Great article. 50 applause from me.
I think the place people are unwilling to go is this:
Big tech companies make tons of bank.
Amazon just broke $2 billion in profit.
Facebook? $5 billion in profit.
Google? $9.4 billion.
When I’m on the subway, an imperfect proxy for a random sample, the users include rich and poor, white and people of color, male and female.
Yet, the interviewing process excludes many of these folks by their very demographic.
Don’t fix the interview — fix our profit and personal wealth expectations.
Fix our expectations that companies, and, by extension, shareholders deserve incredible wealth.
If you fix the wealth gap, you get hiring practices which understand this:
A motivated person with a reasonable amount of extremely basic understanding can be taught to be a great developer by the very firms profiting off us all.
The company I work for took several months just to get me a computer set up with the tools I needed to do my job and the ability for me to log in. Its revenues are over $10 billion. During that time, I could have trained a motivated person with a reasonable amount of extremely basic understanding to be a great developer for my role. No, that person wouldn’t have project management experience like I do, or the many hard-won forms of practical, on-the-job business experiences I have had. However, the lesson here is:
Ford was an evil man with a great business idea the people at the top of our widening wealth-gap could learn from. The companies they invest in need, in turn, to invest in all kinds of people. We can sacrifice earnings in the short term to grow over time, let’s be cynical here, consumers with money across all demographics.
In this, I’m not even asking the super-wealthy and the companies they work for or invest in to be compassionate, just self-interested.
Those people on the subway I see using the Facebook app? They won’t buy as much from advertisers if they don’t have a meaningful, well-paying job.
Let’s give them one, and absorb the cost of training them.
Yes, the interview process is broken — I’m struggling to find a job because at my level of experience I get to a final interview and hate the games — I know I can do the job… why am I being asked one of many standard interview-type questions which screen me out?
It is annoying, and I have not yet broken down enough to do the kind of useless training to get ready for those questions — on weekends, my side-projects include blogging about the software industry in this account and, in another account, about best practices.
I also write tools on the weekend — tools which do something useful and are open-source. This gets ignored when I’m in an interview, and the interviewer wants to know how I’d rebuild Facebook from scratch.
Here’s how I’d rebuild Facebook from scratch:
It would be more user-friendly from the start, not just in its UI, but also in the way it treats its actual users and the global communities of which it should be a steward.
That won’t get me through the door, despite my 20 years of software engineering experience.
So, yes, the interview process is broken.
But our experience as people is broken. Not by capitalism, but by the greed capitalism facilitates. I’m still a capitalist pig, but I’m one who would be happy retiring with a modest lifestyle, having worked a series of meaningful jobs at an income which afforded me a modest quality of life, while watching everyone around me participate.
One side-effect of greed is a screening process which shuts doors based on senseless games rather than opening doors based on optimism.
We need the optimism that we can make our communities stronger because our folks are smart, really smart, just some of us either are tired of senseless games or have had a lifetime of senseless games telling us we weren’t good enough.
The latter, especially, need us to get rid of games altogether.
They need someone telling them that they are good enough.
Let’s stop telling them otherwise.