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Forums Round Tables General Career Discussions Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. Revision History (1 edit)
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by jdellaripa)
I don't mention TopCoder on my CV because:

a) Very few people have heard of it in the UK.
b) I feel my less than stellar rating does not create a good impression.

I will relate the following story however:

I work for a well known financial services company.

Last year I was offered an interview at a well known US bank (not one of the ones that has subsequenctly disappeard/merged).

After passing a couple of phone interviews I was called in for a face to face at their offices. The first thing that happened was I was given an exam paper and told I had one hour to answer as much as possible.

Virtually all the questions were algorithm related and suprisingly language agnostic and I sailed through it.

I did well enough to be called back for a second interview. About the eighth guy I was interviewed by said he wanted to ask me about data structures and algorithms. I mentioned that I had a keen interest in these subject which had been triggered by a poor performance in the TC Google code jam I had stumbled upon a few years earlier. This made me realise that although I was working as a professional programmer I was really just implementing business logic.

This prompted me to spend my commuting time studying the various topics in Cormen et al and trying to solve problems from TopCoder and USACO.

The interviewer seemed impressed and this gave me the opportunity to talk about things I understood and was interested in (answering questions along the way).

Unfortunately I was not offered the job (despite being convinced I was going to get an offer). Naturally I blame global financial forces beyond my control for this! If TC hadn't stimulated my interest in algorithms I wouldn't have even got an interview in the first place.

Believe it or not there are a lot of programmers out there that don't have much of a grounding in computer science.

Stumbling across TC inspired me to develop my skills in this area and has made me a much better programmer. Employers realise that people that have an interest in a subject are likely to push themselves harder to succeed.

Cheers.
Re: Mentioning topcoder in cover letter. (response to post by jdellaripa)
I don't mention TopCoder on my CV because:

a) Very few people have heard of it in the UK.
b) I feel my less than stellar rating does not create a good impression.

I will relate the following story however:

I work for a well known financial services company.

Last year I was offered an interview at a well known US bank (not one of the ones that has subsequenctly disappeard/merged).

After passing a couple of phone interviews I was called in for a face to face at their offices. The first thing that happened was I was given an exam paper and told I had one hour to answer as much as possible.

Virtually all the questions were algorithm related and suprisingly language agnostic and I sailed through it.

I did well enough to be called back for a second interview. About the eighth guy I was interviewed by said he wanted to ask me about data structures and algorithms. I mentioned that I had a keen interest in these subject which had been triggered by a poor performance in the TC Google code jam I had stumbled upon a few years earlier. This made me realise that although I was working as a professional programmer I was really just implementing business logic.

This prompted me to spend my commuting time studying the various topics in Cormen et al and trying to solve problems from TopCoder and USACO.

The interviewer seemed impressed and this gave me the opportunity to talk about things I understood and was interested in (answering questions along the way).

Unfortunately I was not offered the job (despite being convinced I was going to get an offer). Naturally I blame global financial forces beyond my control for this!

What I will state is that believe it or not there are a lot of programmers out there that don't have much of a grounding in computer science.

Stumbling across TC inspired me to develop my skills in this area and has made me a much better programmer. Employer realise that people that have an interest in a subject are likely yo push themselves harder to succeed.

Cheers.