Job hunting in Switzerland (Part 1)

It all started with an email from an HR person I collaborated before. It was a good paying position and she said it was perfect for me.

I started dreaming of what would be like and I started researching things about Switzerland. Regarding to most sites, it was the best country to live in.

  • one of the highest standards of living
  • one of the biggest salary ranges, along with US and Australia
  • great scenery
  • great medical care
  • great infrastructure
  • most of the companies don’t impose to learn a new language if you already know English

After a couple of days, the HR lady sent me the job description and I saw that it wasn’t so perfect for me because it was a senior full stack position with a bunch of technologies that I knew only superficial.

I was bummed out. So, what now? No more moving to Switzerland for me and my family?

This response made me do more research on the country and I found also the bad things.

  • one of the most expensive countries in the world (almost anything costs 4 times the prices in Romania) – people often go to the nearby countries to do their grocery shopping because it’s more convenient
  • there are high taxes if you bring your not so new car into the country
  • depending on your nationality you would have to obtain a work permit
  • expensive medical insurance (comparing to other EU countries, not US)
  • no free education for children under the age of 4-5
  • no standard curriculum for schools, because it depends on the canton you’re living.

The last three in this list made me and my family say “pass” to Switzerland.

Why these three?

The salary for my position (Front End developer) varies between 7000-10000 CHF/month before taxes. That adds up to 84000-120000 CHF/year before taxes. This sounds very promising and this was one of the factors that lured me in, but…

Medical insurance will add up for 4 family members.

The cost of kindergarten for one child under the age of 5 varies between 1000-2000 CHF (1 CHF is approximately the same as an US dollar) depending where you’re living. And I have two kids.

If you were to move from one part of the country to another, you’ll find yourself forced to learn another language. Why? Because Switzerland has 4 official languages:

If Switzerland sounds like an interesting country, take a look at numbeo.com to see if you can afford to leave there. Also Hello Switzerland is a great platform where you can chat/talk over the phone (for free at first) with somebody about your potential relocation and what would that involve.

In the next blog post I’ll be talking about how the interviews went and what I learned from them.

See you soon!

 

Finding meaningful work

As a developer it’s very likely that you receive at least once a week an email from a HR company regarding some jobs. This week was no different, but instead of writing the same response as always, I asked myself: What would happen if I responded with my thoughts about meaningful work?

This was a little bit difficult, because the first two feelings that flooded me were excitement and fear. Excitement because this was the first time that I would say something like that and fear because saying those things automatically made me ineligible for most the jobs that are on the market. I took e deep breath and I did it.

The response came…

I really appreciate your comments regarding an ideal role and a company. To be absolutely honest, you are not the first candidate I have spoken to, who has mentioned this subject in a conversation. Just a few weeks ago, I had a really good chat with an engineer, who was looking for a new role. He told me that he was literally inundated with proposals from companies operating within the financial services sector (banks, spread-betting companies etc), that he was kindly but firmly rejecting one by one. It simply wasn’t the space he wanted to focus his creative energies on. It was a matter of principles as well for him.

It turns out that I’m not the only loony in the world.

And as a bonus, I believe that I have tripped over the Holly Grail of finding meaningful work. Unfortunately for developers, not all jobs posted are in the IT field, but at least there are some.

ReWork.jobs

You complete your profile, pick the areas you would like to work in and wait for them to contact you with job opportunities that fit your profile. Unfortunately, this site is only for jobs in the US (to bad for us).

BUT – and that’s a big but (giggles) – the great thing is that they have connections with all kinds of other organizations and sites that want to do good.

After you create your profile, you will find 4 categories in the Career Resources section.

  • CAREER STRATEGY FOR MEANINGFUL WORK. An overview of how they recommend approaching your career development.
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Resources for gaining skills, building your network, and becoming a top-performer in your field.
  • JOB BOARDS. Find non-ReWork job opportunities from the top job boards in Impact.
  • OTHER RESOURCES

Man, I love their vision:

We believe that no one should have to choose between making money and making a difference. We believe that organizations working day and night to improve people’s lives deserve the most talented, committed, and passionate professionals out there to support their efforts.

[…]

This generation of leaders and innovators will not settle to work for companies that can’t see beyond business-as-usual, or refuse to do their part.

I hope you are as excited as I am. If you tried some of the resources from this site, please share your experience in the comments below.

Should your kid start coding?

Not long ago, most people though that programming is only for geeks that weren’t good at sports, but nowadays if you can code, you’re a rock star.

It’s fascinating to me that coding gains more ground at the same time as trends as #YOLO and #SWAG. But if I think about it, in all human history there were people at both ends of the spectrum, so it’s not something strange, but it still fascinates me.

Jeff Atwood wrote an article that talks about the fact that programming is becoming mainstream.

Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing. That’d be ridiculous, right?

[…]

Please don’t advocate learning to code just for the sake of learning how to code. Or worse, because of the fat paychecks. Instead, I humbly suggest that we spend our time learning how to …

  • Research voraciously, and understand how the things around us work at a basic level.
  • Communicate effectively with other human beings.

Erik Dietrich takes it a step further and he says that we should learn to recognize a process that can be automated.

Learn at least to recognize which parts of your job are a poor use of your time. After that, perhaps learn to use your ingenuity and creativity to automate using the tools that you know (such as googling for solutions, leveraging apps, etc). And, if you’ve come that far, maybe it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take the plunge into learning to code a little bit to help you along.

I agree with both of them (otherwise I wouldn’t have quoted them), but I think Erik has covered only a niche of the programming world. Sure, automation is important and to recognize when you should use it is vital, but if I were to build a game, I wouldn’t go through a lot of repetitive tasks. Automation would not be essential.

I am not a teacher, but I like working with kids and when I discovered code.org I started telling every kid I knew about this course. For a year and a half, I tried the 20 hour intro course with about a dozen of kids. Some thought it was great, some thought it was too hard and some thought it was too easy. I figured that at the end, not a lot of them would stick with programming, but my surprise was when even the ones that loved the course, told me that they had better things to do or they didn’t have the time.

For a moment I forgot how I was when I was their age. Easily enthusiastic about a lot of things and easily distracted by others. Of course, there is a big possibility that I didn’t know how to inspire them or how to share my enthusiasm.

I only hope that my efforts started a little fire in at least one kid and that some day he would embrace this awesome passion.

To sum it all up, if you don’t know if programming is for you or your kids, ask yourself/the kids the following statements:

  1. Do you understand simple logic? – “If I’m hungry, I should eat.”
  2. Are you curious about how things work and do you try to understand them?
  3. Do you get that computers are “stupid” and you should tell them exactly what to do?
    • Me: “Computer, give a an example about how you should be very specific when asking a computer to do stuff.”
    • Computer: “??? Here are the latest videos with funny cats.”
  4. Do you want to build stuff? – “I want to build an app that notifies me every time my hamster is out of food.”

What do you guys think? Are there any questions I should add on my list?