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Books Media Book Reviews

Landing the Internship or Full-Time Job 147

fires_of_heaven writes "Faced with some technical site interviews, I decided to rummage the web and came across a blog titled Landing The Job. I found the advice on the blog far more useful than the other random tidbits I found, so I emailed its author a quick note of thanks. The next day I found Landing the Internship or Full-Time Job at my doorstep. Normally, I don't bother with career books, but this title is written by people that have recently landed an awesome job at companies like Google and EA Games rather than a hiring manager or recruiter. It even includes the resumes they used to "Land The Job." Read the rest of Paul's review.
Landing the Internship or Full-Time Job During College
author Robert R. Peterson
pages 299
publisher iUniverse
rating 9/10
reviewer Paul Gerken
ISBN 0595366813
summary A guide written by those that have recently landed jobs at Google, EA Games, Intel, Amazon, IBM, and others

The book starts out with a foreword by an IBM Executive and then covers 10 chapters which I comment on individually below. Each chapter is followed by a profile from either an intern or new hire at a fortune 50 company. The profiles include a Q&A and the resume of the individual. I found them to be practical and honest. For example, Ben Lewis who is profiled as an Xbox developer said that he sometimes feels that he can't make a difference at Microsoft.

As a busy computer science student, I can really appreciate how the contents are written. Each chapter has a "Bare Minimum To Do" list with suggestions on how much time each item should take. They also include "Common Mistakes" sections. I especially used the to-do list for the company research chapter.

Another observation I should share is that everything is by example. When cover letters are discussed, there are two example letters--when rejecting an offer is discussed there are example emails. There are even example dialogs for behavioral interviews and for salary negotiation. I think most career books endlessly rant on about methods and rules. Landing the Job seems to be more centered in reality.

The only complaint I have is that there are a few minor grammatical errors. Overall, I think this book is going to be a classic. I haven't had all my site interviews yet, but I know it will help me land my future job.

Chapter 10. HR Interviews and Salary Negotiation
In my opinion, this chapter should be first because it is the best one. It starts off by talking about why recruiters act the way they do. Then it covers salary negotiation which includes a sample dialog between a student with an offer and a manager. I used the "Offer Comparison" section and am sure I will use again. It walks through how to evaluate the worth of an offer step-by-step. It even has a sample offer letter that it walks through as an example.

Chapter 1. Building Unmatched Credentials
If you are like me you often skip the first chapter of books. I didn't read this chapter at first because it talks about how to get experience while you are in college before you are looking for a job. Since I am already looking for a job, it doesn't really apply to me. After looking over it again though, I think it has really good advice. For instance, it recommends that spending endless hours to increase your GPA by a tenth of a point is not as important as finding personal projects or interests in your field.

Chapter 2. Crafting a Successful Resume
This chapter walks through writing a resume from a brainstorm to text and pdf versions. I didn't follow the entire process because I already had a resume, but the examples really helped. I also used the resumes from the profiled new hires and interns at the end of each chapter for ideas.

Chapter 3. Writing a Strong Cover Letter
I didn't have a cover letter prior to reading this. This is one of my favorite chapters because it is a short and sweet guide to getting together a nice cover letter. It includes two sample cover letters written by a mechanical engineer and a computer scientist. It also explains when to use a cover letter. For example, it suggests that a cover letter on-top of a resume can be mailed to any company address--say their customer service department--generating job leads outside of typical HR channels.

Chapter 4. Researching an Organization
I used this chapter less than the others, but it does answer some vital questions--what you need to find out and where to find it. It covers research with the internet, at company career sites, and at libraries. It has a profile of an IBM new hire at the end explaining how company research helped him.

Chapter 5. Secrets of Applying Online
This chapter is amazing. I didn't know how to put together a text resume properly until I read this chapter. I didn't know that many online forms accept unicode 2.0 not ascii so you can add bullets, underlines, and other characters to text resumes. The end has a profile from an Intel new hire and how he got his job by applying online.

Chapter 6. Mastering Career Fairs
This chapter wasn't that much use to me since I've been to a lot of career fairs. However, I agree with all the advice which is basically to know what you are going to highlight from your resume, how to act calm and confident in front of a recruiter, and to pay attention to who is attending a fair. It also cites references of where to find career fairs.

Chapter 7. Learning the Art of Interviewing
This chapter covers interviewing in general and topics that are not specific to behavioral or technical interviews. I read this chapter twice and I think I'm going to read it again before my next site interview. It covers how not to be nervous, getting safety offers, phone interviews, dinner interviews, and what you should try to emphasis about yourself during an interview (as well as what not to say). The end profiles a PhD student deciding between Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Chapter 8. Behavioral Interviews
Although I don't often do behavioral interviews and I don't think they are that big of a deal, I found this chapter useful. It explains why employers like behavioral interviews so much (in a nut shell they are assume future behavior will reflect past behavior). It also has an example behavioral interview and example questions--they are hard ones too.

Chapter 9. Technical Interviews
It is clear that the author has had some serious technical interviews. This chapter covers brain teasers to quality assurance questions to hard-core programming questions. It has a huge section on example questions and solutions (which takes up about a 4th of the book). It covers how to write good pseudo code, how to handle the situation when you haven't a clue what the answer is, and even technical questions for non-computer majors like civil engineering and mechanical engineering.

This is an excellent book for any major in college."

You can purchase Landing the Internship or Full Time Job During College from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Landing the Internship or Full-Time Job

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  • Great Jobs at EA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puppetman ( 131489 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:34PM (#14429797) Homepage
    "this title is written by people that have recently landed an awesome job at companies like Google and EA Games"??

    I thought the only thing a job at EA was good for was giving you a bleeding ulcer within 5 years...
  • Books, eh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rwaliany ( 798184 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:37PM (#14429832) Homepage
    I wouldn't recommend wasting your money on books. I've received offers from Google, Microsoft (ew), etc... The secret is being passionate about a project that you craeted or helped make. You need to be able to explain the struggles and challenges that you've faced with the projects you have worked on. If you have no experience in the field, I suggest you start a project for fun. Just write a list of qualities you would want for someone you are hiring, then make sure your resume addresses it. Otherwise, I would focus on programming tricks and questions. TopCoder or ACM like questions are useful for being able to do well quick and easily in an interview type situation.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:40PM (#14429863) Homepage Journal
    This is a great review breakdown, concise and to the point. I think slashdot should have a "Tip" button for good articles.

    Some points from a guy with absolutely no experience in internship, but as someone who has performed mentorship programs, which are an old fashioned internship to learn a trade:

    1. Offer the company you are interviewing the sense that you will be valuable in your position. Remember, in any market exchange, the manufacturer has to offer the consumer sonething for their money. You are manufacturing labor, the company is consuming it -- they are YOUR customer.

    2. Understand that BIGGER is not always BETTER. Trying to get in with Microsoft, Google and those guys is a huge task, but if you're one small fish in a very big pond, is there a likelihood that you'll get far? Consider talking with smaller companies -- even much smaller companies. The most successful friends I know are ones who "interned" with small companies and then struck out to start their own: stock brokers, accountants and even retail store owners that all worked in much smaller corporations.

    3. Time preference is key. The reviewer here points to that -- chasing after the 1/10th of a point of GPA doesn't translate into time well spent. The old adage that time is money is not really true actually -- MONEY is TIME. Make sure the time you're going to spend with this company translates to earning potential in the future. Don't be a lemming and don't always follow the masses, do proper research in finding out what the real benefits will be.

    4. Search for the disgruntled. Use Google and other search engines to find out what made previous employees and interns mad about the company/ies you're talking to. Be aware of the shortcomings of the company, and even use it in your negotiations (although don't be specific, of course). When I lost a profitable business this year due to inept partners, it really hurt my short term ability to bring on new "interns." They point to the lost company (which had my name in big letters on the letterhead) and I know that I am in a decreased position of bargaining. Don't take advantage of the information in such an obvious way, but use it to your benefit. Companies with a sour public record for a given reason will likely be looking for people to help them not have another sour situation. I wonder if Sony is a good place to intern at.

  • Noddy Advice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:42PM (#14429882)
    This is Noddy stuff, if you're leaving college or university and can't get hold of good sample letters you might need to buy this book. I had a halfway competent careers officer in my school and this book doesn't sound much better. I think I can also safely assume that the bullshit it is suggested you peddle to get your first job isn't going to work beyond that, and a lot of people who read Slashdot are beyond that somehwat awkward phase in career development.
  • by tont0r ( 868535 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:46PM (#14429914)
    Getting my coop(now fulltime job) was the best thing I ever did in college. When i discovered how easy it was, i wanted to get my friends jobs, so i would go with them to speak to the person in charge there and make it so my friends were comfortable with her so they would go back on their own. and you know what? the people that went back to her on their own were the ones who got the internships, and the ones who didnt really bother with it too much didnt get it. but if you are in a university, take advantage of the internship/coop program. especially in CS/CE because everyone knows the amount of experience you have can make or break you in future jobs. lots of people are afraid because they dont have experience in what jobs are available. to be honest, i knew NOTHING about this job when i first started (other than i knew how to program java well), but getting the job is about selling yourself. if you can get them to understand that you may not know the material now, but you can learn it, thats all they care about. they will teach you what you need to know.
  • by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <sweatyboatman.hotmail@com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:01PM (#14430043) Homepage Journal
    I'm willing to believe that you're right. But clearly, you're better at googling than I am. Might you point us to a link or two that supports your statement.

    Slashdot: Ads for Nerds. Stuff that's paid for.
  • Take the job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:01PM (#14430044) Homepage
    This is not the 1800s, where apprenticeship still matters. Companies want FREE LABOR, so they use interns.

    Don't believe the "benefits" they promote - you will gain all of that by working and being paid for your time and talent, like you deserve.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:04PM (#14430070) Journal
    chasing after the 1/10th of a point of GPA doesn't translate into time well spent.
    See mom! I'm not lazy!

    I'm efficient.

    OTOH, that's a fairly stupid thing to say. The type of person who goes and talks to their professor or spends an extra day per test studying to get the extra 1/10th of a GPA point, is exactly the type of person who will analyze a problem into the ground.

    Whatever issues they've got going on that drive them to be a perfectionist can be well utilized in most any business environment.

    I don't see why we applaud that type of advice when it comes to grades, but heap scorn upon it when it comes to software development.

  • by bdcrazy ( 817679 ) <bdc_tggr-forums@yahoo.com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:19PM (#14430198) Homepage
    My sister, who works for a small software firm had a client comment to her how she was so estatic when they spent the whole day and finally found where 2 pennies were missing. Thats what a perfectionist does.

    So spending 8+ hours @ x amount of dollars to find 2 missing pennies is worth the effort? The statement of not spending a lot of time going for an additional 1/10th of point towards your gpa may not be a good statement, but the point behind it may be important.

    GPA 1.9->2.0? Probably a good idea to work for it. GPA 3.6->3.7? May not be the best time spent. Spend that time interning, volunteering, interviewing or playing a sport might actually be better for you.
  • Re:Take the job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot@nOsPaM.metasquared.com> on Monday January 09, 2006 @04:45PM (#14430427) Homepage
    On the other hand, it is still a great opportunity to get "in the door", so to speak. They'll hire you with little experience. After all, why not? They're not risking anything if you're working for free.

    If you do a very good job, they'll come to need you, in a sense. That'll make them hire you when you graduate, probably at a much better rate than you'd get just by walking in the door. This is especially true in smaller businesses, who may not be able to find someone with your skillset very easily (there's one small business that I worked for until four years ago (because I went into research after that) that's still looking for someone to replace me!)

    I used to consider internships a form of exploitation, especially since my university required me to intern for at least one semester. Now I realize that it can run both ways :)
  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mako1138 ( 837520 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:22PM (#14431357)
    so I emailed its author a quick note of thanks. The next day I found Landing the Internship or Full-Time Job at my doorstep.

    Dear Mr. Peterson,

    I found your blog really useful in my job search. Thanks a bunch!

    Yours truly,
    Paul Gerken

    ^^^ That's my idea of a quick note of thanks. Unless this guy has his postal address in his signature, his story is rather suspicious. Would you send your address to a stranger? Or did he find the book at his cubicle-step?
  • by Kirby ( 19886 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @06:28PM (#14431409) Homepage
    I know this is probably a joke, but if I came across a cover letter or resume that had no capital letters and no apostrophe in I'm, I'd throw it straight into the trashcan, regardless of content. And so would most companies that aren't absolutely desperate for people. This is one of those places where attention to detail matters.

    (It also gives you less authority and respect from others if you email like this. It's a surefire way to get people to not like you for seemingly no reason. Really, a lot of people care about text presentation.)

    (However, I do concede that Slashdot is one place where it really doesn't matter.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @07:35PM (#14431866)
    1. Lie at all costs.
    2. Forget the Constitution, deny everything.
    3. If your mouth is open, a talking point or denial should be coming out of it.
    4. Go to war on false pretenses without a plan; be sure to underestimate the enemy and say things like "bring it on" in reference to combat; also, be sure your troops are not properly supplied.
    5. Be sure all contracts are no-bid to corrupt associates.
    6. Profit.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle