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WTF is wrong with this industry?!?

You have 4 months to train for a better job and the best advice is to spend the time studying interview techniques??

I'm not criticizing anyones post here, but the industry in general. That's where we are? Teaching to the test??

I know, I know, "interviewing is broken" and "that's the way the big companies evaluate you" and all.. but geez! Is anyone else bothered by this? Isn't it possible to get a good job at a good company based on your skills & knowledge rather than interview-ability?

I can understand an argument of "well, OP wants to get into Google, and this is the best way", but maybe that means that sights are set too high... maybe it should take longer than 4 months to get a job at Google. Am I taking crazy pills?

And here I thought your second line was going to be along the lines of "why do you think Google, Facebook, and Amazon are solving 'real' problems?"

I have encountered that point of view several times "I'm spending all my time writing this stupid app that collects purchase orders from one data base and puts them in a shippers database, I want to solve real problems like putting mustaches on the pictures of all my friends in Facebook!" That is when I have my WTF moment. Airlines desperately need to upgrade their systems, that is a real problem that affects people every day, but who is aspiring to work at the airlines in their IT department?

If airlines guaranteed a Google-like working environment/salary/tech and no Office Space-like management like I assume they have, I'd definitely be interested. I think most of us have prejudices against other industries and companies that aren't tech centric.

That said, I agree with you. Plenty of other industries that affect people's lives every day need our talent.

"Google-like working environment" You mean colleagues full of themselves, colorful furniture and lousy work/life balance? I think you are a bit prejudiced against non-software house companies. It's not that bad (according to my experience). Neither are software houses full of dream jobs (SW game industry anyone?)

"Work environment", "culture fit", etc. are usually just euphemisms for "your boss."

As in, if you're interviewing and an applicant says they left their previous position because it was a "bad work environment" or a "bad culture fit"—they're saying they had a horrible boss. And if someone says they're looking for a place with a "better work environment," what they're looking for is a place where their boss will defend them against outside interests, won't micromanage them, won't force them to waste their time on work that won't get used, etc.

I suppose that the people saying this may not even realize they mean this—most people don't put much thought into how much of the everyday experience of "work environment" is controlled by what your manager does or doesn't do for the team.

But this is why people will describe places that might seem cloying and unappealing as having a "good working environment": they mean that you're likely to work under someone that knows what they're doing.

Having worked at Google, (and numerous other places), the environment varies a great deal from team to team, but overall they treat their people extremely well.

At the other end of the spectrum, in my experience, are non-software companies (biotech, for example) who need software engineers, but think of them as "IT".

I meant high paying with good benefits and not afraid of using non-ancient tech (obviously as long as it's reliable). That's common in industries like airplanes.

Could the problem be that airlines treat their IT staff like trash? I get why people like Google. They get treated well and have good benefits. I don't see an airline treating much of their workforce as good as Google treats theirs.

You probably refer to low cost airlines. Things are much different in normal airlines I think.

I've been working w/ one of the top airline companies in the Middle East for the past year. One of these that are "luxury". I've been on-site in their HQ for 6 months and worked with their IT department.

The environment was exactly as the stereotype above. There was not even free coffee for the employees.

A great many "normal" airlines are slowly going broke, or trapped in an endless merger cycle. Not much joy there I think.

Do you have any real world data regarding working conditions in "normal" airlines?

Why would you think that?

Is it wise to aspire to work in any non-tech corp IT department? Unless, I suppose, you are willing to relocate to a low COL country and join the contracting agency your job gets outsourced to.

You read my mind. Figuring out how to put ads in front of people is the opposite of "solving real problems."

Most of the real, boring software problems needs boring software solutions that are out there but for some reason aren't being done.

More than likely, the problem with e.g. airline systems needing upgrading is political within the company - not an engineering challenge.

The interesting thing is how well accepted this is. Go on Reddit's /r/cscareerquestions (a popular forum for programming job help) and you'd get downvoted by people who prefer to have to "study" for the test.

That subreddit seems to only care about getting hired by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. It's funny because there is so much interesting work being done at smaller startups. If you are a new grad and get hired by one of the above companies, you usually aren't going to be doing the most interesting work.

Source: I work for one of those companies.

In my experience with those kinda people ("high achieving" students), they just want to work at a big, prestigious company. What they do there isn't that important to them.

While there are definitely students pursuing the prestige, I think you're painting this with too wide a brush.

The career progression for me and a lot of my friends who were high achieving students was to start out at one of those companies. A lot of us didn't have much money saved up, and didn't come from much money. After building up some money, and realizing the little surface area to work with at one of these companies, we left.

Visa issues are also a very real problem that chain a lot of good talent to these corporate juggernauts.

Fair point—it just seems that way after spending a lot of time in that sub :-)

The fact of the matter is that your average employee who lasted a year at Google is probably significantly better than their startup counterpart. Having this stamp of approval on your resume gives you a lot of bargaining power in the job search process. The churn at these companies is very high.

From the perspective of a recent (sub 5-year) grad, if I was qualified to work at one of the big, prestigious companies I would, for no other reason than the long term career doors it would open.

Isn't it perfectly rational for a new grad to want to get some prestige on his or her CV? Especially as those companies probably pay better than the alternatives.

yes! I had to unsubscribe because I got sick of being downvoted for reminding people that career goals are not always about making the most money.

In a consequentialist sense, isn't "fuck you money" the sort of singularity beyond which you can have your career any way you like? So any path to "fuck you money" should theoretically be ranked above a path that doesn't lead to "fuck you money."

It's sort of the same argument people use for justifying ranking AI X-risk as the highest concern for Effective Altruism.

I don't think any job/career/being employed (99% of the time) is a right path to "fuck you money", it's mostly entrepreneurship

> Isn't it possible to get a good job at a good company based on your skills & knowledge rather than interview-ability?

I did, at Amazon.

Could you elaborate ?

I didn't do well on a relatively simple question about finding the contiguous elements with the maximum sum in an array. My solution was correct, but not at all the simple, ideal solution. Someone asked me how I'd write/model a simple game like Space Invaders, so I showed him a couple of tiny prototypes I'd written and discussed how the code was organized.

If you think that algorithms and math are not applicable to programming at Amazon, Facebook or Google's scale, you really do not understand the work that they are doing.

Being able to remember and implement those algorithms in under 20 minutes on a white board is not applicable to programming at Amazon, Facebook or Google at scale.

If an interviewer is just testing your memory of an algorithm, it's a bad interview.

It sure is, but it still happens a lot.

"If you think that algorithms and math are not applicable to programming at Amazon..."

When did I say that??

You said that he's studying interview techniques -- he's studying math for cs, basic algorithms, and algorithmic design. He mentioned that whiteboarding has scared him, he did not say that he was studying only to get better at whiteboarding.

My issue was more with the answers given here, not the question asked. When I wrote this comment, the top comment and all of the others recommended studying interview questions, not algorithms and math FOR answering interview questions. That's what bothers me.

Gotcha -- when I looked, yours was the top comment. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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