Monday, March 12, 2007

SMART IT Summit

Last Friday, I had received the regrets email from Toshiba. I had decided ever since that if I'm not shortlisted for Toshiba, then I'd attend the SMART summit which was scheduled the next day. Good thing, I had prepared myself for the worst case scenario, so at least I'm moving on pretty well.

The IT summit was actually SMART's own job fair. Since I still don't have any official offer from any company, randomly applying wouldn't hurt. "Sige, apply lang ng apply" became my motto. Invitation letters had been actually distributed weeks ago, good thing I was able to preregister online. Before, I was just concentrating on my Toshiba interviews, hoping to nail their elusive jobs. Now, at least I did not regret preregistering online.

I really had no intention applying at SMART because my background as a Computer Engineer is in hardware programming, not software. The IT industry here in the Philippines usually need proficiency in at least C/C++ and Java. My C/C++ background is only limited to what I had learned in my basic CS subjects.

But where should I go if I am going to pursue hardware design in the Philippines? My only choice would be Bit Micro. Because of this, I had to prepare myself in case I would shift to software programming. With Toshiba already out of the list, it's Bit Micro vs. others (pertaining to IT companies like Soluziona, SMART et al).

It was a last minute decision for me to go to the IT summit. I texted Argel the night before and asked what time shall they meet (CNL guys) at the QAve MRT station. I even stayed up late despite the fact that I had to be there at the station by 7am (which means I have to get out of UP earlier than that).

At the summit venue, I did not expect my fellow Toshiba interviewees from Ateneo to be there. More so, Wena who will be receiving a job offer from Toshiba was also present in the event. Ateneans actually have no more academic work to do at school. They're actually just waiting for graduation to come, so they now have ample time to concentrate on job applications and interviews.

The whole morning of the summit was dedicated to some testimonials coming from SMART employees. After the talks, it was time for their InfoQuest challenge where Argel was the UP representative. Argel made it to the final round, earning him a 1GB flash disk. Too bad, he was really close into winning the top prize, a bnew 3G phone, which was eventually won by someone from La Salle.

Interview sessions were scheduled in the afternoon. SMART really had a very efficient way in handling their interviews. Even though there were many interviewees coming from various schools, everything was well organized.

For my first interview, I was assigned to an HR lady. The HRs, being nontechnical people, were most likely instructed to screen in only those proficient in software programming. Since it's not my background, I was nearly booted out. I knew I handled the interview pretty well, however SMART really don't have a position for guys like me accustomed in microprocessor design. All they needed were Java or C/C++ programmers.

I was told that I would be put into active file, in case there would be an opening relating to my skills. It was already a sign for the end. Before my interview ended, the HR asked me if I had joined any other summit or company event relating to job applications. The latest, I told her, which was actually my recent stint at Toshiba-Japan. Within that instant, she paused for a while and excused herself for several minutes. When she finally came back, she told me that she referred me to a project head who is willing to accept people like me (I told them I am willing to shift from hware programming to software).

It was a guy for my 2nd interview. Still the same, he was asking me questions about my background in software programming, and I can't impress him about my experience in hardware programming. He then explained to me the different departments at SMART, and gave me a choice where I think I could fit in. I told him that in case I would really shift to software, I prefer to be a hardcore C/C++ programmer. Then again, I was referred to another interviewer.

I thought my case was funny, because I felt I was just being passed around. My companions at the summit only had one interview, while I am going to have my 3rd. I still had no idea, where I'm heading at. A few moments after my 2nd interview, my name was called again.

For my 3rd interview, it became quite a bit different. The interviewer became a bit more interested with my background (particularly in multicore systems) and did not expect much of my software programming skills. After some time, I've realized that it was already him who does most of the talking. My interviewer described in full detail the organizational structure of the SMART IT department. He is a member of SMART's Convergent Processing Group (CPG), the division responsible in handling new technologies and processes. He actually told me that he IS convincing me to join SMART. I did not expect that.

I don't know if the info about my coming to Japan was carried over to him. I'd say it's still a blessing. All throughout the interviews, I had never packaged myself as a software programmer, and still here I am having the possibility of working under SMART. Mr. Luwalhati told me that they had been acquiring multicore systems such as the Niagara T2000 and that is where I could fit in. Perhaps I may be involved in the applications of multithreading and other stuffs concerning computer architecture. Perhaps, I would be the first guy in their department who is involved in the field of digital design, and so that is a good thing.

After my 3rd interview, I was told to wait again. I thought I'm going to have a fourth interview. During this break, I was able to talk again with Wena who had also applied. She still would want to explore other opportunities here in the Philippines, but I doubt any other local company would trump out her Toshiba slot. Eventually we were both called and it turned out we are already shortlisted for SMART. If I remember it right, the next phase should be a medical and psych exam. Wena and I decided to have the same schedule and we chose Wednesday.

----
This monday, I got an international call from the US. It turned out that I was called by BobBianchi, President of Agilynx. His company is based in the US and he is in need of a VHDL developer. Another who would've thought moment for me. Actually, his offer was just part time, some sort of freelancing work and that all I needed to do was just code and send it via internet. However, it seemed he needed the help asap. I told him I could only be available some time April, since I'm still a student and the finals are underway. I'm quite excited for this one because I can use what I have learned in school.

After the Toshiba interviews, I thought I could never find a job suitable to my background except that of Bit Micro. I'm happy that at least I'm not yet that lost.

When a door of opportunity closes, 2 new doors open... and still counting.

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posted by ScIoN 10:29 PM


1 Comments:

Anonymous edwin aquino said...

hello scion.

i got your name browsing for agilynx. i worked with bob bianchi last year on vhdl and i still communicate with him. he has plans of developing a team here in the philipppines as soon as he gets his start-up company on good footing. gook luck.

edgaquino@pentalogica.com

3:05 PM  

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ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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