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Archive: September - 2015 (3)

  • 4 Reasons to Become a Contractor

    Article by Brian Moriarty, Practice Manager for Jobspring Orange County

    America’s labor force has been swiftly transitioning from a large majority of full time employees to many exploring the world of independent contracting and consulting. It has been interesting to observe people’s changing priorities when it comes to their wants and needs from employers. It seems people are foregoing 401k and benefits for a less demanding and taxing daily schedule that allows for a more self-governing approach to employment.

    The burden of working 40-50 hour weeks at one company for multiple years is becoming less and less appeasing to people, especially the younger crowds that are growing up in this ever-changing tech world.

    There are some obvious advantages to being a contractor, but at the same time, there are some hidden ones. The obvious:

    Flexibility. First and foremost, you can work the hours that suit you and your lifestyle best. The amount of money you make is directly related to the number of hours you work but it’s important to note that companies understand the difference between overtime and extortion, so be careful!

    Project-based. Another major benefit of being a contractor is that most times you will get exposure to an exciting project and then leave once it’s finished not having to deal with the maintenance or upkeep. 

    Find your next contract role in a city near you.

    In addition to the obvious benefits, there are also some lesser known perks:

    Skills Growth. By being an independent contractor, you will have exposure to a wider variety of projects and work environments, which will accelerate your skillset.

    Networking. Being a part of multiple companies a year will also expand your network and will increase your chances of capturing unique opportunities. Besides being an independent contractor for specific companies, people have been carving out personal business opportunities from new sprouting tech companies; another way to further your network.

    Recently, Time Magazine interviewed the founders from Airbnb about the tertiary markets that have started to formulate from various companies interrupting the norm, which has essentially created a new labor force. The “Sharing Economy”, as it’s being called, has paved the way for people to line their pockets with a little more green; however, it’s being seen as a full time business opportunity for many. Airbnb has approximately 1,500 employees but their model technically employs many more such as renters, various cleaning services, and home insurers. Nonetheless, the increase in contract laborers has been apparent and there are various benefits that attribute to this change.

    The labor force is shifting to accommodate the demand for more convenient solutions to life and business problems. Are you thinking about leaving your full-time job and seeing your worth in this world? 

  • The Merits of Working with Multiple Technologies

    Written by Lyndsey Lustig, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring Washington, DC 

    In the land of software development, there's more than one correct way to solve a problem. Since technology itself is limitless, it should come as no surprise that the available tools and resources are boundless as well. Now the question is, which tools should we choose, not only to get the job done, but also to best express oneself?

    I work with technical people every day, particularly those proficient with Microsoft technologies. I've found that often the best technical people don't limit themselves to one brand of tools or frameworks. They step outside their technical comfort zones and experiment with anything they can get their hands on. 

    This article presents four reasons why you might benefit personally and professionally from trying out new technologies. 

    Learn New Paradigms

    Most programmers are familiar with procedural or object-oriented programming. Functional programming, on the other hand, can provide a more concise representation of data transformations. Rather than "how", you describe "what", and the tools can help you transform the data as needed. Scala is a language that combines object-oriented and functional paradigms (for those on the JVM). Underscore.JS is a library allowing you to use the familiar filter, map, fold primitives, and a lot more, in JavaScript. 

    Learn New Ways to Use Old Technologies

    Speaking of functional programming, your experience may cause you to look at LINQ on the .NET platform in a new light. One of my hiring managers was explaining that his organization’s use of Angular.JS (with its draconian dependency injection) caused his team to think differently about DI containers in their .NET server side, resulting in more flexible and more testable C#. In this way, working with one technology influenced how they interacted with another.

    Job Mobility

    Here are four basic ways that broadening your technical repertoire can open up possibilities for career advancement.

    • You can contribute to different areas of the same project (front-end to back-end, application to data analysis, etc.)
    • You can move to new projects entirely (has your organization been piloting a new tech stack?)
    • You can move to new organizations entirely. If this is the case, I can refer you to a specialist. (Wink!)

    And finally,

    • Some organizations only fill full-stack or generalist positions. It’s worth mentioning that this is often true of smaller product development companies or startups.

    Right Tool for the Job

    Many organizations are pushing the limits of relational databases. The high performance or high availability required by their applications call for something new. NoSQL databases are answering this call, but often each in their own way. Spend some time understanding their relative merits and you can be your organization’s hero. Can you drop joins and go for the high performance of key store or document databases? Is your problem better suited by a graph database? What these specialized databases give up in the relational model they make up for by excelling in their particular area of application.

    The following books are a great resource if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of current and new technologies.

    • “Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages” by Bruce Tate
    • “Seven Databases in Seven Weeks: A Guide to Modern Databases and the NoSQL Movement” by Eric Redmond

    There are many benefits to be had from interacting with a range of technologies. Whether you’re looking for new ways to tackle an assignment or hoping to advance your career by opening new doors, I highly recommend not limiting yourself to one brand of tools or frameworks. 

     

    Carl Gieringer, a Darmouth College Computer Science graduate and Software Engineer at RevMetrix, was consulted on this post.

     

  • Product Management: Startup vs Big Company

    Written by Sara Mauskopf, Director of Product at Postmates. This article was originally published on TechinMotionevents.com

    Now that I’ve been at Postmates for almost 8 months, a lot of people have asked me the difference between Product Management at a larger company like Twitter where I worked from July 2010 to July 2014, or Google where I worked from 2007 to 2010, and at a startup like Postmates. I too was curious before I decided to join a startup.

    small vs large

    So first, let me define Product Management at a larger tech company. As a Product Manager, you are responsible for defining a roadmap for your area and ensuring that roadmap meets the goals or objectives you set forth for your team, which should align with the goals of the company. You’re responsible for ensuring the items on the roadmap are prioritized, and that there are clear product specifications for those items. Finally, you work closely with the team to build, launch, collect data/feedback, and iterate to a standard of exceptional quality. Through all phases, including planning, you are working closely with engineering, design, and other key stakeholders across the company. And because everyone looks to you as a leader for your product area, it is important you are inspiring those around you to do their greatest work by setting the right context, establishing a sense of urgency, and working collaboratively.

    Looking for a product or project manager role? Check out the job board to see if any positions are a good match.

    As it turns out, all those fundamentals remain the same at a startup. In fact, the fundamentals are so important that having experience at a larger company as a Product Manager is one of the best forms of training for startup Product Management. But on top of all that, at a startup you have responsibilities and challenges that do not exist at a larger company. If you are thinking of making the transition from big company PM to startup PM, here are some things you’ll want to know.

     

    work juggle

     

    1. You’ll often have to do things you have never done before and probably suck at.

    Working at a startup, you quickly discover where your personal weaknesses are because on a daily basis you need to do something you have never done before and probably are not good at yet. Executing out of your area of familiarity manifests through needing to do something that larger companies have a person or team dedicated to doing. For example, at a startup you will most certainly not have a user research team that helps you assess how your feature will be received in the market. If you want user research or early feedback on a prototype, you will have to find and interview users yourself. Although it can be daunting to roll up your sleeves and try something you have never done before, it’s also the fastest way to learn how to do it. If you are lucky, you may discover a talent you didn’t know you had!

     

    2. You’ll need gymnast levels of flexibility.

    Rhythmic-Gymnastics-Ball

    Imagine any company has 5 “fire drills” a quarter. In other words, 5 times per quarter, the average company has to quickly react to something in the market, change a plan due to unexpected data or user feedback, or get in a war room and really focus on a hard problem that has not been given enough attention. At a larger company, those 5 instances are spread out between a lot of people and teams, so you personally probably only experience a "fire drill" at most once per quarter. At a startup, any fire drill usually involves most of the product, design, and engineering team because the team is so small. It’s important at a startup that you can quickly tackle these fire drills, avoid getting thrown off course, and reprioritize your roadmap when needed. Most importantly, you need to mentally be able to deal with plans changing more frequently. It’s ok!

     

    3. You’ll do less talking the talk, more walking the walk.

    At a startup, there is nowhere to hide. People who can step up to the plate and tackle the challenges will shine and get even more responsibility. Underperformers who can’t cut it will quickly make their way out. In addition to not needing to worry much about whether your individual performance will be recognized, if you ask any good PM at a larger company they will tell you they spend some percentage of their time carving out territory for their team, evangelizing the great results of their team, and other activities generally thought of as “managing up”. It’s not because large companies are full of evil political people, it’s just because when you have a lot of people working in one place it’s easy to get lost in the noise if you aren’t making it clear what your team works on and the results they have achieved.

     

    walk the walk

     

    You don’t have to worry about that much at a startup. Now, I spend my time working and moving the company forward rather than evangelizing my team internally. With fewer people to communicate with, you can spend more time doing the work, which is great because there is a lot of work to do.

    Jobspring is a proud sponsor of Tech in Motion events. Connect with companies like Postmates at Tech in Motion - find an event near you here.

    About the Author

    sarah

    Sara Mauskopf joined on-demand delivery company Postmates in July to build and run its Product Management team. Postmates is transforming the way local goods move around a city by connecting customers with local couriers who purchase and deliver goods from any restaurant or store in a city in minutes. Prior to Postmates, Sara was a Group Product Manager at Twitter, having joined the company in 2010. She started her career at YouTube and Google as a Partner Technology Manager (a role that's a mix of partnerships and engineering). Sara graduated with a bachelors degree in Computer Science from MIT.

     

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