Yeah you put that on your resume

Kids our age, we’d kill for a great resume that we believe will determine the course of our lives. As a failed appilcant to Ivy League schools, I used to be thoroughly frustrated with how pathetic my resume was, and set my goal in life as beefing that piece of paper up.

But slowly, I can feel my take on the resume slowly changing over the course of a couple of years. What titles I had to put on the resume don’t seem to matter, compared to what I’ve done with those titles.

In first year, a good friend said something that made me think: “I don’t care what I’m called, I just want to do good things.”

In second year, I exploded my campus involvement to cover VP Emerging Leaders, CSSS Executive, Peer Academic Coaching, joined clubs, fixed broken bikes, among others. But I don’t seem to have grasped that philosophy of action over title. I knew there is a difference between “ok, now that I am ____, I guess I should do something” and “I want to do these things, and now that I am ____, I can finally do them!” and I ask myself at nights what mindset I am in.

In third year, another good friend said: “you get as much out of it as you put into it.”

How true. The titles are empty and hollow until you make use of them, do things with them, fill them up with great stories that you would proudly share with others.

By the end of third year, at the age of teenager-status-withdrawal 20, I’m happy to find myself approaching this mode of thinking. I would happily choose to pursue projects that bring me no recognition over having a nice-looking title in an empty club. Now let’s hope my projects would work out fine, but even if they don’t, I would still have wonderful stories to tell 🙂

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Google and my thing for comp sci

Just came back from a successful Industry Panel put on by Department of Comp Sci (which I helped poster, haha), and had some thoughts to write down.

  1. Google once again stole the show. This time by bringing with the bright panelist, a Google camping chair as the grand door prize.
  2. Telus, Accenture, IBM, HSBC, MDA, and Google all had wonderful things to share, and the questions and answers covered topics like the transition from technical developer to management, what job you can get with different level of education, how was their education applied in the work force, etc.
  3. Google has the most interesting structure. I will list a few things:
    1. 20% time. Every Google engineer spends 20% of their work time working on pretty much anything they like. It can be some other projects, or you can put your idea forth and push to create a new project. If the crazy idea didn’t work out, people would just say: neh, too bad. Better luck next time.
    2. PhDs, Masters, and Bachelors, unlike in other companies, are treated fairly equally. Obviously PhDs will have more expertise in some areas, so they tend to “gravitate” towards their area of expertise. But everyone work in a group, and people move around projects often. Those who have been on a project for the longest time become the leader of the project. It all depends on people’s skills, not their degrees.
    3. Google Internship is around 3 to 4 months, and a sure big plus on the resume for a full time Google position.
    4. Google screen resumes, do phone interviews, and then those who pass will be passed onto engineers for an in-person interview, at which stage the questions will be very technical. The engineers want someone good on their team, not someone with good marks or even their resume. The guy who came to speak said “yeah sure, I will ask you about your past experiences, but that would be like an icebreaker sort of thing.” This is quite unlike companies whose HR department does all the hiring. (Although GPA and resume is very important to get past the resume screening and phone interviews.)
  4. Also managed to steal a minute from the event organizer, whom I’ve happily worked with for 2 years, for some contacts for our Entrepreneurship in Science event. Yeah sure working for Google will be cool, but what would be cooler is to spin off and use those skills to start a super awesome company.

Now where do I come in to all of this?

What areas of comp sci am I strong in? What have I done that would land me an internship with Google?

How would my life science background be a help with this, what seems to be a whole different dimension?

That would be for me to reflect on 🙂

Med or no med

Med school is on the minds of many. Mine included.

If I think about it, I can come up with the following reasons  right off the bat:

  1. Personally, morally, and emotionally rewarding. There are very few jobs that offer the same level of “feel-good factor” as a doctor helping a patient regain health. Sure Steve Jobs can make the sexiest computers in the world, but he is helping the affluent get more gadgets. Perhaps working in social services that aim at helping the populations in need – such as alleviating children stricken with poverty and disease – would have the similar “feel-good factor” to helping patients regain joy of health.
  2. Stable income. Docs aren’t the richest people around, but they do well.
  3. Family expectation. Many of us grow up under the constant influence of our families who view raising children to be docs to be the ultimate achievement. When the people dearest to you all think that way, it’s quite impossible to put it off completely.
  4. Social status. It’s not some non-sense pride; it’s very much a real thing: how good do you feel doing what you do? How good do you feel when you tell people what you do? I think feeling good is important for most people.

Why is med school just “on my mind”, and not “all I can see”? Here are some reasons right off the bat again (meaning this post is much open to discussion and expansion):

  1. Crazy hours. I have lots of wild ideas that I’d love to pursue, and if my job occupies me 7 days a week, then bye-bye my ideas.
  2. Idealist bubble burst. Perhaps I fear the vision of coming out of med school for all the feel-good factor in the world, and realize I’m just becoming a soldier of a corporation built on exploiting the suffering.
  3. Somehow being a doc seems less colorful and intellectually exciting than being, say, a Google engineer working on world-domination. Being a doc requires doing the same things over and over, to build up the experience, expertise, and efficiency. Being an innovator requires constant learning, new ideas, and breaking new grounds.