Questions about applying for positions while I'm still an Undergraduate

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  • Thread starter PhotonSSBM
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  • #1
I've been working for a company I helped start for the last 10 months. In that time I've built quite a powerful product, which has attracted recruiters on Linkedin to offer me their time. Some of them have been exceptionally tantalizing. Right now, my company is finding it's way to being able to sell our product, and finally start paying ourselves. In the meantime, I am in school part time as a non traditional student (29 yo), and my degree in Physics is a year away from completion (part time). I am on welfare and working as a tutor part time to pay the bills. I started school 5 years ago, and have a number of skills I"m able to market that I've learned in just the last 2 years as an RA and software developer. I have virtually no credentials course-wise for CS, but I am very good at what I do, and have a very sophisticated program under my belt.

The product I've developed is nearing its final form. And once it's done, my involvement with the company is expected to decrease enormously until it takes off. Even then, we'll be looking to bring in talented engineers to do most of the heavy lifting when we become equitable enough to do so.

I will be applying for other positions in the next week by reaching out to the recruiters who've reached out to me in the past. They will be for Mobile Development engineering positions. This will be the first time I've ever done something like this. I'm quite tired of barely making ends meet from month to month. I'm making my resume clean and sophisticated and I'm prepping for material I can be tested on in interviews, which I'm sure I can do well in.

I would like to know some signals that an opportunity is one I should avoid, and what kind of material I can be expected to be tested on, besides Algorithms and Data Structures. Any other interviewing/job searching advice is appreciated. Also, in the event that my Linkedin connections don't work out, what would be a good resource to explore other opportunities?

Finally, will employers be concerned that I have no degree and will be starting these positions while I'm still in school for another year? The positions I've been pitched before are not internships.

Thanks ahead of time for any help.
  • #2
A quick Google search will show many such questions;

1) A simple but common question is swapping two numbers while preserving their value which is often given to newbie programmers or to senior programmers interviewed by newbie programmers (their whole world view is about swapping things).

x=y // makes both x and y have x's initial value

temp=x    // hold onto x's value
x=y          // give x y's value
y=temp   // give y x's value

// AND the really clever way
x=x^y     // entangle X and y values via XOR
y=x^y     // subtract y from the entangled value leaving x
x=x^y     // subtract y again which is really x's value to get the y value

2) Write some code to sort a list of numbers.

3) Write some code to binary search a list of numbers.

or since you have a physics background they may ask about the speed of an unladen swallow to which you must respond African or European.

Its also good to have a trick problem up your sleeve that you can discuss or pose (if you get their trick problem). I was once asked a trick C++ question by an interviewed and I quickly answered followed by "Oh you must have seen this in Dr Dobb's Journal" he of course said no so then I gave him one from their list and he couldn't answer it so I quickly gave him the answer. No need to embarrass the interviewer but he was really impressed by then.

Recently a couple of students were interviewed at work. One was a family friend and it was for a part-time programming job. I told her that many folks here used MATLAB for their work. She knew it from class but because English was her second language, when asked she said she "had an encounter with it" meaning she was familiar with it. However the interviewer took it to mean that she had some real issues with MATLAB ie didn't really know it and torpedoed her chances. The other student who I knew was less qualified got the job because her question was to write a sorting algorithm on the board something she had just learned the week before in class (dumb luck).

The key to being interviewed is to show confidence by answering questions and just as importantly asking questions. Don't forget you are interviewing them too. What's the work environment like? What kinds of tools do you use? How do you archive your software? What kinds of software review procedures do you do? Cite some of your experience on your other programming projects.

Make the interview a dialog between two peers, instead of they ask a question and you meekly answer.
  • #3
// AND the really clever way
Hah! I hadn't seen that trick before. :biggrin:
  • #4
You might also make sure you are able to answer questions on project management. What should you do before writing code for a customer? Can you sketch out a basic project plan on a white board? What do you understand about change control?
  • #5
I have virtually no credentials course-wise for CS, but I am very good at what I do, and have a very sophisticated program under my belt.
Do you have any experience with source code control? For example, experience using systems like Perforce or Visual Source Safe? That kind of experience (if you've used such systems in your current coding work) looks very good to prospective employers. Generally companies that develop software use such systems to manage their software projects and control revisions, so if you understand such systems and how they work ("depot" versus "workspace", for example), that should impress them and help to elevate your application and prospects.

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