Sunday, August 21, 2011

Embrace Web 2.0

Not f'd (FSF)
Well, I have never been a big fan of Facebook and the likes. But I have to admit: it is a good tool to build up your network again.

Yesterday I registered for LinkedIn and Xing, it was a lot of fun to rediscover old friends and classmates with whom I had lost touch. It will never beat having a drink on a hot day and chat away during a free afternoon, one real friend will always better than a thousand virtual ones, but I really had fun trying to reconnect with so many loose ends. In that way I also got the word out that I am back in the country and, well, 'hirable'.

For the real headhunters, I placed my CV on and IT-JobBank.

The past two weeks, I have also kept a close watch on the job offers at Elance and Guru. Most are small projects, but it is a good way to earn some small cash.

Now all I have to do is come up with a catching name, create myself a nice, attractive website, and the project hunt can start!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Most Interesting Job Interview Ever (2)

Well, it happened again and very interesting it was.

I had another interview today. The appointment was made somewhere last week by headhunters' bureau X. They said that this company was 'interested in my profile', but didn't give me any details about the job or which particular section of my CV that they were interested in. As the company is placed relatively far from my residence, it would take me at least 90 minutes to get there. All this considered made me kind of skeptic towards the whole interview, but I decided to go anyway.

The office was nice, clean and not too 'square'. It looked like a modernly renovated house and people were amicable towards each other.

When I presented myself, I was brought to the right manager (let's call him Georges) and noticed that the said guy was aware of my coming, but not of my CV. So again, I asked myself, why did bureau X send me all the way out here? I counted the hours that I had waisted in the public transport and thought of the betters things that I could have done in the meantime at home or in the sun (it was actually nice weather).

"So, you have been running a hotel in West-Africa?", Georges started. It flattered me that he obviously approved of my sense of adventure. Formalities were done and the interview could start. Georges started by explaining what the company did, that they run a consultancy for small sized offices that need advice on how to do their IT infrastructure, among that was also a helpdesk that was using the typical ticketing service and ...

Amidst his explanation, all of a sudden he stopped. He put down his papers, I imagine even almost hearing a sigh. He leaned a bit forward on his desk and shared with me: "This must all sound so boring if you have been working abroad for two years, doesn't it?"

At first I honestly did not know how to react and out of habit pulled my poker face, but it was already clear to both of us that there would be no win-win situation in this job interview. "Maybe you have short termed projects where I could be of service?", I tried, but Georges shook his head.

Instead, we just started to have a relaxed chat and tried to see what could interest me. He even really tore a piece of paper from his notebook and wrote down which buzzwords are currently 'hot'. It started to remind me of Eric from the last interesting job interview, as he also started to motivate me to become a self-employed freelancer. "Just make yourself a profile on LinkedIn, that is where the magic is happening these days. We now don't even email people any more, we screen them straight through their online profile. Don't forget to study the new Cloud-hype, it is extremely interesting, and check the Windows Azure-platform!"

Even though I saw the other offices empty (the weekend had started), we were still having a nice conversation, apparently Georges didn't mind to make some overtime. We pulled up Google Maps and looked at the satellite picture of the lodge.

When the talk drew to a close, Georges gave me a card and told me "make sure you refer to me when you make your profile on LinkedIn". We shook hands and off I went.

I had spent more than 3 hours in the train for a conversation of merely 45 minutes, but still it was worth it. The whole way back home, I had a huge smile on my face and looked forward to actually start to work for myself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Test your might!

Bjarne Stroustrup, father to C++
Picture taken from Wikipedia

Ah, today was interesting. As it was the Xth interview for this particular job, the company wanted to test my 1337 5k1775 in C++. Can't blame them, but I was a bit shocked about the simplicity of the programming questions. I nailed it and I am proud of it.

Share a celebration drink with me?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Early rise

Tomorrow I will start working at the local news stand. Pretty nice, I am happy with it: a part time job just around the corner and the salary is big enough to pay all the bills.
The only 'problem' is that I will have to start working at 5AM, that is not my normal rhythm :-)

So to not shock my body too much, I rose this morning at 6AM, did some sports and had breakfast around 9.

My plans for today are to practice some more Norwegian (I am visiting Megumi during the first two weeks of September) and to 'undust' my mind by coding some C++ for a little private project. It has been a while since I have written a full application, by practicing I will get to know what knowledge has been lost over the years and work on my weak points.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Picture taken from Health Life
Last night, Tessy came home after midnight. She was a bit tipsy from having a drink earlier that evening and started dancing around the living room, giggling. All of a sudden she looked me in the eyes and said: "You know what I really want now? A smoke."

Djz, I tried to leave smoking behind after leaving Ghana, but she was right. I wanted a smoke too.

Only problem: none of us had cigarettes, so we started walking. The neighbourhood where we are living has no night shops, but luckily there was a vending machine in one of the bars around the train station.

Apparently, you need an 'age coin' nowadays. I had no idea what it meant, but it took a while before I understood why the vending machine wasn't excepting the money.

Returning home, we just took a beer from the fridge, went back to our porch and said on the doorstep. We chatted, drank and smoked up to 3 am, it felt like old times.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Last night I dreamed that my wallet was stolen, all my money was gone (including the credit card). All I found back was the leather pouch, empty except for my identity card. Even after waking up I still felt a bit of the panic wash over me.

It is not far from reality, when I think of it. My savings are down to 100 euro, not even enough for half of the rent of the room I am currently staying in. Luckily, I have patient housemates that are aware of my current (financial) situation and I have taken a part time job at a local news stand. For one week, I can help stack the store, early in the morning when the newspapers arrive. The rest of the day I can use to look for a job that fits me a bit better.

I am happy that I now at least have some income.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Most Interesting Job Interview Ever

Taken from English Preperation
Now that Megumi has gone to Norway, I focused on the job hunt again.

Still, I don't feel completely comfortable going back to a desk job after being a hotel manager for the past two years. My personal preference at the moment go to short term projects or part time jobs, I want to have some time apart from the daytime job to be able to start on my own.

Today I had two interviews, both in Brussels. The one of this morning went very fluently, I felt some kind of connection with the candidate employer, but still my worry (which I mentioned above) was nagging at the back of my head.

So when I went to the second interview, for a different company, I was still a bit cross about that feeling. While the interviewer was explaining the several options at his place, I politely interrupted him and inquired whether they weren't maybe in need of a freelancer.

The interviewer, let's call him Eric, gathered his papers together and put it at the side of the desk, crossed his arms and looked me straight in the eyes, explaining me that they were really looking for a long term commitment. So I told him that I didn't feel that need.

Eric understood my interruption and instead of cutting the meeting short, we had a more open talk now. He told me about his own experiences as a freelancer and pointed out to me that my CV needed some updating if I wanted to look in that direction.

He actually really motivated me to start a business on my own 'as IT is booming at the moment, make yourself a profile on recruiting websites like Monster and, and then wait until you have an interesting deal. After closing the deal, contact Unizo to get your BTW number (VAT registration), it is done in only 15 minutes and will cost 180 euro, after that you are a freelancer. It is that simple. But update your CV and put more focus on the concrete projects that you have completed instead of giving vague job descriptions.'

After that we stood up and shook hands. The last thing Eric said was 'I'm sure you never had a job interview like that before.'
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