Avast ye Hackers!

A crash course in how SparkFun's IT department went from total amateur hour to... not-as-amateur hour.... and how we're hiring for a couple of IT positions by unconventional means.

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Like all branches of the multi-branch tree-beast that SparkFun has grown into over the years, IT has developed very organically and at a varying pace. It started years ago when there was no concept of "IT" at SparkFun and I was brought on to do minor things like adding those little color bubbles to the website.

Now I'd be lying if I said some of the earliest tweaks to the product pages and checkout were not developed on the live production site. Back then nothing was under version control and there was no local copy for testing. Working without a net... good times.


Early development was akin to walking on a tightrope into oblivion.

Before long IT was a full time gig for one person.Then there was too much to do, so I hired my first minion (who's now risen to the rank of Senior Developer).Then I bought some stuff, hired more people, and bought some more stuff, and hired even more people. And so it goes. Looking back on it all it feels almost like geologic history, complete with a mass extinction or two.

Now things are rolling along nicely. There's a big release due out in the next month or two with some tantalizing new public features (it's in beta testing right now). We moved to a big, bright new space on the quiet north end of the building and have the Giant Nintendo Controller hooked to to the AVC scoreboard for maximum awesomeness. IT's to-do list is only five or six years long, and life is good.

Dave, forced to play alone, opts for the normal controller.

This is about where all you hackers come in. It's time to HIRE!

We're ready to bring on a dedicated Systems Administrator and at least one more full time PHP Developer. It's a good time to work at SparkFun and a great time to be in IT. If you've ever thought it would be nice if SparkFun paid you for a change and you have boast-worthy sysadmin chops or consider yourself a real programmer, now's your chance.

A word of caution though: don't just fire off a resume in an email. What fun is that? The price of admission here isn't quite so cheap.

Instead, you'll need to clone a public git repository, fork it, push your contributions to it and publish it where we can see it (or otherwise give us credentials to access it). It may sound like a lot of work for just for a chance at a job but a seasoned hacker should be able to fire off a quick application in the same amount of time it might take to write a stodgy cover letter.

So then!

SparkFun PHP Developer

SparkFun Systems Administrator


And please... take time to show off the embarrassing extremes of your geek cred.

It can only help your chances.

Comments 33 comments

  • beefhead / about 12 years ago / 6

    I think thats a daft punk song, right?
    clone it
    fork it
    push it
    makes us
    it where
    we can
    see it

    • Our work is never over.

      • Sciguy / about 12 years ago / 1

        Could you repeat that one more time?
        I must've misheard, (I'm human, after all).
        Maybe the brainwasher short circuited my brain.
        I dunno, I'm under a lot of stress. (shoot, that's justice.)
        Go french electronica!!!!!

  • numinit / about 12 years ago / 4

    Using Github to manage IT applications: one reason why SparkFun is EPICALLY AWESOME.

  • tz / about 12 years ago / 2

    A. Fork in github for PHP or Sysadmin?! This is like asking someone who polishes cars to do engine repair.
    B. What is the employee discount or is hacking addiction covered by your benefits?

  • esm / about 12 years ago / 2

    The fact that you're requiring a basic knowledge of version control from your sysadmins makes me smile (speaking as a UNIX admin/devops guy who works with too many "sysadmins" who've never written a line of code).
    Ah, if only I were in Colorado; it would have been fun being around the SF offices leading up to Free Day. ;-) Good luck finding the right candidates!

  • Utoxin / about 12 years ago / 2

    Tempting, if I lived a little closer and needed work. :) I like they repo concept for accepting resumes. Is it intentionally denying access when you use the URL provided above? (I found another way to get it, but I'm wondering if I should have needed to.)

  • JAelwyn / about 12 years ago / 1

    All I can say is that I don't even like GIT very much, for various reasons, and this is still one of the most, if not the most, useful interview filter methods I've ever seen.
    Seriously: anyone who cares enough that they deserve to work at SparkFun, and has even half the clue they need to do the jobs involved, should have no trouble figuring out how to do the required steps, or at least finding someone who can help them do so (having skilled folks who are willing to advise you is a rather useful job skill, believe it or not...)
    Bonus points for the accidental challenge with the URL. :)
    I'd apply, but I actually like where I'm working right now, and it involves a five minute commute (and I really hate driving; SparkFun is actually the only thing I've ever cared enough to drive to Boulder for even once).

  • You guys should make people submit a video application via YouTube or vimeo for the videographer job. http://boulder.craigslist.org/med/1906030532.html

  • theBecwar / about 12 years ago / 1

    Holy crap... Holy crap... Holy crap...
    I just crapped myself. I just wish I was going to be back from Iraq in time.

  • BurnerJeremy / about 12 years ago / 1

    As soon as you guys need a c/c++/c# Game programming Jedi I'm your man!

  • I would love to take one of the jobs, except I'm not even close to being old enough.

  • Scienkoptic / about 12 years ago / 1

    wow! I can't wait till the 'useless piece of crap' job posting comes up!
    I'll be on it like stink on...

  • GrizzlyAdams / about 12 years ago / 1

    Now you can git a job (application)!

  • I'm deeply interested in the PHP developer position!
    Just a few things... I live in another country and I'm not a U.S. citizen (lived in Miami for 2 years though), can I still hack my way into SFE by moving there?

    • I couldn't say definitively without doing some research but if the difficulty/cost of setting up a visa is sufficiently high than I'll need an outstanding application that warrants it! =)

      • Thanks for the quick answer guys! I can legally work in the United States. I'll do my best to give you the application you are looking for!

    • Erik-Sparkfun / about 12 years ago / 1

      If you are able to legally work here, I don't see how it would be a problem. I'm Swedish and on a green card, so that obviously wasn't a problem.

      • Actually, I can't work legally in the United States, because I don't have an H-1B visa.
        I can legally obtain it if the employer files an H-1B petition and it is granted, and there are fees.
        I'll take the challenge though!

  • RobertoG / about 12 years ago / 1

    Congrats on choosing a true test of merit in choosing a new Sparkfun team member!

  • galed / about 12 years ago / 1

    seriously, still waiting (expecting, hoping) for an engineering opening

  • spadusa / about 12 years ago / 1

    Oh, Sparkfun, if only you waited another 9 months...I have to graduate before I can leave Florida.......

    • Well, nine women can't make a baby in one month.
      I suppose that's not directly relevant to your situation, it's just my favorite Fred Brooks quote.
      (And Erik's right, we may very well still be hiring in nine months!)

      • Usul / about 12 years ago / 1

        I certainly hope so! I lie awake at nights with fantasies of moving up to Boulder and becoming a minion amongst my ubergeeky kin... I've got the resume, and could accomplish the application without much hassle, but the prospect (and the competition I imagine) is still just a bit intimidating this go 'round.

        • Don't let that stop you! You never know, you might have just the combination of skills we're looking for.

    • Erik-Sparkfun / about 12 years ago / 1

      Don't worry too much. I've only been here just over a year, and we've still added 4 people to IT since. 9 months from now, it's entirely possible we'll hire again.

  • nice nice.

  • EliTheIceMan / about 12 years ago / 1

    Accounting, GITs? I've never heard of either. As soon as I graduate I expect you guys to be needing some hardware people!

  • Forget the vultures, pink clouds have been known to completely devour stick figures.

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