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Musings on skill vs attitude [Dec. 29th, 2007|02:08 am]
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Ever meet certain people who will expound upon things that they did and make you think "Wow, I wish I could do that?" We all have.

I think I've just reached a point where I thought, "Hang on a moment... you know the way you were talking about building a massive killbot that destroys small countries? I've just realised that with the right tools, which I have, and the know-how, which I also have, I can do it in about half an hour... no biggie!" Ok, so it isn't about cyborgs that wreak havok and revenge upon nations with a GNP smaller than my weekly income (and as a student that's pretty small), but there are other concepts that have wandered about and I'm just beginning to realise that, yes, I happen to know how to do it, and I've just realised how trivial it can be.

Now, this unwinds a whole lot of mystery and just reminds me at how skilled a certain personality in my past was at inflating her achievements, but it also highlights my attitude in contrast to others. The short answer is, I probably do not have a strategy that will get me a job.

I talk down what I've done. Do I say, "I just made a 63-dimensional neural net to handle optical character recognition?"... well, actually, sometimes I do that, but then I'll talk it right down when someone says "That's scary". But most of the time, I'll try and get people to think about how they'd do it themselves, or I'd explain the cool bits of the theory to them so that they might find themselves wanting to do it. If it's a small problem, it was small and it's done. You may see a small "yay" from me online, and I may bounce a bit in real life. Ok, in real life, I'd probably not shut up about it for a couple of hours or so, but then it's done.

I guess one of the big things I don't do is say "Oooh, I am so great because I can do X, and if you can't do X, you don't have a place on this planet come the revolution." Maybe it's because I'm afraid of being called out. Had I not been in that personality cult, and had I the skill I have now, I'd have said "Right, you know that's not terribly difficult, don't you? Now shut up!"

As a result, I don't inflate accomplishments to triumphs. Will that get me a job? Which is more likely to get me a job: "Oh, this simple little single-layer perceptron... It'll only recognise 7 characters in 3 fonts. Just knocked it up over a weekend." or "This is a 63-dimensional neural net capable of distinguishing over 21 different data points. I wrote it in python, an object-oriented rapid application development language."? Both are entirely accurate. Which is better for the elevator pitch? Which will get me the job? And which do you think I go for?

I mean, yes. I learnt a lot from that person... like some of the attitudes I'm likely to encounter like "Well, if you can't make a killbot capable of destroying small countries, you don't deserve to have one" and it's an attitude I sometimes have to take with some people.

So, what's this rambling post about. Mostly the revelation to myself that there are things that, if I had to do them, I'd be able to do as quickly as certain others. There's also the revelation that I'd do it with a lot less song and dance. But is it healthy to my career in general? How do you get a reputation for being no-fuss? It's easier to make a bigger reputation for yourself. Were it myself and this particular person, who would get the job? Probably her, because she will talk down to you, and by virtue of that, talk herself up. She'll talk about things in such a way that you'll think that adding 2 and 2 is way beyond your mortal capabilities.

I guess it just means I need to up my game on the elevator pitches... but, (and this isn't a conscious choice, it's just a fact of my nature), I'm not going to try and exclude people from the world I live in. If they're able to join in, I'll help them get to that level. I might not make a name for myself, but it may help someone who will. I'm not going to sell out on that... the rest is just figuring out my style of self-advertisement.

[User Picture]From: bleedinrapid
2007-12-30 10:49 am (UTC)
Seriously, don't feel bad for not being a sociopathic borderline assmagnet. Person X demoralises and upsets everyone around her, constantly driving them away. I'm interviewing people at the moment, and in the situation above I would hire you not her. Enthusiasm, eagerness, cooperativeness and the desire to share knowledge are far more desireable in an employee than someone who regards themselves as The Shit, people like that are trouble.
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