November 12, 2013

Live From SUSECon: Getting Hired and Indoor Skydiving

What did I learn at SUSECon yesterday? I learned about indoor skydiving. This isn't the greatest photo, so visit iFlyWorld to see some better pics.

skydiving before SUSEConIt looks way fun. You enter a vertical wind tunnel with an instructor, and swoop and soar just like jumping out of an airplane. And maybe bang around a bit, but what are a few knocks to mighty Linux nerds?

How to Get Hired

SUSE has offices all over the world, and they also have a lot of distributed workers. Why be limited by physical location? Remote workers interact the same way as people in offices, with email, texting, and instant messaging. Except without the commute and sharing germs. So where does SUSE find talent? The same places a lot of good FOSS companies do: via community projects, referrals, and banging on their door until they notice you.

"Your work is your curriculum vitae" said Ralf Flaxa, SUSE's Vice President of Engineering. Or in other words, the best way to show what you can do is to do it.

So what skills does SUSE want? Not yesterday's old mold. Linux and FOSS move fast. Flaxa recalled attending the first Linux Kongress in 1994 in Heidelberg, Germany. Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox, Jon "Maddog" Hall, and other Linux luminaries congregated from all over the world to talk Linux. That first meetup had two tracks: one track covered Linux, and the other was about the World Wide Web and how to use a Web browser. There aren't many Web-surfing jobs these days. But all Linux distros build on existing FOSS projects, so you can make your mark in bleeding-edge technologies like OpenStack, Btrfs, Ceph Storage, and systemd, develop marketable skills, and accumulate a portfolio of work you can continue to build on.

You also need a customer-centered perspective because it's no good developing a piece of software and then abandoning it, or scratching a unique itch that no one else cares about. Nothing ever really goes away, and enterprise customers keep old software in service for a long time.

Editor's Note: Carla Schroder is attending SUSECon, which is taking place Nov. 12 - 15 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. She will be reporting from the conference throughout the week for, courtesy of SUSE.

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