Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cover Letters - a back story.

Cover letters are hard. 

     They are hard to write.  Difficult to submit, and and many employers don't want to read them due to time constraints, volume of resumes, and other logistical issues.  For the applicant in transition, however, they are crucial.  My story is not traditional, linear, or expected.  In fact, without context, my story on my resume looks lazy and aimless even as I work 60 hours a week while finishing my second Nano-degree in Deep Learning at Udacity while raising two children working nights as a janitor.  If that context sounds rough understand this: I know of other Udacity Alumni who are working to better themselves coming from circumstances that are even harder. My story is not the hardest.  

    For those of us born into circumstances beyond our control, the hustle is life.  Our context, that is, who we are and how we arrived at what we know now, is just as important as what we know.  I am not done learning, and at this point, I am sure I never will be.  Below is my Cover letter.

Dear Software Engineering Team:

    The first time I saw someone program a computer, I was sure that those were the type of people I wanted to work with. People who will not only work to build the future, they think outside the lines. In the attached resume you will see my self-motivated drive to build.   With my partner at Superior Janitorial Systems retiring, now is the perfect time to re-frame my career into what I am most passionate about. After being an entrepreneur for over 15 years I have seen the inner workings of many parts business.  I have worked administration,  HR, marketing,  and sales.  While I find them all interesting, building things is my passion. While my official title is Partner, let's be honest, I am a janitor.  Why on earth would a company want to hire a janitor for a software position?  Here are four reasons why.

    I am self-motivated and organized. The daunting nature of the task (even if unpleasant) does not dissuade me from doing it.  From my first Harvard online class, CS50x, to my latest Udacity Android Nanodegree,  my software development education was accomplished while raising two kids, running a business with a 60 hour work week, out of sheer will,  on a computer that I pulled out of a dumpster.  In my business I was responsible for whatever mess I walked into regardless of how it became that way.  It's my job to put everything back in order on whatever scale necessary, and in whatever time given, with whatever manpower available.  Every week we clean a large gym and every week the gym looks different.  How I solved the problem last week won’t help much this week.  Every week I have to re-organize the problem. Cutting a big problem into pieces and distributing it to the resources available is as common as breathing. 

   I am a quick learner.  To date I have taken over 8 classes from edX and completed them with grade A. At Harvard’s CS50x I was one of the 1% of enrolled students to graduate that online class in its first run.  In my resume you will see a class from Caltech on machine learning.  Though I found that math to be over my head at the time, through strong will and resourcefulness, I was able to learn the necessary skills to complete each lesson and finally, the course.  In one year I went from zero Android and Java knowledge to an app on the Play Store with eight additional apps built as projects for the Udactiy Android Developer Nanodegree Program. Though I can program  in C, Python, Javascript, Java and PHP, there are many more languages and skills I’d like to add to my arsenal.

   Most importantly; I like to build things.  I will be building things in code or otherwise until I take my last breath. At Superior Janitorial, I built systems to aid communication to and from our clients.  As a result our business has grown over 5% above inflation for every year we have been in business, including the recession.  At home my favorite network card did not have drivers for the new OS, so I found the chip on the card, downloaded reference drivers,  and made a port of those drivers to my current OS.  In Folio, my app on the Play Store, the data I needed was not contained in one single API.  I was able to use Android Intent Services to simulate that API by stitching three different APIs together to present the data to the user.  To make it easy for users to enter data, I used the Google Mobile Vision API to scan a barcode to collect and import all the needed data to the app, while using Firebase Analytics to tell me when something goes wrong.   In Android, as with code,  anything is possible, if you are willing to build it.

   For those who love to build things, building the future is not just the dream, it is the reward. I am grateful for this opportunity to show you my work.  Your consideration is greatly appreciated. I can be reached by phone or by email 24/7.

Jasen Sanders