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Turned down again

It's been 2 years since I've graduated from college and I keep getting turned down for interviews and jobs.

What would you do:

1.  Go back into the military.
2.  Keep current job and forget about the IT business.
3.  Start my own business.
4.  Keep current job and keep trying to get a job in IT.

Attention! Forward March!
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

I would think about what it is you actually want to do.  The answer to your question has little to do with what any of us thinks

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

A random thought - go for broke and be aggressive. When you're turned down for an interview or a job, call them and ask "what can I do to make myself more attractive to you? What do you want to see so that next time I *do* get the job?"


Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Start your own consulting company, give yourself the title of "VP of ____ " and then go apply for jobs.

John Rosenberg
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Don't go back into the military.  Not sure where you were before, but take a quick moment to remember the days of being tired, cold, wet, hungry, pissed off, and still having to go another three clicks to get to a patrol base, only to clean an M-16 in the rain.  That visualization usually kills the idea for me.

That other guy is right though, my opinion doesn't matter.

However, don't go back in the military.

Christopher Hester
Wednesday, June 4, 2003


I have tried that approach and most of the time I get an answer of "We can't discuss that with you" or "You're not the only one (turned down)" even after I ask them what I can do to improve they still won't discuss it.  Must be a matter of liability?  They must think I'm gonna sue 'em.

Attention! Forward March!
Wednesday, June 4, 2003


I remember it all too well. :-)

Attention! Forward March!
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

you need professional help.  go to a career counselor.  find a place to do mock interviews.  read all you can. 

2 years???

you're beyond our medicine here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

What you should do is the thing you would do each and every day if you did not have to worry about money.
I would write code all day every day even if I wasnt paid (and someone was paying my bills) so thats what I do for work. I love it.

When you have made that choice, then go for it.
If you dont get a job then ask why. Look at yourself and see what things you could do to improve at an interview.

If you really want to do the thing you want to do, then you will succeed.


James Ladd
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Dude, cleaning M-16s in the rain is nothing compared to cleaning Galil's in the rain. All those plastic parts.

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Reality is harsh.  If you haven't worked in IT since graduating two years ago, you're not ever going to work in IT.  I would examine the other options.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Wow, two years is a bit extreme.  You must be going at it wrong or live in a particularly bad area.  You'd be in management by now if you were completely incompetent so that can't be the reason. 

A better idea than posting this question might be to outline how you've approached getting a job, what you know, and what you've done to keep your skills fresh and your knowledge current, and then ask for some specific advice on getting into the field. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

What is you skill set? Maybe it is too obscure?

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Are you just getting turned down, or are you not even getting interviews?

It may sound crazy, but you can contact people who didn't hire you 3 months ago and ask them why. The person on the other end may just be receptive, and it may lead to a job if they see you're motivated enough to call and ask that sort of question.
Thursday, June 5, 2003

You could find a smart but tactless person who will agree to interview you for a bogus job that doesn't exist -- call it a practice interview -- and have that person tell you in brutally honest terms what's wrong. I'm sure there are lots of people in this discussion group who might be willing to be tactless :)

I guess you could make a better decision if you knew whether you were coming across badly for some reason, or if it's just the economy. Maybe you need to hire one of those image consultants that buys you a new wardrobe, gets you a hot haircut and teaches you not to pop zits on your nose while you're talking. You won't know until somebody tells you, and they're not going to tell you unless that was the point of the interview :) Many university recruiting centers offer "practice interviews" with real executive alumni for just this reason.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, June 5, 2003

My girlfriend continually accuses me of being tactless, and I've done my fare share of reading books like John T. Malloy's "Dress for Success" though my wardrobe would never show it, and my hair is still longer than most girls I know.

Maybe I should offer myself as a consultant for people who are out of work - that's probably the largest market out there today. I've certainly noticed a ramp up in ads for places like Devry, and they act is if there's no downturn in the industry and you'll definately get a job.

Wanna hire me? I have 3 books of sample interview questions too.
Thursday, June 5, 2003

That is the first time I've seen someone actual pitch themselves as an A-Hole for hire. :)

MarkTaw Interview Specialist - "I'll make you cry! Maggot!"

Thursday, June 5, 2003

I'm not an asshole, I'm actually a really nice guy, but if you ask for feedback, I can be tactless...

My girlfriend spends way too much time with me to have a realistic view of my personality.
Thursday, June 5, 2003

I can appreciate the need for personal diplomacy, in the right circumstances, but the situation in this industry is beyond that.  Wishful thinking and trite philosophy belong to a boom era.

I am always meeting young people that think they have a profitable future in software development.  This is probably an issue for another thread, but in my opinion programming is a dying field.  There will continue to be a lot of innovation, new companies and money made, but we simply do not NEED so many programmers.  Don't be fooled by the cyclical bullshit.  All those jobs have gone for good and they are NOT coming back.

Work only ever gets easier in IT and easier work means fewer employees.  Just imagine how bad the employee scene will be in 10-20-30 years when you're in your 50s.  This is a very risky industry to grow old in, as many good people are discovering.

This may be cruel but does anybody really believe that the person in this story will ever be a programmer?

My honest non-tactful suggestion, get into something else before you get too old.

You've got to be cruel to be kind.

tactless and willing
Thursday, June 5, 2003

I risk getting offtopic here, but I can't resist.

Cleaning "Galil" in the rain is much much better than cleaning M16. Galil was actually designed for easy maintainance in the field. It has less tiny parts with tendency to get lost and dirty.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

.. and you get less rain in Israel than in other parts of the world,
within a short time you get a lot of rain, but then its quiet.

Michael Moser
Thursday, June 5, 2003

Marc, going back to what I just posted in another thread - people pay for that kind of thing too (bizarre as it might seem).

Personally in the OPs shoes I would not give up the day job. As to what's wrong, not having met the guy/gal, I can't say. You really need feedback from someone who as interviewed you. If MarkTAW is serious, why not take him up on it? There's no chance of spoiling a friendship ("what? I have BO? F*ck you!") since you don't know him.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

He allready has a day job that pays the rent, right?

That's probably a huge part of the problem.  Entry-Level programmer at $26K, or experienced X at $50K.  Finding "The Right Job" under those conditions might be hard to impossible.

Matt's suggestions:

1) Go into the guard or reserve - get a computer-ish job.  Even the Guard has LAN, WAN, and System Administrator positions.  :-)

This will both build the resume and your personal balance sheet.  Hey, use the GI Bill and Guard tuition assistance to go to school as well. :-)


Look for telecommuting/part-time work.  Build up a portfolio.

It probably won't make you big bucks, but it might make a few.

3) Get involved in professional organizations like the Perl Mongers.  Run for office.  Network.

4) Get involved in open source projects - for example, QA for Mozilla is easy and doesn't take much time at all.

5) If you don't go into the guard, think about a job at a community college, teach VB or C++ or Java or such one night a week.

6) The point is to make it clear that you are a professional.  That you have come to that point in your life where you've said:


Instead of being a pay-check collector.

Companies that notice that spark will take an interest, and, eventually, you can get hired.

I know a mechanical engineer who developed his own graphics library, then tried to find work as a coder for companies that needed graphics guys.  It worked for him ...

good luck,

Matt H.
Thursday, June 5, 2003

"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER = Me."  Holy fuck.  I just realized that yesterday.  I've been spending the last few months skating around development, wondering what it there is to like about it.  And I realized in my own way what it is not to simply want to emulate, but to become.

I realize that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it's how I think. ;)

Thursday, June 5, 2003

"Software Developer = Me"

It's not mine, I got it from Tom DeMarco:

Matt H.
Thursday, June 5, 2003

Cleaning an M-16 anytime simply sucks. Cleaning one in the field seriously sucks, rain or not.

Frankly, I've always hated the M-16, though it was the only infantry rifle in service during my time in the US Army (I just missed the M-14 era). I like firing the M-16 and can shoot well with it--ergonomically, I like the configuration and especially the sights. It was my assigned weapon while I was enlisted, and for about half my commissioned time -- the rest of the time as an officer I was assigned an M1911 .45 -- not terribly useful, but fun to take to the range (the 9mm Beretta's were just being fielded at the time).

The basic round is pretty good, the .223 ball ammo provides good damage to the target -- personally, if I were to get shot, I'd rather get drilled by a .308 or a 30-06 (both 7.62mm, just different lengths and amounts of powder, for the non-US reader) that will punch a hole straight through than get hit by a .223 that will tumble and have an exit wound possibly several feet away from the entrance wound, or might just rattle around inside me for a while acting like a blender on 'frappe'. The normal ball ammo's not much good against any sort of hardened target though, and the round loses accuracy in the bush as it is easily deflected off-target by branches, but everything's a compromise.

But IMO the M-16 is too damned fragile (esp the way the stock is mounted to the receiver -- too weak an arrangement there for my taste), and I've never understood the fascination with gas-operated weapons that spray their own exhaust back into their working parts. Granted, the true Russian-made AK-47's are gas-operated and have a great reputation for tolerating filth (though they sacrifice longer-range accuracy as compared to the M-16; max effective for M-16 was 460 m vs the AK's 300 m back in my day--probably by having looser tolerances, I'd guess). I've never worked with an AK myself, though, so I'm going off anecdotal 'info'.

Personally, I prefer HK's delayed roller-lock bolt mechanism. You're still going to get some blow-back of crud into the working parts, but they avoid the hard-to-clean areas because they don't have that screw-ball area behind the chamber on the M-16 where the locking lugs fit. It takes one or two extra finger joints, special scrapers, or, as we sometimes used to use, bent coat-hangers to get in there and get all the crap scraped out. Witness the existence of the forward-assist handle on the -16. When the area behind the chamber fouls, the locking lugs on the front of the bolt don't readily seat under their own energy, requiring an extra push by the forward assist handle.

Kind of a Rube-Goldberg arrangement if you ask me. If you look at the early AR-15 and early model M-16's, the development/refinement cycle for the basic design took quite a bit of time to get right. Initial service experience in Vietnam was very, very poor -- lots of malfunctions due to, in my opinion anyway, a fundamentally poor design. They added the forward assist and did a lot of work with refining some of the metal surface treatments, I believe, as well as fielding some new cleaner-lubricants if I recall correctly, before they got it to operate fairly reliably.

OTOH, HK's mechanism seems inherently more sensible to me, as you don't have energy re-directed from the front-to-back motion into rotation. Because the locking mechanism is implemented as roller bearings that lock against the receiver housing, rearward of the chamber opening, you have a smooth, conical area behind the chamber that is both tolerant of fouling, and when fouled, is far easier to clean than the convoluted M-16 arrangement. The basic delayed roller lock bolt mechanism, when used in a full-auto weapon has a much higher cyclic rate of fire as well, which it gets because it's inherently more efficient, mechanically. I own an HK rifle based on this design and it's quite easy to clean as compared to the -16.  The German G-3 is based on it, as are several other models by HK. The basic delayed roller-locked bolt design was first fielded by Germany in WWII, so it had its own trial-by-fire, and proved quite successful. It's been present in German military weaponry ever since, and I think a model using this mechanism is being used by German anti-terrorist units.

I have no experience with a Galil -- is it gas operated, delayed roller-locked bolt, or some other blow-back design?

well, that was a fun diversion. back to software stuff.
</off topic>

Thursday, June 5, 2003


I have seen this occur on more than one occasion, when you are removed from an environment that has both good and bad qualities, given enough time you only remember the good, and even romanticize the bad.  I keep the following in mind to ensure I don’t have similar delusions. 

Things that kept me from staying in the US Army:  Concertina wire, Kevlar Helmets, MOPP gear, hot spots and blisters, TA-50 inspections, Red Company…

Having said that...  Here is a pretty historical photo of Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov holding one anothers weapons. (Stoner invented the M-16, and Kalashnikov the AK-47)
(from Ethan Herdrick)

Christopher Hester
Thursday, June 5, 2003

Happiness is a warm gun!

J. Lenin
Thursday, June 5, 2003

>I have no experience with a Galil -- is it gas operated,
>delayed roller-locked bolt, or some other blow-back

The Galil is a actually a copy/modification of the AK47.
AFAIK the Israeli army no longer uses it for combat (as far as i was told) nowadays they are all M16.

Michael Moser
Friday, June 6, 2003

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