Good news - I have found a place to land. It has been an interesting experience talking to all these different companies and seeing so many different styles and cultures. There are themes and commonalities, but there are also big differences.
I realized towards the end of this that I would find a job that was probably a near perfect fit, because everybody right now can be so picky.
So, where did I end up? Well, not necessarily where I expected. I don't have a big security background and it hasn't been one of my focuses, but I ended up at Symantec , working on their Data Loss Prevention (or DLP) tools. Think employees losing laptops with medical records, like that.
I'll be one of their senior guys working with what they call "Data At Rest" - data in various storage repositories, be it databases, file shares, wikis, Exchange servers, you name it. Their tool scans all of these repositories and run them through a detection engine and then raise alerts or run other workflow if something is found.
The group that builds these DLP tools is actually a recent acquisition for Symantec called Vontu . They appear to be top in this market by quite a large margin. And this market is continuing to grow, even in these times. Security has always been an issue, but it's becoming more and more of one as a larger portion of our life starts to go online.
Aside from the technology, what sold me on this team was the way they interviewed. Yes, they grilled me. I had to design a data model for a card game and talk about how to implement flow control with it, answer questions file scanning performance, answer architecture questions, etc. I even had to give a technical presentation followed by Q&A to the entire team as part of my second round of interviews.
But they were respectful, and friendly. And they had just as many pointed questions about my work style, how I dealt with conflict, how I liked leading people, my opinions and ideas about development process, and so on. They obviously cared, a lot, about the quality of a person beyond their technical skills. This is something that has been important to me too, and has been sorely lacking in many of the "hot" Silicon Valley companies I've been talking to. Some of these guys are so focused on technical prowess that they completely miss the boat in terms of having a respectful, friendly culture. It's all grim, O log(N) kind of stuff.
The DLP team is based in San Francisco, and I'll be going in most days. This is huge. I was convinced I'd have to commute down to the South Bay (think two hours each way on public transit) every day. That's just where most of the folks are.
This is also huge because this will be the first time in 9 years that I'll be going into an office every day, and meeting my coworkers face to face every day. Ever since my daughter was born in 2000 I have been working from home in some capacity or another. And for the past seven years the teams I have worked with have been in Europe or India. I was looking at my wardrobe and realizing my clothes are all a bit ratty - I just haven't paid much attention to the presentability of my clothes! Time to help the economy and do a little shopping...
But I am actually looking forward to going in the office every day. I have loved working from home, and being there when my kids were at home, having some flexibility to help make Linda's life easier, and just being there to see and understand what Linda's life was like, if only a little. But Michael's three now, getting ready for preschool, and I'm getting ready to start seeing the people I work with again, hanging out with them, and cracking dumb jokes with them.
This will also be the first time in my entire career where I commute daily beyond the East Bay. That's a whole routine and way of life I will have to get used to - spending most of my time in a town far from home, and being one of the huddled masses on the BART train every day. But I like trains, just like my son. I think I'll be fine. At least I don't have to drive every day (ugh).
I'll be taking two weeks off to breathe after an intense job search. I'm spending time with the kids, giving Linda some time off, and then for one week I'm going to do a serious hackathon with a friend on a software idea we've been talking about for a while. Yes, can you believe it, I'm going to code for my vacation. But this is cool stuff, and what can I say, I'm a geek. I've been having to shove this into what little extra time I have, so it's a real treat to dig down and code straight, if only for a week. If anything ultimately comes of it, I'll be sure to let you know. But even if it doesn't, I'm going to be having fun and learning a lot.
So, I am very grateful. Let me tell you, this is no time to be looking for a job. For all of you out there still looking, I'm thinking of you - we're all thinking of you.