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strategy for a first job-job

This is a discussion on strategy for a first job-job within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Before I get to the meat of this post, I wanted to say _thank you_ to the community here. I ...

  1. #1
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    strategy for a first job-job

    Before I get to the meat of this post, I wanted to say _thank you_ to the community here. I wouldn't be asking you folks this question if you didn't support me when I first joined this forum 11 years ago when I was a teen. THANK YOU for your support!

    So, the time has come that I finally am finishing my doctorate in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences (Social Sciences). Now I'm looking for a job working in search engines / ML, or something of the sort. I also hold a B.A. in linguistics, a B.S. in computer eng., and an M.S. in electrical engineering. So I'm qualified for a coding job, but I'm probably not the hottest ticket compared to someone with a Ph.D. in comp sci, straight up. My angle is that I am also a linguist.

    At this point I have contacts at Google, Amazon, and eBay. I just got off the phone with someone from eBay who wants to set up phone interviews and I told him that I'd want to go through the process now and defer until my commitments for this fall quarter are over (mid december), but to start the interview process already. I'm not sure what the best algorithm is for finding the best job that will make me the most happy. I'm preparing for my defense in November, and after that I'm free as a bird (single, late twenties, no attachments whatsoever).

    Also, I love teaching and having worked as a lecturer for the past four years, so being an academic is a _strong_ option, but frankly making 50k as a post-doc is not something I'd do in lieu of making 120k working for a big tech company, but making 80 as an assistant professor is something I would strongly consider (it's basically being a glorified grad student with lots more money!).

    So, my question is what should be my strategy for going through interviews? Which job would you take and why? And for those of you with industry experience, what is it like? If you went through a Ph.D. program, how does it compare with academia?

    All this geeking out is about to pay off and I want to do it right!
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

  2. #2
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    What sort of job to take is not a question I can easily answer. I don't really know how I ended up in the field I did, it was mostly accidental, but I do know that I love doing it and I'm happy with it. I guess my meta-advice would be, to never reject a possibility at the first thought, to imagine not only what a given job can provide you with at the moment but how it will influence your future.

    When interviewing or otherwise interacting with potential employers, NEVER self deprecate. When talking about salary, ask for the highest number you think you could reasonably get (without seeming crazy). The interview is NOT the time for modesty.

    If the interviewer, or somebody else at the company, gives you a bad vibe, walk. You're in a position to do that right now. Fresh from school, no family to support, you have the freedom to say no. That'll change once you get more settled. Take advantage of it now.

    I'd say 90% of companies are total hell holes. Watch out.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  3. #3
    the hat of redundancy hat nvoigt's Avatar
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    So, my question is what should be my strategy for going through interviews?
    Which job would you take and why?
    And for those of you with industry experience, what is it like?
    I'd say be yourself and look for fun. That seems like a total non-serious attitude for college parties, but think about it this way: this job is a big part of your life. Probably 40h a week and more. The rest of the working days will be spent with sleeping, commuting, shopping, eating and personal hygiene. If work isn't fun, what else will be?

    Taking a wild guess, I'd say any company you named will pay enough to pay any bills and not think about money for everyday life. Ask yourself if you would want to go to work for said company on an average monday. If not, don't consider the job. There are too many mondays ahead.

    If you can (make sure this is a somewhat normal request in your part of the world) ask if you can see the place where you will work. Look at the rooms, the computers, check your potential colleagues if they are standing around in groups laughing and discussing or if each is hiding behind his desk in solitary silence.

    Read a few books on interviewing, so you know the stereotype questions. Then think about alternatives to the stereotype answers. There is nothing more unnerving in an interview, than a guest that is kind of fencing with you: *thrust* "What do you think is your biggest weakness" *parry* "My drive for perfection" *soundOfSabersClashing*. I always feel like I'm right in the middle of a cloak and dagger movie. Good interviewers will ask similar questions, probably built into normal conversation. Be prepared to give your own answers. A good answer that actually is your own answer is wayyyyy (!) better than the best textbook answer. Because the interviewer already heard the textbook answer about a hundred times over the last month. And didn't believe it once.
    hth
    -nv

    She was so Blonde, she spent 20 minutes looking at the orange juice can because it said "Concentrate."

    When in doubt, read the FAQ.
    Then ask a smart question.

  4. #4
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    O_o

    Having money isn't the same thing as being happy.

    If you really consider yourself a polyglot you'll probably be happier working along with that field, but you'll probably make a lot less money.

    Soma

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Read a few books on interviewing, so you know the stereotype questions. Then think about alternatives to the stereotype answers. There is nothing more unnerving in an interview, than a guest that is kind of fencing with you: *thrust* "What do you think is your biggest weakness" *parry* "My drive for perfection" *soundOfSabersClashing*. I always feel like I'm right in the middle of a cloak and dagger movie. Good interviewers will ask similar questions, probably built into normal conversation. Be prepared to give your own answers. A good answer that actually is your own answer is wayyyyy (!) better than the best textbook answer. Because the interviewer already heard the textbook answer about a hundred times over the last month. And didn't believe it once.
    IMHO, if an interviewer is too lazy to come up with his own unique questions, you shouldn't bother coming up with your own unique answers, either. They asked a canned question, you give them a canned answer, simple and fair. If they want to learn more about you, they have to put in the effort, too.

    The best interviews I've had were when the interviewer went creative and gave me totally unexpected questions - a lot of them simplify a problem they are actually facing or have faced before, and ask me how I would solve it. I really appreciate that.
    laserlight likes this.

  6. #6
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    Another thing I forgot to mention... Don't assume that the interview is an hour or two in a room with one interviewer, unless it's some really basic entry level position. My last interview consisted of a 1 hour phone screen, then a 2 hour followup phone screen, then an 8 hour on site interview process where I was questioned by five different people, asked to write code on a whiteboard, and in the middle I went to lunch with two of the business people, and finally I met with my would-be manager and an HR person. I did get the job.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

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