I’m Joining InternMatch

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This week was my first week as CTO at InternMatch! I’ve been sharing this with my family and some friends but I haven’t really advertised it until now. InternMatch is a San Francisco based start up helping college students find internships.

I want to talk a little bit about why I ended up here. For those that know me, my wife and I just moved to the bay area and she is just starting her own new job. As far as I was concerned, at least initially, this was plenty of transition for us in 2012. Our move north has been on our list for years. It is a big accomplishment for us, but a 300 mile move is not a small thing. Yet another change was not eagerly sought after.

InternMatch was not a company that initially jumped out at me as an obvious next job. I’ve been out of college for a while and this was the first I had heard of them. My initial reaction was that they were just another a job search site. How innovative or exciting could that be? If I was going to add another change to 2012 I wanted it to be something I could feel passionate about.

My interviews were great, and the people I talked to were bright and I definitely could see myself working along side them, but I didn’t want “just a job”. My decision came down to a question that I recommend be asked of any start up founder, frankly any company regardless of size, when deciding to work with them in any capacity. I am convinced that a passionate answer to this question indicates a drive and integrity that you want to find in the the people you are working with.

How is your startup going to change the world?

How was InternMatch going to live up to “changing the world”? Their company’s answer to this question is hidden out in the open in their great slogan:

Find your focus

InternMatch could have gone with “Find your internship” or “Find your career”. Internships are important after all given that 70% of all internships convert to full time work, they could focus their catch phrase on getting people their careers.

Focus shows a different purpose. Where the word “career” elicits a vision of climbing ladders towards a goal, “focus” is about passion and dedication towards that goal. This is something that many people strive for and often get little guidance on while in school.

Andrew Maguire, CEO and Founder of InternMatch got really excited when I asked him my “change the world” question. He already knew his answer, and I encourage you to ask him if you get a chance. He wanted to see more people with access to these stepping stones to greater careers. Moreover, InternMatch has the opportunity to expose students to careers in industries and sectors that they may not be aware existed. This is one reason why InternMatch has such a large social enterprise and non-profit presence offering internships.

Andrew’s clear vision for how InternMatch could have an impact on the greater world was inspiring. This is why I choose to be in involved with startups. I was hooked.

With a new home and new jobs for both of us, this year is turing out to be a year of many changes for Sarah and I.

Why Is SOPA Bad?

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Let’s take the ideas in SOPA and apply them to the physical world to make them a bit more “concrete”.

To combat robbery of mug makers, a majore problem particularly because the mug maker lobby is very strong, lawmakers have created a bill designed to make mug robbery less profitable. The idea is that if someone tries to use the mug by placing it on a table the mug maker could require that the table maker requisition the table so that the robber is not able to benefit from having a table on which to place the mug. A strong deterrent indeed. Now the mug makers don’t need to provide any proof of the mugs illegal origins to anyone before requiring the table makers to jump in to action and remove all the tables of a house. Moreover, the identities of all accused people would need to be sent out to all stores that sell tables and then distributed to their employees to ensure that these accused criminals wouldn’t be able to replace their tables.

Now, the table makers are in a pickle here because they can’t really just go in to a random house and start removing tables.. these houses have locks. To ensure the table makers can retrieve these tables we will need to make sure that the locksmiths provide every table maker with a master key that will let them in to any house. This seems a little unsafe so to make sure things to get too out of hand let’s make all of the table makers pinky swear that they will only take tables from the houses that were flagged by the mug makers’ lawyers. This should make a good check and balance.

Anyone who is opposed to this proposed bill is clearly in league with the mug robbers. Especially the people from the table makers guild who keep complaining.

Delegate or Die: The Self-employed Trap. | Derek Sivers

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Delegate or die: the self-employed trap. | Derek Sivers.

I think this article articulates a very important aspect of management. The leader’s job is not to be the bottleneck that everyone depends on for guidance. A leader’s job is to present a vision and philosophy and grow a self-sustaining embodiment of those ideals. This depends on communication and trust.

I’ve described my profession (Programmer/Software Dev) as having an ultimate goal of automating away our profession. We’re still a ways away, but the principle holds for any position where you aim to leverage resources to do more than you can on your own. Success is reaching a point where your resources (be it computers, people, robots, carrier pigeons) are maximally and sustainably utilized towards reaching a shared goal. How you achieve this depends on the situation, but the consistent thing is to remove yourself as the bottle neck.

Migrate MySQL to Homebrew MySQL

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Think about what you are doing before you do this. Don’t be stupid.

> cp -R /usr/local/mysql/data /usr/local/var/mysql > brew install mysql > cp /usr/local/Cellar/mysql/5.1.51/com.mysql.mysqld.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents > launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.mysql.mysqld.plist **optional** > rm -rf /usr/local/mysql

Speakers | dConstruct 2010

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Speakers | dConstruct 2010.

This was a fun presentation to listen to and I think Merlin makes some great points throughout.  I loved his comments about how nerds aren’t doing what they do for the money.  To paraphrase one portion:

If you give a painter a bunch of money to not paint any more they won’t be happy because they have money.  What makes them happy it to paint

This is spot on and describes well this idea that jobs that require creative thought generally can’t be done better by throwing money at it.  There are other things that you can give those “creatives” that can have a bigger impact.  I’m not saying that money isn’t important.  What I am saying is that there is a point at which more money isn’t doing anything good.  Pay enough to take the issue of money off the table.

If you can give the “creatives” autonomy and control to do what they think is best you’ll have happier developers and designers, and I guarantee happier customers to.

Merlin also talks about looking to the horizon and preparing yourself for what is coming next.  He encourages “nerds” to always keep looking ahead and try to avoid getting stuck the the rut of what you think is great right now.

Here’s what I see on my horizon:

Rails is great, but the time of server side is transitioning to client side.  This has been a while in coming but I believe that Javascript will be the primary language web developers are using and only secondarily their server side language of choice.  I’ve been eyeing this space for a while know and it’s only getting riper for the change.

If you are a math nerd start brushing up on your statistics and big data.  We’ve figured out how to collect huge sums of data, but only in the last few years have we really started understanding scalable and flexible ways to process that data out side of academia.  I’ve heard this elsewhere and I’ll echo it here: Statisticians will be driving the next generation of crazy cool apps.  It’s already starting especially around the twitter api, and it’s going to grow even more.

Fun times!!