I am now continuing my journey, looking for a job in Montreal.
I had a degree from the College de Maisonneuve, and after a year of scholarship, I knew passable French. But in the interviews that followed, I had failure after failure. A few times, when I realized I missed the interview, I asked how many applied for that position. The answer was something like 500-600-700 interview requests for that position.
I guessed the reason. After the Cold War, the economy went into recession, and the military industry suffered the most, and many specialists were looking for new jobs. In addition, Canada opened its arms wide to Eastern European immigrants. If there were 1000-2000 desperate people in Montreal sending resumes to all the newspaper ads with technical positions (like me), one could explain those numbers.
Time passed, days turned into weeks, then months, and we ran out of money.
So, we asked for an interview with a government representative to ask for financial help. There, I also explained about my efforts. We got the financial help, and in addition, the agent at the counter gave me a recommendation saying that the company that would offer me my first job would be exempt from tax with the amount that represented my salary for the first two years with the company (or as long as I would have stayed there).
But the failures to find a job continued until one day in early 1995 when it was my lucky day.
I will first describe the situation in that company.
It was a small company of 6 employees, 4 programmers, the secretary (Lili), and the owner, Louis. Louis was a hospital clerk and got $2 million loan from the government to help his company develop an app for people with asthma. The application was supposed to be a questionnaire, and it was supposed to store the results in a database. The Quebec government was trying desperately to help local businesses.
Louis hired the “coolest” programmers in Montreal. By the way, they were all tough Quebecois, but they were dupes. But Louis could not check them because he knew nothing about computers. The 2 million was gone in two years, with salaries, paying rent, paying hospitals to get data, etc. But the app wasn’t ready. The programmers said they needed two more months. All they did was store (manually!!!) the data in EXCEL (with duplicates and missing data - garbage).
Louis took out a loan from the bank to cover the expenses, mortgaging his house.
After the 2 months, all four programmers resigned, leaving them on the secretary’s desk. That day, when Lili came to the office, she saw the resignations, and when Louis showed up a little later, he showed them to her. Louis had a heart attack on the spot.
After a month, he returned, but seeing the empty office, although he knew what awaited him, he had a mini-heart attack.
From that moment, he told himself that he would no longer hire the self-declared “coolest” programmers in the city but those who prove they have good scholarships. He hired an Italian, Tony, who started writing the application in C++ (a powerful language but a real developer’s nightmare). Tony couldn’t find anyone else who knew C++ (Louis didn’t understand anything anyway), so he hired a Chinese guy with a Ph.D. in paleontology who learned programming when he put his thesis on the computer then on the Internet.
They still needed another programmer.
When Louis called me for the interview, Tony wasn’t there. He told me he called me for the interview because he liked my insistence and received seven resumes from me. Of course, I didn’t tell him that if he had 100 ads in the paper, he would have received 100 resumes from me, because I no longer kept track of who I sent to.
Louis asked me to show him the diplomas. The Computer Science diploma and grades from Romania didn’t impress him (although there were many 100% there), but he really liked the diploma from Montreal College and its rates.
“What else can you tell me to convince me?” Louis asked.
It was not something technical he was looking for. I took out the recommendation with the financial benefits (the one that exempted him from taxes in the amount of the salary paid to me) signed by a government employee. That convinced him. It was not only the financial advantage but also the proof that I had the support of the government, so not a bandit.
“Okay, wait, ” he said.
He returned a minute later with a box of 20 floppy disks. 10 were numbered and had Toni’s application in C++.
“Tony told me that an installation kit needs to be made,” said Louis. “The numbered ones have Tony’s application, and the 10 blank floppies should have the installation kit for the app. Come in a week with the kit made.”
I got the Microsoft app to do something like this (can’t remember what it was called). Need I say it was hacked? To make a long story short, I’ll just say that I managed to make the kit in time.
On the second visit to the company, Tony was waiting for me.
He took the kit and gave it to Lili to install the app using it. If the kit was good, anyone could do the installation, inserting diskette after diskette, from 1 to 10. The kit went very well; Lili patted me on the back.
Tony said, “Do you know C++?
Tony was no fool. One question was enough to find out that I knew nothing about C++.
“No, ” I said quietly so that Louis wouldn’t hear from his office.
“We want to move the application to Delphi, continued Tony. Do you know Delphi? ”
How? It was the first time I had heard of Delphi. I growled through my teeth:
“No, but I learn quickly.”
Tony hired me. After all, I passed Louis’s filter a week ago. I made the kit, and he did not want to waste his time with interviews.
My problem was that from the next day, I had to know C++ and Delphi, which was impossible even if I was as bright as Einstein. With Tony, I had the feeling that I could handle it, he would have given me time to learn. He was very skilled and worked from home and only came to work when he felt like walking around downtown Montreal or giving Lili another part of the app to test. Lili was the one pressing the buttons to see if the application cracked somewhere.
But what about the Lin? He was supposed to be the one to make the transition to Delphi.
What happened to my first job - next post.
How was my first job in Canada?
Where it all started: