Always Be Positive

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Positrons

One of my favorite topics when I was learning physics was about the discovery of the positron. Way back in 1928 Paul Dirac published a seminal paper where he introduced an equation unifying quantum mechanics, special relativity and the new property of electron spin. This equation would go on to named the Dirac Equation:

which has two mathematical solutions. I am reminded of the much simpler Pythagorean Theorem which has the following solutions:

I have always been taught to ignore the negative solution despite it being a perfect valid solution to the equation.

My First Hand Experience With Sexism

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I recently had a first hand experience with sexism that was so blatant and offensive, I didn’t know what to do in the moment. I’ll give the full details in the core of this post but for now I want you to ask yourself, what would you do? Would you stand up and shout? Would you cower and wither and just let the situation proceed? Would you find the courage to speak up? Would you think of all the women out there who face this type of experience every day? Would you want to change the situation and people’s mindset so this never happened to any girl growing up today?

The Supportive Technical Interview

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Interviews Gone Wrong

If you have read my last few posts, you know that I do a LOT of interviewing. I enjoy it and love the conversations that transpire. The problem is that most interviews are a horrible experience for everyone involved. As a candidate you have to do the mind numbing walk through of everywhere you ever worked because no who is interviewing you bothered to read your resume. As a panel member, you get candidates who just show up thinking their mere presence grants them a job. Crazy from both sides!

Interviewing Is a Two Way Street

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No Questions

I recently had a discussion with @benkruger about interviewing and we both expressed the same frustration. Candidates who are being interviewed will do their best to answer your questions. It is a rare event when you find a candidate who asks good questions back. This led me to share the following with Ben:

You learn more about a candidate through the questions they ask, than the answers they give.

It is true and something that no matter what you do as a candidate you must remember. Be prepared to ask good questions.

Avoiding Paper Tigers, Leeches and Space Cadets

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Recruiting

One of my favorite aspects about my job is recruiting. I absolutely love it! It’s true. Recruiting allows me to meet a lot of engineers and talk shop. You get to learn all about their backgrounds, interests, companies they have worked for and amazing projects they have worked on. If you are lucky you also have an amazing technical conversation at some point that leaves everyone impressed. What is not to love?

A Flexible Framework for Leveling Software Engineers

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The Problem

Defining a Senior Software Engineer seems to be a pretty difficult task for our industry. Managing expectations around this definition is also really difficult and causes strife in organizations that are trying to grow and retain talent. The current methodology is to create a “Job Description” which focuses on “responsibilities” and “requirements” by listing the work skills, technical requirements and years of experience required for the position.

The Five Stages of Learning

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We just completed our semi-annual performance review cycle at ModCloth. In many of my discussions delivering the reviews we discussed learning. In each case I shared a pearl of wisdom taught to me by an adviser in college while I was studying physics:

You don’t really learn physics until you teach it.

Philip Macklin Miami University

After sharing this I encouraged my team members to be more proactive about mentoring. The hypothesis being they would become better engineers through teaching and truly learning their craft.