Friday, November 25, 2005


Start registering with job websites. Over a two month period I received daily or weekly emails from, The Guardian, Jobsite, Monster, Reed, YourTopJob, TotalJobs, Jobserve, s1jobs, Milkround, CWJobs, Progressive, Castle Careers, Search, Graduate Jobs and perhaps others.

One of the most annoying aspects of "jobs by email" is that recruitment agencies seem to resubmit the same listings once or twice a week, so you're constantly sifting through what you've already seen. Another point worth making is that as a recent graduate I had little commercial experience. Most job adverts specify a minimum amount of experience (commercial or otherwise), and this was one item I would scan adverts for before reading them fully. If the job sites could add more structure to adverts so that I could restrict jobs emailed based on experience required, my inbox would have been lighter.

InPractice Systems
The Company: A Dundee-based company that produces software for GPs to use in medical centres.
The Job: Work on the new version of their system, which will have a thinner client than previous versions. System is uses Oracle, Java and Flex.
The Verdict: Offered the job the next day. I asked to delay making my decision for a couple of days due to the Civic Computing interview I had lined up, which I was more interested in.

Civic Computing
The Company: Website and content manager developers based in Edinburgh. Main clients are the Scottish Executive.
The Job: Join the development team.
The Verdict: Denied second stage of recruitment process the day after turning down INPS.

InPractice Systems ends
I phoned the recruitment agency responsible for the INPS job and declined the job offer. The job was quite interesting, but I was still waiting to hear from Civic. Also, it was my first interview of the year and it had gone very well. I decided that if I was offered a job based on an interview where I was trying to get experience for the coming months, I would be offered jobs at interviews I was fully commited to.

Wood Group
The Company: Energy services supplier based in Aberdeen.
The Job: Join a small development team building reports from large databases.
The Verdict: Turned down for job.

The Company: Deliver bar codes and passes to mobile phones for clients. Dominate their market.
The Job: Join the development team
The Verdict: This interview was with the recruitment agency. I think I was offered a proper interview during the following week, but turned it down since I had found employment...

Company Net
The Company: Website developers, with a sub-company building E-Learning sites.
The Job: Join the E-Learning development team to update the framework that all the company's E-Learning sites are based on.
The Verdict: Offered the job that day. I am thrilled to have found a job which is appealing, and start looking into moving to the South of Edinburgh.

First NZ
The Company: Financial services company setting up new teams in the UK.
The Job: Join the development team. Early stages of job would be doing menial tasks.
The Verdict: Offered a second interview, which I turned down. I decided based on the interview that I didn't want to work in finance.

Company Net ends
The job falls through for reasons previously described.

Amazing (Phone Interview)
The Company: You should know this by now!
The Job: Join the Edinburgh-based development team adding new features to the site.
A 30 minute phone call with the recruitment agency for this job. I'm asked all the standard team role and communication questions. Compared with two phone interviews I had last year for jobs with large companies I do quite well, not leaving large pauses.
The Verdict: Offered a second interview.

The Company: Local auctioneers dealing mainly with cattle and motors.
The Job: Develop and maintain the company's website.
The Verdict: Turned down for job. During the interview it was explained that 50% of the job would be adding new content to the site. I suggested that during the job I would write a content management system to speed up this process, but apparently that would leave me with nothing to do instead. Also, the pay wasn't what I was hoping for.

Amazing (Recruitment Agency Interview)
I spent four hours in Linlithgow with the recruitment agency, together with 4 others in my group. We were tested for programming knowledge, verbal, numerical and logical reasoning, and given psychometric tests. We were also interviewed in an unusual way: the interviewer would ask a set list of questions, and write furiously while you stare at the top of his head and give your answer. You have to stare at his head because you are being filmed for future viewing. The interview also included choosing a topic from 5 options and giving a 5 minute presentation about it. I chose to speak about the Factory design pattern.
The Verdict: Offered a third interview.

A slightly shorter interview, only three hours long this time. I was interviewed separately by 4 members of staff, each asking different styles of questions.
The Verdict: Offered a job!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My House

Just five days after getting my new job, I went down to South Queensferry to look at flats. I viewed four properties, one of which was apparently the old Admiral's House out in the sticks. One of the flats was really nice, so I've paid for the agency to hold it for me until I get paperwork for my new job through.

My current plan is to move down the road next Thursday and start work the Monday after (I get to choose my start dates for flat and job).

To help with my flat search I found a nice Google Maps extension called Tagzania that lets you add arbitrary items to a personal map. The system's a bit tricky to use (you need to enter latitude and longitude instead of a post code), doesn't seem to work in Internet Explorer, and has some formatting issues, but it was better than sticking pins in my Edinburgh map.

Anyway, the map I made is on Tagzania, and you can quickly find my work and new flat.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Proper Job!

After two months of relatively hard slog, I've managed to secure a job. It's with a very well known e-commerce company. I'm sure you know them. But I don't want to stick their name up for fear of being found amid search results. Trust me, this job will be AMAZing actiON.

I'm well chuffed!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ships That Sink

A lot has happened since my last post. I've been spending a lot of time trying to find a job, and have also been working for my dad doing basic accounting and data entry.

The job front went quiet for a while, but when I started working for my dad things suddenly took off. I managed to get 4 interviews within a week, 3 of them in Edinburgh. Since two of these interviews were arranged by the same recruitment agency, they managed to get them on the same day and to drive me between the offices (which were about 6 miles apart). In fact, all 3 Edinburgh interviews fell on Monday of last week.

So I drove to a Park & Ride just above the Forth (Ferrytoll in case you're wondering), then bussed into the city centre. One interview in particular went really well, with the boss saying he was really impressed with me. By the time I had reached the Park & Ride car park again on the way home, I'd been offered the job, and given a day to think about the position.

Given the long day spent travelling and talking, by the time I got home I was pretty shattered, but still managed to decide that I would take the job, so I phoned the next day to accept. The position was set to start on the 31st of October, so I had just over 2 weeks to find a flat or a room in a flat.

The process of unregistering from countless job websites is not an easy one. I spent much of Tuesday doing this, helping to lighten the load on my inbox and RSS reader. I also turned down a second interview with an Aberdeen company, and cancelled registrations with local agencies.

I spent the weekend (from Thursday to Sunday) down South with Fiona, celebrating her parents' anniversary. While there, I got 2 phone calls from recruiters looking to set up phone interviews with me, which I turned down. One was with Amazon.

On Friday, my soon-to-be-boss phoned with bad news. The company had just lost 2 big contracts, and have to lay off some of their existing programmers. Bad news for the company, and bad news for me, since they can't take me on if they're making redundancies.

I was thankfully able to get some emails out swiftly to some recruiters, most notable Amazon, and get myself back into the job market, though I couldn't do much without my laptop and a decent connection. I'm now back in the market fully, and have caught up on most of what passed me by in the past week.

Another saving grace was that I hadn't had enough time to find a flat and sign a lease, as that could have been extremely costly. Also, the company was able to give me a week's salary to soften the blow.

Outside the working world, I managed to catch up briefly with some old friends in Glasgow. I managed a 30 minute meet-up with Paul and Joe in the afternoon, and met up with a large number of people from my Glasgow course and Summer jobs in the evening. Meetings were too brief, though, and I aim to make it down again soon, jobs and everything else permitting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cold Patootie Tango

I've had a music-fuelled time of late. I spent the weekend getting to and from Scarborough for the Rock in the Castle festival, of sorts. And yesterday I was in Glasgow for 3 Colours Red's last tour (though I've heard that one before - I've already seen 2 of Terrorvision's "last ever gigs").

Scarborough was quite a trial to get to. I drove Fiona and I to Glasgow on Friday, and picked up my sister, who drove us to Carlisle. I'd booked us into a guest house for only £17 each. I wasn't sure if the place would be habitable at that price, but it turned out to be in pretty good condition, except for the decor which was circa 1930, with the ceiling, curtains and walls all matching, and scary ornaments on the mantlepiece. But we got that room (which was huge) and a cooked breakfast for £17, so it was easily worth the money and the unusual decor.

On Saturday we travelled to a second hotel, this one just outside Scarborough, where the owner told us that The Wildhearts were staying at the same hotel. He got us excited for a bit, then we started having doubts. I'm still not sure he was telling the truth, but I can't figure out why he'd lie about it.

The concert/festival/day on a cliff itself was quite good, though the festival site was quite barren. In total there was the main stage (a mini stage compared to T in the Park) and the second stage opposite. When a band finished on one stage, another would start playing on the other. This was quite a good setup as you were sure to see everyone that played, but did mean that delays were costly, causing The Wildhearts to play for less time than they wanted to. Aside from the stage, there was a single beer tent (with a queue that never died, and was an hour long for a lot of the day), a couple of burger vans, and a bouncy castle. That was about it.

The 3 bands I'd gone to see (Plan A, Terrorvision and The Wildhearts) were all really good, and worth the stupid distance travelled, and the bitter cold we had to endure. I wasn't impressed enough with any other acts to consider buying their songs.

The defining moment of the day was when Ginger was on stage, alone with his banjo, and got the crowd to sing "Geordie In Wonderland" without any help from him. As Chris said afterwards, not even Robbie Williams can get a crowd to sing for him without helping out near the end.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

QuoteEngine Mark 2

I've done more work on the QuoteEngine. I've made it so that you can register a set of movies with the system, then a quote will be selected at random from that list. The idea is that people with personal websites could include a small piece of script (which I'll write next) that requests a quote and adds it to their site. I've also to look into making a stylesheet for the XML created so you can see the quote given. I'm quite happy with it anyway.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Another addition to my website: the QuoteEngine. It's a simpler version to what I did as part of the Masters group project this year, and is in PHP instead of Java.

I'll hopefully add to this soon to allow people to register a set of films to select a quote from, so that a URL of the form QuoteEngine/user/me/ gives a quote in XML that can be planted in someone's website with ease. I'll also add the code required by Amazon to delay requests so that they only happen at most once per second (so please don't flood it before then!).