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Learn on someone else’s dime (42floors.com)
69 points by jaf12duke on Oct 23, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 22 comments

I put in an application to work at 42floors for an entry level position and received back an email saying that they wouldn't consider me because they aren't relocating new employees to SF.

I didn't ask for relocation nor mention that I would be unable to relocate myself.

I had the same experience. I have utmost respect for 42Floors and their mission to disrupt Commercial Real Estate, I work in commercial real estate development, and love the startup mentality.

That sounds to me like what they wanted, but got the big "Thanks but no thanks."

What are do you think they are looking for if not somebody who already works in commercial real estate and knows what they are signing up for? Any ideas? I would love to work for 42Floors but need some advice for getting in the door...

Would you mind resending your resume to me? My email's in my profile. We're far from perfect at hiring here, and lots of things slip through the cracks. I love that you reached out via HN and I'd be happy to Skype with you about specific opportunities this week if you have some time and are still interested.

Jason here. Sorry about that! I'm emailing you now...

> The single most important factor on whether you’ll have a good experience is whether the company you join is exploding with growth or not.

Growth is a double-edged sword. Working at a high-growth company can, for some, be a rewarding experience. But high-growth companies can also be chaotic, dysfunctional and unreasonably demanding of employees.

And if head count grows faster than meaningful traction, which is not uncommon at venture-backed startups, there's nothing less rewarding than being a part of the layoff process that inevitably ensues.

> The best learning is when you get to see the company grow around you. If the company already has a hundred or two hundred people, it may still be a startup, but it is really a late stage startup, and all of the tremendous learning opportunities are already gone.

Nonsense. What you have the opportunity to learn is just as important as how much you can learn. On this front, larger, established companies often have a lot more to offer.

> So if you’re not blown away by everyone you meet during the hiring process, look elsewhere. You don’t want to be learning bad habits, especially because you might not know at the time that they’re that bad.

First, while it's usually wise to trust your gut if you get a bad feeling during the hiring process, if you expect to be "blown away" in a set of limited interactions with a prospective employer, you're probably being unrealistic. Keep in mind that what you see during the hiring process may be not be representative of day-to-day reality, and in some cases, what you see might even be staged[1].

Second, great people can make bad colleagues. An individual with a friendly and/or compelling personality isn't necessarily going to be knowledgeable or even competent. A lot of knowledgeable, competent people don't have a reality distortion field around them.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6543410

I think this advice is only necessary if you end up working for one of those companies that expects you to "show dedication" and "take ownership" and "be a team player" and "get into the company culture", i.e. work constant overtime. If you work a normal, sustainable, healthy, adult 40-hours-a-week, in your own town[1] there is still plenty of time to get some learning done at home.

Really, you should be learning on your own dime. Because if you're learning on someone elses dime, you're probably not actually learning correctly. You're pulled in two different directions, that of you trying to learn something and that of your boss wanting something productive out of you.

But if you just jump off the cliff already, I think you'd be surprised just how much you can learn in a very short period of time when you don't have to contend with common office distractions.

[1] I am always amazed at the throng of traffic every morning, city folk commuting to the suburbs and suburban folk commuting to the city. Just swap jobs already! Hell, why do so many people put up with taking jobs that require them to go to an office? It's so incredibly unnecessary for so many different types of work, yet people still do it. Trained monkeys.

Working remotely (as absolutely amazing as it is) is only barely getting traction in some fields at this point. I generally agree with you and the ability to work remotely is incredibly important to me as far as picking a position goes but unfortunately many employers aren't as thrilled about it as I am. To varying degrees, depending on the field you're discussing, there's still the notion that you have to put in your 8 hours in the office.

I don't completely disagree with your sentiments if your advice is at a young single person seeking entry level employment.

Otherwise, this comment "Just swap jobs already!" and "Trained monkeys." isn't really fair to many.

I moved within 5 miles of my current job, but many commute in. Reasons vary but many with families can't afford to live in this community. It is a beach city and is quite expensive.

Many jobs are downtown and the school district is not as good. Living near a good school district is more important to many than a short commute.

Many want a huge house with a giant yard on a meager salary. They'd rather commute 2 hours a day to live in a mansion than commute 10 minutes to live in a condo.

Some switched jobs. It took me a couple years before I was comfortable moving near this job. I needed to sell one place and buy another and had to be confident in the position before moving.

If they are married, both need to commute somewhere. Finding two good jobs right next to eachother is difficult.

Also, there aren't as many telecommuting jobs as you postulate there to be.

Finding another job may be difficult once a person is too comfortable and have a multitude of responsibilities. Switching jobs presents a risk many are not willing to take with a mountain of bills to pay every month.

Don't get yourself into a situation of having a mountain of bills. That's the entire point. The American suburban lifestyle is unsustainable. People need to realize that they can't have everything they want exactly the way they think they want it. Sometimes, you have to take what you have and make the best out of it.

But when you have a "mountain of bills", then you're a wage slave. You have to put up with whatever you're told. The remote work issue would be a given if people stood up for themselves on it. But too many people are willing to give up time with their kids for the promise of a few more dollars. And I'm betting most people just haven't done the real math (not the back-of-the-envelope finagling that everyone does to justify their current lifestyle) to determine if commuting to a higher paying job is actually economical.

And the school district would be better if they kept their tax revenue there and went to a few school board meetings and showed some interest, school board meetings they probably would have time to go to if they lived in the same town they worked.

Hell, why do so many people put up with taking jobs that require them to go to an office?

B/c remote workers are expected to be more productive. They have fewer opportunities for advancement + networking at the coffee pot or over lunch.

If you're a remote worker and most of the employees are working out of an office (or offices), then this is definitely true. It's a different story if the company culture is built around remote working.

> It's so incredibly unnecessary for so many different types of work, yet people still do it. Trained monkeys.

It doesn't help that finding remote work is extremely difficult. Or at least that has always been my experience.

This so much. Thanks.

I kind of expected 'learn on someone else's dime' to be about a company providing training as part of your job rather than a company hiring people with the expectation that they both do the job they are hired for and learn on their own everything needed to handle whatever new problem arises on any given day.

That doesn't sound at all revolutionary to me. That's basically every company I've worked for - we pay you to do a job but we also expect you to learn on your own time to keep your skillset up. The idea of the company actually helping you with the time and resources to do that learning would be something actually novel...

Sure there's value in on-the-job learning but most jobs give you that. There's also value in the kind of learning that you can only do in time outside of the time needed to do the tasks that are expected of you as part of your job.

As a 22 year old just out of college, this article sums up my experience the last few months.

>>Teach yourself a new industry

I was on the pre-med track throughout college. And by on that track, I almost went all the way (MCAT + all the pre-reqs). Got really bored wiht the root memorization involved + didn't think it satisfied my needs for creativity so I started learning how to code online via the usual free resources - Codecademy, etc. Realized that I needed some more structure and a mentor (had no idea of "best practices")without the ridiculous price tag associated with bootcamps, so I chose Thinkful (https://www.thinkful.com). I had chosen my industry.

>>Do one hour of research before you apply

I used and enjoyed the "product" for two months while conducting extensive research on every press article out there on TF. Was impressed by the background of both the co-founders and saw a post by Dan in our Community about an open intern position. Did more research and sent them a long email basically saying I'd do anything (had a bit of marketing experience so I pitched that).

>>Get in early

I was accepted as a Front-End/Marketing intern and had a lot on my plate immediately. I was/am a huge part of helping Thinkful grow now that I've moved up to become the Community Manager - I handle everything from starting a class to maintaining alumni relations.

>>Work with fabulous people

Super fabulous. We've added 3 more since I joined to become a 9 person team. Constantly growing. Everyone has different backgrounds and a unique sense of humor. Darrell (CEO/co-founder) gave this hilariously vague (but often quoted) advice to our Thinkful Fellow, "if you make it awesome, it'll be awesome. That's awesome." I think we're awesome.

>>Pick a rocket ship

I'm beyond excited of the direction we're headed. We hope to fill a void between the less structured online resources and the intensive in-person bootcamps.


Basics of Photoshop/Illustrator, Social Media, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, SEO, Github, HTML/CSS, Javascript/jQuery, and soon Python/Ruby.

All on someone else's dime - while earning a few dimes of my own, ha.

Those are our dimes you're talking about – get back to work! :)

We're lucky to have you.

I wouldn't say the advice on how to pick an employer is the best one.

I have less than a year of experience in any sort of development. I spent most of that time at a non-profit that gave me a lot of freedom to learn. Small but good team that did government contracting, gave a lot of space to learn, and had people focused on staying on top of the web world.

I since switched jobs and am my company's AngularJS expert, solving any frontend problems that stumps my co-workers as well as architecting the frontend structure for new apps.

I think the important take away is to find an employer that gives you the space & opportunity to learn. Then it is up to you to make the most of it.

> We just signed up for Salesforce but haven’t installed yet.

Too late to say don't do it! For anyone else, don't go with Salesforce or with Dynamics! Install vTiger and pay 2 developers to look after it full time and add what you want. It will save you a fortune in money and frustration.

You think I'm kidding...just you wait...$11 per gigabyte, per month...an online CRM from Microsoft that can't talk to Exchange online...it's madness...

MoCoSpace... MobileCommunitySpace.

I was an early user, and when I failed to login for some period of time (6 months? 8?) my account was still active, but all of my precious images and videos were deleted.

Not too much pain, but losing the video of my late dog saying "Wow!" on command was enough to make me build my own website, which was a mild failure, which further encouraged me to build better websites, some of which became mildly successful for a fleeting moment (in web-time.)

That said, I enjoyed the article, as well as my telecommuting gig.


I think it's easy to know but hard to do it well for these tips

The key is to be qualified for a job, but not walk into the job a total master of all the tech being used. When I was hunting for a mobile job, I was hunting mobile jobs that didn't use objc because I knew it fairly well, but stuff like phonegap. This allowed me to code entirely in javascript and as a result, I got mobile experience which I wanted + JS experience, tech I haven't really used before. Keeps the job exciting, basically getting paid to learn.

I wish more companies realized this.

EDIT: To add a little more to the discussion. Instead of looking for the 'rockstar' or 'ninja', look for intelligent and ambitious individuals that might not have all of the necessary experience. This gives them the chance to grow into the position, and results in a more fulfilling work experience. The end result is someone who is more appreciative of their employer, and who will probably stick around longer than the 'rockstar' who is probably getting calls and e-mails from recruiters every other day.

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