Friday, November 14, 2014

ThoughtWorks Interview in Chicago

Over the past 2 days, I got the chance to travel to Chicago to meet with ThoughtWorks for my first ever interview! Not having any experience with past jobs (applying to be a TA didn't require an interview), I had no idea what to expect. I had first heard about ThoughtWorks at the Grace Hopper Celebration where I had an informal pairing interview. Then I spoke to a recruiter a few weeks ago for a phone interview, who then told me I could come in for 2 days to their Chicago office for more interviews and to learn more about what they do. I was excited! I had never done a legit technical interview before and they were going to send me to Chicago for my first one?! This was amazing. Of course, it's not all fun and games, I definitely had to do my homework. I researched their website and the more I learned, the more excited I got. ThoughtWorks is a software consultancy company that delivers quality software to clients while advocating for social and economic justice in the world. This focus on changing the world through software really resonated with me. I've always wanted to make a difference and if I can do that by building code, even better. That being said, I ended up just putting more pressure on myself for the interview since I wanted the job that much more. 

ThoughtWorks building (25th floor)

The first day started off pretty relaxed with a tour of their office and a presentation of what the Associate Consultant job consists of and what the 5 week training in Pune, India is about (most of which I already knew having thoroughly prepared). Then came the tests. First we had to do a Wonderlic test, which was incredibly stressful because you have 12 minutes to do 50 questions. These questions were just basic logic questions but it got increasingly more difficult. I only left one question blank, but quite a few I just kind of guessed. The next test was a ThoughtWorks-developed logic test that were like flow charts. You follow the instructions and the diagram by doing operations on numbers in boxes and replacing the numbers and looping and changing boxes, etc. I was thankful there were practice problems beforehand that we could all go over together (there was a group of 5 of us doing these tests). We had an hour to complete 11 questions. I had to do a few questions multiple times because I kept reading the instructions wrong, but I finished with enough time to double check everything and I think I did okay! The next, and final, activity of the day was a group game where we had to build a cost-efficient house for 10 pugles (pug-beagle dog mix), but we each had requirements that needed to be fulfilled (ie. size of pugle, cost of walls and doors, pugles don't like rain, etc.). Our solution didn't end up the being the best, but I think we worked well enough together. We only had 25 minutes so the time constraint restricted us. Overall, the day turned out to have gone pretty well! 

Friday was the big day with 3 different interviews.

My schedule for the day

First off, I had an hour to prepare a 5 minute presentation about anything in STEM. (I had previously googled the interview process, so I knew that was a possibility, unfortunately - I was actually pretty worried about it to be honest). I had no clue what to do it on, but they said the idea was to basically teach them something that you know well and suggested to do something I just learned in my courses. I went with that and chose to talk about the basics of cryptography (with classic Alice, Bob and Eve explanations of encryption) and used the shift cipher as an example. I kind of stumbled through it, but I was able to decently answer their questions. Then they asked me about my technical experiences and had me explain inheritance to them as if they were high school girls and knew nothing of the concept. Then I was asked to create an algorithm for a tic tac toe game. I blanked a bit here, but they guided me through it and we tested what we came up with by playing a few games. And before I knew it, the technical portion of the day was done! I was most worried about that one, so I was happy that it was the first one. After that, they provided lunch and I sat in on a Lunch and Learn presentation about sales. While I didn't understand everything that was said, just sitting with all the other employees made me feel like I was part of the team. I liked that they make everyone feel welcome and that everyone was treated equally. And everyone is so friendly! 

Entrance to ThoughtWorks office

After lunch, I had the pair programming hour and half. This was basically the same idea as at GHC, but we did more tests on my SalesTax code and refactored some functions. I really like these interviews because you all work together, and I get better idea of how  ThoughtWorkers work. We would try one thing, and when that didn't work, we would go back and try it again. It also helps me get a better appreciation for TDD (unlike the assignment I have for my QA course...). Once we ran out of time, I had a bit of a break before the final values interview. ThoughtWorks puts a special focus on the social change aspect of their company and wants to make sure their employees share those values. This interview was with more senior ThoughtWorkers where they wanted to know who I was, why I wanted to be a part of TW, what does social justice mean to me, how can changes be applied, what I could do to make a difference, why do I think there are so little women in CS, what has made me angry in the news, what social cause am I passionate about, etc, etc. I actually think this one went pretty well, we had a good back and forth conversation, and I think I answered everything pretty well (and they took a lot of notes so hopefully that's good!). And then the day was over and I was rushing to the airport for my 6pm flight! 

View of Chicago from ThoughtWorks office 

All in all, I think I did better than I anticipated. Like usual, I over prepared and psyched myself out for nothing. Now I just cross my fingers and see what the results will be in a few weeks! I'll post again once I know their decision :)

1 comment:

  1. So great reading about your experience! I hope you get it!!!