Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Asking for What You Want: My Letter to Steve Jobs

05 February 2014

In 1986, I turned down an opportunity at Apple. Stupid. I came to regret it and would apply for pretty much any job I thought I could do at Apple for years. I’d occasionally get calls. I’d occasionally get interviews. Once I was a front-runner, but then a hiring freeze struck.
Finally, after a particularly frustrating set of interviews in 2006-2007, I actually wrote Steve Jobs a one-page snail mail letter. Some of it is really dated now.

What does it take for an Apple loyalist to get a job at Apple?
Yesterday, during a phone screen for a .Mac position, Apple’s recruiter [name deleted] noted that I worked in Ruby on Rails in three positions spanning two years. She said, “The problem I see is that all our work [in the WebObjects group] is done in Java.”
It’s apparent she hadn’t read my resume because, in my previous position, I wrote and deployed WebObjects applications. In Java.
I’ve sacrificed a lot to be an Apple loyalist over the years: I’ve turned down numerous jobs; I’ve tended to move toward technologies (e.g., Ruby on Rails) where the overwhelming share of developers were Mac users. I’ve done what I can to stay with the Apple energy.
I started owning Macs in 1985, when I went to go buy a PC, and walked out with a Mac. I became a Mac programmer, producing shrink-wrap apps for small companies. For fifteen years, I worked only as a Mac programmer, moving toward Unix-related technologies when Apple was headed toward MacOS X.
I’m not just someone who stood in line for an iPhone, nor just someone who gets a new Mac every year, nor just someone mentioned in Guy Kawasaki’s The Macintosh Way (under my maiden surname), nor just someone who just bought her sixth iPod, nor just someone who has soaked up the energy and knowledge at WWDC.
I’ve been trying to get a job at Apple for twenty years.
Is there some way you could help me with that?

I never got a response from SJ, nor did I expect to.
I did get a lot more calls from Apple recruiters, though. The job I was hired into a few months later, on the Safari team, wasn’t one I’d applied for. The recruiter thought, rightly, that it would be a good fit, and I happily analyzed and triaged bugs for more than five years.
If you’re not getting the results you want and you write a respectful letter, you’re not going to be any worse off. You could be a whole lot better off.

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