Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Interview Report for Information Technology as Profession

Interviewee Name: Badal Shah
Email ID:

Title: Software Developer
Company: eBay Inc.
Interview Place: Starbucks
Interview Date: 03/05/2011

Q1. How much you need to prepare after coming out of college to join Industry?
It really depends upon your knowledge, experience and exposure to technologies in software industry. You should know about domains and platforms in which you are interested. If you have taken your courses matching your area of interest, you will be fine as a fresher in IT industry. The only things you have to take care of are implementing your theories in projects and have a practical approach for solving problems. Furthermore, you will need to prepare yourself for job interviews and explain the interviewer what all technical work you did in your masters.

Q2. Is it necessary to take professional training before hunting a job in IT Industry?
San Jose State University has a great masters program offering a wide range of courses, focusing on latest software development techniques and tools. If you have insight knowledge of your coursework, you will be fine. There are professional courses like CCNA, SCJP, MCSE, SCSA and many others to clear your fundamentals in specific domain. But as I told earlier, if you haven’t took a course for particular technology or tool, you can build your skills using professional courses.

Q3. As a student, we learn a number of technologies and methodologies during coursework. Are they all helpful when you join the Software Industry?
Everything you have learned in the school will surely help you in your professional life. But there are always exceptional cases. Being a software engineer you might know a lot about web development, enterprise software development and mobile development frameworks because of the courses you took in masters. For example, I joined eBay Inc. as a software engineer and just work on the enterprise development side. But many times, I have to do some Quality Assurance for our products also. So it’s like switching back and forth between various aspects of software development. You might not need all the skills at the same time but it will be helpful to you if you know a lot about your field.

Q4. Is it fine if I just go with the regular coursework while there in university or I should do simultaneous research about latest technologies in Industry?
This part is totally optional. If you are able to cope up with your projects, assignments and research work in your courses, you can opt for more. It is always good to be prepared more in the field of Information Technology. Once you are synchronized with the latest happenings in industry, you can start implementing those in your personal projects. When you go for interview, you will have a positive impression about being familiar with latest trends in software industry.

Q5. How much time it usually takes for getting prepared for Industry?
It really depends and varies from individual to individual. If you have done internships before as a software engineer, you might be comfortable with the work environment and deadlines. Also if you were able to give your projects a professional touch, you are surely ready to join the software industry.

Q6. What is your regular schedule at eBay?
My schedule at eBay is pretty flexible and random. Generally I check emails in the morning about assigned tasks for the day. Then I have to be prepared for emergency meetings for our products planning and launch. Breakfast is free at our branch and the whole team enjoys it together. During work hours, I have to meet my manger sometimes to discuss critical problems in my project and solve them. I go to lunch with my colleagues at around 01:00 pm and come back to work in forty five minutes. I take coffee after sometime and have project discussions within my team. I and my teammates often play foosball, Xbox during evenings.

Q7. How much time is you involved in meetings at work?
Generally we have meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday regarding our ongoing projects and future projects. Apart from that I have one on one meeting at least once a week with my project lead. We use the agile approach for software development which needs a lot of communication between the stakeholders. Normally you have to be involved in meetings with your colleagues, team leaders, project leaders and managers. Communication is very important in software industry.

Q8. Have you deal with deadlines all the times or occasionally?
My projects are internal to eBay and do not have harsh deadlines. I am assigned something new to work upon every week and report to my team leader. But sometimes during product release and deployment, I have to deal with sharp deadlines with real time priorities.

Q9. What would you suggest if I got an offer from a startup company or IT giant like Microsoft? Which factors do I consider before choosing one of them?
It depends from person to person and the driving factors include job profile, interest, company’s business model, work environment, growth, co-workers, managers, compensation and personal choices about software platforms. If you have accurate details about the company and you know what you want to do, you can easily decide where to go.

Q10. Is it a good idea to target your companies of interest being a student and start focusing on specific technologies therein?
According to me, learning technologies targeting specific companies can narrow down your scope in IT industry. Most of the software companies change their business models, platforms, software tools and development areas often according to market requirements. For example, you are targeting Amazon and started learning web technologies like jQuery, AJAX, JSON, DOJO, YUI and Dreamweaver which they use a lot. What if they stopped using these scripting languages and tools after you graduate? So you should prepare yourself for a variety of companies and learn as much tools and techniques as you can. This will not only secure your future as an IT professional but also give you exposure to lot of technologies used in software industry.

Q11. Does your company allows work from home, and is it a good practice to do it?
Yes, eBay allows me to work from home but you should work from home only in case of emergencies. I am more productive at work place than at home. Once you are working from home, there are lots of factors which can break your concentration and decrease your work efficiency. I would prefer working from home rarely.

Q12. Which scripting languages and tools should I focus upon to get a job in web development?
There are lots of languages and tools you can learn to get a good job in web development but some are most important to know. JavaScript, jQuery, DOJO, JSON, YUI, AJAX, Shell Script, Perl, PHP and Python are the best languages to learn for web development. Tools include Netbeans, Eclipse, Jboss Server, Apache Ant and Apache Axis. These are the skills the employers will definitely look for a web development position.

Q13. How is the typical work culture in IT companies?
Every company has a different work culture in IT. But the common work patterns in all IT companies includes working in teams, high cohesion and coupling in work, working with deadlines and giving highest priority to work.

Q14. How is life at eBay being an IT Professional?
My life at eBay is full of self satisfaction. The best part of my job is that I am doing what I really like to do. They provide me all sorts of resources for development purpose and give liberty to think anything which can make their product more effective and optimized.

Q15. What are the best and worst part of your job and why?
In large companies you work in specific projects with limited responsibilities. You focus on very small part of the whole project and deliver your part. The best part is you don’t have to mess with lot of things at the same time and worst part is you are limited to certain aspects of your project.

Q16. Do they provide summer internships at eBay?
Yes they hire interns during summers from lot of universities. They hire interns from San Jose State University also. You can apply online and if your profile matches their requirements, you will surely get a call.

Q17. What are the chances of internship getting converted into fulltime jobs?
It depends on the project you worked upon during internship. If the project is huge and they want someone who knows a lot about it, they will hire you as a fulltime employee. Other factors deciding your status to fulltime includes market situations, technologies and project lead and critical requirements of project.

Q18. Do they sponsor H1-B visa for international students?
Yes they sponsor H1-B visa for international students.

Q19. Is language a barrier when working in multicultural environment with people from around the globe?
No, language is not a barrier because we use English as communication medium. Apart from that we use body language, reports and meetings to convey our messages to each other in teams.

Q20. Are duties formal or informal at your work place?
We have formal duties at eBay and everybody is given an authority and responsibility for a given work. Everybody knows what his /her boundaries are.

Q21. Which courses should I focus the most which can help me in my professional career?
You should focus upon CMPE202 (Software System Engineering), CMPE 203 (Software Engineering Management), CMPE 273 (Enterprise Distributed Objects), CMPE 275 (Enterprise Distributed Components), CMPE276 (XML for E-Business) and CMPE 294(Computer Engineering Seminar). All these courses are really helpful to you as a professional.

Q22. Should I go for Quality Assurance or Development in Information Technology?
Development is always a better choice than Quality Assurance. Development gives you new task, new problem and new challenge with every project. If you like taking challenges in life and want to learn a lot of things in software industry, development profile should best fit your needs. Quality Assurance is a mundane job and you will follow the same procedure for every piece of work you get. You can choose Quality Assurance too as career if you are good at testing things for their accurate working.

Q23. Is experience while working as a student assistant helpful while applying for a fulltime job?
Yes, it helps you a lot. The things you learn being a student assistant teaches you how to interact with your colleagues and work in team.

Q24. What is the normal size of teams at eBay?
It is approximately between fifteen and twenty and all team members work in high coupling with each other.
Q25. Is it worth working on resume and updating it along with experience and coursework?
Yes, working on resume really helps you get what you are capable of doing. The employer will look at your resume before he looks at you. By mentioning all your skills in your resume and updating it periodically with coursework and experience keeps your resume synchronized with your capabilities. It helps the employer decide whether you are the right guy for his company.

Q26. Does it matter if I work in Silicon Valley or somewhere else? Is it like that people work on the latest and current technologies here?
Silicon Valley is the best place to work if you want to stay in touch with latest technologies and use your potential to achieve the best. A large number of IT companies have their headquarters in Silicon Valley, opening gateways for potential software engineers. You can see your dreams coming true working here as an IT professional.