📝This was the most wild job search I've ever done

At the end of 2021, I left my job at Talent Inc. and conducted an extremely thorough job search. I really prefer to job search without a day job so that I can give it my full focus. Today, I am happy to announce that after a little over a month of interviewing, I found the perfect job for me. But, before I get to that, I really want to talk about how I conducted my job search as it's been something I've been planning for a bit.

Numbers On The Board

This job market is wild! I can't tell if companies are hiring harder this cycle or if the fact that my last role was "senior software engineer" at a startup or what. This cycle could not have gone any more different than my last job search in 2017.

Let's take a quick at conversion rates compared to 2017:

  • Application → callback rate was 75% in 2022 vs 35% in 2017
  • Application → code test rate was 40% in 2022 vs 9% in 2017
  • Application → on site rate was 27% in 2022 vs 6% in 2017
  • Application → offer rate was 19% in 2022 vs 1% in 2017

The numbers don't tell the full story here either! The later stage numbers here are weighed down by the fact that I was able to drop out of processes later on if I wasn't getting good vibes from the company. That freedom alone allowed me to have a little more swagger in walking into interviews.

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📝By all means, make that money in crypto, but not all money is right.

This is a post about cryptocurrency, but first, let me tell you a tale.

I graduated high school in 2009, right into the Great Recession. All the money that my parents' saved for my college education had rapidly shrank. In order to have a car on the road and go to school, I needed to work 30-40 hours a week. So, I got a job selling things at RadioShack and that was fine for a while. I was able to balance school and sell cell phones no problem. But that job went away cause I was giving too many discounts. Gotta make those sales! Technically, they expected me to pay them $500 in order to prevent criminal charges being pressed, but I never paid that and I don't think they're gonna press me on that anymore.

In any case, I needed a job fast and I really wanted something in IT. So I hoped on Craigslist and answered a job ad for a traveling IT technician. The interview was at a Panera and it went swimingly and I accepted on the spot. The next day, I got to see how janky an operation that hires off Craigslist is. They had moved a retail computer repair operation into a house the owner was living in. One of the technicians made a sub attic in the attic we worked that he was living in without heating or air conditioning. They had a "recycling center" in an abandoned warehouse that was definitely unsafe to be in. They had this high school student sanding down the insides of refurbished monitors so that a resistive touch screen could be fitted into it. The whole thing was gross, but hey, I needed money.

The primary client for this IT company were internet cafes. You may have a vision of internet cafes as a places in China for people to play video games and surf the web in a social setting. The internet cafes in Ohio were not too far from that, I suppose, with one major exception: they are places for people to gamble. The games they were playing were low tech video slots and instead of paying per game, they paid for time on the machines. This made the gambling legal by Ohio state laws but illegal under federal law. In practice, the FBI would raid these establishments frequently, sieze all the assets, and we would replace the machines with refurbished ThinkCenteres and the sanded down touch screens. No sense in paying for the best if it's gonna get yanked in 3 months.

The day to day was always drama filled and exciting. You drive to Sandusky to replace a switch. You drive to Cleveland Heights to setup a new cafe. You learn to make patch cables, you learn more about networking and scripting. You get in arguments about how much gas money you should be reimbursed for driving to all those sites. Lots of 16 hour days cause it has to get done now now now. Typical 2 bit IT shit.

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📝I spent 4 years working at Talent Inc, my first product & customer focused startup, and I learned so much.

Today is my last day working at Talent Inc. I've been there four years, which is the longest I have ever held a job and it's the first product startup I've ever worked at. I feel extremely lucky for this experience and I would like the opportunity to say goodbye and share some lessons I learned.

Having Good Users Is a Blessing, Give Them Powerful Tools

When I first started at Talent Inc, I was working on software that was used by our internal operational team. I was paired up with an engineer that had been with the company for forever through an acquisition. In my first month working there he said something that has stuck with me ever since:

We have the best users, we have to treat them right. They are patient and we should reward them.

After four years here, I have to agree! That operational team works with job seekers whom can understandably be demanding. Job searching is in the top 3 most stressful moments of their lives. What's incredible about both of these user groups (customers & staff) is how kind and helpful they can be when something breaks. How creative they can be when a fix is delayed to get the job done. This made my life so much easier and less stressful when the chips were down.

How can I reward this team effort? I was lucky during my tenure at Talent Inc many opportunities to build systems from the ground up to empower these users. I feel that we delivered on those opportunities and the fact that we exited kind of validates that belief.

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📝Classic emo album about the first year of marriage. Also, a quick primer on emo music.

Y'all, I love emo music. As you can tell, I have a range of emotions and I have "sad boi" tendencies for sure. So this love shouldn't of emo music shouldn't come as a surprise. All the same, I'm here to tell you that emo gets a bad rap.

When you think of emo music, you probably think about those bands from the mid-2000s like My Chemical Romance or Panic At The Disco. Music for dramatic theatre kids. And sure, those are emo bands, but they are just one era of emo! I would argue that those bands made some good music BUT it's definitely not the apex of the genre.

The emo music that you're thinking of is what is called the "second wave". The first wave was in the 90s with bands like Cap'n Jazz, Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football, and so on. The first wave has lots of good music that has aged pretty well. The second wave is the pop apex of emo with the bands listed above. The third wave, also called emo revival, is what I want to talk about today. It ran from the late 2000s to early 2010s and hearkened back to the first wave of emo. All art reflects the tastes of the time, third wave emo is no different. Musically, to me at least, it sounds lot like the rest of indie rock of that time period. Only, instead of nice melodies, you have shouting and general chaos.

Let's start with a practical example: Glocca Morra's Just Married from 2012. You got jangly guitars doing math rock riffs. You got a lead singer screaming about the first year of marriage and being a fuck up. And you have a drummer just doing his thing. These are all things that I love.

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📝I have put a lot of work into the newest version of this site and I want to tell you about it.

Home page screenshot

In the age of social media and hosted blogs, personal websites don't get the love they deserve. Sure, writing developer based content on a site like medium.com or dev.to will get more eyeballs on it than something you make on your own, but there is something extremely satisfying in owning every pixel on a site with your name on it. I saw this Tweet the other day and it seemed fitting to how I think about personal sites.

If we are entering the era of Web3 (which is Soylent in this Tweet, ewww) and it's ethos is trying to revive the techno-optimisim and ownership of the Web 1.0 era, what better way to embody this than with an over-engineered personal site? Also, I just really love Greek salad (I live in Astoria after all, you walk outside on Ditmars and they force Greek salad on you).

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📝Let's quickly run through my life and see how ADHD has effected it.

I talk about suicide and depression in this post.

1. The Beginning

I was 6 years old, in first grade. My teacher told my mom that I couldn't sit still and was disruptive. My mom is a special educator and takes me to the doctor at which point I am diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin.

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a medical condition. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. ADHD can affect a child at school, at home, and in friendships.

- KidsHealth

The Ritalin helps with the focus and gives me a lot of energy! Being 6 years old, I don't really understand what this ADHD is all about, I just want to play outside and run around with all this energy. I mean sure, I have to go to the principal's office every day at 2pm to get another Ritalin, but I feel like I'm a normal kid.

My mom, being the special educator that she is and knowing the system like she does, gets my school to carve out little accommodations for me. At the time, I didn't think things like taking standardized tests outside of the normal classroom was helpful. I feel like I would have been fine taking those tests in the classroom, but whatever, I'm told that people with ADHD have trouble taking tests if things like doors open unexpectedly?

Every couple of years, I switch medications. Ritalin was fine through elementary school but we switched to Adderall (I think that gave me some weird heart beats), back to an extended release Ritalin (longer release means I don't need a pick me up in the afternoon), before settling on Concerta (extended release and no heart issues).

In middle school, I'm at Boy Scout camp. There is an older kid in my camp that has ADHD but he proudly proclaims that he went off medication and distraction is something that can be conquered with will power. He's a cool guy and I internalize that my ADHD can't be blamed for anything and that I need to power through it.

It goes on like this through high school. I'm told that I'm smart and put in the gifted classes but my GPA is always around 3.0. I get a computer when I'm 15 and it's off to the races. I could sit in front of that box for hours devouring information. Tech blogs, gaming sites, and the old StumbleUpon extension opened my mind to so many possibilities in the world. I end up going to a vocational school to learn how to do video editing / graphic design / web design and fall in love with making websites.

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📝I'm not even a vegetarian but I love making these veggie burgers

This weekend was one of contrasts. On Friday, we went to a birthday party for my partner's yoga teacher / friend. Upon showing up, we were told to put on cat ears. I declined (I already have a cat tattoo) but still had a very fun time.

Actual picture from the cat ear party
Actual picture from the birthday party

Saturday, though, we were exhausted from the party and our very long week. I spent the day playing games from my youth that were ported to the Nintendo Switch. I'm really enjoying playing Final Fantasy 9 for the 3rd time (the card game in it is so good) and the remake of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is very challenging (I don't know how I used to be good at this game!).

But on Sunday, I needed to kick some ass cooking to feel whole. I cannot be lazy all weekend and feel good about myself. So I quickly tossed together a menu and got cooking.

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📝The highlight of my weekend was making this pie, let me tell you all about it!

Last week was weird for me. The weekend before last, we booked social engagements every day of the weekend. While it was nice that I went to the beach and saw friends, we didn't do our weekly grocery shopping. As a result, we ordered takeout more than we should have and generally ate like 💩 .

This weekend though? Absolutely perfect! On Saturday, I took my partner to their first Mets game and it went swimmingly. deGrom was pitching, the game was close, and there was a loud Philly fan in our section that was politely ribbing us when a play went their way. The Mets were losing in the last inning before tying it up with bases loaded and then winning the game on a walk off sacrifice fly. We even got a free shirt! Absolutely perfect Saturday!

The highlight of my weekend wasn't the game, though. At some point last week, a recipe for a cherry pie came across my Twitter feed that I had to make. I cleared my schedule on Sunday and vowed to spend the day cooking. The results speak for themselves, so let's dive in.

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📝I wanted Google Page Speed Insights to work with GitHub badges, but latency stays undefeated.

As a software engineer, it's rare to have an idea for a personal project and actually finish it. We have ideas all the time, buy domains for them, and then never finish them. For me, I've had a brain block for coding that isn't work for like 5 years. Well, maybe that isn't completely true, but for the purposes of this post, let's just roll with it.

At work, I've been working a lot with Gatsby on a new site. One of our big metrics that we are tracking with this new site we are building is Google Page Speed Insights. For those that don't know, Page Speed Insights is a like a special version of Google Lighthouse that runs outside of Chrome's Dev Tools. It was during one of these runs that I got an idea:

What if I made a GitHub badge so that I can check on this passively?

I did some Googling and couldn't find any implementations of it and went to work.

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📝Trying my hand at "lifestyle blogging" with some cooking I did for a warm summer day.

If there is one thing that I appreciate from 2020 is that I've gotten really good at cooking. By not commuting to work, I have the energy and time to make meals each night. My partner and I split cooking and I think I'm a better cook than them, but don't tell them I said that 😂 . With that ability and people getting into lifestyle blogging, I've decided to hop on this trend and write about my cooking.

Sunday was extremely hot for the first weekend in June. My partner has yoga in the early afternoon so I had time to plan and execute some non-dinner meals. Let's make some desert and a cocktail that complements the heat of the day!

Strawberry Pretzel Pie

I made this pie last year and it's the perfect summer pie. First I blended up a bunch of pretzels to make the crust. Then I combined the pretzel with some half melted butter and sugar and lay it out in my cast iron pie pan. They say to use a stand mixer, but all I have are my 🙌 so they had to do. Bake it and let it cool in the fridge for a bit.

Making the crust in 3 steps
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📝You shouldn't use DigitalOcean Spaces to host a Gatsby site, but I had to do it to them for science.

Hosting Gatsby on DigitalOcean Spaces will make you grimmace

DigitalOcean Spaces is an object storage service that is S3 compatible (you can use all the AWS S3 libraries, which is nifty) with a CDN automatically built in. It even lets you bring your own domain and will handle the SSL certificates for you through Let's Encrypt. Based upon my experience with Gatsby and S3, this seemed like a great fit and since I'm already a DigitalOcean customer and figured I might as well give it a shot instead of signing up for another service.

Long story short, I was able to get it working, but I ended up ditching it to go with Netlify. Still, if you are here, you might have a do or die situation where you must host your site on Spaces and maybe this will be useful. Also, it's a fun story for me to tell!

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📝What happens when I open myself up as a programming interface?

I have been in therapy since I was 18 years old. At this point, I feel no shame about it and I know that it makes me a stronger, healthier adult than I would be otherwise. I think everyone could benefit from some therapy, even if your life is going okay at the moment.

A few months ago, my therapist challenged me to begin journaling my daily life in order to get more in touch with my feelings and to draw connections of my behaviors and mental health. Rather than use a paper journal, they recommended an app called Daylio. I installed the app and went about living my life.

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📝Underground rap record that will rock you.

This week, I want to turn you on to a fun record. A record that will let you leave your worries at door and enjoy yourself because it is about nothing and everything at the same time. These are trying times and escapism sometimes helps.

Edan - Beauty & The Beat

Does this mic sound blurry?

The album is Edan's Beauty & The Beat. This album is basically underground hip hop that sounds like it's backed by a late 60s guitar heavy rock band that's been tripping for 3 years straight. I'm a huge fan of both of those genres, so this is like a special treat for me.

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📝Epic punk album about anxiety and fighting the man.

The Monitor

To honor the inauguration today, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite punk albums of all time, Titus Andronicus's The Monitor. This album is sort of a concept album framed around the Civil War juxtaposed around a break up and modern general anxiety.

Sonically, this album sounds awesome. The guitars are loud, but never overpower the vocals and the riffs will remind you of Bruce Springsteen meets Civil War marches meets traditional punk rock. This album will make you want to overtake the means of production cause it rocks so hard. There are also softer songs, like To Old Friends And New, which feels like a punk rock power ballad.

So give me a Guinness, give me a Keystone Light

Give me a kegger on a Friday night

Give me anything but another year in exile

Let's talk about the concept of this album, because it's what makes this album really special. The album opens with the lead singer's high school history teacher reading a part from an Abraham Lincoln speech and then immeditely cuts to the lead singer (Patrick Stickles) singing about moving from Jersey to Massachusetts after a bad break up. Throughout the album, there are more Civil War quotes that fit perfectly with the album. Using the backdrop of the war, topics like relationships, addiction, and just general anxiety are explored.

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📝A beautiful ambient album about the pain of a breakup.

I'm gonna veer off my normal course of grooveable music into something a little more personal. This week, I'm gonna suggest that people check out my favorite ambient album ever, Laurel Halo's Quarantine.

Halo is an artist that is currently on Hyperdub. She usually makes typical Hyperdub fair, which is like somewhat dark and minimal dance music. But, on this album, and only on this album, does she break that mold and decides to sing over her somewhat ominous beats. Her voice on this album is incredible. Rather than just use her normal voice, she layers and the vocals such that they harmonize. On first listen, this can work really good on some of the songs, like Thaw, but can seem super weird on a song like Years. Notice how I said that they that it can seem weird on first listen. Some of the harmonies are ugly because of the subject manner that this album deals with.

This album is about a break up. They type of break up where you kinda of know that it's not working but you don't want to be alone. On Years, you have the break up talk where Laurel plays both the parties in the relationship. The vocals are ugly and can be a little uncomfortable to listen to.

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📝A catchy mix of Motown and house music.

Moodymann - Moodymann

This week, I want to take y'all to Detroit to visit Moodymann's self titled album from 2014. After 21 years of creating low key Detroit house music, James Dixon finally starts using his voice (literally, he doesn't sing on any other of his albums) to show us his vision of his city. Detroit house music sounds like French House meets Motown. This album feels like a woozy tour of the D, where most of the songs are about blowing weed, sipping Remy, and getting with women.

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📝Weed rap meets classic jazz flute with fun results.

Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y - Live In Concert EP

This week, I'm gonna take us back to 2013. Happier times for sure. The album is Live in Concert EP from Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. Don't be mislead, this is not a live album, rather them doing their thing over jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey's album 1975 album Fancy Dancer. While this isn't anybody's best album (Curren$y's best is Pilot Talk, Wiz's best is Kush & OJ, and Humphry's is Blacks & Blues), but this works great. The instrumentals are lush and engaging, the raps are about women, weed, and cars, and the album doesn't overstay it's welcome at 23 minutes. The best track on it is Landing, where there is an extended flute solo at the end, Wiz does a lot with a simple verse, and Curren$y talks about having in motion sensers in his house so girls can't snoop on him.

3.75/5

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📝My memories of hackathons I've been to thus far.

Over the past two years, I've been to quite a few hackathons (MHacks, Penn Apps, Kent Hack Enough to name a few) and thought I should scribble down some reflections from these experiences from these events so that I can remember them.

Planning Makes Perfect

I've gone to a few of these hackathons without any plans as to what I want to make and have failed miserably. In these cases, I've gotten bogged down in coming up with an idea, trying to quickly learn a new technology, or just losing hope cause I fall too far behind. That last one becomes quite intimidating when you look around at the people around you: The smartest of the smart working on groundbreaking, amazing stuff that you could only dream to make. And they are doing it with such ease.

Nerf Gun Turret
They fired this bad boy at judges. It was a sight to behold.

This lead me to an amazing discovery: planning leads to success at hackathons. I realized this while watching the Virgina Tech team at MHacks 2014 make their Nerf Gun Turret. They could not have made this thing in the time constraints without having a solid plan of what to make before showing up. They figured out what they wanted to make, found the parts they needed, and showed up and coded all weekend to make their dreams a reality.

Even though the Nerf Gun Turret is a hardware hack, I think the concept extends to all hacks. Sit down with your teammates, plan out what you want to make, look for libraries that will make development easier, divide tasks to members and go with that. The hackathon is a puzzle: Show up with all the pieces.

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