog. Another is the work you have done in the open source community. And last but not least what you have done in your current job. If possible, try to get a recommendation. For many employers that might be just as good - if not better - than an academic degree.

Employers want to hire intelligent and active people. But they don't want to hire a "blank sheet". So prove to them that you are not a blank sheet - it seems to me that should not be hard for you.

Pretty general advice overall, I guess. Hope you can use some of it anyway. Good luck - and keep blogging about interesting subjects. :)

Anonym sa...

i try to follow the jruby mailing list and consequently your blog. i expect that most people that follow the project would agree that you have talent and hustle. i think by raising your hand and letting the world know that you are available, as you have done with this blog post, that you will get get some inquiries or leads.

Mariano sa...

Hey Ola,

not to sure about consulting. The places where you can earn good money are all about the customer problems and rarely about solving technical problems on this deep level you are.

It is a good thing to have a good understanding of technology and relevant skills, but the job is so much more about understanding the client's industry and what drives it.

It is also about people skills and about politics.

At least in the better(?) positions the scope goes way beyond hard- and software. So you can hack a greater universe of things, but most of them are pretty soft.

From my point of view these kind of issues are as challenging as technology issues, but only if you really care for them. It is kind of hacking the real world.

If you don't care for the "business benefits" you try to achieve and are not that much interested in for example the workflow of the call center agents you build the application for, it is probably frustrating. If that sounds boring to you it probably will be.

You will need to have a good standing with the business people. If they trust you, you can make the technology decision pretty independent of them. Otherwise you probably will be annoyed real soon.

Having said all that. There are also niches for really good people to do technology work on a deep level. But there are niches.

Anonym sa...

If you are considering London or San Francisco, consider New York. There is a real demand here for capable developers and it is a more robust economy than the Bay Area.

You won't have as big of a 'tech' community here, but you will have a larger cultural community.

A good number of companies in the US hire based upon experience, reputation and ability, not education. Even when they say you must have a degree, they may hire you without one. (I have no college education, and it has never been a problem)

Mention your blog in your CV. It and the comments are evidence of your ability.

You will probably need a company to sponsor your visa in the the US, but there is a shortage of tech workers here, so it might not be too bad. I know plenty of Swedes working over here.

Erik van Oosten sa...

After I came from university I always sought out companies where I could work on the same product(s) for a longer time. The idea was that you could get a binding with the product and its users. About 4 years ago I needed a job fast. I ended up in my current company that does 50% projects in house and 50% consulting, no product developement. The main attraction was that the company uses a lot of open source. It turned out I did not make a mistake. Instead of binding with the product I now have binding with my colleagues and the company. In addition: because of the variety I have learned a huge amount of interesting techniques.

Now to the point: consulting may not sound interesting at first, but it can be a lot of fun as well.

I wish you good luck with finding your way.

Christopher sa...

I'd strongly reccomend highlighting your "recreational" work - mention the blog, the JRuby work, the interaction with the open source communities. That goes a very long way with some companies and some people (especially others who are active).

Has Sun shown any interest in picking you up to help with the JRuby work (and their Netbeans IDE)? It'd certainly be a good company to continue tackling harder technical problems for pay (and they do research on other languages like Self and Fortress...).

rberger sa...

Don't even think about, mention or otherwise dwell on the fact that you don't have "schooling".

You have so much more than 99% of the folks in the computing world. The work you have been doing with Ruby/Java and the writing you do on your blog show that you are in the top 1 percentile of software developers in terms of design, implementation and communications skills.

Any smart hiring manager is going to want to grab you for what you have done, not what you haven't studied.

I would be surprised if you don't get several job interview offers just from your posting!

In any case, you should identify the companies that you are doing things you want to do and then find people you know thru one or three degrees of separation that work there and get them to make the introductions.

You will have no problems. And any place that doesn't appreciate what you have done and worry about degrees is a place you don't want to work at.


Peter Bell sa...

Sorry that I'm coming to this late . . .

As a business owner, I know any smart technical manager would love to hire you. A degree isn't nearly as important as proven skills and experience, and you have plenty of that.

You *could* consult doing deep tech for other consulting firms, but it is a pain to build up the business so if you don't love running a business or aren't comfortable selling yourself to make rent every month, you may not want to go into that (if it intrigues you, try part time consulting and projects and then take it from there).

Biggest issue with a lack of a degree in the US will be getting a visa. If a companyw ants you they will sponsor you typically for an h1-b, but the cap has been reached for this year and it is either impossible or difficult (can't remember which) to get a H1 without a degree (that's the government being picky - not the companies).

Very best of luck with the search!