Every technical discipline has its generic grunt work. As a chemist, I thought I might discover new pharmaceuticals or make sensors with grand properties, but most of the industry makes better carpets. “Can you methyl, ethyl, futylate these fibers so we can check stain resistance?” In 2008, I almost joined a company in Emeryville, called Nanotex, that was modifying fibers. (That Nanotex company got sold in 2013 and moved to Bloomfield Hills, MI).
Software engineering also has its own grunt work. Young programmers may want to work on exciting games or develop cutting-edge apps, but most people build better hospital databases. Fortunately, working previously with genetic data, I have been spared hospital database work, until now.
My Thursday interview includes a two-hour coding test on database manipulation using a Python package called SQLAlchemy. Trouble is, I don’t know this package. So I bought a textbook and started cramming SQLAlchemy yesterday. I’m stuffing and unstuffing datasets, mostly about a cookie ordering company. It’s not hospital records, but it’s close. I’m not sure whether I’ll achieve proficiency by Thursday’s exam, but I’ll try the best I can in the next few days. Better get back to the cookie orders. I may hate cookies by the end of this week.