Go for IT
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Go for IT is a presentation for college and university students who want to go into a career in software development or information technology and are wondering how to go about it.

Go for IT is a presentation for college and university students who want to go into a career in software development or information technology and are wondering how to go about it.

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  • \n
  • If you were wondering what life after graduation is like, you’re in luck: we have actual data!\nThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://bls.gov) conducts the American Time Use Survey every year, in which they ask Americans what they typically do on any given day.\n(For most intents and purposes, Canadian life is close enough to American life for this data to apply to you.)\nThis chart, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 survey, shows what employed Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 with children do on an average workday. Here’s how it breaks down:\n Working and related activities (8.7 hours, or 36.25% of the day)\n Sleeping (7.7 hours, or 32% of the day)\n Leisure/sports (2.6 hours, or 10.8% of the day)\n Caring for others (1.3 hours, or 5.4% of the day)\n Eating/drinking (1.1 hours, or 4.9% of the day)\n Household (1.1 hours, or 4.9% of the day)\n Other (1.5 hours, or 6.25% of the day)\nNote that the biggest slice of the pie is “Work and related activities”: it’s half your waking life!\nTherefore, a big chunk of having an awesome life is having awesome work.\n If your work is dull, boring and devoid of meaning, half your life will be like a prison sentence, and that will end up spilling into the rest of your life.\n On the other hand, if your work is challenging, motivating, rewarding and meaningful, half your life will be awesome, and hopefully that awesomeness will carry over to the rest of your life – even the sleeping part!\n\n===\n\nChart source: http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/\n
  • When we say that this presentation is about how to have an AWESOME career and life, what we mean is that we want to show you how to have a HAPPY career and life.\nGenerally, once we’ve taken care of our basic survival needs, our activities are all about achieving the goal of happiness.\nThe problem is that we often get too focused the activities and forget about the goal.\n For example, you can be happier if you make more money. But you can forget the goal is to be happy and concentrate on making more money by taking a higher-paying job that you don’t like.\nBecause the future is hard to predict (a theme that we’ll bring up again), we’ve kept this talk pretty general, with advice that should be applicable under most circumstances.\n If our advice no longer applies, it means that we’ve either achieved a perfect society or we’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and in both these cases, your career will be the last thing on your mind.\nWe’ve also kept things pretty general as far as industry goes: even though this is really a presentation for people going into the “computers and internet” industry, most of our advice will apply to a wide range of careers.\n
  • Part of growing up is realizing that mom and dad aren’t always right. \n (That’s okay, and in my case, my parents were right more times than wrong.)\nMany parents advise their children to have some kind of career plan. The advice often sounds like this:\n “You have to have a plan. Times are tough. The economy’s bad. You can’t just do anything and expect to make a living.”\n “You should study something marketable, and then take up a job that’s a sure thing.”\n “That way, you’re leaving your options open. Do something now that will lead to something better, and then something better after that.” \n “Then, once you’ve established yourself, you can do what you like.”\nIf you follow this advice and come up with a plan, Daniel Pink (former speechwriter for Al Gore and now an author who likes to write about how the workplace is changing and how to cope) would reply by saying…\n\n===\n\nFor background information on Dan Pink, see:\n His site: http://www.danpink.com/\n His Twitter account: https://twitter.com/DanielPink\n His Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_H._Pink\n
  • …There is no plan!\n (Yes, it sort of sounds like the line from “The Matrix”: “There is no spoon.”)\nWhat we mean is that having a plan for the future is doesn’t make any sense; in fact it may make things worse.\nHere’s what’s wrong with having a plan…\n
  • There’s a saying in the military: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”\nThis quote is attributed to the 19th-century German field marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.\nVon Moltke realized that while you could know the goal of a battle, you could only plan the beginning of one.\nYou don’t know what the enemy will do in response, so the best you can do is be prepared for a range of possible outcomes.\n \nThe saying holds true when you change von Moltke’s saying slightly: “No life plan survives first contact with reality.”\nJust like von Moltke realized with battles, while you can know your own personal goals in life, you can only plan your immediate next steps. \nAfter that, life’s unpredictability makes planning difficult.\n
  • It’s hard to predict the future!\n And if it’s hard to predict the future, it’s almost impossible to come up with a complete plan for it.\n \nIt’s hard to predict the turns technology will take.\nThe tech world is full of failed predictions, rapid changes and surprises. Who would have predicted these ten years ago?\n Facebook. Who knew that social networking software like Facebook would catch on the way it did? Or that the company would be valued at tens of billions of dollars? Or that it would be mainstream enought for someone to make a movie about its creator? Or that it would be a key part of political uprisings in the Middle East?\n Phones. Only a decade ago, mobile phones were used as just phones (outside North America, people tended to text more). Nobody – especially the telcos – expected that the “phone” part of mobile phones would nowadays be the least interesting part. The really cool thing about the phone is everything else: it’s a media player, map, camera, video and audio recorder and all-purpose app machine.\n Online/the cloud. Ten years ago, all your programs and data lived on your computer. That’s changed quite a bit. How many web-based applications do you use now? And how much of your data lives online or in the cloud? (Consider: email, photos, videos and even documents)\nIt’s even harder to predict the turns life will take. (Think of the number of life’s turns which took you by surprise.)\n
  • The old process for developing software followed the waterfall model. \n (It’s still in use, but in most cases, not for good reasons.)\nIt has that name because you went through the phases of a project like water through a waterfall, from the top down:\n Requirements -> Design -> Impementations -> Verification -> Maintenance\n (For the full details of each phase, see the additional notes below)\nThe problem with the waterfall model is that it works well only if you knew every detail of what you needed at the start of a software project.\n You’re not likely to know all those details, and the bigger the project, the less likely you’ll know those details.\n Many details of a project are discovered not at its start, but in the course of actually going through the project.\n To paraphrase von Moltke: “No software plan survives first contact with the software process.”\n In the end, the waterfall process produced well-documented, well-tested software. It meant that the development team’s butts were covered.\n However, it didn’t produce software the users wanted. The process was too brittle to adjust to the reality that many requirements would be discovered well after the requirements process, which in turn would need changes to design well after the design process.\nAround 2000, a group of software development experts who would later be known as the Agile Alliance came up with a manifesto that would kick off the practice of Agile Programming.\n They noted that in the software industry, more projects were failing than succeeding, and that the projects that were failing used the waterfall method of development.\n They proposed agile processes as an alternative, in which you accept that you can’t know everything about a project before you begin and have to be able to embrace change.\n Rather than do a lot of planning in the beginning (in the industry, it’s called “Big Design Up Front” or BDUF), do “just enough” planning to get started, and add to the plan as you proceed and discover more about the application you’re trying to write.\n You accept that unlike other engineering projects, software is malleable and therefore easy to change. You accept that what you know about the end users’ needs will change and factor it into the process. This lets you handle those “I didn’t think of that” moments and have to alter your actions accordingly.\n\nLife and career are subject to even more unknown requirements and changes than software projects.\nWe don’t use the waterfall methodology to build software anymore – why do it with your career?\n\n===\n\nThe Waterfall Phases:\n You’d specify the requirements first. Analysts would define the requirements – what the program could expect as input and what it would produce as output – and architects would create architectures based on those requirements. Both would get handed to designers, who would handle the next phase.\n In the design phase, the designers would take the requirements and architecture documents produced in the previous phase and create an application design, which got handed over to the programmers, who would use it in the next phase.\n The implementation phase is where the actual programming happens, with the developers using the design document to guide them. Their output is the application, which gets passed along to the next phase.\n After the implementation phase comes the verification phase, where testers take the application created in the previous phase and test it. Bugs get sent back to the developers for fixing. Once the application passes testing, it can be released; it also goes into the next phase.\n The final phase is the maintenance phase. The application is in general release and is now being maintained – perhaps some bug fixes in response to reports from users, perhaps some minor functionality changes in response to user requests.\n \nThe Agile Manifesto site: http://agilemanifesto.org/\n
  • So building a career according to a plan doesn’t work well. So how should you make career choices?\n\nYou can make career choices for one of two reasons:\n Instrumental reasons: A choice you make because you think it’s “the smart choice”, whether you like doing it or not, because you think it’ll lead somewhere.\n Fundamental reasons: A choice you make because it interests you, because you like it, because it’s your passion, even though you don’t know where it’ll lead.\nIf you’re doing things for instrumental reasons, you’re making decisions based on predicting the future. That’s very, very hard to get right.\nWorse still, things you do for instrumental reasons often feel like chores. Are chores, especially those given to you by other people, fun? Do you do the best you possibly can when doing a chore, or do you just “phone it in” – that is, do you do them just well enough to not get in trouble for doing it poorly?\nWhen you do things for instrumental reasons, you constantly have to work at keeping yourself motivated – the motivation comes from outside, and you have to keep looking for it.\nInstrumental reasons don’t work! Most people who do things for instrumental reasons flounder.\nOn the other hand, when you do things for fundamental reasons, it’s because you’re doing something you love, that you’re good at, in an environment you like, with people you like.\nIt’s far easier to figure out what motivates you and what you’re interests are than it is to figure out the future.\nThings you do for fundamental reasons feel “right”.\nWhen doing things for fundamental reasons, the motivation comes naturally – it comes from inside, and is constantly refreshed.\nMost people who do things for fundamental reasons flourish.\n\nDan Pink suggests this experiment:\n Find someone you admire, who’s doing something interesting and impactful.\n Ask him/her how s/he ended up doing what s/he’s doing.\n Pink says that 99 times out of 100, s/he’s respond by saying “Well, that’s a long story…”\nThat’s because they did things for fundamental reasons and lived with the ambiguities.\nDoing so kept them out of ruts and open to opportunities.\n
  • If you leave this session and take away only one thing, it should be…\n
  • …and it’s: “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”\nThat’s a quote from Jessica Hische, a very talented graphic designer, illustrator and typographer from Brooklyn. She made a splash in the blogosphere in January 2010 (at least among the crowd that’s into design) with this bit of advice.\nIf you’re doing work to avoid doing some other work, it means that you’re doing that work-avoidance work for fundamental reasons. You should look into doing that instead.\nIt may seem silly and idealistic to do so, but there it’s actually a pragmatic thing to do, for reasons that will soon become clear.\nIf you take only one thing away from this presentation, let it be this!\n\n===\n\nThere’s a quick little interview with her here: http://www.humblepied.com/jessica-hische/\n
  • If you’re like a lot of students, you’ve probably asked the question “Is there some kind of book about starting a career that I should read?”\nIf you’re like a lot of students, you’ve probably also said “Ugh! More reading?”\nThe Adventures of Johnny Bunko is a great answer to both questions. It’s a career guide in manga form! You’re not going to find an easier-to-read career guide out there.\n (Note: Manga – pronounced “MUNG-guh” -- is Japanese style comics. The Chinese characters that the Japanese use to spell out “manga” translate to “whimsical drawings”.)\nIt’s written by Dan Pink, the guy who said “There is no plan”. He gives five other pieces of advice in the book, which we’ll cover in this presentation.\nThe book is a quick read (comics mean less text!), and it’s also cheap ($15 at Chapters)!\nThis presentation uses the six principles from this book.\n
  • To get a taste of the ideas in The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, especially “There is No Plan”, you can listen to Dan Pink at:\n His 2008 commencement speech at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design\n Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdD_h3i99pI\n Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BauFlpkvbxQ\n His interview at Great Work Interviews:\n http://www.greatworkinterviews.com/interviews/dan-pink/\n
  • You’ve heard the saying: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”\nIt’s a good saying for systems of interconnected parts, whether they’re chains or machinery or software or networks.\nIt’s not a good saying for people, because it implies that you should focus on fixing your weaknesses rather then building on your strengths.\nThat’s the opposite of what you should be doing, which is…\n
  • …Think strengths, not weaknesses!\nWe tend to think that:\n a strength is something you’re good at, and\n a weakness is what you’re bad at.\nMany people believe that they should focus on fixing their weaknesses. After all, that’s where you can do the most good, right? Won’t your strengths take care of themselves?\nAuthor, researcher and business consultant Marcus Buckingham doesn’t agree, and prefers to think of strengths and weaknesses this way:\n A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong and energized\n A weakness is an activity that makes you feel weak and drained (even if you’re good at it!)\nThat’s right, there can be some things that make you feel weak, even if you’re good at them. \nDo you want to base your career on something that drains you?\nBy focusing on your strengths:\n You’re focusing on those things where you perform best.\n You have a much better chance of finding your “edge” – those things that differentiate you and make you stand out.\n\n===\n\nFor background information on Marcus Buckingham, see:\n His site: http://tmbc.com/\n His bio: http://tmbc.com/mb/biography\n His Twitter account: https://twitter.com/mwbuckingham\n His Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Buckingham\n
  • Marcus Buckingham likes to use the example of what many people believe to be the best-performing country in the world: China.\nIn 2000, Buckingham’s company’s survey of Chinese workers asked the question “In order to succeed, should you focus on fixing your weaknesses or boosting your strengths?”\n 76% said “focus on fixing your weaknesses”.\n 24% said “focus on boosting your strengths”.\nBuckingham calls the China of 2000 “the least strength-focused nation in the world”.\nIn 2008, they asked the same question and the numbers were reversed.\nBuckingham says that this is the result of China’s drive: “ in China you’ve got this open, entrepreneurial performance-focused, deeply pragmatic culture that’s really focused on what we can do to be successful.”\nChina is focusing on its strengths, and it’s paying off!\n\n[Optional comparison]\nBy way of comparison, Buckingham also surveyed Americans (who for most intents and purposes are similar to Canadians) the same question in 2008:\n 55% said “focus on fixing your weaknesses”.\n 45% said “focus on boosting your strengths”.\nBuckingham says: “We have a romantic, anxious focus on finding out where our vulnerabilities are and then desperately plugging them.”\n\n===\n\nSee: http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/232-dishymix/episodes/20616-marcus-buckingham-truth-about-career\n
  • If a strength is what strengthens you, it means it’s your responsibility to identity those strengths.\n\nOne way to identify a strength: if an activity creates flow around you, it’s a strength.\n“Flow” is a concept by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “MEE-ha-lee CHEEK-sent-me-high-yee”) and is defined as a mental state where you’re completely, happy and productively absorbed in what you’re doing.\n When you are in the state of flow, you feel energized and fulfilled and don’t notice time passing.\n When someone is “in the zone”, they are experiencing flow.\nWhat sort of activities create flow for you? These could be strengths.\n\nIf you think about it, strengths and weaknesses ties back to the points we made in “There is No Plan”.\n When you’re playing to your strengths, you’re likely to be doing what you love, doing something for fundamental, not instrumental reasons.\n When you’re doing that, you’re more likely to succeed.\n
  • If you’re interested in learning more about strengths and flow, here are two books worth checking out:\n Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. This book is based on a test called StrengthsFinder, which Microsoft Canada’s DPE team has taken a couple of times. It covers 34 different personality themes and helps you identify your top 5, which are the strengths you should focus on and which you should use a guides for the sort of work you want to do and life you want to lead.\n [If you’ve taken the StrengthsFinder test before, you might want to talk about your top five strengths and how you use them in your everyday work.]\n Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “MEE-ha-lee CHEEK-sent-me-high-yee”). Csikszentmihalyi is considered to be the thought leader in the field of “positive psychology” and this book does a great job of explaining what being in a state of flow (or being “in the zone”) is, and how to get in that zone. If you often find yourself falling into an unproductive rut, you might find the ideas in this book helpful.\n
  • The conventional wisdom is that successful people are successful because of their talents, something they’re born with.\nThis sort of thinking has a particularly strong hold in Western cultures, where the tendency is to credit innate ability and admire the how the successful make what they do look easy for them.\n
  • However, there’s been a fair bit of research into high achievers in a wide array, and there’s a consensus that while talent is of some importance to success, the effort one puts in is far more important.\nThis is the philosophy of Eastern cultures, especially ones based on the cultivation of rice, which is incredibly labor-intensive and where crop output is directly tied to the effort you put into growing it.\n Consider the number of Chinese proverbs about work, or what the Japanese say instead of “good luck” – Ganbatte! (pronounced “gan-BAH-teh), which means “Never give up!”\nThis leads me to my next bit of advice… \n
  • …Persistence trumps talent!\n\nWhen you hear “could’a, would’a, should’a” stories, you will hear phrases like “unrealized potential”, “underused talent” or “unrecognized genius”.\nThis is because there are many people who wrongly believe that talent is far more important than effort. They expected to get by on talent alone, and most of the time, that doesn’t work!\n
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers devotes a lot of space to what he calls the “10,000 Hour Rule”.\nThe rule says that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something.\nIn the book, he cites examples from widely different fields including Bill Gates and The Beatles.\nMuch of the basis for this comes from research by K. Anders Ericsson, who is one of the world’s leading experts on being an expert.\nIn a study where he interviewed student violinists, he asked them to figure out how much total time they had spent practicing, from the time they decided they took up music to the present.\n The ones who were classified as “okay” – the ones destined not to be professional musicians, but were more likely to become music teachers – did an average of about 4,000 hours of practice.\n The ones who were classified as “good” – the ones who were likely to be professionals but not big soloists – did an average of about 8,000 hours of practice.\n The ones who were classified as “stars” – the ones who were singled out as the next big thing and potential soloists in big orchestras – did an average of about 10,000 hours of practice.\n In the study, they could not find:\n “Naturals” – there wasn’t a single person who did significantly less than 10,000 hours who was also a star.\n “Grinds” – there wasn’t a single person who did 10,000 hours who wasn’t also a star.\n \nPractice isn’t what you do when you’re good, it’s what you do to become good!\nEffort yields massive returns, far more than raw talent.\nWhat sets stars apart in any field, from music to athletics to business to high tech, is practice, practice, practice, and no matter what the field is, 10,000 hours or practice is what makes you an expert.\n 10,000 hours seems to be the amount of time it takes for the human brain to acquire expertise.\nThis goes back to “There Is No Plan” and “Think Strengths, Not Weaknesses”. If you’re doing things for fundamental reasons and playing to your strengths, you’re more likely to stick with them and get your 10,000 hours in.\n\n===\n\nFor background information on Malcom Gladwell, see:\n His site: http://gladwell.com/\n His Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Gladwell\n His Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Gladwell\n \nK. Anders Ericsson: \n The Making of an Expert: http://www.coachingmanagement.nl/The%20Making%20of%20an%20Expert.pdf\n
  • How long does it take to get to 10,000 hours?\n About 3 hours of practice every day, or 20 hours a week, for 10 years\nAnd by “3 hours of practice”, we mean 3 hours of doing something with the intent of getting better at it (we’ll talk about that in just a moment).\nThat’s a long time! That’s also why experts are rare.\nThat’s why achieving a state of “flow” (from “Think Strengths, Not Weaknesses”) is important. You’re more likely to hit 10,000 hours if you achieve flow more often.\n
  • Suppose the thought of doing 10,000 hours of practice hasn’t scared you away, and you want to become an expert (or, as some people like to say, “a ninja”) at something. Here’s Ericsson’s advice, from his article “The Making of an Expert”:\nPractice deliberately:\n Not all practice makes perfect, or as Ericsson says, “living in a cave doesn’t make you a geologist.”\n When you practice, it must be with the deliberate goal of becoming better.\n Practice is about improving specific skills and correcting mistakes. Playing a game of golf with your friends IS NOT practice; practicing the same swing over and over again and noting what makes your swing better IS.\n There are two kinds of deliberate practice:\n Improving the skills you already have, and\n Extending the reach of your skills.\n Deliberate practice requires high concentration. Practicing “on autopilot” isn’t of much value.\n The requirement of concentration limits the amount of useful practice you can get in a day.\nTake the time you need:\n Ericsson’s research says that even the most gifted performers need 10,000 hours or 10 years’ worth of intense training before they win international competitions.\n In some fields, such as music, that period is even longer: “most elite musicians 15 to 25 years of steady practice, on average, before they succeed at the international level.”\n Because of the amount of time it takes to acquire expertise, starting sooner is better.\nFind a coach or mentor:\n It’s hard to do the deliberate practice required to expertise by yourself – it often helps if your practice is supervised by a coach or mentor.\n An expert coach can accelerate the learning process by providing a path for you to follow, which lets you concentrate on learning rather than having to both learn and find a path through the process of learning. \n Like good parents who encourage their children to leave the nest, good coaches eventually help their students to rely on their own “inner coach”.\n
  • If you’d like to know more about the value of persistence over talent, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers has some good chapters on the topic.\nThe book also discusses the importance of opportunities: people become successful because of the opportunities they were given. \n You tend to be more open to opportunities when you do things for fundamental reasons rather than instrumental ones (which goes back to “There is No Plan”).\n
  • Want to learn more about how you acquire expertise? This article, “The Making of an Expert”, co-authored by K. Anders Ericsson gives a good overview and provides tips.\n
  • Thomas Edison, when trying to develop the lightbulb, was trying to find something that would glow but not burn up when you ran electricity through it.\nHe failed several times, going through hundreds of different materials -- including his own hair -- before finding material that worked: carbonized thread.\nHe has a famous quote on failure:\n “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”\nThere is also a Romanian saying about failure and mistakes that puts it a little more bluntly:\n “Every kick in the ass is a step forward.”\n \nMistakes are part of the learning process, so it’s important to…\n
  • …Make excellent mistakes.\nLet’s make one thing clear: by “excellent mistakes”, we’re not talking about stupid blunders or mistakes made from thoughtlessness or laziness.\nInstead, we’re talking about the sort of mistakes you make when trying to do excellent work.\nMistakes are unavoidable, inevitable and necessary: they’re part of the human condition.\nThink of them as learning opportunities.\nHere’s a line from James Joyce: “Mistakes are the portals to discovery.”\n
  • Too many people are afraid of getting burned by their mistakes.\nTo quote blogger Dan Ward: “Trying to avoid mistakes is a fear-based recipe for mediocrity, ignorance and inaction.”\n It’s better by far to try, fail, learn from that failure (which is one of the best ways to learn) and try again\nThere’s a saying: “If you’re not hearing ‘no’ every now and again, you’re not trying hard enough.”\n\n[If you and your audience are familiar with it, you can also cite the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Captain Picard discovers that undoing a mistake from his past undoes his distinguished career.]\n
  • The term that gets used to refer to people born from 1980 to about 2000 - 2005 is “Generation Y” or “Millennials”\n The term “Generation Y” come from the name for the previous generation, the one born between 1960 and 1980, “Generation X”, named that way because they were facing an uncertain future\nIf you are a Millennial or Gen-Y, be careful: employers have been warned about you! \n The popular press and workplace management literature says some good things about you:\n You’re tech-savvy\n You’re team players\n You believe in work-life balance more than previous generations\n They also say some bad things about you:\n You have no work ethic (every generation says this about the previous one)\n You have no respect for authority (once again, we always say this about the previous generation)\n You need constant praise and rewards and want bigger salaries\n You expect to be promoted well before it’s time\nDon’t believe me? Go fire up Bing and do a search on “Generation Y”, “Gen Y” or “Millennials” and “workplace”\n
  • Whether what they say is true about you or not, you should remember this: It’s not (all) about you!\nYou’re not at work just to help yourself succeed, but to help your coworkers and your company succeed too.\nYou’re also there to help your customers and clients solve their problems.\nThe most successful people improve their lives by improving other people’s lives.\nPeople remember the people who helped them, and that creates opportunities.\n And remember, you’re from the generation that’s supposed to be good at teamwork!\n
  • The reason older people think these things about Gen Y/Millennials is because there’s been a culture of promoting self-esteem to young people, to make them feel good about themselves.\n There’s nothing wrong with encouragement, but there’s been a trend for rewarding people for just showing up.\n We’ve all heard stories about competitions where everyone gets a trophy, regardless of how much or little they contribute.\n Go to Bing and search for “Generation Y”, “Gen Y” or “Millennials” and “self-esteem” – people think that your generation is on a collective ego trip.\n Even Marcus Buckingham, the guy who came up with one of our earlier points, “Think Strengths, Not Weaknesses” believes Gen Y has been given an overdose of self-esteem.\nSelf-esteem is important, but it’s only of value when it’s earned, not just given to you like conference swag.\nWant to earn self-esteem? Serve. Do things for other people.\n That’s where true self-esteem comes from: We’re wired to feel good when we do good.\n
  • Things change all the time, and these days, more quickly than ever. You have to stay alert!\n Consider the technology world:\n The smartphone market as we know it – with the current form factor and buying apps -- didn’t exist 5 years ago.\n The tablet market as we know it didn’t exist 2 years ago.\n The cloud computing market is just getting started, and who knows what will result from it in 5 years? Or even 2 years?\n The business world changes quickly too.\nDon’t be caught unprepared by change!\n Be sure to keep up with changes in technology.\n Find a particular area that you’re really interested in (once again, this goes back to “There Is No Plan” and “Think Strengths, Not Weaknesses”) and stay on top of developments.\n Keep an eye on trends and indicators of where things are going.\n
  • With all the tech news sites out there, it can be hard to try and keep up with tech news.\nLuckily, there’s Techmeme (techmeme.com), which collects the top tech news stories and the commentary on those stories and puts them all on a single page.\nIt’s constantly updated throughout the day and edited through a combination of news-tracking technology and human editors.\n
  • So far, we’ve been giving you long-term career advice. What about the short-term, like your next job?\n [Ask how many people are looking for work.]\nHere are some tips for you job-seekers.\n
  • It’s true: the best jobs don’t necessarily to go to the best job applicants, they go to the best job seekers.\nMany people, while going through the job-seeking process, read up on the jobs they’re applying for.\nThat’s all very good, and that information will help during the interview.\nThe problem is that those people don’t work on their job-seeking skills. In a tight job market, having job-seeking skills will help you stand out.\n
  • Quick question: Does anyone here know how Justin Bieber got his start?\n Answer: YouTube! His mother regularly posted his musical performance videos. Scooter Braun, a talent agent, was clicking randomly on YouTube and discovered Bieber by accident.\nYou can’t directly cause lucky breaks like Bieber’s to happen, but networking makes them far more likely.\nOf all the job-seeking activities you can do, networking is the one that probably provides the greatest returns.\nThere’s a reason we have the saying “It’s not what you know, but WHO you know”.\n
  • While you’ll find a lot of jobs in the classified, on job boards and on Craigslist, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.\nLike an iceberg, where only the tip is above the ocean surface and the vast majority of it is hidden underwater, the vast majority of available jobs aren’t posted!\n Sometimes, a job will be publicly posted after it’s been filled, just to comply with a company regulation.\nOften, when a job opens up at a company and there’s no one in the company who can fill it, management will ask the employees if they know someone who might make a good candidate.\nThese hidden jobs can be found only by networking. People have to know who you are and what you have to offer.\nNetworking, especially in this very networked age, is more important than ever!\n [The author of this presentation landed his last 5 jobs through networking – none of the jobs were posted anywhere.]\n
  • While he was a director for web technologies at Sun (which has since been absorbed by Oracle), Canadian developer Tim Bray said: “If someone came looking for a senior-level job and had left no mark on the internet, I’d see that as a big negative.”\nIf you’re working the computer field, and especially if the work you’re looking for is internet-related, you should have some kind of web presence. \nConsider these survey results:\n According to a 2006 survey conducted by Execunet, 77% of the job recruiters they interviewed said they used search engines to check out job candidates. That number is probably higher now.\n A 2009 survey by CareerBuilder revealed that 45% of employers use social networking software to research candidates.\n According to that CareerBuilder survey, the industries most likely to screen job candidates via social networking sites/search engines are:\n Information Technology (63 percent), and\n Professional & Business Services (53 percent).\n \nJust as you dress appropriately for an interview, you should dress your web presence appropriately for a job search.\nMake sure you’re findable, but also that what people find is what you want to present to the world!\nSome tips:\n Get a domain name with your name in it. .com is ideal, but a domain name that contains your name will do. A site on a domain containing your name will rank highly on search engines and likely end up on the first page of results. You might also want to consider claiming an about.me page.\n At the very least, the page with this domain should have information on how to reach you, as well as links to things like your resume or any other indicators of your work experience.\n Get on LinkedIn. LinkedIn pages get high ranking from search engines; LinkedIn pages with your name will likely end up on the first page of results. Make sure you fill in your LinkedIn profile as completely as possible.\n The word is going around that people tell the truth on their LinkedIn resumes and exaggerate on their paper resumes. This might be due to the fact that a LinkedIn resume is online for everyone to see, and people fear being “called out” on their exaggerations.\n If you like writing, start a blog covering topics in your technical field. A regularly-updated blog will get high rankings from search engines and greatly increase your web presence. They’re are also a great way to show off your technical knowledge and communications skills.\n If you really want to see your blog’s search engine rankings take off, see if you can get other blogs to link to it, either by making arrangements to do so, or by writing good original content. Another good trick is to wrote articles that link to articles featured on Techmeme; Techmeme will link back to your article, driving up your blog ranking.\n Use Twitter. At a maximum of 140 characters per tweet, you might want to think of it as “very short form blogging”. Twitter ranks highly in search engines, and you can use your Twitter account to establish yourself as knowledgeable in your field through your tweets and by linking to articles relevant to your field.\n If you don’t like writing (or even if you do), comment on articles popular technical news sites, discussion sites and blogs. Use your real name when commenting rather than a pseudonym. Your comment will get your name out there and show off your knowledge, and you’ll be harnessing a popular site’s “search engine juice”.\n
  • When a joke or story falls flat, the person telling the joke or story often says “You had to be there.”\nEven in the age of instant, high-bandwidth communication, where sending text, sound and images is easy, there’s still no substitute for meeting in person.\nWe’ve seen first-hand the benefits of meeting in person: \n We’ve seen friendships, collaborations and business partnerships start.\n We’ve seen people get hired and even get funding as the result of a face-to-face meeting.\nMake time to meet people in person!\nSome ways to meet your technical colleagues:\n Conferences. You can learn a lot from the sessions at a conference, but equally valuable is what happens in the hallways between sessions. That’s where you can connect with your colleagues. Depending on the type of conference you’re attending, you can even learn a lot in the hallway; we’ve seen conversations turn into impromptu tech sessions, with people demonstrating their current projects and even writing code. Conferences can be local, national or international – big conferences are a good way to expand your international social network.\n Meetups and user groups. These happen more regularly, you typically don’t have to travel far to attend one, and unlike most conferences, they’re usually very cheap or free. These are typically local, and are a good way to expand your social network close to home.\n Courses. If you’re one of those people who benefits from taking tech courses to keep their skills sharp or to learn new ones, courses are a great way for you to meet people with interests and skill levels similar to you.\n Organizing events. A great way to get to know a lot of people in the tech community quickly is to help organize events such as conferences, meetups, user groups and other tech events. Being an event organizer gives you a higher profile and often puts you in contact with more people at the event than would otherwise happen. \n
  • It’s one thing to claim that you have knowledge or experience, it’s another thing to be able to back it up\nAs you go through your career, build a portfolio of work that you can show to prospective employers\nAt this stage in the game, the sorts of things you can put in your portfolio include:\n Any projects you’ve worked on, in school or your spare time\n Any technical articles or blogs you’ve written\nAs your career progresses, make sure keep some kind of record of your body of work, which may include:\n A collection of your work projects. This may take the form of having a copy of the project, or evidence in the form of screen shots, articles or photographs.\n A media gallery. Make sure you’ve got copies of articles or blogs you’ve written or appeared in, slide decks or videos from your presentations and any other material that shows what you know and what you’ve done.\n
  • The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a survey called Job Outlook 2011 where they asked employers what “soft skills” they were looking for from college graduates entering the job market. \nThe top 5, starting with the most requested, were:\n Verbal communication skills\n Strong work ethic\n Teamwork skills\n Analytical skills\n Initiative\nNACE reports that employers consistently place communication skills at the top of the list of key skills. Communications skills matter!\nIn the survey, employers were also asked to report how satisfied they were with college graduates’ ability to deliver on those 5 key skills:\n They reported being “very satisfied” with their teamwork and analytical skills of new college graduates\n But less so with graduates’ verbal communication skills, initiative, work ethics (their ratings hovering between “somewhat satisfied” and “very satisfied.”) \nStrong written and oral communication skills will serve you well in the workplace – unlike technologies, being able to clearly express ideas to other people and get your point across never goes obsolete!\n
  • There are many books on looking for and finding a job, but this one’s a particularly enjoyable read with good advice, and it’s aimed at techies.\nThe author wrote it for people who are unhappy with their current job and looking to move to a better place, but the content is just a s good for people just getting started in the job market.\nThis book covers the job-seeking process quite thoroughly, from looking at what’s out there, to resumes to interviews – even giving references!\n
  • We have one final piece of advice: try to leave an imprint.\nPeople who have rewarding, remarkable careers don’t just show up and do just enough work to get by; they strive to leave their mark.\nLeaving an imprint can mean many things: it’s not necessarily building the next Facebook or Angry Birds. \n It could be excelling at serving your customers and solving their problems.\n It could be expanding the knowledge in your area of expertise.\n It could be helping other people in your field or your customers achieve excellence.\nTo quote Dan Pink:\n “I’m not asking you to end hunger or fix the ozone (but if you want to give that a shot, that’s cool). Think about your purpose. Recognize your life isn’t infinite, and use your limited time here to do something that matters. Truly successful people work in service of something larger than themselves. They leave their companies, communities and families a little better than before.”\nSimply put, make yourself and your life awesome by increasing the amount of “awesome” in the world.\n
  • One of the best examples of a person who we consider to be a great success, made the world a better place through his efforts, helped people achieve excellence and left an imprint is computer science professor Randy Pausch.\nBefore he died of cancer, he gave his “last lecture”, a very inspiring talk titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. \nWatch his video on YouTube, and you’ll see one of the finest examples of leaving an imprint in action.\nFollow the advice he gives – it’ll make you a better person.\n
  • That pretty much wraps up our advice, In summary, we told you:\n There is no plan.\n Think strengths, not weaknesses.\n Persistence trumps talent.\n Make excellent mistakes.\n It’s not about you.\n Stay alert.\n Follow our job search suggestions.\n Leave an imprint.\nWorking in tech at this point in time, the start of the 21st century, is a very good place to be.\n You have more freedom to define your own career than people in many other fields.\n There is such a wide range of work opportunities. You can start your own company at home by spending less than a thousand bucks for a computer at Best Buy, or joining a large multinational high-tech corporation, or anything in between.\n You can be a pioneer! We’re not even into 100 years of computing. Never mind computers – even the mathematical definition of the world “computable”, which was thought up when computers were still theoretical, isn’t 100 years old yet. You have a chance to come up with an innovation that no one has seen before.\n Technology is still so new that we’re still at the point that we’re still getting surprised by innovations on a regular basis. It’s not a boring field!\nThis is an area of practice where, to steal a line from Kinect, “You are the controller”…of your life and career.\n
  • One last book recommendation: The Passionate Programmer\nIt’s written by Chad Fowler, who is a programmer, tech author and organizer or tech conferences.\nHis story is unusual: he was a music major and jazz musician, but he fell into programming.\nHe “gets” what it means to have an unusual and remarkable career, and he’s got lots of good stories and advice.\nFun fact: the first edition of this book was titled “My Job Went to India and All I Got Was This Lousy Book”. Chad decided that when he revised it, he’d make it a more positive.\n
  • So go out there, find what you love…and do it!\n

Go for IT Go for IT Presentation Transcript

  • Go for IT Or: How to have an AWESOME
  • This is (or will be) your life! http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/#work
  • There is no plan
  • “No battleplan survivesfirst contactwith theenemy.”
  • It’s hard to predict the future
  • We don’tdo waterfallwithdevelopment projectsanymore.Why do itwith your
  • Career choices – 2 reasonsInstrumental: Fundamental:You choose a path You choose a pathbecause it’s “the smart because it “speaks”choice”. You think it’ll to you, even thoughlead somewhere, you don’t knowwhether you like doing where it will lead.
  • If you leave this sessionwith only one new idea,
  • “The work youdo while youprocrastinateis probably thework youshould bedoing for therest of your
  • Recommended reading
  • Recommended viewing / Go to YouTube and search for “Daniel Pinks 2008 MCAD Commencement Speech”, parts 1 and 2 and watch them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=XdD_h3i99pI http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=BauFlpkvbxQ Listen to Dan’s interview at Great Work Interviews. http://www.greatworkinterviews.com/ interviews/dan-pink/
  • Think strengths, not weaknesseshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/japokskee/4391428993/
  • China: focusing on strengths• In 2000, 76% of people surveyed in China said that in order to succeed, they should focus on their weaknesses and 24% on their strengths.• In 2008, 76% said http://www.flickr.com/photos/ they should focus on http2007/523479910/
  • Flow
  • Recommended reading
  • What you’ve been taught Success = talent + effort
  • What research has shown Success = talent + effort
  • Persistencetrumpstalent
  • The 10,000 Hour Rule • It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something • Based on K. Anders Ericsson’s studies of musicians: • The okay ones averaged 4,000 hours of practice • The good ones averaged 8,000 hours of practice • The stars averaged
  • In case you were wondering……10,000 hoursworks out to:• 3 hours of practice every day (or 20 hours a week)
  • How to be a ninja • Practice deliberately • Take the time you need • Find a coach or mentorhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/sethw/381321976
  • Recommended reading
  • Recommended reading http://hbr.org/2007/07/the-making-of-an- expert/
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/phobia/2308371224http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtneybolton/4402756911
  • Make excellent mistakes
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/
  • It’s not about
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/
  • Stay alerthttp://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/3411139794/
  • Recommended reading
  • Land that job!
  • The bestjobs don’tnecessarilygo to thebest jobapplicants;they go tothe best jobseekers.
  • Network!
  • The majorityof jobs are“hidden”;they’re notpostedanywhere!Many studiessay that 80%of jobs arefoundthrough http://www.flickr.com/photos/weasello/ 2317075804/
  • Web presence matters! “Particularly because we’re a core technology provider, if someone came looking for a senior- level job and had left no mark on the Internet, I’d see that as a big negative.” Tim Bray,
  • Real-life presence matters!
  • Build a portfolio
  • Top 5soft skillssought byemployers1. Verbal communication skills2. Strong work ethic3. Teamwork skills Source: Job Outlook 2011, National4. Analytical skills Association of Colleges and5. Initiative Employers. 
  • Recommended reading
  • Leave an
  • Recommended viewing http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=ji5_MqicxSo
  • You are the controller(of your life and career)
  • Recommended reading
  • Find what you love…and do it!