I mean, it’s a legitimate question. There are plenty of engineers on the market these days; while we don’t have any trouble finding work, there are plenty of good engineers around if you know how to look. So why should someone hire me in particular?
Well, dear reader, let’s look at what I can do– I mean, I graduated from a relatively prestigious university, so surely I can do something. Much of what I bring to a company, though, doesn’t come from coursework– it comes from messing around with friends (student, faculty, or otherwise) late at night, trying to come up with cool stuff that works. At my last company, we supported SDKs in six languages. I was the only person who had shipped code (not just there– indeed, mostly not there) in all six– Python, PHP, Ruby, Perl, Java, and Objective-C. I wrote the Perl SDK from scratch in just a couple of days, while helping a customer debug their OAuth stanzas (that they were using in lieu), and made sure it not only passed its own extensive unit test suite, but all the Perl “Kwalitee” measures as well. Having never done Android development, I got a basic AR system working in a day. The prettiest, however, of the random tasks I undertook, was a data visualization I did in just a few hours (of my own time, late one night) that got us a lot of good press.
It’s in Processing, if you’re curious. Another language I picked up on the side (also how I learned Ruby, PHP, and Objective-C).
That leads me to the corollary, then. I love technology, and I love hacking, but it’s not all I do; in the last twelve months I’ve served as communications head for a political campaign, replaced bits of my house, played in a pretty good little orchestra (I’ve played violin for nearly 19 years), spoken at conferences, and generally led a fairly interesting life through circumstances best labeled “odd.” All of these things make me a better hacker, in the most traditional sense; I get things done using whatever means necessary for the job at hand, and I’m not afraid of picking up a new skill or two if they’re what would work the best.
And things do indeed get done well. When I commit to a deadline, it gets done, no matter what– as a young intern at VeriSign, I once stayed overnight to finish integrating VeriSign’s one-time password technology with the research project that would become http://pip.verisignlabs.com, rather than disappointing their head of research. (I was later given the favor of researching and submitting a security patch to the open source version, Apache Heraldry.) I’ve worked on old codebases and new, for huge, established corporations, the government, and tiny startups just trying to make their way in the world.
So, as Arlo Guthrie said: “the only reason I’m singing you this song now is that you may know someone in a similar situation– or you may be in a similar situation– and if you’re in a situation like that, there’s only one thing you can do:” ping me. (You could sing Alice’s Restaurant, but as a hiring strategy, that might have a somewhat limited scope.) I want to work for groups who want to be the best, and who need someone to fill in their cracks with a breadth of experience, and an attention to detail that can bring companies to the top. If that sounds like you, my email address is bfo -at- ussjoin -dot- com, and my resume is– as always– at http://ussjoin.com/resume.html. Good hunting!