Recently, Workbridge Orange County took some time out of their busy schedule to partner with WHW to host Project Interview at their office. WHW is a local non-profit agency with a mission to provide comprehensive employment support services to empower disadvantaged men, women, and teens to achieve economic self sufficiency through employment success. Project Interview is a corporate volunteer opportunity run by WHW to help their job seekers practice their interiviewing skills. By setting up rounds of the full interview process, from resume submittal, phone interviews, to in-person interviews, job-seekers were able to practice these important skills.
After all three phases were completed, Workbridge gave thorough feedback to all the potential employees and there was a "winner" chosen! The idea behind this program is to take WHW job search and workshop training programs into a real world setting, allowing WHW clients to experience an actual interview process from start to finish with a real employer but a fictitious job opening.
Workbridge Associates takes a hands-on approach to recruiting, interviewing all of their own job-seekers, so it was a natural alliance to use their interviewing skills to help others improve.
It was a great afternoon for Workbridge, helping out their local community and being able to use their skills for good. The partnership between Workbridge Orange County and WHW has been ongoing since April 2012. If you'd like more information about getting involved with Project Interview click here.
Article by Max Schnepper, Practice Manager in Workbridge Orange County
You’ve been told all of your life that progression in your career is getting into management. You’ve grown your skill set as a software engineer, systems administrator, front-end developer, database administrator, network engineer, etc. over the last 8+ years of your career. Not only do you have strong technical skills, but you have excellent communications skills with an ability to understand the business. The next step is logical: step into a management role and get paid more and advance your career. Although counter-intuitive, that might not be the best idea for you in the short or in the long term.
Let’s take a look at what being a brand new manager looks like. Right off the bat, you’ll find that you aren’t making a significant amount more than you were as senior engineer, even though you have a lot more responsibility and pressure. Your right hand architect is probably making the same amount, if not more money than you.
Most of the strongest job seekers out there are not fully financially motivated, and as you get older, career stability becomes paramount. People misinterpret the step into management as a more stable venture. Think of a scenario where you take a management role and slowly after 3 years, your increased responsibilities take you completely away from being hands-on, and for whatever reason, you get let go (in many scenarios, this isn’t because of a lack of good work). Not only are you up against the unemployed managers competing for a new role, the hands-on senior engineers clambering for management roles, but also the still-employed managers looking for a change of scenery. Obviously, there are far less management roles out there in the first place, shrinking your chances of landing a solid gig.
After looking for a couple months, most job seekers will take the next logical step and open up their search to return to being hands-on. What people don’t realize is that having a management role on their resume will often get them screened out from even having an HR interview. No matter how passionate a job seeker is about going back to being hands-on, or how well recruiters explain it, there are countless examples of when and why hiring managers and HR will screen out past managerial candidates. Some reasons I’ve heard are: he will be bored in this role, she’ll leave after a year when she finds a management role, he’s going to command too high of a salary, or the hiring manager won’t want to hire her because of competition for their own role. Whether or not these are valid concerns for the job seeker, I have empirical evidence of this form of thinking from interviews that I have set up.
So as a hands-off manager of three years, you might be one of the lucky ones that worked in a shop that was bleeding-edge. Even if the environment that you were working in was bleeding-edge, you would be extremely rusty in terms of programming/design. Not only will you be rusty, but after 3 years, you can almost guarantee that the technology you used to work with is now out of date. The chances of actually landing that hands-on role is going to be extremely difficult, especially at that senior level salary that you would be looking for.
You already know that everyone is looking for hands-on engineers, so if you're considering a managerial position, just be sure you're making an informed decision. Think long and hard about whether or not management is absolutely the right career path for you. If it is, great! But once you choose that path, just know that if you should want to, it might be really difficult to return to your life as a hands-on developer.
Article by Sara Silano, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Orange County
If you follow or work for a company in the tech industry, you've probably noticed a much higher demand for developers who are more entry-level. For the longest time, the technology market has been split into three tiers: entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level. The question that now stands is why, suddenly, are the entry-level developers in such high demand?
For starters, almost all of the sharp senior developers out there are already working. They currently hold the title of Team Lead, Principal Engineer, or Enterprise Architect. Most importantly, they are experts at what they do and it is extremely difficult to find someone who can replace their role at their current company. These engineers are not necessarily as open to embracing change simply because what they have been doing has been working for as long as they can remember. They are, perhaps, less likely to take a position at a startup since a startup embodies the power of change and development of new ideas. The entry-level tier however, are generally great fits to work at startups.
Recent college graduates are hungry, eager to learn, and less afraid to work a ton of crazy hours. They are determined to put themselves in a situation that will help grow their career. They are still constantly learning and are more open to change. More and more, managers are discovering the value of entry-level developers. It's true that they will require some training, but that offers the opportunity to tailor their training to the environment used by the company. Of course, no company is going to bring just any entry-level developer on board. Every company has their requirements, things they look for in their ideal applicant. The three main areas they'll look at are school, work experience, and personality.
Although a bachelor’s degree in computer science looks pretty impressive, managers always look at the school that the degree is coming from. In Orange County, managers prefer UC schools (of course, an Ivy League degree isn’t objectionable). You'd surprised at how many job seekers I send on interviews that attended the same program and school as the manager they're interviewing with. It's an automatic connection that helps make the interview less stressful for both parties.
Any relevant work experience for at least one full calendar year assures the manager that the applicant will be able to handle their first job out of school. Especially if that position dealt with deadlines. This shows managers that you have the maturity and responsibility to hold yourself accountable for getting the job done.
You'd be surprised how much personality plays into the ultimate hiring decision. This is especially important in startups or small team environments where you'll be expected to work closely with your team members, sometimes for long hours on end. Increasingly, companies are resorting to the agile scrum method which involves a lot of open communication between the team and manager, so personality fit has become important even in larger environments.
The old adage that the more senior, the better, no longer applies. The need for entry-level developers continues to rise.
Developers looking for work in Orange County can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, Workbridge Orange County hosted Tech in Motion: OC's event Starting a Startup: Everything you need to know from K5 Launch. K5 Launch is a startup incubator here in Orange County that focuses on helping new startups find the footing that they need. Ray Chan spoke about what they look for, how the help, and how others can get involved in the burgeoning startup community in Orange County. Afterwards, we had 3 startups "pitch" their ideas to K5 Launch and the audience, getting real time feedback for their ideas. Here are some questions we got to ask Ray Chan and the startup presenters after the event.
Interview with Ray Chan:
WB: What is the importance of startup incubators in Orange County?
RC: First of all let me distinguish an incubator from an accelerator. An incubator is more a real estate play, they rent offices and attract tenants by hosting entrepreneurial networking and educational events in the office. While an accelerator actively involves in the startups as well as providing seed funding and strategic connections to accelerate startups to become angel or VC invest-able in 3 to 4 months. K5 is an early stage venture investment firm where we provide funding to early stage startup as well as operating an accelerator. The importance of startup accelerator is because OC business culture is very transactional and not too entrepreneurial and risk taking. Although there are a plenty of talents, wealth, successful businesses, entrepreneurs in OC, they are very scattered and loosely connected. It would typically takes first time entrepreneur many months just to connect all the dots and find out all the resources they need, or their other option is to move to the Bay Area. K5 basically accelerates startups by providing a clear road map and needed connections and launch them with solid foundation in 3 to 4 months.
WB: How did you form K5 Launch?
RC: My partner Amir and I have been investing for many years, mostly in the Bay Area. But then we ask ourselves, why we put money in the Bay Area? The more we invest in the Bay Area, the more OC talents will be lost to the Bay Area. As described above, we have so many talents here, so much wealth, so many high tech companies, we just have a very weak entrepreneurial eco system here. So we build K5 Venture to fill the void.
WB: What has been your biggest, successful moment working with K5 Launch?
RC: Watching startups succeed
WB: 1 piece of advice for future startups?
RC: Don’t start unless you LOVE and HUNGRY for your vision.
WB: How would you describe your startup?
SG: CultureWidget is centered around the fact that a cultural fit is the prime determinant in long term hiring success. As it costs a company between 150-250% of employee salary in costs to replace, and our goal is to enable companies to hire more successfully, and eliminate this cost.
WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup?
SG: I want to help candidates and companies find better cultural fit for the long term success of both. We are very passionate about measuring, analyzing, and providing tools to help identify and address cultural gaps and issues that infiltrate the hiring process.
WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC?
SG: It was a great opportunity to present our idea, seek feedback and validation, and connect with people we can work with, including K5 Launch.
WB: Talk about your startup
SD: Pick2Pay, a mobile/web app that helps you maximize your credit card rewards. Pick2Pay is an app that helps you answer the simple question- Which card in my wallet should I use for every purchase I make in-store or online? We are available on the iOS store and on the web at Pick2pay.com/app.
WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup?
SD: I have had the problem of deciding between my cards every time I made a purchase. I used sticky notes at times to remind me which card to use while shopping to maximize my rewards. This became a much bigger problem while shopping online where there are credit card portals which have different rewards for each store. So we decided to work on this problem during a startup weekend at Cornell in Ithaca, NY and ended up winning the competition.
WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC ?
SD: We got some great feedback from the mentors to learn from the mistakes of our competition and some engaging questions from the audience about our user base and loved the interest from the audience who approached us with further questions and suggestions at the end of the pitch.
WB: Please describe your startup.
CV: A revolutionary new method for eliminating use/handling of loose change/coins during small cash transactions & putting them to good use.
WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup?
CV: It was an "a ha!" moment & started doing research, realizing the potential. Always felt I had "entrepreneurial blood" in me. If I can't figure out everything myself, I'll surround myself w/people that can help.
WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC ?
CV: Great to bounce one's ideas of of many intelligent minds at such an early stage & help better form one's concept w/helpful input. Great gathering of intelligent minds. Great opportunity!
It was one of the best events yet for Tech in Motion:OC with over 140 RSVP's!
If you haven't checked it out yourself, make sure you do at www.meetup.com/techinmotionOC. Our next event is set for May 1st at Amazon featuring Tom Nora talking about the future of E-Commerce!
By Matt Najera, Vice President of Workbridge Associates
The biggest mistake entry-level job seekers make is that they are too focused. Remember, your first job is your first job, so focus on just getting an opportunity that is going to give you skills to have options in the future. The other big mistake I see these days is that entry level IT graduates and recent college graduates rely too heavily on online tools. While Twitter, Facebook, Monster and other online services can be very helpful, remember that they are only a piece of the job search, and you still need to get out, network and make connections with people. People hire people, not your resume. This means the more face time networking, the better your chances at making an impression at getting hired.
Be specific in your job search and resume. Entry level job seekers always want to open themselves up to as many opportunities as possible, but when HR staff and Hiring managers see these resumes, and it looks like the person doesn’t know what they want, they typical pass on that candidate. If you want to be a Software Developer say so; if you want to get into Systems Administration, then go after it! People who are specific about what they want, get hired before the people who are still trying to figuring it all out.
With any job seeker, it’s important to have skills that will allow you to hit the ground running. On your resume, you need to list skills you have that are needed to do the job you’re applying for. Employees are no longer interested in hiring someone they need to train for three months to a year, so any skills you’ve gained, even if it’s from an internship or college work, are important to list.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to show an actual project you have worked on, whether it’s your own project or one done for a job. It is easy to say, “I worked on a CRM application in my first job, but I can’t show you the source code.” It’s not very common for someone who can come in and leave a copy of the code with the interviewer that proves that they can write quality code. One of the biggest concerns to an employer is your ability to pick up skills fast and mange yourself when hiring entry level IT.
In the current market, if you have a good background and strong communication skills, you will have many job options to choose from. However, some of the critical mistake that many entry level IT job seekers make is to think they are “above” a certain job or technology. I hate to tell you this, but, like any industry, you have to work your way up the food chain. Yes, working with some technologies, or in some specific industries, may be potentially career limiting, but they can give you the experience you need to step up to the next level. There are companies in every city that like to hire people directly from college to work on technologies that may not be the most in-demand skill, but those folks are learning a lot about the Big Data techniques and the enterprise environment. That kind of experience will be a big help for them to move on to their next position and give them opportunity to develop skills and critical thinking you may not get in many jobs.
So the main theme in your job search is take a job based on upon the experience and skills you will learn, and not just have money be the primary factor! You can’t put a price on the skills you will develop now until 3-5 years from now, and it's a pretty safe bet that you will not be retiring after your first job.
By Cory Eustice, Division Manager of Workbridge OC
You you may be laughing right now or scoffing at this topic, but I kid you not, you will agree with me (if you don't already) by the end of this entry.
I have been doing IT recruiting for years now, but I am not going to pretend that there is a "silver bullet" for recruiting, finding the perfect job, or even how to get the perfect job once you find it. But, what I do know is that every candidate I have ever interacted with, got an interview for, or placed, shares the same thought process..."does this feel right?" and "how do I know for sure?" Well by the end of this entry, I hope that the path to getting those answers is a lot clearer.
I don't know about you, but when I am shopping for shoes, I already have a look and feel in mind for what type of shoe I'm looking for. I go from store to store searching for the designer that shares my vision, and I'll admit that it is beyond frustrating when I sometimes leave for the day, no shoes in hand. From my experience of working with countless job-seekers, I find that they go through the exact same process.
They start off their job search with the perfect job in mind; great salary, great benefits, an awesome team, and a 5 minute commute. I don't have to tell you that nothing is ever perfect, and as the job search drags on mindsets begin to change because they feel that their perfect job may not actually exist, when in reality it just might. When I help job seekers with their search, a lot of times they don't ask themselves the tough questions simply because they know what the answer is and they don't like it. Sure, I would love to rock some Italian leather shoes that cost half my house payment and I am sure my wife would love to wear 7 inch stilettos to work, but that just isn't practical. When I start asking myself, "can I wear these with multiple suits?" or "can I wear these at night and during the day?" or "can I even pull these off?", I know what the answer most likely is...no. I tell candidates the same thing. Is it more important to have a 5 minute commute, or is it more important to get up in the morning, wanting to go to work? Is it more important to have a huge salary, or is it more important to have a great work-life balance? We all would love to have everything, and a lot of times that is what candidates expect from recruiters like me. But, when people start to really ask themselves what is most important to their life, and honestly answer themselves, they start to see what is really important and they jump at the job when they see it. Just like when you find a pair of shoes that is both practical and affordable, you buy them.
When I speak with candidates about making a decision about a job, they always go through the process of determining if this is the right role for them and what my thoughts are. Honestly, I always tell them the same thing, "if this is the right job for you, then everything else will work itself out. If it's not, then we move on and find something else, it is your search and your life." When you shop for shoes, you try on the pairs that you like and walk around in them to get a feel for them. When you are searching for a job, you do the same thing in the interview process. I tell all of my candidates that when they are in their interviews, to imagine that they are in a meeting with the other people and try to get a grasp of how they might interact with them if they worked together. At the end of the day, if you don't like who you work with, you won't be happy at work, so that is key (the shoes have to be comfortable).
The second thing I tell them, you don't have to jump at the first job, but it's OK if you do. Sure, we would all love to interview with multiple companies and make sure that we had all our options on the table before we make a decision, but it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, the first job you see is the right one, and it is important to jump on that. Unlike shoes, you can't put the job on hold. The company is going to continue to interview other candidates, because they need to find the right person for them too, so they can't always afford to wait. My advice would be that if you find the right job, and you ask yourself the tough questions, and they all point towards that job, take it. The company will see how excited you are about the opportunity and they will be more likely to offer you a better package. If the answers don't point towards that job, then move on, it's not right for you anyways. The right one is out there, just be patient.
The most difficult question every candidate goes through is, "how do I know for sure." My answer unfortunately is that you don't. All you can do is make sure you have your priorities straight, understand what you are willing and not willing to bend on, and be honest with yourself. Just like when you are shopping for shoes, they may feel right, look right, and be the right price, but you really don't know if they are right until you wear them. A new job is the same way, you won't really know for sure until you take the job and start working there. And yes, sometimes you buy the wrong shoes, or take the wrong job. But I bet that when you made that decision you weren't being honest with yourself about some aspect of it. Be honest with yourself and what is best for you, and you will end up with the right pair of shoes every time.
In Orange County & want to talk tech jobs or shoes? Feel free to reach out to Cory:
Workbridge OC was able to ask Einar a couple of questions before his travels.
WB: What is your favorite thing about writing code and working as a developer?
EI: Tough one; to me its more of a lifestyle. I started writing code when I was 9 years old. But I guess the joy of just being able to create things, the creativity that goes with it and also the ability to engage with users to get things right for them; solve problems for end users.
WB: Being an international coder, do you find that coding is an international language? What are some of the pro’s of traveling as a programmer for work?
EI: It is certainly an ice breaker and makes it easier to get conversations started. To me the traveling lets me meet people, learn new things and gain perspective on how to solve code problems, a big plus. One gets to see the world, which to me is a major thing; I'm curious by nature.
WB: What advice do you have for young techies?
EI: Never forget who you're making the software for; end-users. We're seldom the users of our own software and we must never forget that. Don't sacrifice quality because someone else is trying to dictate deadlines, engage in the planning instead, try to be realistic in estimation so that you can deliver quality products rather than tons of features at the cost of poorer quality. Also; don't get caught up in the this is better than that thingy. Chances are that there is room for a variety of technologies to solve the end-users problems.
WB: You've discussed what you think will be the "next big thing" in technology - so on the flip side, what do you see fading in the near future?
EI: I think the focus that companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple wants to have end-users think about; the operating system is a fading thing. End-users don't really care that much what the name of the OS is, as long as they can get their job done. Also I think a lot of established truths in software architecture and design is about to change, mainly because some of the practices are based on the fact that they got established in the 70s and the 80s with poorer hardware, but maybe even more importantly, less users and less demand from users. Users are waking up and demanding more of the software we're making, this puts pressure on our software, which leads to new ways of thinking. Established things like SQL and classic N-tier architectures I think are prime subjects for change and from my experience, something I want to see less and less in my software.
This is going to be a great experience that's really a once-in-a-lifetime event in Orange County! Make sure you RSVP to secure your spot by clicking here.
Workbridge OC was lucky enough to host their networking group, Tech In Motion:OC at Amazon in Orange County last week. It was one of our biggest events yet with almost 100 members coming out to listen to Phil Schlesinger speak about what's going on at PICS Auditing.
We were lucky enough to grab Phil for a couple moments after his presentation to ask him a few questions about why he loves his job.
WB: What made you choose to make IT your profession?
PS: I've always seemed to understand computers innately. What compounded that was my horrible handwriting as a child -- so much so that at the moment I finished elementary school, my sixth grade teachers begged my parents to buy me a computer so I could type my papers when I started junior high. The rest, as they say, is history.
WB: What is your favorite part of your job?
PS: The coordination, facilitation, and coaching. The project and process management. Working with my coworkers (whom are a great bunch).
WB: What was one of your favorite projects?
PS: By far it was the DARPA Grand Challenge work back at UC Irvine.
On a shoestring budget, using whatever we could beg, borrow, or...well, borrow...we got a car robotically driving itself around a parking lot with no human interaction required, along the way avoiding unexpected obstacles put directly in its path -- all via a high-accuracy GPS, a LIDAR sensor, an in-house built AI running on a single Pentium 3 computer (that's not a typo), a scrap window motor adapted to turn the steering wheel, and an elevator door motor adapted to press and release the brake pedal. If I ever win the lottery big time, I want to get the band...ahem...the project team back together again.
WB: What in your opinion is the next big thing in technology?
PS: Wearable technology (which will comprise new mobile technology, further miniaturized electronics, improvements to power storage and usage, as well as flexible electronics). Virtual reality (a la Michael Chricton's novel 'Disclosure' -- read the book before watching the movie). Robotics (self-driving cars, prosthesis, helping the elderly, etc.).
WB:If there was one thing you could do professionally, what would it be?
PS: I'd love to work in another country for six months or a year where I'd be required to speak in a different language to get the job done -- and (oh gee, what a shame!) I might have to enjoy the food and culture while I was there
It was great to get the inside scoop on PICS at the same time seeing the 14th floor of Amazon's Orange County offices. The group learned a ton of helpful information on how to run a successful engineer team. The biggest tip we took away? Make sure to test your product!
Check out some pictures from the event below:
Thanks so much to Amazon for letting us host in their space and to Phil for putting on a great talk!