I feel the need to confess that I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with The Nerdery. They do quite a bit of wonderful philanthropic things for the community including (but not limited to):
- The Overnight Website Challenge
- Generously hosting (and providing food for) several tech-based meetups including MSPWordPress
I in no way am trying to burn any bridges here. As of 2012, I have participated in the web challenge for 4 years, and plan to for years to come. It’s one of the greatest programs for non-profits that has ever been conceived. However, I feel I need to address the importance of first impressions.
I was first introduced to The Nerdery in 2008 when they ran a campaign where if you could solve a code challenge your reward was a cash prize. I gathered that this was really a two-fold publicity stunt:
- To launch their new brand “The Nerdery” – rather than being known for their somewhat boring “Sierra-Bravo” incorporated name.
- To solicit developers
It was a clever idea, and while the prize wasn’t outrageous ($100 IIRC), it sounded interesting enough for me to try it. I assumed they were soliciting developers because at one of my earlier jobs we had a standard practice of sending job candidates a code challenge, and if they successfully completed it, we granted them an interview.
I think any code challenge, with or with without a prize incentive, is worth examining. Some people (non-developers) wonder why. Mostly it’s to self-satisfy my ego – to prove that I can do it. Even if I don’t press one key, I’d still like to examine the problem. I might work out a viable solution in my head and that would be satisfaction enough.
So, in the spirit of intellectualism (with the added bonus of some beer money), I thought this would be a worthwhile endeavor. This is where the bait-and-switch happened.
To apply for the code challenge, I had to submit a résumé. It seemed fair, as I had assumed the end-goal was to use the publicity stunt as a recruiting tool. This is where the stunt ends and the ruse begins. Upon learning that I was a local candidate, the “Client Relations Coordinator” wanted to schedule me to come in for an interview – no mention of the code challenge. After informing her that I would only be interested in part-time and/or telecommuting positions, she politely turned me down for the interview (and subsequently the challenge) by stating that
We are hiring full-time, on-site developers for our Bloomington office [...] to meet our growing business needs.
It’s not really a big deal, but I somehow felt like I got scammed. Maybe I’m just giving them a bum rap because from my viewpoint all they did was take the “1) code challenge 2) interview” process and “flip-it and reverse-it.” In their defense, at my old job we eventually changed our process the same way to get more candidates in for interviews – however, we weren’t selling it as a code challenge with a cash prize.
This all happened in 2008, and the only reason I’m posting this now is because I recently received a head-hunting email from The Nerdery inviting me in for an interview.
Do you still have that code challenge? I’d just prefer to do that instead, no cash prize needed.