Looking for a job

published on January 2, 2012

The time has finally come.

I’m looking for a job!

After ±5 years of hard work at Hasselt University, I will graduate as a master in computer science next month. I finished my master thesis and courses in June 2011 and have just completed my internship at Facebook a few weeks ago (on December 16). I’ve received an awesome job offer to work full-time at Facebook.

But my super-duper awesome girlfriend, Anneleen, is studying medicine here in Belgium. If she’d continue to study medicine in the U.S., she’d have to start all over, so that’s not really an option (not to mention the ridiculous costs). This summer, we’ll move in together in a (yet to be found) apartment in Leuven, Belgium.
Also, I just like Europe better than the United States.

I’ve already talked to several companies, months ago and more recently, but since there are so many interesting companies, projects and challenges out there, I decided to write this blog post.

My main interests (and areas of expertise) are:

  • WPO (Web Performance Optimization): making websites faster
  • Drupal
  • data mining

Want to talk to me? Contact me at http://wimleers.com/contact.

Want to know more? High-level background story below. See my resume (also PDF) and my LinkedIn profile for additional information.

Background story

Since September 2006, I’ve been studying Computer Science.

The open source project I started in high school — driverpacks.net — was open sourced at the end of 2006 and is still thriving today (with almost 3,000,000 downloads in 2011).

That project is how I got involved with Drupal, about which I’ve written many times now, and to which I’ve made numerous contributions. In fact, my five-year Drupal anniversary was just 6 days ago! My most popular module is Hierarchical Select, which is used by 14,400 Drupal sites today. I made 696 commits to that module, out of a total of 1013 commits to Drupal contrib.
I’ve spoken at several DrupalCons and have worked directly for Dries at Mollom.

In December 2007, I first encountered [Steve Souders’ 14 rules for speeding up websites]. Being frustrated by slow websites, I was very interested in this. So I spent the Christmas vacation looking into how Drupal was doing on these 14 aspects. That’s how the apparently still kind-of-used-as-a-reference article “Improving Drupal’s page loading performance” came into existence1. Simultaneously, I developed an initial version of the CDN module.

Building upon this knowledge, I wrote up a proposal to do my bachelor thesis on improving Drupal’s page loading performance. It was accepted. The result was File Conveyor, a daemon written in Python to discover (using inotify and FSEvents), process (optimizing JS/CSS/images, lossless image optimization …) and sync files (to Amazon S3/CloudFront, (S)FTP servers, Origin-Pull CDNs …).
Besides File Conveyor, I also wrote a new version of the CDN module for Drupal 62, as well as an Episodes module, which measures the real-world page loading performance, along with another Drupal module to analyze the collected measurements. A full two years before New Relic added “Real User Monitoring” using the same Episodes library!

The Drupal module that analyzed the collected measurements was just a proof-of-concept: it didn’t scale at all. In my first master year, I had a data mining course. The possibilities of data mining intrigued me and I connected the dots: from Drupal to WPO to data mining.
That’s why I proposed to do my master thesis on Web Performance Optimization Analytics. The basic premise: build the Google Analytics for WPO. By using frequent pattern mining, automatically find which parts of web pages are slow in which context (browser, connection type, location …).
This proposal was also accepted. While still developing my master thesis, I was contacted by Facebook.

I passed Facebook’s technical interviews and then flew out to Silicon Valley in September 2011. There, I was part of the Site Speed team. I worked on “regular Site Speed team stuff”, but most of my time was devoted to my intern project.
My intern project was basically about making my master thesis useful for Facebook: making it more generic and integrating it with existing internal Facebook tools, to detect patterns in performance data.
It is currently running in production. It’s used by the Site Speed team for detecting performance problems and will be used by two other teams.
There are currently five pattern mining jobs that are mining data streams. The biggest job analyzes 17 million samples per day, but splits each sample into 5 separate ones so that’s about 85 million per day — that’s almost 1,000 per second. Per sample, 10—11 attributes are analyzed, so that’s about 900 million attributes analyzed per day. And that’s just one of the five jobs.

Now, in January 2012, I’m looking for a job!

That’s the story I have to tell up to this point. As you can tell, I try to chain areas of interest together. This allows for a higher impact. I don’t quite understand myself how I did it, but I somehow managed to tie all of this together.

I hope the next chapters of my life will be even more fun! :)

Resume (PDF)


  1. The term “WPO” did not exist yet! 

  2. This module shipped with the same (but backported, of course) Drupal core patch as I had contributed to Drupal 7 core for my bachelor thesis. 

Comments

Matthias's picture

Well, you sure do have a broad knowledge pool and an extensive network of contacts by now. Maybe you’d consider the option of working freelance? Finding a way of monetizing that knowledge into something of your own looks like an interesting challenge. With a minimum of life’s big engagements burdening, this is an excellent time to investigate such an option.

If not, drop Team K. a line. ;-)

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

I just did ) I didn’t have your e-mail address, so I sent to Roel & Jo :)

Pol's picture

Hi Wim,

I understand that it’s a difficult choice, but don’t forget that such opportunities are offered once in a lifetime -) I’m sure that you can find an arrangement with your girlfriend!

Anyway, congratulations for what you did and what they are offering to you, it’s awesome.

Keep up the good work, see you.

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

It’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for Facebook, true. But on the other hand, it’s by definition a once in a lifetime opportunity to get your life-work balance right from the start. I don’t want to become more of a workaholic than I already am :)

Roel De Meester's picture

@pol  I disagree. I don’t believe in the concept of once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities. I believe that your whole life is stuff with opportunities, some bigger than others. And i must say that Wim makes a very adult decision to at least consider the fact that there is such a thing as balancing personal and professional life. I spoke to many people and was surprised to see that only a small fraction of people try to get their satisfaction from non-worked related achievements.

@wim  Email received. Will get in touch :)

Toon's picture

You are absolutely right in this decision. Finding happiness in life is not about getting the post prestigious job position available. It’s about being in the company of people who make you happy. If you enjoy data mining and speeding up sites, that’s what you should do. Go for the job, not the big-name company behind it. That being said, now’s the time to get some work experience abroad. You have few responsabilities so are free to move anywhere you want, personal circumstances permitting. Once you start with the kids ‘n’ mortgages, that becomes a lot harder to do.

ximo's picture
ximo

Roel said it ) I think you’ve made a wise decision.

Wish you all the best in 2012!

Annoyed@u's picture
Annoyed@u

Who the f@#k cares! Stop posting your personal shit to Drupal planet.

Mark's picture
Mark

I’d rather see a prolific individual Drupal contributor use the planet for a little self promotion than see yet another how-to post from a company that is just a thinly veiled advertisement.

I personally found the content far more interesting than what typically comes through the planet, and bookmarked 3 or 4 links for later reading.

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

This is the first time in months I’ve posted to the Drupal Planet. Yes, this is self-promotion, but relevant self-promotion and the first after many more useful blog posts. I was careful to not post any of my Facebook internship blog posts to the planet, even though it was probably interesting for many.

@Mark: Thanks for your support and to confirm I was not out of line here :)

sun's picture

Dear Anonymous,

The Drupal community cares. Wim is one of the most prolific contributors to Drupal core and contributed projects. His past and ongoing work helps countless of Drupal sites to improve their front-end performance and usability. So even if it was only for that reason, the Drupal community is highly interested in chances to have Wim keep on working on Drupal.

But it’s not only about that. For many of us, Wim became a good friend over the years. His life situation not only matters to us on a professional level, but also - if not even more - on a personal level.

I can only guess you hadn’t have a chance to meet Wim in person yet, and so I’d just simply recommend you to do that.

That said, we would highly appreciate it if you’d keep such highly disrespectful, offensive, and needless comments for yourself.

@wim: Congratulations on finishing the internship! And happy new year! ) I surely hope a Drupal shop is going to pick you up soon! :)

Thanks!

sun

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

Thank you very much for your strong support, sun, it is deeply appreciated :)

Alex Dergachev's picture

Congrats Wim! Though the FB offer is very prestigious, I’m happy to see that you have the confidence to make the right choice for you and your girlfriend.

At Evolving Web we generally work from our office in Old Montreal, but in your case I’d love to make an exception. Shoot me an email if that’s something you’d consider.

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

If working remotely is an option, then I’m interested ) E-mail sent.

rszrama's picture

Woohoo! I think your only difficulty here will be weeding through the amazing offers. Best of luck and thanks again for Hierarchical Select… I can vouch for a few of those 14,000 sites.  )

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

Thanks! ) And I’m very glad to hear you’re using Hierarchical Select for a few sites :)

giorgio79's picture
giorgio79

You could also try to think of options that are larger than a job. With your skills you could easily start a Drupal consulting business and sell it later to Acquia :)

Prashant's picture
Prashant

Greetings,

Your accomplishments are commendable, really. Proud of you!

Now you are on an important phase of your life. You need inputs and so this post of yours with open comments. Actually no one can decide for you. Listen to all but let your heart decide. Its that easy.

Here are my ramblings,

Rule: According to Kiyosaki the A Class students work for the C Class students.

Read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad to know more. Understand deeply the words Rat-Race, Financial Freedom, Wealth, Assets…

Looks like you are an A class student. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are C class students. They have made a lot of people wealthy, that’s how they become more wealthy.

You have an opportunity to work for Facebook. They have an IPO coming one of these days. Can really make you rich for a lifetime, if you make it big there in a short time and get hold of their stock options. Join Facebook only for their stock option to make yourself rich. Sure its lot of hard work and you are in a position to do that.

Lot of people will tempt you to join their co’s. Refer to next rule.

Rule: If you are in the job market sell yourself to the highest bidder.

Facebook is a hot company. When you have experience in a hot company you become familiar with all the real life dynamics of a successful company. If ever you get the entrepreneurial bug to fork your own startup, you will have a solid process understanding of a successful startup company doing well. This experience is priceless.

Rule: Love grows when there is a distance.

If both of you can really focus on your individual careers (her medicine and your facebook) both of you can score well and have a chance to live together forever and have babies later.

If either of you break up then it was not true love anyway.

Having said this please use the super market approach. Pick what you like and leave what you do not need.

Let me end with a thought by Alexander the great. “I do not take right decisions, I take decisions and make them right.”

john john's picture
john john

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandteleco…

Might be a good idea to stay at facebook for a while at least. Get in there for the IPO and then … retire do whatever, drupal anything , or go live on a island or … think of something cool here. I guess you could just buy shares but you will probably be given a nice option package if you at the company… maybe.

Would be cool to have a drupal dev in facebook. But in the end which ever path leads to contentment is probably the best one. Facebook stock options would do that ( or at least help in doing that for me ;)

Ilmari Oranen's picture

You would definitely welcomed with open arms to my employer (Soprano Brain Alliance).

We are not facebook nor Acquia, and we’re not in Belgium, but.. hey, you newer know where you end up :)

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

Finland does seem a tad too far away, I’m afraid ) Plus, the language barrier would be quite big, I imagine. Thanks for the offer though :)

Wouter's picture

Hey Wim,

we zijn hier bij Engagor (Gent-based web startup, featured on Tech Crunch en in het algemeen ‘goed bezig’) op zoek naar developers. En, well… You seem pretty awesome :-)

(en, iets als je liefde voor data mining, en uiteraard het web, lijkt allemaal wel behoorlijk aan te sluiten met de zaken waar wij graag mee bezig zijn!)

Ben je intussen nog steeds op zoek? Zoja, check gerust onze job description en laat ietsje weten!

W.

Lennard's picture
Lennard

Wim heb je al iets gevonden? Lijkt Nederland je iets regio Rotterdam?

David Engstrom's picture
David Engstrom

Living in Leuven …. How could anyone give up that! Good luck and thanks for the HS …

David

Jason's picture
Jason

Wow, you just make me so jealous. That’s an amazing resume you got. I can only wish I knew more about Drupal…. Now, all I can do is rely on giant shoulders like you to keep up the good work. Your contribution to Drupal is immense, and I really would want to see the HS module fully ported to D7 already.

Thanks and have a rocking weekend.