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#1 rleonekc   User is offline

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Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 07:18 PM

Hey everyone...I apologize in advance if this is the wrong section but I don't think I could find a more appropriate section.

I am finishing my Bachelors Degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on Software Engineering. My ultimate goal is to become a software engineer.

I just interviewed for a large local software company that is known for always hiring software engineers and being a pretty good place to work.

I didn't get the job...

Here's my issue. I have no real world experience. I feel like most companies want internships. The questions he asked me were questions that were real-world type programming situations, not things they teach in school. I work full time and go to school full time so I cannot apply for any type of internships because I have a family to support.

I'm just looking for some advice. What would you do if you were in my situation?

This post has been edited by rleonekc: 02 March 2015 - 07:18 PM


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Replies To: Software Engineers Enter

#2 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 07:19 PM

There are a ton of variables... so the scatter shot approach:
  • Apply for more jobs elsewhere.
  • See if you can figure out where the interview went wrong.
  • Maybe they were filled up, and you should try again.
  • Create a github and throw out some well polished code.
  • Be better prepared for the interview.

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#3 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 09:19 PM

Quote

Here's my issue. I have no real world experience. I feel like most companies want internships. The questions he asked me were questions that were real-world type programming situations, not things they teach in school.

This is why companies want internships. Folks without this experience have trouble applying the software development and CS concepts. What did you struggle with, out of curiosity? Perhaps we can better target the issue with some more info.
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#4 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 09:38 PM

View Postrleonekc, on 02 March 2015 - 09:18 PM, said:

Hey everyone...I apologize in advance if this is the wrong section but I don't think I could find a more appropriate section.

Welcome to DIC.

Quote

I just interviewed for a large local software company that is known for always hiring software engineers and being a pretty good place to work.

I didn't get the job...


This is normal. Particularly the first few interviews, you almost never get the job. You almost never get the job until just about the last interview you do....
(give it a minute...)

It helps to remember that you don't need to get all of the jobs. You need only need to get one at a time. It's also useful to keep in mind that a job interview is not an interrogation session. They're not there with the bright lights to break you down and make you confess. The point is to figure out whether you're the right person for that job and whether that job is the right job for your person. It really goes both ways. It might seem weird, but it's really good if you're asking questions in the interview - engaged and interested is very attractive, particularly in a new candidate who doesn't have a track record to work from.

Quote

Here's my issue. I have no real world experience. I feel like most companies want internships. The questions he asked me were questions that were real-world type programming situations, not things they teach in school. I work full time and go to school full time so I cannot apply for any type of internships because I have a family to support.


But how do you know they weren't real-world situations if you don't have any real-world experience? For all you know, they really do have to ferry cabbages and sheep and wolves across rivers in small boats a lot. Hell, at my job we do that EVERY DAY.

Joking aside, they ask you questions that they think will tell them what they need to know. If you're serious about wanting to work for them, that makes these very practical questions indeed. But the point is not necessarily to get the right answer. They want to see how you work on a problem if you don't know the answer. If they ask you, and you just know the answer, they're going to ask you more, until you get to one where you have to work hard - that's the whole purpose of the exercise.
Because after all, they don't want a programmer who deals really well with things they already know the answer to. It's nice to have a lot of experience and know exactly how to solve this problem because you've seen it before - but since they know you don't have that, they want to give you a chance to show how you deal with a novel problem. And I'll tell you a secret: a big part of it is, how well do you do under pressure? How do you react when you're stuck and you don't know the answer? If you see that you made a mistake, how do you react? Do you kick yourself and make a big deal about it, or do you correct it and keep on? If you're stumped and someone offers you a suggestion, how well do you integrate it into your process? And surprisingly important: do you know when to give up?
True story: I was in an interview once, and I had an amazingly simple math problem to whiteboard. And I did it fine, no problem standard stuff. Then the guy made a simple change to the requirement, and I started in, and I tied myself up in knots. I had the right idea, but I kept getting sideways to the requirements. And after working at it for a little while, I said look - I'm wasting your time here. At this point, I'd take a walk around the block, and if I was still stuck, I'd call someone over to rubber-duck it. What I wouldn't do is just sit and flail at it.

And that was the right answer, apparently. I got the job. The moral of the story, I think, is: you might as well be yourself in the interview. That way, no matter what happens, you won't have to spend your work days pretending to be the person that you were when you interviewed.


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I'm just looking for some advice. What would you do if you were in my situation?


The main thing is, get out and do a lot more interviews. Nobody gets hired on their first interview.
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#5 rleonekc   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 10:08 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 02 March 2015 - 09:38 PM, said:

lots of text



Thank you so much

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 02 March 2015 - 10:41 PM
Reason for edit:: removed lots of text

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#6 rleonekc   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 10:16 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 02 March 2015 - 09:19 PM, said:

Quote

Here's my issue. I have no real world experience. I feel like most companies want internships. The questions he asked me were questions that were real-world type programming situations, not things they teach in school.

This is why companies want internships. Folks without this experience have trouble applying the software development and CS concepts. What did you struggle with, out of curiosity? Perhaps we can better target the issue with some more info.



Thanks for the reply.

He asked some questions about Binary Trees and Binary search algorithms and I did well on those. (I studied up on that stuff pretty well before the interview because I had a hunch they would be asking stuff like that).

The main thing was object oriented type programming. I know the basics of objects and my strongest language is C++. The issue is they asked a question about a basic program that would use a person as an object and store their traits. (Persons name, age, height, weight, ect). I felt like I did good but he didn't seem to be very responsive. He acted as if I didn't do it properly when it seemed like a basic object. So I feel I need to be challenged more when it comes to object oriented type stuff, but it's kinda hard to know how to challenge myself when I'm not sure what material I should be looking for. Sure, I can look up "How To Guides" and read books about object oriented programming, but they all seem to be very basic.

Same with my college...they really just went into the basic concepts of objects.

I guess I just really need to find a way to challenge myself but at the same time have access to the resources I need to solve the problem.


Sorry to ramble on but I have a lot of thoughts racing through my head. I want to thank everyone for being so helpful. That's what I like about this forum...everyone is always trying to help everyone else.


-Rob
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#7 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 10:18 PM

FYI - you do not need to quote the entire post above yours.. The reply works just fine and minimizes post bloat.
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#8 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 10:40 PM

View Postrleonekc, on 03 March 2015 - 12:16 AM, said:

I felt like I did good but he didn't seem to be very responsive. He acted as if I didn't do it properly when it seemed like a basic object.


If you felt like the interviewer wasn't communicating well with you, maybe the company's not a good fit for you. Is this someone you'd have been working with? Do you think they'd be able to give you good feedback on your work? If they can't even tell you what they didn't like about your answer on what sounds like a simple problem, maybe not. So maybe you dodged a bullet there.
For what it's worth, when I interview for a position, I'm looking for a dialogue, particularly on the technical part of the interview. I want to know what it's like to solve problems with them, just as they want to know what it's like to solve problems with me. If they sit there like a herring on a plate and don't take part, I have to assume that's what they're doing when we're in a sticky situation, and I don't really think I'm looking for that.

Quote

I guess I just really need to find a way to challenge myself but at the same time have access to the resources I need to solve the problem.


This sounds like the sort of problem that I'd expect a developer to be able to address. How would you solve this problem? And what would you want to be able to produce as proof that you'd solved it?


Quote

Sorry to ramble on but I have a lot of thoughts racing through my head.


Work on that. Deep breath, compose thoughts, then speak. In an interview setting, rambling is not encouraged. Thoughtful and efficient communication are preferred. Remember that developer time is not expensive - it's priceless. No minute lost can ever be gotten back. Taking a few seconds to organize your thoughts is a good thing.


Quote

I want to thank everyone for being so helpful. That's what I like about this forum...everyone is always trying to help everyone else.


Well, not always. Sometimes it's the other way around.
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#9 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 02 March 2015 - 11:10 PM

Quote

The main thing was object oriented type programming. I know the basics of objects and my strongest language is C++. The issue is they asked a question about a basic program that would use a person as an object and store their traits. (Persons name, age, height, weight, ect). I felt like I did good but he didn't seem to be very responsive. He acted as if I didn't do it properly when it seemed like a basic object.

This is really material you should know backwards and forwards. Both in syntax and basic design. Companies are less interested in your familiarity with the Decorator pattern than if you can hash it out with the basics of OOP. I have a friend who was in IT for quite a while, then went into teaching. Life happens and he is now back in IT and has sat on an interviewing panel to screen potential candidates. He is constantly amazed how many folks don't know how to loop through an array. These are applicants boasting many years of industry experience. He told me they actually couldn't get anybody in Richmond, VA for a mid-level position, so his employer began looking at college grads for a $70k/year position. Moral of the story- know your stuff, including the basics.

Now, I went to my college's career fair last week. One company I spoke to, I was talking with a representative and there was a sophomore there as well. He was boasting strong Java experience. The representative asked him about abstract classes and he was clueless. That's pretty bad. I'm a graduating senior, so I'm in a different boat. After the first couple basic Java questions, he asked me about some Theory of Computation stuff. Then he saw I had a Math Stochastic Processes class on my resume and asked me about the complexity of implementing stochastic systems based on my prior coursework. I replied that the stochastic processes class I took was a theory class and we didn't touch implementation of stochastic systems, so I didn't know or have a reasonable guess. He was fine with that. Moral of the story here- it's okay not to know things. Just be honest about what you don't know.

Jon addressed pretty well about showing your thought process, so I won't rehash what he said. I hope my insights have been helpful some. Good luck with interviewing! :)
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#10 rleonekc   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineers Enter

Posted 03 March 2015 - 12:21 AM

Mac you made me feel much better for not knowing some things. I appreciate your input so much
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