Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why I'm on the Facebook

I've long resisted signing up to the massive social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. MySpace, especially, in that its members are often the loud prattish kids that I would not tolerate in real life and the pages look like Geocities homepages from 1998 have come back to haunt us.

I certainly had concerns about future employers looking at my personal history, which I'm not particularly keen on. I already have a blog and I already have a place to share my photos. So why bother?

Mostly, because my address book is always out of date, and I am notorious for not keeping in contact with people. That's one of the main reasons for this blog, by the way. This way, I don't feel so guilty for not spending massive amounts of time sending e-mail to everyone.

A lot of my friends are or were at university, so I've signed up to the Facebook. It's popular enough to count as an epidemic, as far as I can tell. I've long suspected that it's addictive, and I'm now discovering the awful truth.

Discovering old friends. The status updates. The wall-writing. The silly groups. Oh my.

Before long, I'll be a horrible Facebook junkie and I'll be forced to close my account like one chap described in the Guardian.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What have I done?

The job in Amsterdam looked pretty good, although I had a few concerns. I would have liked to have a few offers on the table before making a decision, but they wanted an answer sharpish. I figured it would be an interesting experience either way, and as an added bonus I'd be able to squeeze in a trip home before I started work.

I'd probably be home right now, in fact, were it not for one or two words.

I verbally accepted the offer, mentioning that the salary was a bit lower than I'd like (despite the wonderful benefits). The recruitment agent, bless him, came back with their answer: (emphasis mine)

That threw me. Blatant age discrimination? It sure sounded like it. I tried to think of alternative explanations: maybe they meant to type based on his range of experience but made a couple of typos? Nothing seemed plausible, except that someone was actually considering my age to be a significant factor for pay.

The recruiter didn't understand, and thought I was being unreasonable. He claimed that if I was really interested in the job, I wouldn't let something as silly as unfair discrimination get in my way. I know my morals have taken a beating from life in the big city, but I hope that I'd do the same thing if an otherwise perfect job came with a 2% bonus for white employees.

The short of it is, I'm not taking the job.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Homelessness update

The last couple of weeks has seen me bounce from hostel to dusty hostel, so I was overjoyed at the chance to stay at Chez Skarnz while he was out of town visiting the missus. I slept in an actual bed, and I was the only person in the room! It was brilliant!

Massive props to that fellow.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Take the "Whether?" with you

The Dutch folks must have liked me, because they've made me a job offer. The big question now is whether to take it.

It looks great

The company culture seeemed pretty fantastic — the phrase like one, big happy family came to my mind just after a couple of minutes waiting in the kitchen.

The salary could be better, but the benefits are the best I've seen. Seriously. They have allowances that cover language lessons, sport, travelling to work, buying a computer at home, and even rent. There's plenty of holiday time.

It's for a new project, so I'd be responsible for choosing the technology as well as making it useful for people. The direction they'd like to go is Plone and Python, with which I've had great experience.

But is it for me?

Actually, the role has a certain element of déjà vu. It's more management than development, and there's more than a touch of system administration. Development is a core activity, but it just may not be room to write software every day. In other words, it's just like my last role in New Zealand.

I don't mind a little bit of management, and I certainly don't mind system administration. But I learn the most with development, and I like learning. I even wrote software developer on my immigration card.

Overall opinion

I think I'll have a great time with the organisation, if I take the job. It'll be relaxed, and fun. If I was settling down, it would be close to perfect.

I don't know about challenge or career direction, though.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Welcome to London (Population 7)

That's right, folks, I'm back in London (at least for this week). But where is everybody else? I've caught up with a few of Londonites, but I've had a hard time getting in touch with some people. It seems half the city is on holiday!

Carly, Jack, Giulia, Kellie... where are you?

The interview in Amsterdam went well so stay tuned for my musings on that subject. (Apparently it's really quite difficult to check references in New Zealand.)

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Goodbye Berlin

I've got a flight in the morning to Amsterdam for a job interview. This Easter weekend, I might be somewhere a bit more familiar...

Good old Blighty.

Is anyone going to be in the London area this weekend?

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