Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ahhh! (Read: Busy)

This would be why my life feels so crazy-stressful-hectic right now. I've got class (blue), homework (red), work (orange), and appointments/interviews (green) all vying for my time.

Thursday and Friday are deceptively empty -- I'm in San Francisco then for some job interviews. I don't know how much homework I'll be able to get done, but that's what I'll be spending a good chunk of my free time doing those days.

Note that I don't actually stop my day at midnight. I'm up until 2 or 3 (or sometimes 4) in the morning, usually homeworking. Then it's up at 9:30 and do it all over again!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Intuit Interview Questions

I thought to myself, "Self, it would be cool to document what interview questions you've been asked. For posterity or future interview-prepping or something." So, here's what I remember of my interview at Intuit.

(Interestingly, Forrest and I had the exact same three people interview us. Most likely because we were both interviewing for the Software Engineer position. And when we compared notes, it turns out that the people asked us variant questions, or, in the technical skills, different subsets. Forrest's resume mentioned his database experience, so he got some of those tech questions; I haven't done much DB work and didn't claim to, so she didn't even bring up the subject with me.)

Leadership & Team Skills

The first person I talked to, Paul of Payroll, was the "touchy-feely" guy (his words). He didn't ask me technical questions, but instead wanted to see what kind of leadership and team skills I had. His questions were more invitations to stories that demonstrated my abilities.

  1. Tell me about a time that you took initiative on a team project.
  2. Tell me about a time when you had some conflict with a team member. How did you resolve it?
  3. How do you deal with things like relocating to a new area? How do you deal with being new to a team?

Design Skills

The next person I talked to, Arun the Architect, wanted me to discuss the design decisions and structure of some complex project I'd done at school or during an internship. Alas, the last truly complex project I worked on was two years ago, so I really don't remember the interfaces and inheritance hierarchies used.

I did remember a simpler project, so I went with that since I figured it would be better to talk about a simple project concretely than to talk about a complex project vaguely. It's no fun trying to describe a system while you're actively dredging up details at the same time. The describing goes faster than the remembering, and you end up stuck saying, "And I don't remember what happens next in the story of this design."

He asked me for a different example, and I asked him to clarify that the problem with my first example was its simplicity. I don't quite remember the next question or two, but then we changed subjects and discussed what subfield I was looking to get into. I told him I didn't want to be pigeonholed into one specialty yet, because I felt there were still areas I wanted to explore before settling on one. He seemed content with that answer.

  1. Tell me about a system you designed.
  2. In what area of software engineering to you see yourself in five years?

Object-Oriented Programming Skills

The last person I talked to, Bindu the Senior Software Engineer, focused on explicitly technical questions. However, I thought her questions were pretty straight-forward -- this considering the fact that I haven't actually used C++ in about two years.

The only one I didn't know was the applet question, but then I was very upfront with her and explained that I hadn't worked with applets before. The answer she was looking for involved the security differences between them and what access they had to the host computer running the program. I'm sure that if she'd prompted me with a question about security differences between applets and applications, I would have realized what she was looking for. But with the open-ended way she'd phrased it, I got blocked thinking, "Ack, I don't do applets!" Oh well. I got all the rest of her questions easily, so I think I did pretty well overall.

  1. What methods do you get automatically in a C++ object?
  2. What is a virtual function?
  3. What is a pure virtual function?
  4. What is a virtual destructor, and when would you want to use it?
  5. What does it mean to have a static field? A static method?
  6. What does it mean to have a final field? A final method? A final class?
  7. What is the difference between an abstract class and an interface?
  8. What is multiple inheritance and why should you avoi-- use it sparingly?
  9. Is the return type part of a method signature?
  10. What is the difference between a Java applet and an application?

Compared to Microsoft's technical questions, Intuit was easy. We were told to expect a phone call or email within the next two weeks to find out whether we're getting any employment offers. Waiting! :)



Monday, November 13, 2006

Shuttle to Intuit

Forrest and I got up early this morning -- that is, 10 -- so we could catch the shuttle to Mountain View. We both got interview offers at Intuit, so off we go.

Last year, when I interviewed for an internship position, we were driven up in a regular white van. This year it's a "campus shuttle" commuter van-bus thing. There's ten of us, presumably all CSC, but I only recognize one other person.

I'm a little nervous about this interview, because it's my first full-time position interview. I'd like it to go well, and I wouldn't mind having a job lined up for me after I graduate. I brought the Gang of Four (that is, the Design Patterns book), supposedly to read but really as more of a good luck talisman than anything.

I'm getting a slight carsick-type headache now, so I'm going to stop with the blogging now.


Thursday, November 9, 2006

Interviewing for Full-Time Positions

Since I'm working on graduating this quarter (fingers crossed), I went to the career fair last month in a more serious mindset than in previous quarters. I still handed out my resume to just about anyone who wanted software engineeers, like I do every quarter there's a career fair, but this time I was really hoping one of them would actually pan out and line me up with a job upon graduation.

By the end of the career fair week, I had five interview requests: Microsoft, Intuit, Wells Fargo, Salesforce, and FactSet. The last, FactSet, I decided I wasn't all that interested in after all and thus declined their interview offer. (C'mon, when the company rep doesn't know that the term "client/server" describes his product's model, or doesn't know what X-forwarding is even in general terms -- well, let me say, not a strong selling point for "good, challenging place to work.")

Wells Fargo and Salesforce wanted on-campus HR screener interviews, which went well enough that they both are flying me up to San Francisco for on-site interviews at the end of this month. I'm working with their recruiters to combine the interview trips; I'd rather not miss more school than necessary, especially since I'm travelling to interview elsewhere too.

Neither Microsoft nor Intuit do on-campus interviews, or at least they didn't even ask to schedule one with me this year. I had interviewed for internships with them in previous years, though, so I guess that must still count. They just want to jump directly to the on-sites.

Plus, I have my current CustomFlix jobs, at least through this December. I don't know how my wandering in Mexico and then abandoning them in June or September will fly with them, but I'm still there for another month anyway.

So, all in all, I'm hoping at least one of these will provide me with a "real" income once I'm done graduating and catching my breath before I enter the Real World.



Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Planning My Second Trip to Mexico

Last winter break, I went to Mexico for three weeks by myself. Although Oaxaca is currently in political turmoil, I would recommend visiting the city once it's calmed down again.

The Travel Itch

So this winter break -- and college graduation! -- I've got the itch to get back to a Spanish-speaking country. Mexico's closest and thus cheapest.

Forrest and I had originally planned on driving down Baja California for the bulk of break, but this fell through for various reasons. Our winter break plans now involve visiting his family and mine, with side trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. I'll drag Forrest into Mexico some other time. ;)

Viajando Con Mi Madre

But I still want to hablar español. So I called up my mom and invited her to travel to Mexico with me this January. To my surprise, she agreed to a week of vacationing with me! We first looked at Chiapas, Oaxaca's easternly neighbor, where language schools are cheaper than elsewhere in the country. The Zapatistas had supposedly settled down in recent years, but now they may be rustling again in sympathy to Oaxacans' protests.

My mom definitely didn't want to tango with any politically unsettled states, so I suggested San Miguel de Allende instead. With a large American expat community and lots of middle- and upper-class Mexican vacationers, it should be a pretty safe place. Added bonus for my mom: there should be more English-speakers there than in your average Mexican town. I count this as a mild negative, but I'll manage. :)

The school we're looking at is Habla Hispana. Their classes are a little large at up to ten students, but they are considerably cheaper than the local competition (which has comparable class sizes, surprisingly). Homestays through the school run $18 a day for a shared room; three meals daily included.

We're researching how much extra an open-ended return ticket will cost. If it's not outrageous, I'm hoping to arrive in Mexico without a firm return date. I would really like to stay in San Miguel as long as I want (and can afford), or have the flexibility to wander to other areas. We'll see how this aspect of the trip works out.

Open Invitation

If any of y'all wants to meet up with me in Mexico, I'd love to see you! You know you want to... :)


Monday, November 6, 2006

No NaNoWriMo

What with trying to graduate this quarter -- which involves a 15-page paper on my Apple internship experience, a senior project and accompanying report, my two regular courses, and a part-time web dev job -- I just can't afford to do NaNoWriMo this year. There's always next year, though!

Good luck to Lisa and Olya, though. Don't forget to kill off a Chris in honor of Baty!

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