Respected Monks,

This post is NOT related to Perl or even programming but it is my belief that I will get best professional help not anywhere else.

Before I begin, I just graduated in computer science and engineering from quite a good college in India. During my undergraduate I dabbled with C and Perl (mostly C) under UNIX/Linux environment. My area of interest lies in systems and systems programming... to put it broadly, back-end development. I have quite-more-than-average-engineering-undergraduate knowledge about Linux kernel and systems programming in C. I have coded several novice level kernel drivers (I made a Loadable Kernel Module root-kit :-D, and no, I did not use it to create havoc, just for learning purposes only), a debugger for a.out executable file format, a small toy general purpose OS kernel etc. You get the idea where my area of interest lies.

Now, one month out of college, I'm looking for a job and I got one at some company (the name is not important). The technical interview is still due on Monday and herein lies my problem.

I'm a (budding?) back-end developer and most of my skills are based on my knowledge in C and UNIX/Linux. But this company (many others that I submitted my CV to) primarily focus on front-end development using Java or .Net and/or content management systems using Joomla or Drupal etc. The job profiles that do focus on back-end development in C/Linux/UNIX ask for a professional experience of at least 2-3 years.

My question is, not necessarily targeted towards the interview on Monday, will it, in any way, hinder me, given that I have near negligible experience of Java or .Net and that I'm a fresher, in getting a job? If some company does focus on front-end development and uses Microsoft Windows as its base, will I be "considered" knowing that my knowledge and skills lie in some other (niche-r) area? Also, if I do have to learn something out of the way, should I go for Java or .Net? I have demonstrable skills Perl.

To tell the truth, I really am interested in core stuff such as developing a cool new device driver/kernel hack for Linux or designing a kernel for a particular purpose and a particular architecture or code some awesome system software for UNIX etc. I mean, I like R&D and creating new things.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Professional Help
by jeffa (Bishop) on Jul 12, 2013 at 16:31 UTC

    One whole month out of college, eh? Took me about one month myself before i landed my first job. I hated it and quit within 3 weeks because it was not a good fit. Took another two months to find the next job and that one, being a good fit, lasted 6 or so months until i was hired away by some of my peers. My point is that you don't have to be in a hurry or become so desperate that this opportunity before you becomes your only hope. It's not. First of all you have all ready admitted you are not even necessarily a qualified candidate for this role -- that does not mean you cannot do the job, it just means that you have other priorities and that is going to be seen in the eyes of an astute hiring manager.

    In terms of what to focus on, well ... what technology exactly is this company using and why? Java environments are remarkably different from .Net environments which are in turn remarkably different from CMS environments implemented in PHP. Unless you really want to become a front-end developer, don't you think your time would be best invested in finding a back-end job? If i were a hiring manager looking at your resume, that is the primary question i would be asking you. Are you just here until what you really want comes along?


    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
Re: Professional Help
by Lawliet (Curate) on Jul 12, 2013 at 14:29 UTC
    My question is, not necessarily targeted towards the interview on Monday, will it, in any way, hinder me, given that I have near negligible experience of Java or .Net and that I'm a fresher, in getting a job?

    Yes and no.

    If the job calls for front end experience and a company is deciding between one candidate with front end experience and one without (all else being equal), they will pick the more qualified candidate. However, rarely is "all else equal". Many companies don't hire people to fit a particular job description, they hire smart people that can fit a wide array of job descriptions. In other words, if the company thinks that you can learn new skills and technologies as required, they may hire you anyway. From the information you provided in your OP, it sounds like you are a smart individual who will have no trouble picking up front-end development technologies. However, many companies may not see it that way, especially because of the large differences between what you know and front-end development. Your job now is to convince them that you will be able to learn the new skills fast enough to make hiring you worthwhile. Getting more front-end experience will be incredibly helpful in doing this, but that should be obvious.

    Best of luck.

Re: Professional Help
by mtmcc (Hermit) on Jul 12, 2013 at 19:53 UTC
    If you have an ambition that you feel strongly about, and the skills/intelligence to achieve your goal, you're one of the lucky ones.

    If this interview doesn't work out, don't despair. It might not even be something you really want anyway.

    In either case, don't lose sight of your goal. You'll get there in the end if you keep trying, one way or another.

Re: Professional Help
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Jul 12, 2013 at 21:10 UTC

    I don’t know anything about the job-situation in India, but I would sort-of agree with jeffa.   It sounds to me like you’re looking for “any port in a storm” and trying to convince yourself that you will be happy.   And, maybe, rushing through the job-search process.   Sure, we all want a paycheck ... but will you be happy?

    Don’t be entirely put-off by the fact that back-end jobs are asking for “years of experience.”   They could well be just trying to deflect the “front-end developer” types whose entire experience to-date is Drupal and CMSes ... “not relevant, and they don’t know it,” but as you do know.   Every job is filled by a hiring manager who makes a considered purchasing decision.   If you are qualified and interested, don’t be afraid to try to make the sale.

    And, as they say around here, “this might be your first rodeo, but it won’t be your last one.”   This is not the only job you’ll find or the only interview you’ll go to.

Re: Professional Help
by QM (Parson) on Jul 19, 2013 at 08:10 UTC
    Smart employers are looking for people who can learn to do the job. While they would really like someone as a drop-in replacement for Joe Smith, that's not very likely. They also need to grow some of their superstars, so they need freshers with the right attributes. Just some notes from my own experience:
    • Interviewing is a skill to be honed. Don't miss an opportunity to talk to anyone about anything and everything. Learn to be interesting, if that's not already the case.
    • Practice telling your story, both what you have done, and what you like to do.
    • Don't stay in a job you don't like. It's a waste of your time. Your performance and reputation can both go down, and take a long time to recover.
    • The right job rarely comes along of its own accord. Do what you can to get by, and look for opportunities. Then gather your courage and jump.
    • Dream a little, or dream a lot, but follow up.

    Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of

Re: Professional Help
by hdb (Monsignor) on Jul 12, 2013 at 14:10 UTC
      Is there an english version? :P
Re: Professional Help
by wjw (Priest) on Jul 22, 2013 at 23:52 UTC

    All the replies above are good and offer sound advice. However, I am going to approach it a bit differently.

    To get the job, don't focus on what you do or don't know. Focus on your ability and desire to learn. Leverage your previous accomplishments to show that what you learn, you apply.

    You may not like this job, but you will learn something valuable from it, I guarantee you that. Take the job and learn what you can and keep looking! You know what you like to do and generally what you are looking for. Look while learning. Remember, your taking a job, not getting married... :-)

    I have been in industry for 31 years and due to the volatility of the industries I was in ended up with a number of jobs, and sitting on both sides of the interview table. When I look for a candidate, I look for someone who can learn, not someone who already knows it all. I don't care how much they know, they don't know it in MY environment, which means they have pre-conceived notions of what problems are to be solved and how to solve them. It can be much harder for an experienced individual to step into a new environment than it is for someone fresh.(incidentally, I have been that experienced person and when I got the job, it was miserable simply because I had pre-conceived notions, and a lack of flexibility. Bad move on my part, and on the part of the hiring manager)

    All that being said, don't take a job you know you will hate, ever! You can not learn effectively in such an environment. If you see it as an opportunity to expand your skill set and understanding of your industry from an alternate perspective, then it is worth the investment of time. If you can't see it that way, don't go there, it won't be a happy thing and can sour you.

    Best of luck to you!

    • ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...
    • The Spice must flow...
    • my will, and by will alone.. I set my mind in motion
Re: Professional Help
by code-ninja (Scribe) on Jul 13, 2013 at 22:08 UTC
    First off, sorry for posting this without reading that "Where should I post X?" thingy. Was a bit stymied with... you know how it goes, will be more discreet next time :-).

    Anyways, being a bit more shameless (deliberately read honest... :-P), I'll throw in my foremost inability.

    Well, my GPA is not that good, almost (1.5 .. 2.2)/4, no excuses but just assume that I'm innocent and that I found my stuff more intimidating than classrooms :-).

    No, I do not consider myself as some computer genius or something and GPA won't matter to me, but I do consider myself as an above-average systems programmer and I know GPA does matter. But how much does it matter? I mean it would really suck if I step into interview room of a respectable company and three seconds later I come out being rejected because my GPA is not up to the mark.

      (Shrug ...)   Welcome to the wonderful world of selling.   Whether you’re selling your fresh-out of-college professional services, or selling a Fuller Brush, you need to carefully consider what is your value proposition and also what are the possible sales objections.   You do not need to forward-mention your lackluster GPA, but you do need to have in the back of your mind a compelling response to that objection should it be raised.

      And ... “I found my stuff more intimidating than classrooms :-) ... (ha ha say why is nobody laughing) ... is not going to fly very far.

      Remember that you have showed-up at the customer’s front door with a box of brushes, and a value-prop.   Everything that you do should either positively advance that value-prop, or convincingly demonstrate why the objection just raised (e.g. GPA) does not, in fact, reduce it.   A customer who raises an objection centering upon your GPA is raising a doubt, and an off-the-cuff comment like that is simply going to (instantly and fatally) confirm that doubt:   “you’re not taking my question (or this interview) seriously, and you probably also won’t take the work seriously.”   The interviewer has just flipped the BOZO bit on you, and your interview is as good as finished.

      Compare this:   “Yes, I agree in hindsight that it was a mistake for me to have paid insufficient attention to my grades during my early years at college.   (Affirm the objection.)   However, I worked diligently to improve my average during my final year (I learned the error of my ways) and did particularly well in courses and projects that emphasized the particular technical skills that this job calls for.   (Address the underlying concern.)   For example ...”

      Okay, that ball didn’t go too far on the rebound, but at least it made it back over the net.

      So, when selling-time comes around (as it does in every interview), don’t be “shameless,” and never “throw in your foremost inability.”   Go to Amazon and buy The Little Red Book on Selling, and read it cover-to-cover three times.

      I am quite certain that at University you never took or were asked to take a single course on “selling.”   It is a vital skill that must be learned.   Get started.   Fast.   You might be your own worst enemy until you do.

      “In business, you don’t get what you deserve.   You get what you negotiate.”®
      -- Chester Karrass ... advertisement available in any in-flight magazine near you.

        words will be insufficient to appreciate your reply. :-).

        But a ++ vote should suffice.

        I'll keep these points in mind... especially the compare this part.

      depends on where you get you education; in some european countries, students getting a (~2-3)/5 are more knowledgable in practical applications, than a lot of students in USA getting 3-4/4 GPA

      High GPA mostly means you attended every class and passed every test, it doesn't imply you have practical knowledge of a subject, only that you probably do

      Similarly HALF gpa means you skipped lots of classes, or you failed stuff that doesn't interest you

      And businesses know this, so I doubt they'll judge you on GPA (one single number) alone , they'll probably ask for your transcript

      In some professions , where they use their employees credentials as advertisement, they might care about GPA, but IT usually isn't like that (or so I've heard)