Polycom – 2013

The primary job site I used for my search in 2013 was Dice.com. Around the beginning of July, I heard from a recruiter on the phone. I sent him my resume, and he sent back the following:

Subject: Software Development Ops engineer – Full time position with Polycom in Austin, TX

I saw your resume in DICE and would like to reach out to you for a full time position with Polycom for above mentioned job opportunity in Austin, TX. Job description and requirements are attached with this email. Please review these requirements and if interested, please send me your resume in WORD format. Once I get your resume, I will contact you to discuss additional information about this position. If you have any questions, please feel free send me an email or call me.

Thank you and have a good day

This position was to assume a “Dev Ops” role. Basically, release engineering, and QA, and keeping online systems up and running. The desired experience including building software for Linux, Windows, Android, and Embedded Linux, and deep familiarity with both git and subversion. Right up my alley. There were other things listed; some I had, but some I did not, but they were not as important.

So I sent him my resume.

The hiring manager called me, and he described a set of mature projects, both desktop and web, and some new projects, mostly embedded. I talked about release engineering, ant, make, yocto, repo, Jenkins, git, subversion, maven, etc. At the end of the conversation, he told me that wanted to bring me onsite.

Polycom Device
Pretty sure the new device was something like this thing.

I talked to three engineers:

1. Software engineer on the embedded product. Basically, they were developing a new video conferencing device, with USB and HDMI inputs. Custom Android kernel. Some custom apps. I talked about how I would setup a continuous delivery system for that. At the end of this interview, he said “We’ve got to get you hired here!”

2. The hiring manager was second. We talked more about general software development practices, agile, scrum. We also talked about performance reviews and hiring, which was a little odd. He told me, “Well, I hope the others like you, because I want to start the process of getting you an offer right now.”

3. The last person I talked to is the person I was to replace; he was taking a role as a full-time software developer. We talked about everything he was currently doing, and I asked questions, and had some suggestions. About every five minutes, he said, “Wow! Where did they find you?” or “Man, we’ve got to have you.”

At one point, he was describing their new video conferencing device that had a custom Android kernel. I asked what the processor chip was, and he said it was an OMAP chip. Just so happens, that was the same chip that Spawn Labs was using in its game stick!

So, I asked, “Did you get source to the video driver? That was a pain.”

He said, “Oh, yeah, that was. We had a hell of  time figuring out why it would not load.”

So I described how the Linux kernel would not load drivers from modified Git repos if it itself was built with an unmodified repo, and how I patched the kernel to load the specific driver as an exception to get things running.

He blinked, and paused, and said, “We have to make you an offer.”

I went home feeling pretty good. The hiring manager had not blinked at the salary range I asked for, and I thought I had a good chance.

Then this happened: Irregularities in expense report leads to exit of Polycom CEO Andrew Miller

He eventually faced charges.

What that meant to me was they immediately froze all hiring. The offer had been written, and was waiting for an executive signature. But that did not happen.

After I got official confirmation that this was not going to happen, I sent this to the fellow whom I was to backfill for:

I just found out that Polycom has a hiring freeze and that I won’t get
getting an offer from them. That’s too bad for me, but that’s life.

However, I wanted to give you some advice.

The hardest thing to do professionally is change positions within a
company, particularly one that is big and unwieldy like Polycom appears
to be. My advice to you is: Get out. Find a position somewhere else. You
are in a rut there, and your last best opportunity that Polycom had to
offer is now closed to you. Leave. That is the only way you will advance
your career in a direction you want to go.

I am not saying this because I think that they would back-fill your
position and make me an offer. They won’t. Not anytime soon.

If you want, we could get together for coffee. Or not. Up to you. Good
luck to you, and thanks for making the effort to talk to me.

He wrote back:

I’m glad the HR and recruitment people did their jobs and notified you
that the req was canceled. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. We also had a
layoff a couple of days ago, but I don’t think anyone in Austin was

I do appreciate that you thought of me and recognized the rut I’m in.
You’re definitely right that it would be best for my career and job
satisfaction to leave. However, my plan is to stick around for two or
three more years. I’m taking advantage of Polycom’s above market salary
to reach a personal retirement milestone. After that, I’ll feel much
more free to work somewhere else at market rates or even below market
rates if necessary. I continually reevaluate that decision, but for now
it still feels like the right answer. Thanks again for thinking of me.

I hope he succeeded; we never talked again.


3 thoughts on “Polycom – 2013

  1. Pingback: Polycom – 2013 – CodingNova

  2. Judith Zelaya

    Hey! This really isn’t a comment about a particular post. Rather it is about your blog, in general. I have to say that I really appreciate your transparency about the struggles of being employed in tech. I was so happy to hear about you speaking at Rice to the tech students to give them some realistic expectations such that they have some idea of what they are up against. It is not that I wish the tech students to be discouraged. However, what I hope is that they will go out there and make it better for themselves and those who follow them. The insane work demands have to stop. We all need better work conditions and a shot at a decent work/life balance, while still pursuing our passions, that is today, so unattainable.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s