The time has come. The times when I used to meander around reading stuff on the Net and writing about whatever I wanted are over. Incidentally, the world may end, your laptop could explode and I could knock at your door in a few minutes asking for money, imagine that!
Nothing of the above, alright, bad joke, but sooner or later the time to start doing something comes, at some point you ought to start making some real money. It’s time to settle down, my fianceé are eager to get our own independence, move to our new house (which we’re still doing up) etc. etc. Fair enough. I spent the last five months wasting my time looking for a job, a proper job having something to do with IT and finally something seems to be possible.
Either nothing or everything – I may even say that: now I have to face a difficult choice between two job proposals that seem both fairly interesting.
“Go wherever you can get more bucks, you nutter!” – Well, there’s more to it.
Let’s examine now the two similar but yet different realities I have to choose from. Maybe you’ll never be in my situation, but I hope this can help at least those who experienced or could experience something similar someday.
Working under Uncle Bill’s wing
Not Microsoft. No, not directly at any rate. I’ve recently been contacted by a well known multi-national company which does almost anything ranging from computers, phones, electrical stuff to huge self-aware robots designed to conquer new worlds… Not quite, but let’s just say that this image contributes to give an idea of a Corporate-type reality.
I happen to be an Italian whose English skills go a bit beyond the “Hello, me Italian and like to do friendship with you”, I applied in the above (un)mentioned company as Software Tester and got contacted twenty days afterwards about a possible position as Technical Writer. It makes perfect sense. Well, at any rate I was pleased and I went to the pre-selection which was something like a pre-GCSE English test with a bunch of “technical” questions (“What does HTTP mean?”…).
Thanks to our Merciful God I passed it (and thus avoided endless teasing by my British fianceé), and they wanted to have a proper interview with me today.
I went there and came back a few hours ago, and I think it wasn’t too bad, let’s say I may stand good chances but as normally happens in such companies in the end it was just something like Thank you for coming, we’ll call you by the end of April. Although I mentioned that I recently had some other job offer obviously they couldn’t give a damn: as any other big company, they need to interview all the possible candidates to be sure they pick the right one, and that’s fair enough.
In the remote eventuality they decide to take me on board, I’d be part of a Documentation Team in charge of writing technical documents, manuals and silly jokes – perhaps – about some semi-classified huge internal semi-intelligent corporate framework.
Now, although some people may already start to feel bored even at thinking about a job like that, I think this role would fit me perfectly. I love writing. I love researching. I love crating documentations, howtos, reports and any other boring (for other people) stuff! And they want me to write in English, not in Italian, which is – it may sound weird – a true relief for me.
At the interview I had a chance to talk about my articles and they seemed interested in this activity of mine… I even mentioned my CakePHP article and they say they’re gonna check it out. Oh well, this site’s stats are always one Firefox tab away from my current main browsing tab, so you can bet I’ll be tracking that.
The contract and the salary
Classified. They didn’t say anything, as usual, but presumably it should be a permanent (or semi-permanent) contract with all the contributions, health insurance, taxes etc. paid. And free cookies. Yum!
Salary… well, it shouldn’t be too bad, anyway.
- I’ll be doing something I really enjoy: writing in English
- Steady job, steady contract, more security
- Corporare Environment
- I can show off with my friends who are still studying pointless stuff and tell them I’m working for
- There’s a risk I’ll lose my individuality
- The salary could be lower than expected – at least initially
- They’ll get back to me at the end of this month, and I have to give an answer to someone else before that
- My friends and fianceé will probably hassle me to give them free goodies they think I’ll get from the company
Working in a ‘cool place’, and fly high
Nope, sorry, the Cake Software Foundation unfortunately is not hiring. The alternative is a small company in my city, Genoa, which recently merged with a slightly bigger company based in Milan, which might merge with a big national company involved in producing some successful (here in Italy and even abroad, a little bit) TV programs. Network involved are Italy’s national channels, good ol’ pal Berlusconi’s channels, Sky Italy and (drums) MTV.
Cool, innit? What do they do? Well, interaction between mobile phones and TV through software and networks. Polls, SMS chat services, WAP application downloads, “take matey out of Big Brother’s house”, SMS/MMS blind dates related to some well known TV programs, tele-voting at Sanremo Festival etc. etc.
Their first interview was the most unusual I’ve ever had, and I already wrote about it: they even asked me to solve a riddle. Then they wanted to meet me again and showed me how they work in two different areas (see next section). They are really chilled out, friendly, they seem alright, even the main boss who deals with the company’s financial side, which is always a plus.
By the way, they already offered me the job, and I’ll have to give an answer next Tuesday – that’s the bad part.
The Lead Developer of the company apparently seemed satisfied enough with my knowledge and Java skills. A first possibility for mewould be working for them as full-time Java Developer. Coding. Wake up, go to work, Code for eight hours, go home, sleep/other things, wake up, go to work…
It would be a good experience, and other people would choose this immediately over anything else. Coding what? Parsing algorythms for the SMS we receive, data manipulation, storage, re-formatting etc. etc.
The other possibility which they suggested after noticing my ability to write and research would be 2nd Level Help Desk. Get dozens of technical emails every day, file reports, notify developers when something goes wrong, propose solutions, implement solutions, monitor the systems and even execute queries on the production server on the fly, in real time (eeek!).
This could sound boring/annoying/scary but since I’m a freak I think it’s an interesting prospective. Perhaps not as qualifying as being a Java Developer, perhaps not.
The contract and the salary
1200-1250 (or more) €/month, after tax. Which in my country is considered a more-than-reasonable pay, especially for a first job. Differnt form of contract, from consultant-with-VAT to renewable yearly projects, which is probably what I’d go for. Contributions/taxes paid, kind of, holidays and other vacancies included, kind of.
- Perhaps better salary
- I know exactly what they offer, they told me their offer in detail
- Chilled out environment
- Perhaps I can sneak and read my desperate friends’ SMS when they try to pull birds
- Less steady contract, less security
- I’ll hardly ever use my English skills, perhaps
- They NEED a yes or no by next tuesday
- My friends will probably hassle me to spy on other people’s SMS traffic and/or make them win TV contests
Here’s where I stand. I can’t complain, alright, but I must choose and act carefully. I’ll sleep on it.