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Jeff McDonald Tips

Dan Karmgard, Russell Gilmartin, Tina Hebert and I attended the 1999 Computers and Engineering Job Fair, Tuesday, Jan 19, 1999 at the Rosemont Convention Center. Dan and I were actively seeking out job possibilities as we are closing in on graduation day. At the repeated request of Kevin Davis, I have compiled a few of my perspectives of the job fair.

Its important for me to do some disclaiming here, I've never really had any experience outside of the academic environment, at least not in the computer industrial, so my perspective will be different from say Dan's, because he has been there. Its also important to have some objective. My resume objective states: "A challenging position in research and development which utilizes my educational experiences and developes my management skills." With this in mind, I've listed some perspectives below.

1. I cannot stress enough at how important it is to look as professional as possible at these type events. I know of at least two or three additional hits that I got just for looking very professional. (I wore a suit and tie -- not exactly standard issue for physicists at a national lab.) It is common for grad students to be poorly dressed, don't miss an opportunity because you look like Homer Simpson, buy a suit!

2. Focus on what you've done as it relates to a industrial perspective. While they probably don't care that you've placed a limit on the production of pink elephants at the Tevatron, they would be interested in work that guided other students and documentation of technical work. Communication is important and it is skill that most computer sci-guys and engineers don't have.

3. As physicists, try to take on more of a leadership role. Most of us have very good understanding of the technical aspects of a job and also what it needs to be successful. At least in my case, I need to understand completely what I'm doing in order to work.

4. As far as programming skills go, I'll note the most popular langauges: Java (which unfortunately, d0 has decided NOT to support in favor of python), C++ and C. Experience with MS visual XXX appears also to be valuable. Additionally, databases, such as Oracle, appear to be in demand. List any experience that you have with any of these products. If you want to be successful at obtaining a good programming job, then you might obtain some experience with these products.

5. For the resume, I suggest that you put on it as many programming projects and leadership projects that you have participated in. For my case, I have essentially no work experience outside of physics, so it was very important to list all of my big projects that I contributed to.

6. At the present time, its a seller's market, so think BIG! No price is too high, no job too big. Look at what you'll give up to go into industry....make it worth the change. Remember, its OK to be cocky and confident here, tell'em you can do anything! (Recall that lucent hired PhD physicists at 65K/year, with no experience. I wouldn't even consider at job in industry that didn't pay 95K/year because I have a lot of experience. Everyone has a price, but don't sell out too quickly and remember you can always come down.)

Jeff McDonald,
Florida State University,
Dzero experiment


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