20 Months Later

Tomorrow is my first day working for my new company: Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD). I am really excited by what the company is doing and its mission resonates deeply with me.

A new chapter in my life starts. If you are interested, here is a resume of the last 2 episodes ;).

Fumbling through and self-introspection

I quit my last job 20 months ago. I was not committed to the company anymore and it did not seem fair to continue showing to work everyday in these conditions. The company ended up closing doors less than one month after so if I had waited a little longer, I could have got laid-off and claimed unemployement benefits but it did not look like the right thing to do either.

I first interviewed with some companies with the help of head hunters I worked with in the past but it did not work out as I was not clear with what I wanted to do and was not very committed to the idea of taking another job yet.

Then, a friend of a friend (foaf) introduced me to a couple of entrepreneurs that needed a technical person to join the founding team of a travel oriented website. I liked the idea as I am myself an avid traveler and they have great ideas to make travel planning more manageable. This did not work out either at the end as we all felt it was not a fit and I did not feel like it was the right thing to do.

I then decided I should first find what I wanted to do before committing myself again. Additionally, I had enough money to live for a long while without any revenues so it did not seem like moonlighting on a random job was right either. That decision has not always been easy to explain as I might not have been clear about what I was doing all of the time, some people felt threatened by my actions (or in-actions!), and I had internal fights between my fears and desires.

Along the way, I got also a bit distracted ;). I upped my yoga practice to five or six times a week, started training for long distance running religiously and completed several half marathons and one marathon, read a lot, picked up drawing, hiked and climbed some mountains, read a lot, invested and lost some money, traveled a bit, bummed like never before on a one month ski road trip, read a lot, stayed with my family and friends for several months, and read a lot more.

Still, all of those gave me a new outlook and helped me define how I want to live my life from now on. Of course, it took a lot of thinking, soul searching, more reading, and a lot of discussions with my closest friends and some other people to get to a clear vision.

Very basically, learning and contributing are core to my life and anything I do has to resonate with those. This gives me a strong foundation to go forward and allow me to make clearer decisions.

Finding the right opportunity

With this new outlook, I started looking for opportunities to contribute in the software engineering field once I came from France a couple months ago.

I first looked at Kiva.org, a company I really like and that I have been marketing to all my friends and anybody that will listen to me for a couple years. They had a job opening for a software engineer position. And while I did not know some of the technologies they use, I still took my chance and applied. It was a long shot as I did not have any connection to anybody there and my work background is very different than what they are doing. Still, my cover email interested them enough that their director of engineering contacted me and even brought me in for a round of on-site interviews. I thought it went well but sadly, they finally decided to pass on me. I will never know why but my lack of experience with the technologies they use might not have helped, or it might just be for any other reason not related to me :). Still, check them out and if you have some money to spare, make a loan!

While talking with Kiva, I made the mistake of not looking for other opportunities and when they decided not to bring me in, I was back at square one. It was more than time to widen my search. I looked if other companies I liked were hiring and looked for job offers on Craigslist.org and LinkedIn. I identified a roster of eight companies that matched my criteria. Some in line with my previous experience, some very far from it :). Still, I applied with them and hoped for the best.

The market being in the state it is right now, I did not think I would hear from many of them but I eventually got an answer from five of them! Two, LinkedIn and CDD, contacted me on the same day and eventually took me through the whole interview process. Their processes are different in many respect.

LinkedIn was very prompt to act, I went through the interview process very fast. Ending with a grueling very technical 6 hour round of on-site interviews. They liked me and went ahead with the reference checks and told me they wanted to make me an offer. But then, it took them a very long time to extend the offer.

CDD took a bit longer. It started with a phone interview. Then I programed a small application for them so they could see an example of my development skills. Finally, I went to their office for a 7 hour on-site interview. Still less intense than at LinkedIn. By the end of the day, they made me an offer!

And the day after, LinkedIn finally made me an offer!

So here I was with two great opportunities. A great place to be. But a very difficult decision to make. Being myself, I started analysing the pros and cons of both jobs and pestering my friends with my undecision.

I am a big fan of LinkedIn and all the people I met are very smart. Aditionally, it is a successful company and they have very interesting software challenges to solve. The project I was to work on is very visible and important and has a big impact on the users and company. I know it would be great to work at LinkedIn.

I like CDD’s vision and mission. I really liked the people I met. The company is in a field that is new to me and they use processes and technology I want to experience. It is also positioned to contribute to the research on neglected diseases. It just resonates a bit more with me and it is why I went with it.

Of course, there is no way to know how things will turn out but I am very hopeful and am sure it will be a great experience. I am super excited and cannot wait to start contributing :).