Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Job for the Makers | Tips on Building for Interviews

This post is a prequel to a series of posts that I want to write: productivity tips learnt from developers and the valley. 

It seems that jobs are falling off to never-land at many places except the startup tech scene. Hold your horses. The jobs are abundant but they aren't easy to get. Got talent for business? Be prepared to answer some tough questions. Got talent for coding? Show me your code, your GitHub and your algorithm.

Today I saw this job posting. Twilio, a familiar name. Partner Account Manager, a familiar position. Then at the bottom of the page:

Oops. Homework!

Such is the case with many startups now. Be prepared to do some homework before they even hand an interview to you. Good old school names almost don't matter.

As a consultant and a hacker, I learn new tech and concepts all the time. Here're some tips for my business pals.

  • Get to know the concepts fast and furious. 
    • Because you aren't a natural developer, use visual aids, multi-media, tutorials, alternatives, whatever you can get your hands on. Youtube. Khan Academy, Coursera, you name it.
    • Reading books may not be fast enough, get through a full Coursera course may not be fast enough. Grab what you need and hop on.
  • Stay high level at first
    • Understand the process, ask the question, in order to integrate the API, you have to do ______ first, then  ______ , and then ______. You will also need ______ . Fill in the blanks
  • What is the MVP? the minimum viable product? Prototype
    • Build the parts first, and the modules. These are your lego building blocks
    • Then worry about the fancy problems. You have to demonstrate that you can use the tech first. You aren't applying to YC yet.
    • Wireframe your superb game changing idea that you can't build yet
  • Don't invent the wheel every second
    • Developers use other people's libraries all the time. While you can't do that for interviews, but you can look under the hood and see what else are available on GitHub, open source, and whoever is willing to publish their codes.
  • Bootstrap
    • Ride on a unicorn to get to the rainbow fast and furious
    • Is there an event that Twilio sponsors? Off you go. Join the conversation, build what they want you to build and get all the help you can at that event. There your incentives are aligned: they want you to use the API, you want to learn it. 
    • Recruiters probably don't like that you want them to teach you APIs that they don't know

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