Saturday, July 22, 2017

That's so Bellingham!

I've spent the past 5 weeks in Bellingham, Washington, working at Faithlife on revamping the Logo Bible app for Android. My family is here with me, and in another week we'll be heading back to Searcy.

We've really enjoyed our time in the northwest. Bellingham is located near the Pacific and just 20 miles south of Canada. We've spent most of our weekends traveling to nearby destinations like Mount Baker, Seattle, Vancouver, and Olympic National Park. Below are some landscape photos I took at Olympic just to give you a sense of the incredible beauty in this area.

Working at Faithlife has been a huge blessing. I've worked with a very talented group of guys who have taught me a lot. I'm especially thankful to David Mitchell, an alumnus of Harding's computer science dept, who arranged for me to spend 6 weeks here as a visiting developer.

I can't say enough positive things about Faithlife. They have a company culture that encourages excellence, and their mission is to service the Church. The vibe I get from the employees is very positive; everyone seems to really enjoy their work. I was even able to have coffee with the CEO, Bob Pritchett, who eagerly desires to meet one-on-one with all his employees, even the interns!

Speaking of interns, shout out to Stephen Hoffmann, one of our current CS students, who is doing a summer internship at Faithlife. Stephen competed in a company-wide hackathon yesterday, and his team was awarded the "Awesomeness Award" for developing a live-streaming capability that churches could use in during worship!

What am I going to miss about this place?

  • The fantastic weather, which at this time of the year is lots of sun, low humidity, and temperatures during the day around 70 degrees.
  • My work. I enjoy doing software development and working with a great group of guys. (But I also really enjoy teaching... it's my dream job.)
  • The church. We've worshiped with a local church and made some great connections. We are thankful for those who invited us into their homes.
  • The pro-environment focus. People here are very conscientious about treating the planet well. You won't see a single plastic bag at the grocery store, and every restaurant allows you to recycle your used plates, forks, etc.
  • Walking to work! We live only a block away from work, and it's so nice to be able to come home for lunch. Many days I never even get into an automobile!

What am I not going to miss? Hearing loud/drunk people leaving the bar at 2am. Living downtown is cool for 6 weeks, but I'm thankful to be going back to a house in a quiet neighborhood! :-)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's your fault you didn't get that internship (and how to turn things around)

Summer has began, and many of my students are off to exciting places to do summer internships. However, some of my students applied to several internships but didn't get a single offer. Why not? Are there just not enough internships to go around?

If you want to know why you didn't get an internship, you need to understand what happened when you applied.

Your potential boss (or likely a designated person in charge of internships who we'll call the "recruiter") probably received a number of resumes of students interested in the internship. The recruiter briefly scanned the resumes for promising candidates who appeared to do good school work and did projects outside of the classroom. If you haven't put in the effort in your school work, you likely didn't make this first cut. If all you are relying on is just your school work to get noticed, you may also have not made the cut.

In some cases, the recruiter may have accepted your resume, even if it wasn't necessarily stellar. But the recruiter wanted a little more information about you, so they called a few of your professors.

What could I say when I was asked, "Do you think so-and-so would make a good employee?" As I reflect on the previous semester when you were in my class...
  • You slept in class or acted completely uninterested.
  • You turned in late work repeatedly and always had an excuse.
  • Your projects were turned in with obvious flaws.
  • You never asked me for help or even tried to form a relationship with me outside of class when given opportunities to.
  • You rarely replied to my emails or told me you never check your email.
I wish I could have said, "Yes! I'd hire them in a second!" Instead, I had to be honest and tell the recruiter what it was like having you as a student. Does the recruiter want to pay someone who doesn't do their work on time, always has an excuse, turns in code with bugs, avoids personal interactions with others, and is generally uncommunicative?

Here's my point: It's your fault you didn't get than internship. But it doesn't have to continue to be this way.
  • Show interest in class and ask questions.
  • Start putting effort into your course work.  Turn in homework and projects that you obviously put considerable effort and time into.
  • Make relationships with the faculty. Stop by their office for help when you are struggling or even just to say "hi".
  • Take ownership for your mistakes and avoid making excuses.
  • Reply to your email.  I'm not sending you email just for fun.
  • Work on side projects just for fun.  Or at least for professional development.
  • Have a good attitude!
You don't have to be a 4.0 student to get an internship.  You just need to show that you are willing to work, pleasant to be around, and take responsibility for yourself.

I want all my students to get internships next summer!