A Short Update07 Mar 2016
Well, it’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I know this site doesn’t get a ton of traffic, but it probably still makes sense to explain the long gap in posts. Around this time last year, I got engaged. After the initial excitement leveled out, panic decided to set in. How will I pay for the wedding? How will I continue to pay for my student loans? I eventually decided to begin looking for other jobs, putting this blog on the backburner. I looked all over the state of Florida, not wanting to be too far from where my new fiancée and I were to be married. Like my initial job search, it was met with a lot of auto-rejects due to not having a CS degree. After many, many applications, lots of coding challenges, and working through the first few levels of the Google Secret Interview challenge (which was an absolute blast and may become fodder for another post in the future), I finally got an interview locally, this time with homes.com. The first two interviews were over the phone, first with the recruiter, then with the hiring manager. The second interview described the job in more depth, how the team works with large amounts of data, a number of databases, and, of all languages, Perl. The manager liked my excitement for the job (backend data engineering? Too interesting for me to decline!), as well as the fact that I didn’t have a CS degree. Score!
As a digression, let’s talk a little bit about Perl, and my experience with it. Having had Internet access since the late 90s, I was familiar with Perl via CGI scripts that were common on websites at that time. This was quite a bit different from how the job was described for me, so I wasn’t too worried that I’d be working on some hugely deprecated presentation codebase that hasn’t been meaningfully updated since 2001, but some grad school experience with Perl made me nervous. My first real experience with the language was writing a data parsing script for a project when I was in grad school, and it also happened to be my first experience with regular expressions. You can guess how well that went.
With this memory, I was pretty nervous going into it. So leading up to my technical interview I bought Learning Perl (no ref) and Intermediate Perl (no ref) and began reading. I had made it through Learning Perl prior to my in-person interview, but decided not to rely on my still-wobbly Perl legs for this interview.
This interview was actually my first real technical interview. I remember being very nervous, and it took a lot of time (and questions) for me to get an accurate view of the actual problem. I was shaking the entire time, and by the time I left (this was mid-September in Florida) I was sweating all over and sure I had failed. I did eventually get the solution (using Python-ish), but not like I would have if I had done it at home and not surrounded by three strangers. I felt like a failure, and didn’t want to tell my fiancée about this failure. I did, and she was nothing but supportive.
The next week I got the call, they were extending me an offer, and I took it. I submitted my 2 weeks’ notice to my employer at the time, which was nerve-wracking itself because I had built quite a friendship with many of my coworkers. They were very supportive and understanding, and we had a nice lunch at Tijuana Flats to send me off.
I started with homes.com at the end of September, and have really been enjoying it. Perl is no longer an untameable monster, and it really can be quite elegant (and fast). Also very odd and quirky, but I enjoy the little bit of challenge that that provides. The people I work with are great, and I’ve again built new friendships that have been very rewarding, and learned a lot of new skills. I also participated in Digital Ocean Hacktoberfest and got a great tee shirt out of some fun bug-hunting for a few great open source projects.
So what am I working on now, and what does the future have in store? Well, right now I’m starting back up with a traditional-ish CS program to hone some skills that I’ve been lacking in, I’ve been especially interested in machine intelligence, so that is one of the goals. Eventually, I’d like to work on another M.S., this time in computer science. I was also recruited to work on an Android app called WeatherGirl with a few other local developers who are all learning Android development, something I’ve been trying to get started for a while now. On top of all that, I am in the very early stages of writing the life story of my paternal grandparents, of whom my grandmother came to America from Greece as a refugee, then later went back to Greece to find her man at a time when her sisters were put into arranged marriages. On my last visit with them, I learned that there was a lot I still didn’t know, despite reading my great uncle’s book Eleni (non ref) and growing up with them. I am hoping to be able to keep their incredible story alive for my children and, eventually, their children. And come October, I’ll be married, and who knows what is in store for us after that? It’s a very exciting time! With everything going on, it sounds like I’ll be unable to blog much more, but on the contrary, I plan to bring my posting volume back up. I have a few posts already in varying stages of completion, so something should be finding its way up soon. Until then!