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This is a post of a good friend of mine on a popular forum on the art of networking. Enjoy!!

With the emergence of Facebook, LinkedIn and other huge social networks, it’s quite clear that the way we get information on important events and jobs is changing rapidly. Lots of sociological studies have been conducted and have shown that networking may be one of the most successful strategies employed in a huge percentage of job searches. People in the industry will know about an internal job database and there are many jobs that are not advertised. Furthermore there are huge incentives given to people who refer their contacts for related positions. I know of people getting about $2000 for a successful referral. People find their jobs or internships through networking with friends, relatives, professors and even recruiters at professional / career related events. It helps you develop contacts with people who might put your resume through to the people that matter.

Now networking need not mean using someone to get you a job at their company. Here’s an example in my life. I know a online forum member pretty well who happens to be in the field of security as well. So when I had an interview with a particular company, he in turn knows someone at that company whom he introduced me to and it was a valuable help to me. This other time, one of my neighbors was taking a class with me and she told me that her husband is a recruiter for another tech firm and she’ll forward my resume. So you find contacts in the most unlikely places. NBA / NFL / NHL / MLB / college games / beer are great topics on which to make conversation. You get the point.

Few tips for professional networking:

1.Research who will be attending and make a list of people to contact.
2.Try to meet people over coffee or lunch by sending them a formal email requesting information on the company and work they might have in your area of specialization. You can use LinkedIn. Your school’s alumni group is the best to start with.
3.Practice a short pitch to be able to describe yourself in about half a minute or so. Prepare the type of questions you might want to ask someone, keep a few copies of a one page resume and some business cards with your contact details if carrying resumes is difficult.
4.If you meet someone at a career fair or something, remember to follow up.
5.Listen actively, dress all spiffy, make small talk about some of the latest events (“how about that iPad. You think Apple will succeed in this niche Netbook market?”)

That’s some stuff I’ve got from all my experience in networking. You’ll notice most of my posts on Edulix stress on the importance of networking. In the US, apart from the big companies, GPA doesn’t make a big difference. Having the right contacts and skills that meet a job requirements can give someone with a 3.33 GPA the edge over the class nerd with a 4.0.

LinkedIn Networking

1. Try to get your profile as complete as possible and get recommendations from people that matter.

2. Join relevant groups and participate in discussions. In the hacking community, reconnaissance is the most important step. With the data you get, you process information that’s needed to proceed. Similarly in job hunting, get as much information from people in senior positions, managerial positions as to what skills matter the most in an interview or a resume scan to select a candidate. Also you’ll find out some interesting new developments in technology which seem to be gaining ground in the market and you can be one of the early birds.

3. Don’t go about sending annoying messages to people asking for a referral. Rather, ask them politely about company hiring policies, skills required for bulk of the projects they undertake, what a typical day at work is like and fun stuff / research / independent stuff that takes place there.

Other Stuff
In real life networking, try speaking to people from different areas so you get a new perspective on things. You might get some killer project ideas as well and maybe your career will take a new and interesting turn. For example, after making friends with people majoring in economics, it made me read up a lot on the economic aspect of some research I was working on as well as checking out game theory math.

To improve on your speaking skills, most universities will have small clubs that help international students speak English. If you’re as interested in public speaking as I am, see if there is a Toastmasters International chapter in your school or in your area. Tone modulation, hand gestures, body language etc. really help you during interviews, presentations etc. Besides you never know whom you might meet at these gatherings.

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No, the title is definitely not about me!!! Although I look way too great. Anyway, I’ve been totally been run ragged off late with too much work. All that research and thinking makes us grads hungry as ever. However we have to be innovative with our available resources. So here are few new recipes I’ve come up with.

1. Jimmy’s Chicken

Marinade the cut chicken thighs in Ginger Garlic Paste, Chili powder, Coriander powder and add some Jim Beam. Keep for about 1/2 hour or so.

Then proceed to make something like Butter Chicken.

2. Montreal Chicken
Similar to the last one but marinade with Montreal Steak seasoning, pepper, chili powder and lime. Proceed the butter chicken way but add some BBQ sauce instead of sugar.

3. The Alabama Spammer
This one has nothing to do with Southern Comfort. This is regular rajma masala but take some spam and make a puree of it with tomatoes. Add it in after the onions are all golden brown pulpy. Awesomeness guaranteed.

Happy Eating!

Wacky Tobacky

Just earlier today after wasting time thinking deep (as opposed to wasting time online) I was wondering what could happen if they ban the sale of tobacco products all together. Here’s some things I thought about. If you’re an expert in economics, don’t hesitate to pwn me.

1. Governments would lose out on valuable revenue from this cash crop. Hell, damn Virginia would be tied with California in being another broke ass state.
2. The mint industry would lose out on valuable customers with stinky breath. More revenue lost for the government.
3. Insurance companies banking on higher premiums from smokers would suffer bigger losses in revenue instead of more idiots succumbing to good old cancer.
4. The lung cancer industry would suffer invaluable losses. Drug companies as well would be hard hit. Specializing in lung cancer would not be a viable option for so many budding medical students.
5. Kids affected at birth due to smoking parents would cause great loss to the companies that provide the necessary medication and life sustenance devices.
6. Statisticians would be out of work in trying to prove harmful effects of tobacco using complex charts and calculations.
7. Zippo would be a toy for arsonists only.
8. I wonder how awesome Formula 1 and other motorsports would be after major sponsors cease to exist.

Yeah, I think too much, but that’s what happens if you ban tobacco. I don’t smoke but when there’s money to be lost, let the children play.

References and related articles

  • Effects of Smoking Bans

  • Got the life

    More than a year into my MS and another tough one to go. The first one went past like a breeze and half the second one seems to be going by real fast. So after some self examination, I realize that my productivity per day seems to have reduced in spite of still being a sleep deprived insomniac, in spite of being in America where technological advances are supposed to have lightened people’s burden, in spite of living far away from home without the comforts and distractions of life.

    One key area in this introspective analysis is hours spent online. Access to high speed internet (I’m talking 25Mbps as my home connection without ever playing stupid games) is great when it comes to research but misused can be a terribly destructive force. That coupled with many channels of entertainment which included the blog world, vlog world, wikipedia, MMORPGS and social networks has made life as a graduate student tough as hell.

    You hear a lot of us complaining about no time to sleep but cut out the several internet hours wasted and you have enough time for your work, studies and projects as well as time for other extracurricular activities. Time that could be spent meaningfully in completing a simple programming assignment has to be divided between few minutes of actual coding and several minutes of Internet wankery. What used to take me a few hours to cover 2 – 3 chapters of pretty intense mathematical concepts takes a day on certain occasions and sometimes possibly two with really half assed efforts in the understanding of it. Getting trivial stuff done is a chore. Hell laziness has reached a level where some folks can’t get basic household stuff done like throwing stuff in a bin or rinsing stuff to put in a dishwasher. Imagine going for a PhD in this kind of state. It would take forever!!!

    My first attempt at increasing productivity is to minimize internet socializing (I don’t use the phone much anyway). Step 1 in getting weaned off this addiction, is closing some of my favorite internet messengers during work/study/guitar practice hours. Let’s see how long this lasts. Further steps to be added after successfully implementing the first one.

    *EDIT*
    Step 2: Reducing time spent on Facebook. I’ll use that only for event notification and occasionally keeping in touch with long lost friends instead of random status comments.

    Step 3: Not bother making a Twitter account.

    Until then, I am Helter Skelter and I am a recovering addict.

    References and related work

  • Internet addictions common with college students
    Internet addiction disorder
    New Internet addiction center opens in US
    Party Time on the Internetz
    Stopping Social Media from Stopping You
    Facebook Addiction
    Email Addiction Anyone?
  • Summer of Love

    It’s been ages since my last post. It’s been ages since I’ve actually studied. It’s been freakin ages since I drank that whiskey with a reindeer logo. Anyway, as the chill weather approaches, I’m back recounting my experience of summer in this great mid atlantic area of Northern Virginia (NOVA).

    It started with my sad grades coming out. A terrible grade on my Data Mining didn’t really bother me and with nice warm weather setting in, who could care less. The first long weekend of the summer, I decided to travel to upstate New York. That set the trend to travel somewhere new every weekend over the summer. Canada, upstate NY, NJ, MD, Philly and NYC were some of the places I visited.

    No post of mine is without my boozing. Killed it over the summer on some really fine alcohol. Glen Fiddich, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crown Royal, Chivas and Jameson from many that I tried out. Jameson is freakin killer and I’d wholly recommend that over blended scotch.

    Made several new dishes over the summer that included Italian, Jamaican chicken curries, beef and other meats. All this just makes me confident that I can do something way better than coding or computer related stuff.

    As for computer related stuff, got a good project completed, ended up with some killer financial assistance and have a year to go to find an awesome job where I don’t have to give a crap about client specifications. Being a Net Security specialist is so awesome.

    I don’t know what the whole point of this blabbering was, but yeah, summer in the US rocks.

    Metal Meltdown

    August 9, 2009, a day I eagerly wait for. On this day, I get to witness two of my all time favorite heavy metal bands, Slayer and Cannibal Corpse on the same day at an open air event. It’s been about 10 years since I started listening to this form of music and I got to tell you, it’s been one hell of a great ride.

    In 1999, when owning original tapes was the big thing, I saved every last rupee (of the scams I used to run even in high school) to buy Cannibal Corpse’s Vile. Prior to that I had heard good old heavy metal, grunge and classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Soundgarden. Playing Vile, the doors opened to some of the most brutal, gory music I had ever heard. I’ve always been a fan of horror movies, slasher films and off course, B-grade Zombie movies. This album was just a combination of all my favorite things i.e. loud and fast drums, highly technical guitar riffs and vocals growling out gore. Those were the days when Hip-Hop was on the rise and boybands on the decline and none of that stuff appealed to me and so I felt like this was something new in my life, something that’ll stick with me for life.

    Ten years down the line and I still play the Vile album regularly (off course CDs and mp3s have replaced the old tapes). Check out the  charts here: http://www.last.fm/user/insert_my_msnID_here The other band Slayer has been very influential in me taking up heavy metal guitar. Being a trained classical pianist, I was always in for improvisation and somehow, blues, jazz and heavy metal were the avenue for just that. Within a few days of religious 8 hour practice sessions, I could play several Slayer songs as well as improvise and make them mine. Yes, that’s the reason I don’t take stupid requests for “Hotel California”, “Summer of 69” etc. The beauty of the genre is the several sub-genres within. Themes range from history, politics, religion and philosophy, fantasy, gore, marijuana and some wholly dedicated to providing the perfect atmostphere for depression. There’s always something for just about anyone.

    The sub-culture associated with the music is interesting. You’ll usually find metal fans clad in black, some adorned in weird body jewelry and military/biker related gear, long hair and tattoos. A lot of them make some interesting and intelligent conversations. I myself own several black tees and I’m a big fan of Dr.Martens.

    So yeah, that’s my random rambling this weekend. Given an opportunity, I’ll gladly take up a project in a band and give up engineering as soon as possible. Until then, Rock Hard, Ride Free

    Memorial Day weekend. My first long weekend in America without any studies to spoil the fun. My next travel destination was New Jersey (yeah I know, it sucks but hey, it’s the closest thing to home) and New York state. So after a boring trip on a Chinatown bus, I reached NYC, downed a Stella and then found myself drinking more in NJ. Due to some minor annoyances in car rental, we had to leave for upstate New York at 12:30am. Worst part was that the car had to be returned within 2 days instead of the 3 day plan that we had earlier. Not only did this make the long trip to Rochester (for a friend’s graduation) pretty pointless[EDIT: Don’t mean to be rude here. Just that Saturday was the day we were supposed to enjoy but ended up on our way back, making our whole stay in Rochester limited to just one day with a tiresome drive to the lake the highlight], it made it hell lot more expensive.

    Reaching Rochester early morning and taking a short snooze, boozing was on the agenda. We tried MGD but it turned out to be the low cal one and it sucked. Yeah even I mess up sometime. The evening followed with an ultra boring grad ceremony (it’s good if you’re graduating or family of the graduate), some photo sessions and finally some killer dinner made by Mr.KP Wanker himself. More drinking followed with some Keystone Light and off course, I had to have my dose of Guinness.

    We returned next day to NJ with the plans of killing it but the continuous driving in the last 48 hours left us pretty exhausted and we just ended up with a few shots of Evan Williams and watched Tirangaa (good stuff). On the last night of my trip, people wanted to experience my uber amazing cooking so we marinaded some Chicken drumsticks in my special mix of masalas and seasoning. Food turned out pretty good along with beer and Evan Williams.

    Next day I got back to my very affluent neighborhood in NOVA. All in all a great trip, although I must say that certain people need to quit giving a f*** about others drinking just few pegs of alcohol/beer on a weekend. It pretty much messes up the atmosphere. Til the next trip, Arigato, Xie Xie, Danke, Grazie, Thank You guys for a great Memorial day weekend.