Finding Excella

On Monday, I started a new job at Excella Consulting. I’m very excited, and I’m already learning a lot. There will be more posts about what I’m learning in the future, but first I wanted to talk about how I found out about the position at Excella, and why I decided to accept it.

Excella sponsored NoVA Code Camp, which I have already written about. When I was there, I saw a great talk about Docket and .NET Core by Wyn Van Devanter. I later learned that Wyn works at Excella.

Later on I went to an event called Meet Excella, which was basically a happy hour where current Excella employees talked to prospective employees. I was immediately impressed by a few things about the engineers there.

They were Great to Talk To

The people I talked to at Meet Excella seemed genuinely excited. I immediately felt like I could be right at home with them, talking shop, trying to learn some new framework or library, or figuring out how to solve some tricky problem. People listened to my story of changing careers from teaching to software, and seemed genuinely interested. I met a few future colleagues there that I think will be friends before too long. I could tell I would learn a lot from a long conversation with anyone there.

They were Optimistic

The engineers I spoke to at Meet Excella all believe that software can be built well. Now that I’ve been there a few days, I can say this seems true up and down the teams. I can only explain this trait by way of contrast: I’ve met some developers who seem to believe that all software is a buggy, unmaintainable mess, and that their employers are paying them to live in a nightmare. Excella’s engineers seem to believe that software consists of making good solutions to finite problems, over and over again, until the customer is very happy. Personally, I’d rather be living the dream than the nightmare, and this optimism about the quality of software is one of the things that drew me to Excella.

They were Numerous

Meet Excella seemed to have about 30 people, who decided to stay after work just to convince other people to join the firm. Over and over again I heard the sincere account that joining Excella was a great decision. In the end, it was the people that sold me.

Some Advice

“Ok Will,” you might be thinking, “thanks for telling me about how great your new job is. What does that do for me?”

Well, let me share two pieces of advice that I believe really helped me find and land this awesome opportunity.

Be Involved

I might not have discovered Excella at all if I hadn’t been going to local Meetups and programming conferences, and staying after these events and introducing myself to the other attendees. That’s how I found out about NoVA Code Camp, and how I decided to join Excella. If you don’t have an account on Meetup, go make one, then go to the Meetups and talk to the people. It’s one of the most important things I’ve done so far in my career.

Blog

I know Excella read my blog before they offered me the job. First, some of the people who interviewed me asked about specific posts, and second, because I saw from WordPress referrer stats that people followed links from Excella’s HR system to my blog during the time between my final interview and when I received the offer. So blog! Prospective employers read blogs. (And when you do blog, blog often and well. Don’t send someone a link to an abandoned blog with three posts from 2014 and expect them to be impressed.)

Conclusion

There are two distinct pieces of advice here that I want to state briefly: First, find prospective employers by being involved in the community, and paying attention for people you’d want to work with; if you find several of these people that all work at the same place, apply! Second, getting involved in the community and having visible artifacts, such as blogs or code samples, will help you land that opportunity when you find it.

Till next time, happy learning!

-Will

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