A bit of catching up

Not to sound too grandiose, but I think I’ve got an inkling of what Einstein must have felt working at the Swiss patent office. It hurts to be working on such mindless things. It really hurts.

The guy in charge of the project I’m working on doesn’t seem to be thrilled about working with an 18-year-old girl, either, even (read: especially) a productive one. Which is strange, because he was involved in hiring me. I could delve into what I’ve come to understand about why he’s upset–some of it understandable–but I listed this blog on my resume and he may be reading; I don’t think he’d appreciate my analysis. Although he probably isn’t reading. He wouldn’t like to read something that shows I’m competent.

The internship lasts only two months more, though, so I’m a third of the way done. And I’ve cut back on my hours. Maintaining going to school full-time and working 29 hours a week and doing homework and trying to schedule time for working on Raspberry Signage around all that was just not doing it for me–in the end it’s almost like trying to hold down two full-time jobs. And tinypapers? Forget about it. After two weeks of trying that nonsensical schedule, I’m down to 20 hours and finding everything a lot more tolerable. I should catch up on schoolwork soon.

I have an assignment in one of my classes this week to research job openings in programming jobs. Again, I plan to see this internship through, so I’m not taking anything now–and if I line up a job for two months from now, it’s got to be under 20 hours a week. But I’m not sure I’m that rushed for another job.

Yesterday, I was doing one of my most mindless tasks and thinking about how awful those job listing sites were, and how they all looked like they were designed and maintained by MBAs and marketing guys. I started to think about how you could do them better.

When I search for jobs, I get lots of results in cities that are unreasonable commuting distances; I get results for jobs I’m massively unqualified to apply for; I get listings that are unreadable because the writer had no idea what a paragraph was; and sometimes I get jobs that have basically nothing to do with the field I searched for. It’s like the MBAs think a blank results page would be seen as some kind of failure on the part of their site, but I’m a programmer, not a registered nurse–a minor difference, I’m sure, but if you squint you can spot it. (eyeroll)

Furthermore, job sites have dumb categories. For instance, instead of having jobs tagged with things like, “We want 3 years of Perl experience and an Associate’s degree in IT,” they’re categorized as “entry-level” or something. (That seems to be about as “entry-level” as you get, at least around here. If you’re “almost kinda,” you just apply anyway, and they pick from those. People who actually fulfill those requirements are probably too busy applying for jobs that they’re “almost kinda” qualified for.)

Basically–their methodology is dumb and needs to be fixed.

So I thought a bit about how you could do better with some forms and databases. Instead of making an employer decide to either spend 15 minutes debating whether “3 years’ experience” constituted entry- or mid-level expertise, or to skip all that entirely and paste in the unformatted job listing straight from Word and hope, you could make them fill out your form and let the program register them and generate tags. Instead of the ambiguous descriptions like “entry-level,” it would ask what range of years of experience you were after (e.g., 3-5) and what skills you wanted (e.g., certified to operate construction equipment, C# programming), how many hours a week it was, what cities and locations it was offered in… et cetera. It would be more like a social media profile, with fields to fill out, rather than a memo that had to be formatted properly. Basically, it needs structure beyond a questionably-formatted blurb and some tags.

I could see offering it as a free service at first until it got some steam behind it, and then charging small fees for employers to list jobs (say, $25, as not to hurt small companies) and maybe bigger fees like $50 to keep it up on the site for more than 90 days. This is probably how the existing ones got going.

It could even start out niche, as a site just for programming jobs, and then get bigger. Programmer job listings are awful. Applebee’s job descriptions don’t say “We want 4 years of experience as a waitress using the FoodFlow and SERV methodologies, and also the ability to fix refrigerators.” That sounds ridiculous. But it’s how programmer job listings read. I’d hazard that programming is one of the worst fields about this, because the people in charge of hiring often have no clue what they’re supposed to be looking for so they just come up with a laundry list of buzzwords.

Then I thought: I could fix this. It grabbed me, and for the first time in a month I got that rush, that feeling where you’ve just remembered the world is full of interesting problems just waiting for you to solve… if only you had the energy… or time… because you have to work… and go to school… and do homework.

It took maybe an hour for the restless energy generated by that one idea to wear off. I was feeling so jittery and the work I was doing wasn’t nearly intellectual enough to burn it off (which would have felt really good).

When I’m in the office I feel like I have to get out and hack. But when I get home my drive seems to go away. Maybe I need to start working in coffee shops or something. Maybe I need to write down the feeling while I’m at work so I can summon it elsewhere (my emotional memory sucks). Or maybe I just need to get myself into a situation where I’m not so tired all the time.

TechWeek in KC is coming up. I wonder if that’ll help me, or just set me further back on schoolwork.

Anyway, I’ve got a metric butt-ton of schoolwork to catch up on from the past two crazy weeks and my sanity is still jogging behind. I’m afraid I have other stuff I need to do than sit and write blog posts.

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2 thoughts on “A bit of catching up

  1. Being one of the MBAs I know you are right. I’ve experienced it as well. Even when I put in the criteria I am looking for and setup an advanced search for email updates, what comes back is useless page filler. Getting excited about solving problems like this and being able to come up with ideas on solutions is a gift. Keep nurturing it.

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  2. This sounds like it has legs as an idea. I would love to see a sketch of it working when you get there. I know something about the traffic on job sites I’ll share with you if you want to get in touch. Really like this blog..

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