Your Pipeline is Broken

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend of mine who is smart and talented enough to have gotten an internship at Apple and is planning to go out there for a permanent position at the end of the school year.

We were catching up about all the stuff we have been doing over the last few months and I can’t remember how this topic came up, but she mentioned to me that a company in town was desperately anxious to hire every mobile developer our school produced.

She is not the first person to tell me this. I am very puzzled and confused by this information because it does not correlate with my own experiences.

I started in the mobile development program two years ago. I was at school as a mobile development student for three semesters. Each semester we have an IT Job Fair where local employers supposedly send representatives to connect with students looking for jobs or internship.

I noticed that every semester I went to this job fair it got progressively worse and worse. At the first job fair people would actually talk to you and answer questions. The second one people would avoid eye contact with you and were incredibly unhelpful.

I went to the last one purely out of spite. I simply wanted to see just how bad it had gotten over the last year. I was not disappointed.

Each booth has a sign on it saying what they are looking for. I found one company looking for a mobile developer. Every other company that was looking for developers was looking for someone who knew VB.Net. VB.Net was eliminated from our curriculum around the time I went back to school full time. No one there had ever even taken a class in it. There was also a shocking amount of people looking for COBOL programmers even though I have no idea how long ago that language was eliminated from the curriculum.

The only people even looking for Java, which I had assumed was a pretty safe language to learn, were recruiters. Yes, there were recruiters at the job fair. I guess they really don’t want to miss an opportunity to capture someone before they know better than to hand over their soul, I mean, resume.

So, back to this company that is supposedly desperate to hire people. They have a booth at the job fair. Back when I was just starting out I talked to people there about what I should study if I want to work for their company. They handed out data sheets and seemed happy to talk to me. At this last one there were two women at the booth gossiping. I was feeling like a troll, so I went over to talk to them. They ignored me. Having nothing better to do and being curious about what was going to happen, I stood there and watched them while they tried to pretend I wasn’t there.

When it became obvious that I wasn’t going to leave, one of them sighed and snapped at me, “What do you want?”

I told her I was looking for a job. She sighed again and rolled her eyes at her friend. She said, “Yeah, we don’t hire people. If you want to work here, go over there and talk to Robert Half and leave us alone because we are busy.” She then went back to ignoring me and picking up her conversation with her friend.

Aw, isn't that cute. She wants a job. Doesn't she know she has to fill out form BZ/ST/486/C and defeat the Minotaur to get a phone screen?

Aw, isn’t that cute. She wants a job. Doesn’t she know she has to fill out form BZ/ST/486/C and defeat the Minotaur to get a phone screen?

Yeah, I am not talking to Robert Half. Robert Half is evil and incompetent. Actually, I could replace their name with any number of other recruiters in Madison and it would still be true.

I have spoken to recruiters (back when I didn’t know any better) and I have been told that no one in town wants entry level developers. No one wants to hire someone who just got done with school. I was told that no jobs ever came up, but if in the unlikely chance they ever did, I needed to sign an exclusivity contract with one of the recruiters to even have a shot at it. I was speaking to about five recruiters as part of my unemployment obligations back before I decided to go back to school full time and each recruiter was only interested in getting dirt on what the other recruiters were talking to me about.

I stopped looking for jobs on job sites because every job posted is a fake job created by a recruiter to trick someone into sending them a resume so they can fulfill some quota. I have seen the same job posted over and over again, but it someone miraculously never gets filled.

I have tried applying for a job directly at this company. I have applied for jobs that I fit perfectly and I have never made it past the HR screening criteria to even receive an email written by an actual human being.

I found it was easier to get tech conference talks accepted, get a book deal, and find a job at a weird esoteric small company that builds fluid printing robots that is run by one of the best programmers in the world than it was to even get to first base with this company in town that is supposedly desperate for developers.

I thought that maybe things had changed since last year. Things in tech change very rapidly and it was possible that this company had gotten their heads out of their asses and actually fixed their problems.

I asked a current student if he went, and he verified my tale that no one there was actively seeking out mobile developers. He saw lots of people looking for COBOL, but no iOS or Android.

I am actively telling people attending school not to bother with this company because it is too hard to perforate the layers of bureaucracy protecting it from ever actually hiring a competent person for work they supposedly need done.

People, your pipeline is broken. I believe that it is possible that the executives talking to our school actually want to hire some of our students, but they are setting up impossible obstacles to prevent us from ever actually getting there. Sending representatives from your company to a job fair to basically tell anyone who wants to work for you to fuck off is not going to convince anyone that they really want to work for your company.

I guess I should thank these guys for making it so hard for me to get in. When I went back to school in 2010 I wanted to work there and have a nice, stable, mundane existence. I think if I had done that I would be bored to tears. Things worked out fine for me. I guess maybe they were doing something right by trying to keep people like me out. I will see what I can do to help the other people like me avoid being trapped by the endless recruiter bureaucracy.

My plea to the current students studying programming: Don’t fall into this trap! This leads to misery and despair. Build a portfolio. Reach out to experts in your field. Go to conferences. Do things that don’t pay you a lot of money immediately but build your skills and establish your credibility. Push yourself to do things that are hard and be comfortable with feeling that you are stupid. Be willing to learn better ways to do things. For the love of God, do not give your resume to a recruiter! They will hound you to the grave with four month contracts in Boise, Idaho programming in a language that died ten years ago. Choose your own adventure.

Doctor Who: Series One- The End of the World

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…

Everything has its time and everything dies.

I had forgotten how many things this episode introduced us to. We got Lady Cassandra O’Brian, The Face of Barrowman, er, I mean, Boe, and we find out for the first time that The Doctor is the last of the Timelords.

The Doctor being responsible for wiping out the Timelords and the Daleks is such an ingrained part of the new series’ mythology that it is difficult to remember there was a time when discovered this information instead of just knowing it. We don’t discover The Doctor’s complicity in this episode yet, but we are introduced to the Lonely God, the Last of His Kind that will haunt the rest of the series from here on out.

It is strangely appropriate that the second episode of the new series is about the end of the world. The second episode of each season tends to be a disappointment because it’s hard to figure out where to go after the premiere. I am not saying this episode is a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it really does help set the tone for what the series is and what it could be. By introducing the fact that The Doctor had, offscreen, lost his entire race and showing Rose that everything she knows will end one day, it really does emphasize how small we are compared to everything in the Universe. It really puts our place in perspective.

Mum, you're breaking up! I only have one bar out here at the end of world!

Mum, you’re breaking up! I only have one bar out here at the end of world!

In the middle of the episode we get Rose talking to her mother on the phone. Jackie is still in her unawakened state where she doesn’t really think about the fact that everything is going to end. Rose has had her perspective completely altered and her talking to her mom underscores the whole fact that she has been changed by her experiences, even as early in the series as it is.

There is a great part towards the beginning of the episode where Rose assumes that The Doctor is going to step in at the last minute and save the Earth. He tells her he won’t because its time is up. This is something we see less and less frequently in Doctor Who. We rarely see The Doctor refuse to step in and meddle with things. He will still occasionally say that something is a fixed point in time, like the destruction of Pompeii, but we have seen him jump through a multitude of hoops to avoid any real consequences of anything actually dying or being destroyed. Just look at the number of times Rory comes back from the dead.

Please start dancing and saying "I am Groot!"

Please start dancing and saying “I am Groot!”

It is nice that Doctor Who makes some token attempt to explain why every alien we encounter in the future is humanoid. By saying that humans left the Earth and interbred with various other species, we can at least have a logical explanation of why every species is bipedal and looks like human being in make-up. I know it is easier to just do make-up on actors in sci-fi, but I always like it when they at least attempt to explain why everyone looks like a person and speaks English.

One thing that I think is cool about having a working class companion is that we see interactions with a lot of people you might not see interactions with. The scene where Rose is chatting with the plumber is really cool. Yes, there are all of these important dignitaries there to watch the Earth die, but every time you have a function like that, there are a lot of nameless, faceless people who are working behind the scenes to make sure that things come off without a hitch. As cool as it is to see The Doctor hang out with various Prime Ministers, it is also really neat to take time to talk to Mitt Romney’s 47%. I don’t know if it is a function of Russell T. Davies being a member of an underrepresent minority, but his dedication to racial and gender diversity, along with showing people whose stories don’t normally get told is commendable.

This Tainted Love is kind of Toxic.

This Tainted Love is kind of Toxic.

One aspect of this series that delights me to no end is watching Christopher Eccleston being goofy. In this episode when they haul out the “iPod” and play the classical music tune “Tainted Love” watching Eccleston dancing to the music is all kinds of awesome. There are so many terribly cheesy or just plain bad things in the this season that only work because Eccleston has the gravitas to pull it off. Eccleston has been in a lot of terrible blockbuster action movies where he has been absolutely wasted. It is painful watching a movie like “Thor: The Dark World” where his character could have been played by anyone and it would not have mattered.

The conversation between Rose and The Doctor where she tries to get him to tell her about himself and his people is very well crafted. The Doctor is going through the painful process of coming to grips with what has happened. Healing is not a linear process of slowly feeling better. Generally speaking, when you go through a trauma, parts of you shut down. The Doctor wants to take his new companion on a nice, fun adventure. He doesn’t want to think about or deal with the fact that he is responsible for the destruction of his people. Rose pressing him for straight answers begins to awaken uncomfortable feelings for The Doctor and you can see him trying to retreat back into his comfortable numbness, but he just can’t. The dragon has awakened and you can’t put it back to sleep.

Denial of Reality.

Denial of Reality.

You can run, but you can't hide...

You can run, but you can’t hide…

Seeing The Doctor go from dancing and being goofy to having to talk about the painful reality of being the last of his kind is a pivot that not a lot of actors could do. His work in the scene where he is confronted about being the last of the Timelords is painfully subtle. Eccleston conveys so much with his stillness and his silence.

I still maintain that Eccleston and Piper have the best chemistry of all the Doctor/Companion pairs. This is only their second episode but they have such sparky energy with one another when he is modifying her phone so she can call her mother. I am a highly sensitive person and I get all gushy inside watching the two of them interact. It makes me all kinds of happy. Watching this its hard to believe that these people have not been together for years. Their banter and comfort with one another is just so natural that it absolutely drives me insane that we only have a baker’s dozen episodes of the two of them.

I find the theme of this episode to be highly ironic. The episode deals with the inevitable end of everything, yet everyone involved in this episode has unnaturally extended the time they have been allotted. Lady Cassandra has morphed and mutated herself in a doomed attempt to avert and cheat death. The Earth has been artificially prevented from ending at its natural time. We don’t know it yet, but The Face of Boe is the immortal Captain Jack who was altered accidentally and is an abomination that the TARDIS will flee to the end of the Universe to try to escape. The Doctor himself is an immortal god.

Everything has its time and everything dies.

This episode spends so much time talking about so many people who have unnaturally extended their time in this existence. Life is precious because we have a finite amount of it.

The end of all things.

The end of all things.

The idea that trying to unnaturally extend your life is evil is a very common theme in sci-fi and fantasy. Vampires are cursed because they try to cheat death and they are marked by their curse. In the Harry Potter series Voldomort is physically maimed by his attempts to cheat death by breaking his soul into pieces and scattering them to the four corners of the globe. In Lord of the Rings, the wearers of the rings of power are granted unnaturally long life at the expense of their soul. Death is to be feared, but far more scary is the terrible cost at trying to avoid the inevitable.

Each and every moment we are given is precious. I sometimes feel like I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do. I push myself very hard and make myself sick trying to make up for time I squandered when time felt limitless. I forget that sometimes it is important to just take a day or two to stop and look around at the wonder that exists all around us.

I went to Greenville, SC for a conference a few weeks ago. I got there half a day early and I spent the entire time just walking around a park in a place I have never been and might not ever see again. It recharged my soul to get away from all my worries and responsibilities and just exist for a few hours.

It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Sometimes you just have to accept that everything is going to end one day and take time to stop and smell the chips.

Everything ends and everyone dies. Let's eat chips!

Everything ends and everyone dies. Let’s eat chips!