I do not normally blog about employment negotiations, but this was a strange one. I shake my head every time I think about it....
The story is not very complicated: The Beijing office of Novell posted a job opening on a local website. I responded. There was an interview, which seemed to go well enough. A couple weeks later I received a phone call followed by an e-mail, with an offer. And here is where things go a little off the rails....
Normally one would expect an offer, especially from a big company, to be, well, SOLID. Ie. at that point, if I accept the terms of the offer, the job is mine, if perhaps conditional upon a probationary period. Based upon this understanding of the situation, I actually turned down an interview in the following couple of days....
Apparently though, at least in Beijing when dealing with Novell, there is no such "solidity". After I had already accepted the offer, the HR person I was dealing with asked me what kind of visa I had. I told her an 'F' (rather typical, I think, of someone working freelance in China).
"Oh". "You need to have a work permit already." What she is talking about basically is a "Z" visa, which is only held by full-time employees sponsored by their employers. In my current situation, which was no secret to anyone, my holding a Z visa was quite an unreasonable assumption. And then she just kind of casually brushed away her previous offer, like it never existed.
As any foreigner who lives in Beijing knows, the silliest part of this exchange is making a big deal about any kind of a Visa in Beijing. Getting them is fairly trivial. Even little hole-in-the-wall English schools seem to be able to get their employees Z visas, and I certainly do not have any problems renewing my F (normally....)
So I am left contemplating three probable explanations for all of the above:
I tend to lean toward the last explanation. But none of the above leaves me much inclined to waste my time replying to another Novell job posting.
Beijing Linux User Group (BLUG): http://www.beijinglug.org/
Beijing Python User Group (BPUG): http://groups.google.com/group/bpug/
Drupal China: http://drupalchina.org/
Open Party: http://www.beijing-open-party.org/
Organizer / aggregator for Open Source events.
An Open Source software development company, with a 100% Open Source working environment.
I just attended what I think was my first Open Source conference. Hard to believe I have been an open source zealot for so long and this is my first conference.... As it happens, maybe because of the Beijing Olympics, maybe because the Open Source community is experiencing massive growth in China, this is just the first of several such events in Beijing over the next few months.
I have to say a conference like this is a fun, informative, and highly motivating experience. It really does leave one with a strong desire to find a project and start coding, like yesterday. It probably also helps that the event was super-well-organized, and most of the presenters were quite interesting.
One of the things I learned this past weekend is that the Open Source community and the commercial world are in a highly symbiotic relationship. Fully 40%(!!) of the work done on Open Source projects is done by paid employees of companies that operate in the Open Source space. Which of course explains why there are so many eager sponsors for this kind of conference: they want to recruit more free labor for their projects by helping to build a vibrant Open Source community around them. It would seem like a truly win-win situation, and perhaps explains why many companies are moving towards the Open Source model. (Of course, Sun Microsystems is the poster child for this trend....)
The sponsors flew in a number of executives and senior engineers from around the world to talk to us. The event was free, the facility first class, lunch was good and also free, and there were some quite lavish prizes raffled-off at the end of every day (starting with a laptop....) I felt quite pampered.
Another really interesting tidbit I picked up was the vast increase in Firefox usage in the past couple of years. If I recall the graph clearly, Firefox users went from single digit millions to over 100 million during that period. Obviously most of those are Windows users.
And I switched my window environment from KDE to Gnome. Gnome really seems to be becoming the standard, so I really think I should get better acquainted with it.
Here are some pictures from the event.