Why You Should Become An Android Developer

Living in the age of the web, it’s a great time to be alive. It’s also a great time to be an Android developer! With the Android operating system flourishing at three times the activation rate of the iOS, the Google-owned software has become a major platform in just 7 years.

The open-source nature of the Android operating system has been listed as one of its defining strengths, and its allowing for extensive customisation has made fans out of developers and companies alike. With tutorials and developer tools easily available over the Internet (such as this directory of Android generator tools), Android software developers have convenient access to information and guides online.

But what do Android developers work with? For starters, they have a good knowledge of:

  • The Android open source ecosystem, software and hardware,
  • Good open source libraries (like this one),
  • Java fundamentals,
  • The annoying issues referred to as “jank”,
  • Android’s many, many versions,
  • Android’s many, many screen sizes, resolutions, and pixel densities,

… and many other skills as well!

The Android platform is a playground for all. Here at HackerTrail, we’re upping the odds and making it a challenge for all. In collaboration with online grocery deliverer RedMart, our online coding challenge for Android developers is offering prizes such as a Parrot Jumping Sumo, Best Denki vouchers, and even a full-time job as an Android Engineer at RedMart!

Enter now. Challenge closes 13 February 2016!

Header image source: http://www.stgrdev.com/

How To Interview At A Startup

Photo: www.onesmartdollar.com


Interviews are a completely different ball game when meeting with a start-up.

Your interviewer wants to know how much you can contribute in two days, two months, and two years. He or she also wants to know how you’re going to fit in with a small staff and whether the current team members are going to want to sit next to you every day.

On your end, you need to figure out whether you’re going to enjoy working there enough to want to put in long hours for a likely under-market salary. You also need to gauge how likely you think the company is to succeed. Will your options be worth millions in five years, or will you be job hunting in five months?

Here are 3 things you can do to both position yourself as the right candidate, and let you decide if you are up for the job:

1. Use the Product

No matter what role you’re interviewing for—engineering, sales, marketing—you should always use the product before your first interview (and ideally, a few times). If hired, your goal will be to create value for the people who use that product, and being a user yourself is the first step. Doing this will also help you determine whether you can be passionate about the company and product as well as convey that passion to your interviewer.

If you really can’t use the product (e.g., it’s built for large corporations or costs several hundred dollars), you can make up for that by doing your research. Go through any available materials on the website, read news articles and reviews, and talk to anyone you know who has used it. And definitely understand who the company’s competitors are and why its product is superior.

2. Bring Your Ideas

Now that you’re familiar with the product, be ready with ideas for how you’d like to improve it in your role. What new features would you be most excited to build? How would you engage users (or re-engage existing ones)? How could the company increase conversions? How could customer service be improved?

You don’t need to have the company’s four-year strategy figured out, but you can share your thoughts, and more importantly, show how your interests and expertise would lend themselves to the job. Knowing what you’ve done in previous positions is helpful, but remember that the interviewer is trying to determine what you will do and how your skills will apply at his or her company. Start-ups are looking for people who can dive right in.

On your end, this will help you gut check that the day-to-day activities involved with the role interest you. You may love social media marketing, but find in your exercise that the company would benefit most from direct sales—and that’s definitely something to consider.

3. Be Ready to Interview Back

Most interviewers will save time at the end of your meeting to let you ask questions. And by all means, do! If you’re interviewing with a founder, ask about his or her vision for the company, how the company defines success, and how it plans to get there. Don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s business plan, funding situation, and potential roadblocks as well. If you’re talking with someone who will be your peer, ask about his or her favorite parts of the company, the biggest challenges he or she has faced, and what it’s like working with the team.

These conversations will not only give you helpful information to consider if you get an offer, they’ll show the interviewer that you’re seriously evaluating the company yourself (and not just trying to get the first start-up job that lands on your plate).

Content adapted from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/05/03/4-must-dos-when-youre-interviewing-with-a-start-up/


Company Compatibility: How To Pick The Right Company To Work For

Picking the right company is different from making sure that you love your job – it is making sure that you love the brand you are advocating and developing.

This could range from MNCs to SMEs to local startups, and finding the right company probably requires effort on your part to testing waters.

Consider past work experiences you’ve had, and narrow down the ones you like, can tolerate, or absolutely loathe. Narrow down the reasons why you think respectively of each company.

Now, you get a clear idea of what to actively seek for and what to stay away from.

Of course there is more to evaluation and reflection on personal experience when looking for the perfect company. You need to explore enough of the industry that you’re in, understand the spectrum of the type of companies in that environment and so on.

If you want to feel inspired, challenged, fulfilled, and happy with your work – and with the people you work with – you first must find the company you’ll love working for.


No culture is right or wrong – unless it’s right or wrong for you. For example, at HubSpot we have a three-word policy for just about everything: Use good judgment. If you like guidelines and lots of guard-rails, you may not like working at HubSpot. Our “policies” might feel too loose, too vague, or too fluid. That doesn’t mean we’re right or you’re right; all it means is the level of autonomy we provide may not be right for you.

And that’s all that matters.

Here are some ways you can get a great sense of a company’s culture:

1. Check out the leadership team.
A company tends to be a reflection (whether good or bad) of its leaders. Use the LinkedIn search tool to find people who work there. Check out their backgrounds. Take a look at their education, their career paths, their interests…

It’s pretty safe to assume that a leadership team filled with Six Sigma black belts will create a culture incredibly focused on process improvement. It’s safe to assume that a founder and CEO who has started five different companies in the last twelve years will value quick decisions, quick pivots, and an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s safe to assume that a company whose leaders rose through the ranks in a logical progression of roles will expect others to follow a similar career progression.

What we have done in the past informs our expectations and our actions; put yourself in the shoes of a company’s leadership team and think, “If I was one of them… what would I value?”

Then make sure those values align with your values.

2. Check out what its leaders say.

Most company leaders are active in some form of social media. (If they aren’t, that also tells you something about the company; whether that something is positive or negative is up to you to decide.)

Some communicate in a quasi-PR mode, their tweets, updates, and blog posts seemingly written by a corporate communications team. Others are more wide-ranging. (Again, neither is good or bad.)

Take Joel Gascoigne, the founder of Buffer (disclosure: I’m an angel investor in Buffer). His personal blog covers a surprising range of professional and personal perspectives: His thoughts on transparency, on letting people go, on the power of taking time to reflect, on what he does to be happy… if you want to know what it will be like to work at Buffer his blog has many of the answers.

3. Find out what customers say. A company’s culture is ultimately reflected in its employees and its customers; after all, the proof of a culture’s pudding is not just how employees feel but how customers feel about the company.

See what mistakes the company has made, and even more important — what it has done in response. See how customers feel about its overall service. See how it is perceived in the marketplace. All of us want our work to make a difference; make sure the company is making a difference for its customers. A quick way to do a blind reference check is to search Google or twitter for “love <companyname>” or “hate <companyname>” Remember, you’ll often get some extreme positions (in either direction), but reading through a few comments will give you a general sense.

4. Check out employee career paths.

Now look for any employees, current and past. Where did they work before they joined the company? How long do they tend to stay? What jobs did they take when they left?

Spend a little time digging and you’ll quickly get a feel for the kinds of people the company hires, the kinds of people it retains, and for the opportunities and growth potential.

Content adapted from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20131217153926-658789-how-to-find-a-company-you-ll-love-working-for



How To Know If Your Boss Is Doing Right By You

photo: thoughtcatalog.com


Let’s face it: How much you enjoy a job is not just determined by the scope or salary, but may really depend on the kind of boss you work for. There has to be the right compatibility in working styles, and willingness to be flexible. Your boss should also lead you while you work, not just throw tasks at you. But of course, there is no perfect perfect person nor boss.

How should you at least gauge if you are being treated fairly well by your boss? What should you look out for in a potential upper study for the next job that you are considering to take?

HackerTrail recommends:

3 parts to a fulfilling job:

  • Ample opportunity for skill update.
    You need an environment where you can implement what you’re good at, and hone your skills further.
  • Ability to learn new skills.
    This is done either organically on the job from peers, or via external training provided by the company.
  • Ability to experiment with your learnings
    Good companies encourage innovation, experimentation, making mistakes, and learning from co-workers.

Your boss should…

  • Help you settle in to your new role / new department / new company
  • Communicate the expectations of your role clearly, in a structured manner
  • Accept criticism regardless of whether the critic may be ‘junior’
  • Allow you enough wiggle room so you can perform optimally
  • Allow for open conversations on next stages of your career growth
  • Gratify you when you exceed expectations
  • Clearly flag opportunities for improvement in you

Always review if you’re working for the right person. Your boss can empower you to have a fulfilling career – and if they’re not doing so, it may be time for you to look elsewhere.

Scored yourself a developer-role interview at an MNC? Here’s what to expect.

Photo: graziadiovoice.pepperdine.edu


Good on you for scoring that interview at a developer position many coders are wide-eyed for! While MNCs are (obviously) companies that have thousands of employees, we know that getting an interview with them is still a huge deal. You’re one in a million, and we’re here to help you show exactly that.

This is what you need to be very aware of before the interview day, and the kind of questions you need to enquire before you begin this next phase of your career!

o   The roles at MNCs are specific, not generic.

You are expected to be a jack of a few trades, but essentially master of one. 

In a sense, this may be a good challenge for you to pick up new skills as well as hone existing ones that may have taken a back seat in previous jobs.

o   You will be interviewing for a specific business unit.

You need to understand how this department fits in with the company. Every business unit has a specific purpose, and is segregated for a reason. Research for your business unit’s significance, and how it works differently from the rest of the other business units within the MNCs.

o   You will be put through multiple interviews.

Some with technical people and others with business people. The number of interviews can range from 3 to 10, with most coming in at the 4 or 5 mark.

o   Try and get an understanding of the entire interview process, and the role of each interviewer.

The HR team should be able to help you with this information. Will the interviews require you to take aptitude tests? Do on-the-spot reaction scenarios, or require you to come back with proposals?

As for the interviewers, do a quick search of their names on LinkedIn, match their names to their faces so it’ll be easier for you to address them on the interview day.

You should also familiarise yourself with what each interviewer does in the company, so you get a gist of how you will work with them in the future. This is also your chance for you to show them how you can contribute to the team, lighten their workload, and so on.

o   Expect a fairly lengthy process.

This ranges from 2 to 6 weeks in most cases, and every round of interview matters. MNCs are well-known to shortlist candidates via elimination, so it’s a cut-throat competition and you have to be on your best at any point in time. Be well-prepared, learn to think quickly on your feet and you’re good to go! 

o   You should use the interview to understand the following:
  • Will your role be more front office (helping the business generate revenue) or back office (support internal business processes)?
  • What level of training will be provided to you?
  • Is this a replacement role or a brand new one?
  • Who will be your day to day line manager? Will you have other indirect managers as well
  • What is the growth trajectory of this role? Does it match your personal career aspirations?

Here, we’ve provided more than enough questions for you to ask them at the end of the interview. These questions will show them that you’ve properly thought through the job scope, and highlight to them that you’re indeed very serious about taking on a job at their MNC.

5 Must-Haves In Any Tech Professional’s Résumé

1. Explain your work history.

Do so in terms of the value you delivered, not the feature specifications. Don’t write “wrote scheduling feature.” Compare that to, “Wrote scheduling automation tool that dramatically improved sales staff productivity – increased meetings scheduled by 32% and reduced sales call time by 14%.” Most resume reviewers at the ‘top of the hiring funnel’ are not technical so won’t understand scheduling, but they do understand creating a more productive sales staff!

2. Differentiate titles and roles.

Just because your current employer calls you the Vice President of Javascript Ninjitsu doesn’t mean prospective employers will know what you were doing for two years. A simple Lead Front-end Developer will suffice. Generally, favour language that is commonplace and easy to skim.

3. Showcase your online presence.

This includes your social media links, online portfolio, LinkedIn profile and so on. Don’t be afraid to let companies “stalk you” – in the 21st century, it is almost an unspoken rule that the very first round of interviewing candidates would be done through skimming through their online presence, for the sake of testing credibility and suitability. 

4. Send samples.

If you want to write code, send a code sample.  Make sure it’s easy to read, well commented, adheres to readily accepted language standards and has a readme file.  Something significant, that isn’t a school project, is ideal.

5. Bark up the right tree.

Make sure you deal with the right person. If you want to be an engineer for company X, find someone with a senior title, preferably that works in a group you’re are interested in and find a way to get a code sample into their hands, resume too, but a good code sample is KING.  It takes a few minutes, tops, to see if someone writes clean, competent code. Once you convince someone that you can do that, they’ll spend some time reviewing your resume and talking with you.

Content adapted and curated from Quora, as of 5 Jan 2016.
Cover photo: Quora.com

Fresh Graduates: Should You Work For A Startup?

You just threw your graduation hat in the air. You’re excited about finding your first job. You have student loan debts. You feel like the world is at your feet. You’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time… And you don’t even know if mom is cooking dinner for you tonight.

At such a stage of your life where you pretty much just got a hold on the reins of life, with nothing much to lose but fear and mistakes, should you be looking for a first full-time job at a startup rather than a big, well-known corporation?


MNCs and big companies may seem daunting to fresh graduates who are new to the working world, but in this article, we argue that startups are an initial, necessary springboard into a successful career.

Here are three simple (yet extremely significant!) reasons why fresh graduates should work at startups as soon as they graduate:

  • Jack Of All Trades

Sure, you only applied for a CTO job at a startup with your computing college degree… But expect to have several other roles thrown in. For instance, you will be approached by marketing for your response to a Facebook post they’re about to shoot, or you might even be asked to make a twenty-second pitch to that new person at the office.

More often than not, a fresh graduate who just entered a startup will be asked to wear different hats wherever help is needed. This does not necessarily refer to overloading or doing someone else’s work! Because at the end of the day, your main job is to help the startup grow, and these side tasks will be consistent with this very purpose.

You see, working at a start-up as a fresh graduate is not so much about learning the ropes up the career ladder. It’s about learning – first and foremost – where your passions and skills really lie in the workforce, and how to nurture these talents exponentially for life.

  • Real Time Experience

Unlike laborious assignments you’ve been doing throughout your college life, such as debating on feminist theories or second-guessing scientific frameworks, working at a startup will actually give you the opportunity to change your environment.

If you’re working passionately enough, you’ll see an immediate change of climate in your company’s industry as you put in hours and effort into the mission of your company. People start to recognise you, and you will realise that you are indeed making a name for yourself as the months go by.

  • You Have The Power

The agency you’ll receive in a startup is probably one of the reasons why professionals from different industries are willing to give up their high-paying (but awfully boring) jobs for the rush and excitement of actually managing something real. 

You get to make real decisions, with expectations you set for yourself. You also get to see through the execution of your decisions from start to finish.

But remember this – with great power, comes great responsibility. The startup will only go as far as you take it… Make sure to nurture it well, and in return you might find that the startup is gaining enough traction to pay back your college loans, or even get you that $5m dream house.

Cover Photo: takepart.com