Like me, Sam Gottlieb relishes this work. But he acknowledges that a lot of people wouldn t. After my many years in the business, I have to agree with Sam. The money is great, but you have to know that you will be happy in this type of work. Let your rsum and cover letter show that you are in the industry for more than just a paycheck. It s that attitude that will carry you to your goals.
It s a personality thing. I can try to explain the satisfaction of programming as articulately as I possibly can, but if someone doesn t think that sitting in a cubicle with a terminal for eight hours a day fits his personality, he is not going to find the job satisfying and creative. There s no way around that.
Sam continues: When a programmer s in the midst of his design process he s like an artist going to work on an empty canvas, or an architect when he takes a blank sheet of paper to design a new home.
There are many ways to design and write even the simplest program. The choices you make along the way will determine how well the program runs ”how it looks, how it works, and how effectively it does what it s supposed to do. Those choices are what make programming creative and interesting.
One of my clients was a very large clothing company with a huge warehouse down in North Carolina, Sam says. Every week for six months I flew back and forth between New York and North Carolina as we set up an automated warehousing system for them. The merchandise came in on a huge conveyor system, and when the scanner hit the bar code of each carton, it indicated exactly what items were in that carton. The merchandise would be automatically added to inventory.
One of the program s routines makes sure that a certain number of cartons ”depending on the vendor ”-are kicked aside for quality-control purposes. When we were all done and we had all this hardware and software working in conjunction, we stood on the platform and watched the truck pull up, taking these boxes and throwing them on the conveyor belt, and we saw the boxes going through the warehouse automatically, going on different tracks, some of them getting kicked off to the side, and it was a great thing.
Sam s perspective as a technical interviewer confirms my maxim Come to a job interview armed not only with technical skill but with a knowledge of how a business works. In addition to that credential, Sam looked for the ability to solve problems calmly (an articulate job candidate should be able to convey that trait), the stated desire to learn new techniques, the willingness to keep up to date by reading widely in the field and in business, and the possession of good writing skills.