Sunday, October 3, 2010

Developer Showdown: DePaul Career Fair

Thursday afternoon in the windy city I boarded the 'L' like normal and headed to work. I was set for a day on the beach*. Little did I know the recruiting team was headed to DePaul University the very next day and would enjoy some company. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity.

DePaul Student Center

The career fair started at 11:00am. Perhaps unsurprising as a career fair hosted in a university, but many people were very early in their academic careers and looking for internships. We aren't big on internships here for a number of reasons, but advice-seekers seemed to find the following helpful:

  • Join user groups and programming groups
  • Start side projects

I think most companies like to see people passionate about their work. Joining Meetup groups is a great way to express some of that passion. Other benefits include networking with people who share your interests and seeing first-hand which companies care enough to sponsor groups (we do!). Finally, at just about every meetup there are recruiters present.

Side projects are a good way to gauge a person's interest in this field. Since I started on this path I've had little projects going on with the goals of learning new languages and solving some of the smaller, more annoying problems in my life. Currently in my spare time I'm learning C# (C-Sharp) on the .NET platform by porting a school project over that deals with receipts and taxes.

The Staredown

Our expected attendance for the career fair was around 800 students. We probably had at least that many walking through the booths, but DePaul's most popular major isn't Computer Science. Our booth wasn't as crowded as some of the other management-focused booths, nor was the booth across from ours who wanted to hire Java and Ruby developers.

At one point we read through our company's description in the fair's booklet as well as the company across the aisle from us. They listed two very similar-sounding positions:

  1. Quality Analyst Engineer
  2. Software Tester
Instantly I called out to the crew.
Me What's the difference between a QA Engineer and a Software Tester?
Evan Is this a riddle?
Me list both in your description
Nate Oh, Software Testers do manual testing
Evan I'm disappointed man-- I wanted a joke

The Plan

I was working the booth with two other colleagues. One was also a recent hire and developer by the name of Molly. Andy was hired at the same time as me into the recruiting department. We knew we needed to come up with a joke.

Fortunately Google wasn't lacking results with a search for 'ruby jokes'. A post from RasterWeb yielded the following programmer humor:

Q: What do you call a future Ruby programmer?
A: A Java programmer!

The Delivery

We knew this was probably the one, but we'd need to do things in more of an Agile way. First we had to refactor the wording. We definitely had to pair when delivering it. Finally, we needed to follow it up with a fist pound.

Me Hey, Evan
Evan Yeah...?
Me What's another name for a Java developer?
Evan I don't know...what?
Molly A Java developer!
*Victorious fist bump*

Note The Beach is where consultants sit before heading out to a project. It's known as the beach because of a delightfully small fake palm tree that sits near the middle of the area.

Note A Meetup I always attend when in town is Chicago Ruby. The Ruby community is easily one of the most passionate, and the Chicago group doesn't disappoint.

Note We did get a rebuttal joke from Evan and Nate about Ruby's over-eager versioning just before leaving


  1. LOL.

    Take a picture of the beach. I'm confused.

  2. *Victorious fist bump* -- best part
    What was the rebuttal?

  3. @Molly:

    "How many Ruby developers does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
    "How many?"
    "One...but it's a pre-alpha light bulb [zing!]"