My experience is that companies are "desperate" in the sense that they're willing to invite you to lavish parties and fill you with free alcohol to get you to work there. But as soon as you start talking contracting, telecommute, or anything other than "sit at this desk for 60-hour weeks trying to get permission to fix an awful codebase with terrible equipment," suddenly they're not interested.
Story time: one of the best, most experienced local developers I know interviewed at a name-brand tech firm who is covered once a week on HN. Twelve separate times, they told him "We'll let you know today" as to whether or not he was hired. Several weeks later he found out third-hand he was the fall-back guy for some other non-qualified person they ended up hiring instead. He's told me horror stories about their code base that would make your hair stand up. This company keeps inviting me to parties about once a month.
There is a developer shortage in Austin, but the article blows it out of proportion. In reality the reason these few companies are "desperate" has to do with developers who want respect as human beings, autonomy to get things done, reasonable hours, a company that understands the need for technical excellence and not "put out fires" mentality, etc. If you do those things it's not that difficult to hire...
If you want amazing people, just spending more money on salaries isn't going to do it. I too have turned down very high-paying offers because they came with the baggage of a company that considered Dilbert strips inspirational rather than satirical.
This is an area where small start-ups can really win big, by offering what bigger and better-funded players don't:
1. Sensible hours. Sure, crunch times happen, but being in crunch mode all of the time is a sign of management failure.
2. Accountability defines authority. There's nothing worse than a company where you're responsible for keeping other peoples' (often impossible) promises.
3. Big equity with profit-sharing. This really keeps everybody's goals aligned: the employees win if the company either gets a big exit or becomes a profit-making machine.
The three of these together are easily worth more than $30k in competitive salary.
Every programmer recognises there might be times when something has gone horribly wrong, or there's an immovable deadline that has to be met. Actually planning to put your team through that amount of stress on a regular basis for no particular reason other than some arbitrary "deadline"? Well, some people were obviously happy to sign up to wear a "kick me" sign on their backs, but it wasn't going to be me.
(Yeah, I know all the arguments about startups / success / equity / return on time invested etc etc. Lets just say that they didn't apply in this case.)
That's spot on for all my startups interviews in sf.
What do you and anyone else in the thread consider "big equity"? Please give specific examples.
I'm going to assume we're talking about employee equity, and not founder equity. If you signed on at a reasonable salary, then you're an employee. If, on the other hand, you worked without pay until the company got to the point where a salary was possible, then you're a co-founder.
For a first employee, somewhere between one and five percent makes sense to me. Exactly where the number falls depends on their role, as well as small details like company funding structure, cashflow at time-of-hire, etc.
The next two to five or so employees would be somewhere around one percent.
After that, the number starts diving rapidly, with a total employee ownership converging to a number near ten percent or so.
In my experience, this is more than a lot of startups offer, and feels fair in terms of risk.
On top of the equity, though, I think that profit-sharing is also important. Not as a mechanism for motivation, but as a means of retaining talent. Exits are few and far between, and it's quite easy to screw over minor shareholders. An annual bonus check based on company performance goes a long way towards showing personnel that you're serious about the idea of "if the company succeeds, you succeed".
Too many companies attach conditions to their equity and too many acquiring investors and big companies will readily dilute employee shares to sweeten the equity deals for founders and early investors.
Thats why sweating hard times out for equity is a hard sell to engineers these days. There's too many ways for equity to be worthless paper later on and there's countless examples of it happening recently (e.g. Skype, Zynga, etc).
I agree that this article blows the issue out of proportion, but then again, any intelligent internet company realizes that its future success and future value is determined, more than anything else, by the quality of its software people. That being the case, any company where the higher-ups don't think finding the best software folks is the #1 problem (or at least one of the critical issues) at the moment is probably not a company you'd want to work for anyway. I think this is the #1 problem we face as a company, and yet I agree this article blows the "problem" out of proportion in the way the article presents the issue.
It's very very tough to find the "best software folks" and hope this cog (yes, sorry bro) can join your company and fit the culture.
I joined a company with decent software developers (that are willing to listen, learn, and also live life like a normal regular human being) and I couldn't be more happier.
During my interview, the manager, the senior people, and the owner keeps stressing 2 things: we hire people that fit our culture and we don't hire stupid people (not the smartest). I asked everybody who interviewed me of how long they have been here and the minimum question was 3 years (the person is one of the Directors). The rest have been there for 6 years, 8 years, etc.
We struggled together. We went through hard times together. At the end of the day, these people go home everyday to their family and go back to work tomorrow without extra baggages.
The best software folks tend to have their own dogmatic approaches that may clash with everybody else that he thinks less superior (U KNO NO EMACS? Ur LVL just went down a few notch and U SHALL BOW TO ME!).
I mean... c'mon, let's get real here and clear those pixie dusts. If the smartest people don't have that kind of ego, they ain't smart to begin with.
It allows assholes to continue to pose as 'smart people' because they simply bully their peers, and their superiors will assume they must be smart because their peers defer to them.
There is absolutely no reason why truly smart people would be assholes.
Assholes will be assholes regardless whether they're smart or not. If their superiors like assholes, then that's the culture in there. It's up to you whether you want to work there or not.
Smart people that aren't assholes are hard to find. Linus Torvalds, Theo de Raadt, Zed Shaw, DHH, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, should I go on with the list?
I'm not suggesting that smart people should be asshole. Or people should pretend to be asshole. But based on my tiny speck of observation, experienced, interviews, reading the tone of blog posts, smart people tend to be assholes.
If you have specific ideas, I'd love to hear them, and would gladly buy you lunch. Shoot me an email.
There's been a discussion lately about the city of Austin being unable to retain engineering graduates, most of whom leave the city unable to find entry level work here (refer to http://blog.infochimps.com/2011/11/30/keeping-tech-talent-in... to get what I'm talking about). Many of my college friends want to stay in the city that they've grown to love, but many don't and end up moving back home to find work. The growing exodus has become a problem over time, but prospects seem to be on the rise again with initiatives by the City of Austin and other organizations (campus2careers is a great one) to keep graduates in the area. HireStarter, the recruiting agency that was mentioned in the article, was excellent in placing me at my current startup even though I had little experience. There's hope out there for junior guys, but it's still going to be tough.
I don't expect things to get better tomorrow as this movement is still early stage, but if this momentum keeps up, suddenly Austin will have a new supply of junior and (formerly junior) senior devs.
Again, I still consider myself very fresh to the local industry so my observations may be a bit myopic :).
Big companies with no technical culture are not generally fun places for engineers. Experienced engineers can probably sniff out the really bad ones from a mile away. If they don't take new grads then essentially they're staffing up with the desperate and the downtrodden.
Telling the HR guys to hire new grads would, just by youthful ignorance and the law of averages yield a much better team over time. Granted retention would be the next problem, but at least they'd be somewhere.
Our own company isn't large, but we're rather traditional. We're not hackers, we believe in technical correctness, test-driven development and choosing the best tool for the problem at hand. This means that we generally write mobile software in the target platform language, server software in JVM languages, and on the occasions where we get to work on hardware and OS development, C and assembly.
The work approach is not laden with technical culture and "fun", unless you find solid engineering to be fun (personally, I do).
However, we've had great success in hiring genuinely senior engineers with at least a decade of experience each. We experimented early on with hiring junior engineers, but found that the overhead of dealing with untrained engineers was exceptionally high -- something that models my experience elsewhere, at larger companies.
With the caveat that these are generalizations, I've found that the cost to hiring junior engineers is expressed in obvious and (perhaps) non-obvious ways. There are the obvious costs of the training and mentoring required, along-side lower productivity, and a lesser ability to estimate complexity and time to completion. There are also more abstract costs, such as technical and design debt that junior engineers are much more likely to incur simply due to a lack of experience. There are also cultural costs -- if you hire too many junior engineers, you'll create a technical culture and working experience that drives senior candidates away, amplifying the costs I've listed above.
Of course, I readily admit that someone must hire untrained junior engineers, and I realize the implicit unfairness of hiring standards that would exclude myself were it 15 years ago. However, there are companies other than our own that are willing to bear these costs in exchange for being able to recruit at the scale they require -- we're just not one of them, and I think our reasoning is sound.
That said, there are some things a junior engineer can do to make themselves less junior, (possibly before even entering the labor market):
- Get experience (class projects don't count). A great way to do this is by contributing to OSS, especially projects that demand high-technical competence (eg, contribute to the ruby interpreter or MacRuby, not just high-level Ruby on Rails). Senior engineers have past experience to draw on when implementing software projects; this allows them to design not just for the immediate requirements, but with an understanding of how the requirements, maintenance costs, and performance will evolve over time.
- Study practical implementation topics (... and then get experience implementing them). A lot of the value of a senior engineer is in their broad understanding of the practical topics of the field. Coming out of a CS program, you should hopefully have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of CS, but what many candidates are missing is a firm understanding of applied programming. Some off the cuff general book suggestions: UNIX Network Programming, Application Programming in a UNIX Environment, Mac OS X Internals, Applied Cryptography, The Design and Implementation of The FreeBSD Operating System, Database in Depth. This list is probably incomplete :)
- Don't settle for just an internship. Internships at big companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft) serve as a relatively cheap first-pass filter on college candidates for hiring. Of a given pool of software interns at a company like Apple, it's unlikely that more than a 10% of them will be hirable material, and of those 10, maybe 2-3 will actually get jobs. Other companies may hire a larger percentage (I don't have any experience there). If you want to work for Apple, Microsoft, or Google (or think you might), then don't sit on your laurels if you get an internship there. Pick a real, practical problem that, and work on it, hard, leveraging your access to senior engineers for advice and guidance as much as possible. If you just coast through the internship, you probably won't receive an offer. I think some students look at internships at the big companies as prestigious. However, they may be viewed as the opposite -- an internship at one (or more) of those companies without being hired is a red flag for me, since I'm wondering why you didn't get an offer.
In short, the company you describe does have technical culture.
I wouldn't read my response as a line-by-line rebuttal of your post. It wasn't.
> In short, the company you describe does have technical culture.
By that measure, all companies have a technical culture.
However, big company culture (outside of Google and Apple) is usually not appealing to junior engineers, but is to senior engineers -- which is the opposite of your original point, and what I intended to address.
The other vibe that I get is that culturally most of the older companies are from a different era which kind of doesn't make them too attractive a destination for a new graduate. Surprisingly enough the situation for EE grads is much more rosier: Anecdotal evidence over the past three years suggests that most of them get hired and stay in Austin.
Awesome idea - cause there's certainly not a dev shortage in California, is there?
They'd probably have more luck doing a whistlestop tour of the midwest and north atlantic states, hitting up the more rural areas. Many techies in those areas have few options, or may be stuck with remote-only options, and may not enjoy the weather as much. The Austin companies have an automatic 'better lifestyle' story against more of those areas (weather alone) rather than trying to compete with California (where most of the devs are there probably because of the Valley and the software dev culture already).
In short, I'd guess it's an uphill battle to get people to move from SF to Austin, probably much harder than getting people from, say, St Joseph, Michigan to uproot for Austin.
"After resumes were shared, business cards exchanged and several follow-up phone interviews completed, not a single one of those California candidates has made the move to Texas, according to the Austin Technology Council, which organized the trip."
Oh wow, and look at that, it didn't work. Wh not?
"It's even tighter there than it is here," said participant Rod Favaron , CEO of Austin startup Spredfast . "The challenge is there just aren't enough good software developers to go around."
They didn't think of that before? Or just can't think outside the bubble?
However, as a developer in the mid-Atlantic, I think the lifestyle here is just as good :)
I'd love to find a remote opportunity with any of those firms, but it seems that is difficult to find these days.
Perhaps hire one senior level and a two or three junior level developers to work closely together, and try and raise the productivity of the new devs.
If there are NO senior level programmers available, maybe they should get creative.
Companies have been hiring tons of inexperienced devs throughout the late '90s and early '00s, and they have been hurt badly by it. Incoherent teams full of junior devs that lacked practical skills and didn't know how to work in a team nearly killed many software based companies.
A CS degree teaches barely any professional skills, it's all on the job training, so training a junior is extremely costly.
So nowadays, smart companies build their team around seniors, and only then start hiring juniors one at a time. Which means 3 to 4 seniors for every junior dev.
It's not about "plugging the hole", it's about making sure the ship doesn't start leaking so badly it sinks.
Hiring "junior devs" and "hiring inexperienced devs" can be a world apart.
Hiring someone for position X who turns out to be inexperienced is not the same as explicitly hiring a junior developer with the intent of training them up.
I've seen a lot of the former, but not much of the latter. The two ideas get conflated quite often, but in reality are different and the latter takes a bigger commitment of resources.
"So nowadays, smart companies build their team around seniors, and only then start hiring juniors one at a time."
5-10 years from now, the conventional wisdom will probably be different. Sr devs might be more willing to leave, and if there are fewer of them, a larger percentage of your company knowledge, culture and IP resources go with them.
The following team is vary senior heavy and would avoid the junior dev team syndrome without costing an arm an arm and a leg and is still reasonably stable over the long term as long as turnover is low.
1 person with 0-2 years exp, 1 person with 2-5, 1 with 5-7, 3 with 7+ and 1 with 15+.
To, keep priming the pump just look for one new grad every 2 years and keep a lookout for the occasional great senior dev out there to cover for attrition.
Where are the companies hiring warlocks in training, people willing to learn but needing the chance to grow and be challenged.
I guess I wonder why, if I was indeed a sr level engineer, why I would work for anyone at all when I could command high rates as a freelancer, or build my own products.
On the other hand for people with 5+ years of experience there seems to be tons of high paying jobs.
Five years ago you could get a job around here as a security guard making 80k if you had a TS clearance.
well and after all that investment the person leaves for better salary/etc... to somebody who is looking to hire senior people and not "willing to hire a junior dev or admin and contribute anything at all to his/her personal development, skill accumulation, and experience" There is a reason for the things even if we don't like the reason.
And again, the "hot" skills (any NoSQL/Hadoop) can be picked in a week and even junior with such skills would easy find a place. There is just no excuse for somebody unsuccessfully looking for work in this market to not sit down and master some of such skills.
They could offer them a raise based on their new value? If this company can't pay people well or offer a good work environment, how are they going to get senior developers?
> (any NoSQL/Hadoop) can be picked in a week
I can't believe there are companies looking for people with a "week" of experience in NoSQL who aren't mid-level developers already.
For startups, it makes sense to desire a senior level developer. Midsize and large companies really should explore internal training programs. Everyone a generation older than me talk about a world where the "entered through the mail room" and worked their way up. Does this world even exist today? From my point of view, it seems like we only expect top talent everywhere.
Seriously, few things can sink the ship faster than taking on inexperienced people and hoping they'll learn. From that point of view, I can see why many startups, particularly those whose CTO/VP-E doesn't have management depth in addition to their technical depth.
I've been doing it for about 5 years now, almost exclusively remote - it's not difficult, it just requires that everyone communicate well, or be willing to learn, if they don't already.
Part of the problem I've encountered are founder/senior managment who are willing to learn these management skills themselves - they are conditioned that everything is on them, so that can be tough.
At this point, I'm of the opinion that in most cases, especially with startups, remote is far more humane than in the office. It's also far more cost effective.
Other coworkers of mine at MyEdu had similar experiences with paths like manual data entry -> QA -> web developer / DBA (as junior roles), or automated data collection -> sysop + backend developer (junior role). I don't work there now, but I think it would still be fair to characterize the company as one willing to take a chance on someone who shows a burgeoning aptitude. [And there are direct hires into junior web dev roles also; promotion from within is highly valued but not the only route.]
Naturally, this is not how you make the biggest of bucks, but it's a decent salary (with stock options for some positions) + work on a meaningful product + an enjoyable work environment. It's an especially attractive situation for people who are attempting a career transition like I was.
In the interest of not derailing the discussion too much, email me if you want to know more about my experience there. I haven't worked there since August but I worked there for over two years.
> And do you know if the hire remote for a probation period?
Remote work is normally unavailable to junior positions -- it's more of a trust-earned situation.
I personally work with a geographically distributed team and as long as we meet face to face on occasion, we're highly effective and we can hire when ever we find good talent no matter where they live.
I know companies like GitHub, LivingSocial, and 37 Signals all embrace this remote team model and utilize it well to find the talent they need without taking desperate measures.
That begs the question, why aren't most of these startups doing the same thing? I understand big companies are often too paralyzed in bureaucracy to hire remote workers, but shouldn't startups be a little more flexible in this regard?
In short: drinking coffee/beer/koolaid with the rest of the team is of vital importance, even if the actual work can be done remotely.
Also, the people that don't get this aren't good hires for remote work anyway, because one primary skill needed for a remote worker is knowing how to compensate for not being physically present.
This is especially true when you're looking for workers with very specific skill sets. It's generally easy to find a generic Java developer locally, but if you're looking for, say Cassandra experts (like we are at DataStax, with an office in Austin), then you're probably willing to hire someone anywhere in the world if they're good enough.
I do agree that it's not optimal in every situation, and your culture has to adjust for it. I'm just saying, if there is a talent crunch, companies need to be willing to take steps to handle it. Distributed teams are one such option.
Some teams, usually small ones, can make distributed work work, but it doesn't work for everyone and it doesn't form the sort of culture startups generally want.
That said, the distance metric isn't linear. Across a parking lot is almost as far as 1000 miles away. Once a company is scaling to this point, remote-work arrangements make a lot of sense.
(Backstory -- I haven't been out of a job since I got out of college, so I'm feeling totally out of practice with regards to the job search)
Don't sweat it too much. You can do things to adjust your odds, but there's a lot of luck involved, so part of it is out of your control. Who's hiring, what they're looking for, how your resume matches what they want, and how you interview that day can all turn good candidates and good employers into non-matches.
Mind your ethics and personal preferences, but don't over-emphasize the fun part of a fun job. Your attitude can control your opinions to some extent, and this plays in your favor here. Employers generally trip over themselves to try to convince candidates that they're a fun and exciting place to work. They're not trying as hard to pour money on you (generally). Geeks are generally bad at negotiating, and bad early steps can have a long-term, sometimes nearly permanent, effect on your salary level. It's also common to feel bitter if you ever realize you're being screwed over financially.
Don't sweat recruiters too much. As a candidate your interests don't directly align with theirs. That doesn't mean that you're necessarily always at odds. If you care about a fun work environment you will probably find that they don't have much to offer you. It doesn't hurt to talk to them, but don't expect much.
Probably the single biggest attack point for hitting your stated goals is during the job interview. Make sure that you realize the interview is, and treat it as, a mutual process. Are your future teammates boring, stupid, or difficult? What's the manager looking for, explicitly and implicitly? Why did the last person on the team leave (even/especially if the team is growing)? How does the hiring manager (or the higher-up "fit" interviewer, usually a Director or executive) think about the company culture, and what do they do about it?
You will probably not benefit by bringing up salary or benefits before the interviewer does, so don't. Once that topic has been broached don't be afraid to dig. If you're feeling brash, ask how the company makes salary decisions. There are services out there that offer salary ranges for employee positions. Maybe they use that data. If so, how?
Eventually you'll get an offer. Congratulations! It's very common for employers to set a tight expiration on one. If your offer expires sooner than you're comfortable making a decision, push back gently but firmly. Commit to a response deadline, but give yourself the time you need to decide.
While I do not disagree, why is this? You, the one looking for a job, are the seller. The seller almost always makes the first offer. It seems a lot of time could be saved if expectations were put right out there during the initial sales pitch.
So, I dig everything you're saying... I guess I should have been more specific – by fun, I mean 'rewarding' in just about every sense except financial/ladder-climbing, etc, but I think all of what you said still applies.
In response to what you said, however, do you have any tips on negotiating?
A classmate was just offered 65k for a job in NYC that would pay 80-85k at a comparable firm in Chicago and he took the offer with no negotiating because he was afraid to do so... which blew my mind, honestly... so, I am to not be that guy...
Interview like it's going out of style; it'll help you feel more comfortable, if nothing else. When you have multiple offers, you can tell one company that the other is offering more. Then you can say that you have a significantly higher offer that's much closer to the average offer in your area, without revealing the exact dollar amount. Plus, you actually have a second offer you can go with if the first company doesn't offer more.
Also, look up online what average salaries are for your occupation and your area.
Surround yourself with people who won't work bullshit jobs, and come job hunting time it shouldn't be hard to find something that fits.
Figuring out exactly what you want is the first step in getting it :)
a) put stuff you've done up on the web so people can see that it's cool and doesn't suck;
b) email random cool places you'd like to work (e.g. startups)
c) practice interviewing
I've lived in a lot of major cities in my life, and SF is the first one where I've had to literally dodge human shit while walking on the sidewalk.
The weather is pretty much the only reason I don't regret moving here. Even the famously liberal population drives me up the wall sometimes - amazingly cliquey, and way smugger than even South Park portrays this place.
San Francisco is actually kind of disgusting. It is one of the dirtiest cities in the United States and there are literally-crazy homeless people on every corner. In many ways, it is dirtier than Manhattan; it makes Boston look sterile. There is human excrement everywhere, and serious crime issues. I passed a fountain that was effectively aerosolizing human shit (the homeless were pooping in it), which smelled about how you may imagine. It is not uncommon to walk through a cloud of pot smoke then to be hit in the face with the foul stench of waste; the mixture is revolting.
The locals are also out of touch with reality. They compare Market St. to the Champs-Élysées in Paris which only seems to demonstrate that they've never been to Paris. There are idiotic cancer warnings on everything; hotels, gas stations, parking garages, Starbucks, shopping centers, health clubs, and french fry boxes. There are Idiocracy warning alarms at the exit to every parking garage, presumably to prevent the deaths of the vast number of people that are killed every year by cars exiting parking garages. There is a tax on toasted subs. Idiotic protesters were allowed to block Market St., halting street cars, rerouting buses, disrupting commutes, and closing the MUNI station while blathering about how it was there first amendment right to do so (it's not). In short, the place is backward. There seems to be such a political desire to tackle huge societal issues and minor non-issues that the city has failed to master the very basics, and is unable to even manage human waste.
> There are idiotic cancer warnings on everything; hotels, gas stations, parking garages, Starbucks, shopping centers, health clubs, and french fry boxes.
I think this is a State of CA thing, not a City of SF thing.
The poor/middle-class parts of LA like the SFV are obviously in bad shape.
But yeah, the weather sure is nice. I figure that's part of the problem, though: if you're homeless, you'll head somewhere that's warm all the time. Everbody had the same idea and solution.
Oh, the crime isn't so bad. Everyone knows to stay away from the west side of Dolores Park! The crackheads in the TL won't bother you unless you show fear! Haha! Another person got shanked on my block this week - if only they were as street smart as the rest of us! I deftly dodged a piece of human shit on the sidewalk on my way to work without missing a beat, how delightfully urban-sophisticate!
I've never before lived in a place where violent crime, rampant substance abuse, and extreme poverty was treated in such a blase way, and often glorified as "vibrancy" and "color". The more I live here the more I feel like people here have these giant goggles on that only allows them to see the charming mini-muffins, startup parties, and great coffee.
What this means in practice is that nobody in San Francisco lives more than walking distance from an area of the city in which people are routinely mugged, whereas you have to get north of the 140s in NYC to see drastically increased crime.
San Francisco is, for its population, anomalously small. That plays into a lot of the problems perceive in it: it drives housing costs, makes transportation infrastructure harder to build, retards home ownership (and thus neighborhoods --- had a block party lately?), puts people into closer contact with crime, &c &c.
I lived in SF for several years, and I think 'potatolicious is if anything understating his case.
Most residents without families have roommates. Tweens who make up the majority of the workforce naive enough to work for start-ups live 3-5 people in older victorian or "railroad" apartments where the dining rooms and living rooms have long-since been converted into bedrooms.
These apartments are rent controlled, so it's common for these units to be priced below market if the lease holder has had their lease for a significant period of time.
I have several friends who spend $600-$900/month to share such a unit with 3-4 others, whilst the leaseholder pays $1,000-$1,500/month for the apartment. Often the leaseholder no longer resides in the unit, and sublets it as an income source.
Our rent control law was ill-conceived covering only buildings constructed before the bill was passed in the'70s. Landlords burdened by rent-control statues are only permitted inflationary rent increases. Landlords of newer constructions may set rates as they see fit when contracts come up to renewal. This artificially restricts the supply of available units and helps keep rents high.
My last apartment, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath in SOMA cost me $2900 when I signed up for it two years ago. They raised the rent to $4,200 this summer and I had to move to Oakland. It turns out Oakland is pretty awesome, but it's not home. Everything closes early, there are some 'hoods I bike through which are shady enough that I keep pepper spray mounted on my seat stay and a quick-action folding knife in my pocket.
There is very little violence in San Francisco directed at white/asian, upper-middle class people, like the suburbanites bitching in this thread. Most violence is crackheads killing crackheads, or gangs killing other gang members. I've walked every street in this city day and night, drunk, high, and sober, carrying a $2k laptop and a $3k camera on my backpack.
Panhandlers mostly stick to the neighborhoods locals avoid. The yuppie neighborhoods and the tourist neighborhoods. But honestly, if the fear of panhandlers keeps you from moving to the city and sticking in the south bay or the peninsula, awesome. You're not going to contribute anything to this city besides the money you spend at restaurants and bars, anyways, so you're just part of the invading gentry, you're not part of our city. Stay away. It's dangerous here. The poor are out to get you because they're poor and you're rich. Go back to Palo Alto where you belong. Please. They have coffee shops and women too beautiful for you nerds to ever sleep with.
As impendia brings up elsewhere in the thread, there are a lot of world-class people here, in startups and otherwise. I'm a part-time photographer on the side, and I've been able to find a lot more creative, ambitious, and talented people here than anywhere else I've been.
Though I wish I could get to these places/people without wading through the cesspool that is the rest of the city. SF is a city where you can attend an art show opening by incredible artists... but have to walk through crackstab-row to get there. You can learn dance from world-class instructors... but have to step over a few prone, immobile bodies lying on the sidewalk. There are unique shops you won't find anywhere else... and you'll be accosted by deranged crackheads the whole way. You can enjoy great, sunny year-round weather in the park... just watch out for the needles in the grass.
It really is a city of extremes. Personally, I'm not moving out of here anytime soon - though I would wish that people stop wearing obvious problems like a badge of pride. No, it's not cool that you live on a street where people get raped all the time. No, it's not cool that you have 5 crackheads hanging out downstairs blocking your building's entrance every morning. In other cities people would see these things as problems. In SF it's "ohhhhh it's just SF! Reminds me of how lucky I am to be here!".
The standard response to bringing any of these impolite topics up is either:
- hur hur. You're obviously not cut out for city-living (right, because I've lived in more major cities than most people have in their lives...)
- Well, I've never seen any of this! (unless you stay in the very furthest reaches of the Richmond or Outer Sunset, yes, yes you have).
That and a place with good public transportation. Portland has a huge homeless problem because it has free public transportation within city limits. Many homeless people just ride the trains around all day.
Do you really want to compare SF weather with Seattle, Portland, Chicago, New York, Boston, etc?
I definitely have. :|
SF isn't for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. I went to weekly swing dances attended by 200+ people, joined meditation circles, took yoga classes from the best instructors in the world, took comedy lessons from the studio that pioneered long-form improv, ... the list goes on and on.
SF has a huge concentration of high-energy, motivated, ambitious, creative people, and if I had the option I would move back there in a heartbeat, high real estate prices and all.
Everyone's tastes are different, I don't mean to criticize you one bit, but there are a lot of things to seriously love about San Francisco, and people who love these things push the rents up.
You nailed it: we're paying for the weather.
It's December 11th, and we're still able to be outside. Yesterday I did a 80k bike ride and it was perfect out. Even at it's worst (Feb) it's still quite tolerable. Every time I think about moving to the east coast, I remember the ice and snow of the winters, and am quite happy to stay here.
Also, we're geographically ideal. Want to get into the hills? take a drive down 1 or skyline, and it's gorgeous. We have ocean access. Napa and Sonoma are an hour north. Skiing and the mountains are only a couple hours east.
It's far more than just san fransico proper.
As a longtime Austin resident, I'd almost consider that a nice problem to have, because it would mean that walking was an integrated part of my daily routine rather than something I have to explicitly make time for so that I don't lose my mind from all the driving I have to do.
In any case, there are lot of cities in the US (and even more abroad) where you can get the walk-centric lifestyle without having to dodge human shit. Hell, even Manhattan, the city that supposedly defines urban grime, doesn't have this.
From experience, anything that isn't green on that map isn't anywhere near walkable, and only Guadalupe and South Congress have transit worth riding. 20-30 minute headways are the norm on other routes, and only transit devotees will put up with that, like I did when I lived on Burnet.
You are very correct that transportation is a lifestyle choice, but Austin doesn't make driving rarely an easy choice.
And since we're also talking about working for software companies, I would also like to posit – and I could certainly be wrong about this – that the majority of local software companies are not located centrally, where they are readily accessible via bus, rail, or bike. And once you're out of Central Austin, you're in a city that's built to car scale, not human scale.
If coming to New York meant that you had to put four people in a three bedroom apartment that's uncomfortably far from a subway line, instead of buying a nice little condo in Omaha, this does not mean that you are not "really" better off than your counterpart in Omaha; it means that you have chosen to consume your extra wealth in the form of "living in New York" rather than in the form of spacious real estate, cheap groceries, and an easy commute.
At some point, the crowd creates the job market creates the crowd...and it snowballs. Our preferences stopped mattering a long time ago.
Whether SF is 'nicer' than somewhere else is down to the individual's preferences.
Who hasn't said "That job looks interesting but the office location is a pain in the ass and will add 30 minutes each way to my commute"?
Your friends in NJ probably work in NYC (or one of the close in northern NJ cities). Run a cost of living calculator, we're just as bad off (:
If they're out in the middle of the state they're probably not making $120, and you could be living in Sacramento for a lower cost of living (and salary) too.
If the three worst things about a place are December, January, and February... that's a pretty good place to live.
It's what made Wisconsin great but it's also a horrible legacy to leave the population with.
It sure is beautiful in the spring and summer. Door County is amazing.
That's not to say that I don't think all the pollution sucks, I do, I just don't think it factors in very much to the everyday quality of life as much as say, the weather.
Here are two factors the junior/senior model does not take into account. First, a good but inexperienced programmer will learn so quickly that they will run rings around mediocre experienced programmers in no time. Second, experience isn't only a good thing. Once people have repeated something a certain way enough times (and surprisingly few repetitions are required), they become locked-in and unable to see alternatives. This loss of flexibility is toxic to effective programming.
Of course that happens less to good programmers than bad ones, but that only puts us back at the real question - how do you tell a good one apart from a bad one? - something we have no satisfactory way of answering that is compatible with current hiring practices.
What we need is a healthy culture of interaction between "junior" and "senior". Our industry lacks this. What is our path to learning? We have the sink-or-swim model in which people once hired are installed in a silo and told to work on their tasks. Everyone recapitulates all the classic mistakes and has to figure everything out for themselves. I know I did. It cost me at least 5 years developmentally, and I'm only putting the number that low to save face. This way is so inefficient that it must eventually yield to something better. Hopefully when that happens there will also be less of the prickly auto-didact about most of us - but that's another story.
Reading other people's code is too hard. We go through life trying to do it as little as possible.
-identify star devs unless I work with them directly,
-look at the code base of the project they are working on if I am not also working on it,
-find out which portions of the code they wrote (without looking through commit logs)
In many places a <i>healthy culture of interaction between "junior" and "senior".</i> is not facilitated by the employer.
The interesting question is how many good programmers would be happier working in such a culture. I believe the answer is significantly many, and that this is a competitive edge waiting to be exploited. We hear so much about perks and benefits. My programmer soul says: fuck perks and benefits. Give me an environment that is teeming with creativity where I get to work with great people that I learn from and am inspired to do what seemed impossible.
Everyone? No, it does not hurt the employees.
Ok, so startups have limited funds, fair enough. But way too many of them offer way too little in the way of equity to make up for a below-market salary and the risk and opportunity cost of taking the job.
I have zero sympathy for larger firms. When they talk of raising H1-B limits and how tight the market is, what they really mean is that they can't find developers for what they're willing to pay. the work these developers do is critical to the bottom line of the company. Why should a CEO make out like a bandit through compensation or stock prices while the teams that enabled it toil away for a pittance, comparatively speaking? Wages across all industries have been mostly flat for years—its only in the last few years that the IT/development industry is starting to show some movement.
(And before someone points out that everyone in a software company contributes to success, even non-developers, I totally agree—everyone ought to share in success.)
It's possible that many of these companies have a hard time recruiting talent because their recruitment process is broken.
Keeping salaries low is clearly a priority for these people.
I have a strong feeling this might be a fluff piece to increase the H1B quota.
There are indeed many people all over the world with programming knowledge; there are far fewer with experience on a technically sophisticated project. The latter class of talent is highly concentrated around the hotspots of sophisticated technical companies which, on average, keep their most important teams in the US.
If you are just reading and writing rows on a single instance of MySQL you can get all the talent you want from just about anywhere in the world. If you want to roll your own fault-tolerant distributed filesystem your options are (statistically) much more narrow, because anyone who can do that is likely to have been tempted by an offer to work at, e.g., Google in Mountain View.
However, nobody really wants to hire somebody that they can't watch. In the past I have emailed several companies about job postings that list telecommute as an option, and in all but one of the cases they where not open to somebody more than 3 hours away from the office.
I don't really understand this position. I am in ET so the time zone can't be an issue. I am in an English speaking country so there won't be any language barriers. I think companies in the US need to realize that increasingly fever people will want to move there because it the US is become very scary.
If I understand you correctly, those companies don't want to hire telecommuters that can't come into the office from time to time. This seems unrelated to being in Canada; the same criterion would eliminate a Boston-based developer from working remotely for a Chicago-based startup.
I'm merely suggesting that the amount of money in the US for technical research and development is vastly larger than in any other country (as evidenced both by its research universities and its venture-backed economy). This is why, despite its failings in other ways, it still manages to pull talent from all over the world for graduate programs and employment.
To be clear: there are great institutions, companies, and people all over the world. I never meant to suggest otherwise. I was merely making a claim about the economics of R&D, and the resulting distribution of talent.
I remember your original post was kind of condescending to talented people from other parts of the world, implying that the rest of the world only shuffles around a single MySQL table and the only real talent can be found in SV.
And now you prove the point by saying the US is sophisticated because it imports the most talent of all countries.
(Also don't think all or even most talent ends up in the US; some of us simply don't like to move, or don't want to live in the US because they don't like the immigration procedures or political landscape. I've had several offers, but I'd at most telecommute for an US company)
It was certainly not my aim to slight the talent of people originating from anywhere else; I merely wanted to point out that over time the US actively sucks up external talent, and that since there is very little counterbalancing flow out of the US you end up with an unbalanced talent distribution. The quip about the single-instance MySQL was not at all to suggest that this is the only thing (or the typical thing) people outside the US do; it was that this kind of expertise is much less actively recruited into the US and so the distribution of talent is much more uniform across the world.
1-companies want to pay a pittance compared to what the person is actually worth. Face it, if you offer $90K, and your competitor offers $120K, the person has to be insane to take an offer that differs so much.
2-companies have really high requirements when they don't actually need them. If you are doing something simple, you don't need a Google level engineer...especially if you are not willing to pay a proper salary for one.
That said, it's not California. The people in Texas are generally just plain rude and self-centered. There is a lot of "get out of my way" attitude, both metaphorically in how people interact in conversation, and literally on the roadways. It's also landlocked, and I miss the ocean terribly.
I'm here purely because the CS department at UT Austin is the best in the world for my area of research (Evolutionary Algorithms and Neural Networks). However, in a couple of years when my class requirements are done, I'm planning on finishing my dissertation research remotely from a coastal city.
There really is nothing at all I can imagine Austin has to offer me that is worth staying here over SF, SD, or even the east coast like NYC or DC. Maybe I just don't get it.
No offense, but that might be the most backward thing I've ever heard. Have you seen LA or SF? I feel like you might live in a one or two person bubble. Honestly, where are you hanging out in Austin?
To the OP: get out of your bubble, man. Austin is one of the friendliest places around.
I agree, the OP needs to hang out with more Austinites. Unfortunately, the reason I left Austin was precisely because the ratio of "Austinites" to "Transplants" was headed in the wrong direction FAST. I've been gone almost 4 years now and I hear that it's only getting worse.
Austin still has pockets of cool left, but it's nothing like it was in the 80's, 90's and 00's. It's been on the steady decline for decades.
All that said, it's probably a much better choice than most anywhere else in Texas and probably the south/southwest.
Edit: If I were a Rails dev, I'd imagine I could be making $200/hr down there. The circles I move through are like desert-island desperate for Rails devs. (Started working through Rails 3 in Action on the plane home).
I even sent a couple of job applications some time ago before I got my new job in NYC. I'm not a rockstar, but I'm good and my resume shows it. I get a LOT of bites in New York metro area.
However, these Austin companies didn't even bother to respond, except one. The interesting thing about the one that responded was that the job was tailor made for me. It was uncanny...it's almost as if they read my resume and produced the job listing to match. Which is why I sent in the application in the first place.
The response was that they found me unqualified for the job. What a load of horse manure. If you're sending form letters to rejected candidates, please take some time to actually use the right template. I believe this one should've been the "no_relocation" or the "ceos_son-in-law_was_more_qualified" template.
Is there really a lack of good talent, or is the recruiting process so horribly broken that good developers don't make it through the first levels of filtering by non-technical people?
Austin has a great reputation, but it's still in Texas.
There are homophobic troglodytes everywhere. However, it is verboten to be openly rude about that sort of thing in all but the most repressive and tiny communities. Those are the ones that creep out straight white males like myself, let alone minorities of any kind, so barring a flat tire I don't think you'll end up there by choice anyway. Actually, being atheist is something I tend to keep to myself, too.
And actually, a lot of rural areas (which is, geographically, most of the state) have hippies in disguise all over the place. The small town of Kerrville is home to a huge hippie music festival every year; Fredericksburg is near the infamous Luckenbach, where Willie Nelson still shows up occasionally; and places like Wimberley are hidden in the sticks but have wiccans and sell quasi-spiritual swag and incense in the local shops.
You can definitely sense a cultural contrast outside of Austin.
Seeing people smoke pot openly in the streets still messes with me.
That's a long way of saying that, based on my second-hand experience, gay men don't run into trouble in and around Austin or its immediate suburbs.
I've had many gay coworkers and they usually stayed close to the city (I live in the DFW area).
If they've made an agreement to not recruit from each other, they're in violation of anti-trust law.
Google, Apple, and at least one other company got busted for this in SV about three years ago.
Think about it people..if the developer has a house mortgage will he move? No..
If the dv still has edu debt will he move? no..