Saturday March 07th, 2009
The Job Search
Initially, I was very confident (overly confident) that I would find a job quickly. I had colleagues working at RIM, Foxconn, General Dynamics, Freescale, Qualcomm, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco, and believed through my connections I would be able to get a job soon. I started looking for a job in October with the intention of working outside of Florida. However, a lot of my friends were still working in Florida so that limited my options. Also, I was interested in a smaller company, which also eliminated a lot of the companies I just mentioned. Furthermore, the economy was really bad; my timing could not have been worse. The first job I found really intriguing was in Washington with Precor, makers of excercise equipment. They were updating their dot-matrix displays on treadmills and ellipticals to highly interactive, full color, touch-screen displays and it was a project in the initial stages of conception. This job sounded great - I would be able to make some design decisions, it was excercise related, a smaller company, etc. However, as embedded linux was at the core of the project, of which I had no experience, I did not make it past the phone interviews. A headhunter in the Austin area called me up after finding my resume on Monster for a military/government contract company called Ticom Geomatics. Unfortunately, I had the prejudgement of military companies as slow-moving, heavy process, unexciting companies. Although I felt the phone interviews went well, I think my lack of enthusiasm was noted and a week later I was told they are holding off any hiring until next year. I assumed this was an excuse rather than a real limitation to fulfilling that position. Another intriguing company was Numonyx, a spinoff of Intel, located in the Sacramento area, working on flash memory devices. This job was also promising, the phone interviews went well and they were getting ready to fly me out to Cali for an on-site interview but upper management put a freeze on all hiring which prevented further action. The HR team was optimistic, however, and told me that this opening had been something they have been trying to fill for a long time and that there was a good chance that the company-wide freeze could be overturned for this opening. However, things kept dragging on all the way through January (I had initially made contact with Numonyx in October) when they finally said it will probably be several more months before they are able to hire anyone.

At the beginning of November, some things changed in my life and Florida was a destination not only would I be willing to work in but would like to work in. My top two choices were RIM And Foxconn. When Motorola had the initial layoffs, Foxconn and RIM presented offers to many of the laid off employees. I was very much against working for Foxconn for several reasons and RIM was my preferred choice. Of course, at the time I was planning on traveling to Costa Rica so I had to turn down the offers. Now, in November, after consideration I opted to work for Foxconn over RIM (it's funny how my mind changes) mainly because I was very intersted in working on a new project to develop a Google Android phone. I called up my manager from Motorola who was working at Foxconn and he said he would work on getting me an offer letter in the mail in a few days; no need for any interviews or screenings, which is the nice thing about having connections. After a week or so, my manager said the offer letter was still in the works. After my experience with Numonyx and the way the economy was headed, I was getting a bit nervous. However, in parallel, I was having phone screens with Qualcomm in San Diego, which went well and by Thanksgiving they offered to fly me out to San Diego in December for an on-site interview. Finally, I received the offer from Foxconn but now I had an on-site interview with Qualcomm so I asked what the acceptance deadline was for the Foxconn offer. The HR team was very accomodating and said to take as much time as I needed. Despite holding off on accepting the Foxconn offer, I felt that it was very likely to be the job I would take even if Qualcomm made an offer. My interview at Qualcomm, however, did not go so well and they did not make an offer, which in my mind was not a big deal since my heart was set on working at Foxconn. Thus, in December, I called up Foxconn to accept the offer and was expecting to start at the beginning of January. Unfortunately, the bad economy struck again, Foxconn had layoffs and instituted a hiring freeze, and were unable to go forward with the offer. I was taken aback. I would be going into the new year with no job and practically starting from scratch on my job search. I looked back on my interview with Qualcomm and realized I made some mistakes on some basic questions, which in my mind was unacceptable, so it was time to study and review. There are certain programming interview questions that aren't necessarily commonly used in the real world (or at least were not commonly used at Motorola); a good example is linked lists. This was something I hadn't reviewed since high-school and college. By the way, just about every interview I had asked some sort of linked list question. I had mostly been managing / coordinating for my last few years at Motorola, plus with my trip to Costa Rica, it was close to three years since I had done some real programming. I bought a book called Programming Interviews Exposed, refreshed my C and C++ skills, and reviewed another book titled Programming Embedded Systems.

I started out the new year making contact with RIM and posting an overhauled resume on Monster, CareerBuilder, and Dice. I also started talking with Bloomberg and was progressing through their four levels of phone screens. My studies paid off as a lot of the questions that were asked were similar (if not exactly the same) as to things I was studying, and Bloomberg set up an onsite interview in New York City. Interviewing with Bloomberg was a bit odd as they are a financial company and were looking for computer science majors with a strong background in object-oriented programming and data structures, of which I had neither. My background was in embedded programming and low-level device drivers. As such, I was surprised I had made it this far and was looking forward to seeing NYC. I would do my best and if things worked out at Bloomberg, wonderful, but if I did not get an offer I wouldn't be overly disappointed. The hiring firm, Genesis10, coached me with questions like: Write a function that will take an integer as a parameter representing the number of rungs on a ladder. This function will display all the different combinations of climbing the ladder if one were to proceed up the ladder either by one rung or two rungs at a time. For example, given a ladder with 3 rungs, you can climb the ladder by taking one rung three times (111), one rung then two rungs (12), or two rungs then one rung (21). In the end, things did not work out at Bloomberg, but I learned a lot, got to see the inside of the Bloomberg office in Manhattan, and was better prepared and more confident in my interviewing skills than ever before.

RIM, a little slow on getting in touch with me, finally set up an onsite interview for the beginning of February. Actually, it was the day after the superbowl (February 1), so I was able to fly into Fort Lauderdale, attend Kevin's Super Bowl party, see a lot of my old friends, then interview with RIM the following day. I was in Florida less than 24 hours, but I felt the interview went well and when I returned to TX, I received an email from my boss-to-be essentially saying that I will receive an offer shortly from HR. Great! I was very impressed with RIM, excited to work on the Blackberry, and was looking forward to working again with a lot of my old colleagues. One week went by without receiving an offer. Then two weeks. RIM had just released earnings and they were not good, their stock tumbled almost 20% and I was concerned a hiring freeze would go into effect. I re-commenced my job search as I couldn't wait around for an offer, despite the positive assurance that I would receive one.

On Friday the 20th I received a call from the HR staff from ARM. They did a quick pre-screen and said that they would notify me soon for a more in-depth phone screen. I received an email within 30 minutes for a phone screen in three hours. After the phone screen with Wylie (still the same day), I received a phone call from the HR staff indicating they wanted to fly me out to Washington. They issued my tickets and I would fly out Tuesday morning. I had the interview on Wednesday. My studies definitely paid off. I nailed every technical question they threw at me: linked lists, bit shifting and counting (even a Gray code question), recursion, and C string questions. I was at ARM for over 9 hour and was interviewed by 7 different people. There are only 10 people at the Olympia office, so I met almost everyone. Everything went well except for my interview with my manager-to-be, which just went ok. Thus, I was a little concerned as to whether I would receive an offer. However, by the next day, I received a call from ARM HR with the good news that they would make me an offer. Coincidentally, this same day, February 26th, RIM HR finally called back and also made an offer. I couldn't believe it. With this economy, I had been looking for a job for almost 5 months now, and when I finally received an offer, I recieved two on the same day. Now I had the tough decision of picking between two really good companies. Interestingly, if RIM had acted quicker I would have never flown out to Washington and would not have received a second offer. It was 6 days between my initial contact with ARM and receiving an offer, yet 45 days for RIM. A communication mixup occurred between RIM HR and myself in which an agreement to conduct a background search was understood by HR to be a verbal agreement to working at RIM. It is not good practice to accept an offer verbally and then renig on that offer. Thus, once I heard from a RIM colleague that I had accepted the job, I quickly called HR to let them know about my intentions and that I believe a mixup had occurred. This was particularly upsetting as I was starting to lean towards accepting the ARM position and I have many friends at RIM whom I did not want to upset by them thinking I was rescinding an offer after accepting one. Both companies would have been great to work for and I believe either choice would have been fine. Some of my friends have told me they think I'm making a good choice; others think I'm making a mistake. But, I accepted what I felt was the best job for me, what felt right, and that was accepting the position with ARM in Washington. I fly out of San Antonio this Tuesday and am making a cross-country trip from Miami to Olympia. I start work on the 23rd of March.
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Saturday March 07th, 2009

Leslie says:

How exciting Wade! Washington was always on my short list of places to live after college. I hear it's fabulous. Let us know when you're ready for company and a visit.....

PS....you get a new car yet????

Best of luck, and, Go Gators!

Saturday March 07th, 2009

Wade says:

I haven't even decided what kind of car I want. Unfortunately, nothing is really appealing to me. The F-150 is having $6000 rebates right now, but I don't really need a pickup with low gas mileage.

You are welcome to come visit anytime; just let me know when. My next task is to convince all my friends to move to Washington. =)

Saturday March 07th, 2009

Tony says:

Congratulations on your on your new job Wade! Being in Washington state, you may just need that F-150 or better yet....a Chevy Silverado 4x4. Think about it and keep in touch.

Saturday March 07th, 2009

Rohit says:


Monday March 09th, 2009

Sook says:

Greetings from Kyoto! Congrats on the job offer and best of luck in Washington!

Tuesday March 10th, 2009

Ali Karrels says:

Just pack your winter coat! Very happy for you that you have a nice job, good luck out there.

Tuesday March 10th, 2009

Byron says:

[edited for html] Congrats once again on the find. Too bad you're enemies with everyone at RIM now...j/j! I'm not sure what "renig" means but it makes me laugh :) I've never heard of Numonyx but if you've kept up on your flash memory news, you probably knew that Spansion, another flash memory joint venture, is bankrupt;. ARM should be pretty awesome. They seem like more of a hardware company but they are definitely in a good spot right now. Anyway, see ya tomorrow!

Tuesday March 10th, 2009

Byron says:

Dang i thought you allowed html. It's a link to a chart.

Monday March 16th, 2009

Holly says:

I guess it's impossible to outrun those Bedouin genes! Bon chance in Washington.