Some Tips for Students Looking for Internships or Jobs

I have mentioned a few times that I participate in the recruiting event for my company, and I had just visited a local university few days ago. Desperate time makes desperate students (people) *sigh*

Look for job is definitely money-releated, so I am going to offer some tips for students. Assuming you have the skills and technical criteria, I offer the following tips on how you approach and talk with company recruiters, and in all practicality, the tips should be also useful in your day-to-day interaction with people in general.

Disclaimer: I am not a “professional” coach — meaning, I have no certificate — but I do have the perspective of a recruiter, having done it more than I can count with my two hands and talked to hundreds, if not thousand of students.

Here I go.

  1. Do not behave like a robot — You are not a piece of meat. The recruiter is not a piece of meat. No one is just a piece of meat. So don’t treat people like a piece of meat. Should not we treat all people courteously anyways? Examples such as…
    • Do not simply walk up to a recruiter and recite a planned speech or essay.
    • It follows that, greet the recruiter and do not ignore him or her when greeted with “How are you?” or similar questions. (That happened a lot.)
    • Similarly, it’s good if you have a plan, but if the recruiter behaves or responds “out of sync”, adapt.
  2. Slow down your speech — It is great that you are prepared. It is okay that you are nervous. But it is NOT okay that you speak so fast that the other person cannot understand you, or simply zone out because you “buffer overflow” his or her brain. Speak at a decent pace.
  3. Breathe — Yes, literally, you need to breathe. This goes hand in hand with your speech. First of all, without breathing, you die. Without enough air, your speech will suck, and then you will try to speak even faster. At which point, you will get even more nervous. Breathing also helps your body handle the adrenaline rush. So, breathe. Breathe between sentences. It is okay to have a moment of silence.
  4. Stand tall — This will enhance your presence and image of confidence. Do not mistake this with puffed chest. Personally, I believe this has a huge impact on our impression on people in general, consciously or subconsciously. Fix your posture. If you don’t know what a good posture mean, go study what yoga, martial art, or singing talks about in a good posture.
  5. A nice and firm handshake — Besides posture, handshake is another good sign of a person’s attitude and confidence. A nice firm handshake is one which two persons’ hands cross with the concave part between the thumb and the index finger followed by a quick but firm squeeze. Do NOT crush the person’s hand.
  6. Pass on your resume once introduced and greeted — At career fair. This one is common sense, right? Give recruiter the resume so he or she can take notes of you and mark key points you that you are pointing out. (Literally, a few students did not give me the resumes until half way or when we are done talking… does not make sense, to me at least)
  7. Format your resume for easy glancing or browsing — Especially for career fair, the recruiter is to find key information in very limited time. Format key information so they are easy to spot at a glance, like graduation date, GPA, companies and job description of your previous work, important skills for the job you want, etc. Ask friends, teachers, strangers and see if they can find those information in 2-3 minutes. That will most likely make them happy.
  8. Resumes’s “One-page-ness” — This is targeted to undergraduate. Unless you have many very very important and relevant information that you MUST present, keep it to one page.

Note: Let alone the hard-to-browse resumes. I am very surprised to see many poorly done resumes yet these days. By that I mean, some of them are so obvious that the person did not even try.

Even though this may not be what all recruiters look for or how they feel, I believe these should be some good starting point, and the first 5 tips are generically useful for your interaction with other people in daily life. That’s all I have for now. Hope you find it useful.

Originally posted 2009-02-27 02:07:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dealing with heart breaks and disappointment – Detachment, Surrendering, and Letting Go

Last time I talked about not hoping. Couple weeks ago I talked about not limiting yourself with predefined principles. I will tie them together into the topic of detachment, surrendering, and letting go.

There is a pattern of human behavior that has existed for eon. This pattern, this behavior model got built into us, carved into our minds since birth through family, through friends, through commercials, through culture, through society. Everything around us tells us to work hard for what we want, and as part of the package is the expectation of certain beneficial outcome, or perhaps some notable achievement. Sure it feels great when we get what we want. Quite often, we don’t. And when that happens, we get angry, depressed, frustrated, disappointed, worrisome, jealous… naturally.

Or is it? Or is it naturally because that is what we are programmed to think?

Natural or not, that is besides the point. Certainly now, we can agree that there are so much burden that comes with expectation because we are attached to an outcome.

What is expectation? It is none other than a thought of certain outcome. The thought comes from certain aspect of our ego. The certain outcome provides significance and effects that enhance some aspects of our ego. Say you are a father, you expect your wife or children to obey or at least behave in ways that acknowledge your authoritative figure in the family. Say you are a senior, or maybe a genius programmer, you expect yourself to create a new software design that is a breakthrough and will dominate the market share. Say you are a CEO, you expect your decision to bring unprecedented profit for your company. Anyways, you get the point.

It is this expectation, this hope, this thought of wishing for good outcome that causes much suffering. It is the inability to let go of thoughts of a future that is good for yourself — your ego. Selfish? Yes. Attachment is selfish and causes suffering, but detachment is also selfish because you want peace for yourself. Selfish is okay. Just that between being selfish and in pain, and being selfish and in peace, the choice is obvious, eh?

So, on the other side of attachment is detachment which can offer us peace and joy. Yes, accomplishment, achievement, milestones… they offer moments of happiness, excitement, feeling of being proud of yourself, but how long do they last. We know they do not last forever.

People keep on chasing and chasing because they are attached. Along that path, they suffer. They desire endlessly for the next best thing that will fulfill expectations and hopes, which then make them happy. They dread and feel pain when the next best thing never comes. Such is the suffering of attachment.

And you know the story of our lives?

When we are young, we are to study hard in school and expect good grades. When that happens, the parents and children feel good about themselves. However, that does not last, which leads to the next thing…

When we finish one level of school, we expect to get in a better higher-level school — star high school and Ivy League univeristy — because of the previous diligence and good grades. When that happens, the parents and children are happy and excited again. However, that will not last either, which leads to the next thing…

When we finally finished studying hard in the academia and received the degrees, we are expected, again, to study hard to “win” interviews in order to land a wonderful or a “dream” job. Once that happens, we feel proud and excited again. But darn it, that does not last very long either, which leads to the next thing…

Now that we have a stable job/career, we are expected to get in a relationship (or already into one). Sometimes we expect to get “swept off our feet” by meeting one person, which could be cool. Either way, when things go well in the relationship, we are happy and we feel bliss, but certainly that does not last forever because no relationship sails smoothly always. There will be conflicts along the way. That leads to the next thing…

Ok, this paragraph is not quite a next thing, but if we are not in a relationship or do not care for one, then we expect ourselves to accomplish something, do something extraordinary career-wise probably. It is about either getting rich or famous. When that happens, we again feel the rush of happiness and excitement in life. Unfortunately, that will also be ephemeral. Once those feelings end, we expect ourselves to accomplish something more, to feel happy again, to feel alive again. Meanwhile, we expect ourselves to do this next thing…

Now that we have succeeded, dated enough… or not… we are to pick a person, someone who is perfect or complimentary enough to marry as partner for life. Then we get married. And we are happy and excited because we are finally hitched. But only momentarily, again! And by now, we are all thinking, “When does it end!?!? What’s next? What do we do?” Well, I think at this point, people either get divorced or have kids and get stuck. And the children and parents together start the cycle all over again (just go back a couple paragraphs back…). And at each step, when what is expected does not happen, we suffer.

Of course, there are people and couples who learn the wisdom of living in the moment and live joyfully together for a long long time. Notice I used the word “joyfully”, not “happily” because they are different. Happiness is an emotion that does not last forever. Joy comes from being aware, having peace in order to see things as they are, having the curiosity to observe, and appreciating the wonder and amazing qualities of each moment.

Returning to the topic of suffering caused by attachment and expectation. I am not saying to do nothing with your life. I am not saying that the stuffs that happen in life I describe above are bad.

Well then, what am I saying?

First of all, I think that given this life, we have responsibility to do as much as we can with this life because this is all we have. To do so, we have to master ourselves. Be our own master. But it is quite difficult to be a master of yourself when you are suffering.

The attachment to our hopes and expectations cause most of the suffering in our life. We expect this and we expect that, and we suffer when we do not get this and that. So logically, let us play without attachment. Let us play the game of life with detachment. And doing so allows us to exploit our full potentials.

Surrender yourself to your thoughts and expectations. Be aware and know that they are there. Sure they exist in your head. Just realize that they are there, fully feel what you feel each moment, and then let go. We are only human after all to have thoughts and emotions and desires. And we have learned for years to expect and hope for this and that. Be okay and surrender to your thoughts and emotions, expectations and hopes. They are merely that, and you choose your actions.

On the other hand, please remember to be okay with being happy when you are…

Surrendering and letting go are not passive. Rather, they are not the opposite of giving up because you must allow yourself to be fully aware in each moment in order to see your thoughts and feel the emotions, to sense your mind and body. As such, you make the conscious choice to observe yourself most nakedly, both the good and the bad. Giving up is allowing yourself to be ignorant, to succumb and be dictated by your thoughts and emotions, to not be responsible for yourself.

And perhaps stop doing things out of expectations. Make your own decision. Let go of the outcome. Then you will do your best.

Just be careful not to get attached to the outcomes of detachment, it is another form of attachment that will cause you suffering.

Originally posted 2008-09-03 19:35:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Subprime Mortgage Crisis? Student Loan Crisis?

MSNBC has this article: Pricey student loans sow seeds of trouble.

While scholarship, grant money and government-backed student loans — whose interest rates are capped — have taken up some of the slack, many families and individual students have turned to private loans, which carry fees and interest rates that are often variable and up to 20 percent.

Consumer prices on average rose less than 29 percent over the past 10 years while tuition, fees, and room and board at four-year public colleges and universities soared 79 percent to $12,796 a year and 65 percent to $30,367 a year at private institutions, according to the College Board.

Meanwhile, complaints about marketing of private loans — like ads promising to approve loans worth $50,000 in just minutes — are on the rise. The complaints have made their way to lawmakers, who see a need to regulate the highly profitable and diverse group of companies and the loans they make to college students.

In other words, available government loans is not able to keep up with the increase in student tuition in the past years, forcing students to turn to private loans that have some very hefty interest rates.

“College students, you need a large sum of money for school? And have little to no credit? No problem! We will still give you the loan. (But we will take back a lot more from you later, in the form of interests, yeah!!)”

Wait…have I heard this before? I think this sounds similar to what they did in the subprime mortgage sector. Not only will students carry a bigger amount of debt out of college, they will also carry those debt at a much higher interest rate. This will clearly bring their monthly loan payment to double, triple, quadruple… than what their previous generations had to pay. And since I doubt future salary can increase at such a joyous rate, this gives birth to the question on how the future generation can afford their loan payments graduating from college. If they cannot afford them, they are going to start to default… oh crap…

And wait…have I heard this before? I think this also sounds similar to what’s going on in the subprime mortgage.

Despite this being pure speculation that I draw and agree with such a comparison from the article, I really wonder what are these people thinking? Is making instant or quick money all they care about now?

In short-term definitely, they will reap some heavy profits with the high interest rate, and probably packaging these loans to sell as collaterals also.

Now in long-term, I don’t know if it looks so good anymore, and I would say worse than what may happen in the mortgage sector because the people they screw over this time will be the whole future generation. Not only will all the investment and hedge-funds base on these student loans crash. These are the people who will be future consumers, the entire or majority of the population, unlike the subprime population that makes up a much smaller percentage.

So what these private loan companies will end up doing is crippling the future population’s spending power with these loans and probably destorying a good portion’s credits. Without spending power and credits, they can’t buy houses, they can’t buy services, they can’t buy consumer goods… Let’s see such a economy will work out then.

Again this is pure speculation and albeit pessimistic, I can’t help but see the resembling occurrence between the student loans and subprime mortgage. It seems like these people are just moving sector to sector aiming only to make a quick buck and to get instant gratification with no caring about other people’s lives. Where is their sense of decency and compassion? I don’t see any. They are now targeting 17-20 years old with little life experience and will probably make their life experience a sad and painful one before they have a chance to start it. I would rather live poor than having to sell my children’s life away like that, but actually in my standard, I would consider myself living rich the way I choose to live.

I sure hope they are ready for such a future.

Originally posted 2007-10-03 01:47:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Looking Beyond Labels

People loooooove to label themselves, and even more so people love to label other people. Sometimes they want and work hard to get certain labels put on themselves, but sometimes, they do not like the ones being put on them. There are lots of labels…

Geek, jock, redneck, obese, depressed, tree-hugger, left-wing, right-wing, middle-class, super-rich, black, white, yellow, atheist, Christian, Jewish, Methodist, Protestant…

At the same time a label is attached, a set of complimentary attributes is attached on whomever the label belongs. Moreover, everyone has his own set of adjectives to slap on to other people. It works like this… You are a geek, and therefore you must be a genius who likes Star Wars but are socially inept and boring. Or, you look like a jock, and therefore you must be proficient in many sports but you probably do not have a brain and will always act like a frat boy.

You can obviously observe that everyone is different in his or her unique ways. However, there is a distinction from simply observing, accepting, understanding, and appreciating the differences than labeling each other in a desecrating and segregating manner, which is what labels are mostly about nowadays. It is absurd and stupid but it is happening all around us with high frequency in our society. People are people. People are not labels.

Do you know the notion that often follows implicitly the sentences that label?

I am such and such and you are not…
You are such and such…
…therefore, I am better than you. Ha!
…therefore, I am right and you are wrong. Loser!
…therefore, you suck. Go home and cry to your mama!

It is natural human instinct to seek security, comes as a survival instinct of the animal kingdom. People probably flock to these labels because label provides them a sense of security by allowing them to associate with groups. However, there comes a time when we need to see that it is hurting us all together. People have complexity and at the same time, lots of commonality.

Label separates us. Label creates hurt feelings. Label often leads to anger, resentment, and hatred. Label limits a person within what the label stands for. In a way, label is another way ego manifests itself, where a set of “should-have”, “should-be” attributes and qualities that is provided through labels.

Label makes us judge prematurely, and keeps us from genuinely connecting with people. It holds us back from the exerting the effort to get to know others for who they really are. What we can do instead is, throw away the labels and open the mind and heart to truly listen, understand, and feel who someone really is. This is the way to create meaningful relationship.

One great but sad example is how people are “diagnosed” with depression and other so-called physcological symptoms these days. You can tell I am not a big fan of this. It is sad because these fellow human beings would get labeled and forever carry a stigma. It is sad because the best cure for many of them is for others to sincerely care, show kindness, and perhaps connect with them as persons. However, once they are labeled, people treat them differently, shun them, and call them creepy, weird…

I am not upset but to use myself as an example… I am Chinese and was born in Hong Kong, and I am a computer science graduate, which tosses me into the geek label. I may have some attributes associated with those labels, but I as a person is so far and remote from being ONLY what those labels denote. I am me, not those labels. I am me, not my name Kin, because name is just something that other people call you, as in label. I am me.

I am especially displeased with the events that label causes in terms of religion. Not that religion is a bad. You are this and I am that, and we cannot be friends. You are atheists and you must be a cruel, cold-blooded being. People focus way too much on what religion they belong — the label — to a level of obsession. Is that what religion is about? Does it really matter which one you or others choose? My answer is no. You know what is one common theme amongst the teachings of all religions, new and old, large or small?

Compassion — a genuine concern and understanding and wish of well being for people and nature because they are all connected.

The moment people focus on labels, the moment they lose sight of compassion. Religion itself has a good purpose, but people have the tendency to lose focus on compassion participating in the other aspects in religion.

Label separates people. I say get rid of all labels. Stop using labels.

Originally posted 2008-05-01 23:16:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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