Monday, May 10, 2010

Job Hunt and a Coding Test in Java and Ruby

Thursday evening last week I had a Skype interview with the technical recruiter from a small New York City company, Cyrus Innovation.

One of the things we talked about was if I was interested in sticking with Java or if I'd be flexible about other technology, Ruby, in particular. I said I was open to other technology, but mainly focusing on Java because as it's what I'm doing day-to-day, it's what I'm most comfortable interviewing about.

At the end he said he would send me the Ruby coding test. I said something like "sure, I'll try that. Doing it in Ruby should give me a push to learn a little more Ruby". Then he apologized and said it was a slip of the tongue and he would send me the Java test.

Shortly after that I got an email from him with a link to their Java based coding test on their website. I read through it, and since he'd mentioned a Ruby test, thought I'd just tack on "_ruby" to the URL. That worked and I got a Ruby version...

So, Friday night I began work on the Java one, wrapped it up on Saturday evening and then decided to try it out in Ruby. It was essentially the same test, although the text on the website was formatted a little different and it gave the individual input files and output files instead of a zip containing them all, but really, the same test.

I worked from late Saturday night till nearly dawn on Sunday, searching Google for some Ruby help and digging in the index of The Ruby Programming Language by Flanagan & Matsumoto to find answers to my questions about getting it done in Ruby. I actually had a lot of fun doing that. With a dearth of ideas for what to program, rather than a lack of interest in learning, this gave me a specific project to do.

I continued it later Sunday morning and by early evening had the same output from the Ruby code as I did the Java code, and the same unit tests. I didn't copy and translate the code directly, I tried to use Ruby idioms where I understood them, but since it was my first real Ruby code, I doubt it's top quality.

I emailed both zip files to Cyrus Innovation with the explanation that he gave me the Java test and mentioned the Ruby one, so after finding I did it just so I could learn a little more Ruby. Hopefully that'll make some kind of good impression and back up what I said about being interested in learning (which is certainly true!).

So that's step 2 of 4 from their recruitment process done. Everything he told me about the company made it sound like a place I'd enjoy working. At this point I really want to get through the next steps and I hope they hire me, it sounds fantastic.

The only problem is step 4 of the process... I can't easily fly there to spend a day in their office and fly back. He said he'd talk to some people there about what might be done via the internet for that.

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