working in new york city

I’ve been working in New York City since last week, and am having a good time.  I’ve spent two days interviewing students at Columbia University, and then a couple of days this week will be spent with customers using the product I work on (the Windows Presentation Foundation developer platform framework).

This is my first college recruiting trip in a year and a half, and it’s great to be back into this.  I genuinely enjoy interviewing people.  It’s not always easy, and can be very intense work.

On one of these trips, I typically speak with 24-26 people in two days.  Each interview is 25 minutes long, wit 5 minutes in between for paperwork.  Other than a lunch and a couple of 15 minute breaks, I’m “on” all day.  You can;t let your mind wander – that wouldn;t be good for my employer’s chances of making the most of the time.  It also wouldn’t be fair to the people I’m talking with.  This is a good opportunity for them, and I need to value their time as well.

Historically, of the 24 or so people i speak with, perhaps two to four might ultimately get an offer.  This is not based on a quota or target number at all.  It’s a historically valid number reflecting data from perhaps 25 campus trips I’ve taken over the years.  That’s been at some top-tier schools (MIT, CMU and the like), as well as some second and third tier schools.  Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much of a yield, given that a trip will cost several thousand dollars.  But over the years, I’ve followed how some of the folks I’ve interviewed (who were ultimately hired) have done.  It’s very fulfilling to watch them grow and advance.  And getting a couple of good hires for that kind of cost is time and money well spent.

The other part of the trip was a bit more of a mystery.  When speaking with customers I had to help give a presentation about our product, answer questions, and gather wish-list items from them.  The experience was mixed.  One of the customers did not really make very good use of the time.  This was for a variety of reasons – the biggest one being that their experience level with our product was fairly low.  The other customer packed more purpose into an hour than the first one did in a day and a half.  All in all, it was worthwhile – although I have some ideas about how to make better use of the time in the future.

The thing about the customer visits for me was that it involved a market sector I’d not had much experience with.  As is true with anything like this, there’s a whole vocabulary to learn and lots of context to gather.  The technical domain is interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind more experience with it.  Despite the fact that the time could have been better spent with one of the customers, I did draw some good experience from the trip – hopefully that will translate into some good product stuff too.

Of course, being in New York allowed me to do some fun things as well.  I got to visit with my very good friend Doron and his family.  The last time I saw Doron was when I was still in the hospital last year.  It was great to catch up with he and his family.  I got to spend the weekend with some of my cousins celebrating a confirmation.  I’ve been coming back to NY once or twice a year since about 2001, and it’s always a real treat to catch up with friends and family.

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