My life recently has been an object lesson in extreme deviations from the norm. I got my teeth knocked out in broomball, but also landed an outstanding job in an arguably abominable economy where most of my peers have been struggling to find work and make ends meet. I’m now a software engineer at Vodpod, a web site oriented towards video aggregation and publishing. I love what I do, but how I got the job in the first place is also an interesting story.

Carleton College just started this new program called Engagement Wanted. As a graduating senior, you write a short “elevator speech” and post it on their web site. Here’s mine, in its entirety:

Looking for a year-long job while I apply to physics grad school. Physics research would be great, but I also have six years experience in IT, ops, and web development. Photographer, graphic designer, *nix admin, network guy, and open source software developer. If you know anyone who's hiring (especially using Ruby), I'd love to hear from you!

A few weeks later, I got some responses. One was a pointer to an open position as a calorimetry engineer at Fermilab. Another came from Mark Hall, the CEO of Vodpod. He offered some help in finding jobs in San Francisco. However, as we talked more about the projects I’ve worked on, it started to look like I might be a good fit for the Vodpod team.

After a couple technical interviews (quick, explain HTTP!), they asked me to write something using their API. In between working on Character in the Dark I put together a quick and dirty set of Ruby bindings for their JSON interface and published it as an open-source gem. I guess it worked, since they offered me the job!

I talked Kryptiq, who I’ve worked with for the last six years, and eventually decided to go for the Vodpod job. They flew me out to San Francisco shortly after graduation.

I love what I do here. In fact, it’s going to be hard to go to grad school after a year off. Right now I’m designing the new infrastructure to let our Rails app handle roughly a million requests per day, and designing the new API using Ramaze. It’s a pretty cool job!

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