January 12, 2009

Bulk view

Stick figures on campus; IBM at the University of Toronto

As a favor to Stephen Perelgut (one of my mentors) and because I happen to really like working with IBM, I participated in today’s campus event at the University of Toronto. We were supposed to set up tables at the atrium of the Bahen Centre, but the power outlets didn’t work, so we moved to another room. The room was a little out of the way, but Cathy Sardellitti and Sarah Weiss did a great job at diverting some of the traffic to our room.

Representatives from most of IBM’s software brands set up their laptops with demos to show. I was the only person representing IBM Global Business Services. I had originally been a bit worried about whether I could make it through the four hours, much less muster the courage to strike up conversations with everyone (or deal with the rejection of seeing everyone walk by!). I knew it would be good practice, though, so I said yes. When the students came in, I was too busy trying to draw people into conversation to worry about whether people would talk to me! <laugh>

I set up this presentation to loop on my computer:

… and I invited people to ask me about IBM’s services and about what IBM is like for new graduates. I must’ve talked to about 25 people, mostly students who were interested in either internship opportunities or in full-time employment after graduation. It was great to reassure them that yes, IBM was still hiring. In the process of describing what life is like as a new grad, I realized that I really appreciate the flexibility that working in consulting gives me. I can help clients solve problems using both IBM and non-IBM technologies. I’m always learning new things. I can explore my interest in both about business and software development. And I’m doing all of this within a support structure that means I’ve got plenty of people and resources to learn from.

I also learned a lot by talking to the other representatives. They told me what they loved about their work, and they shared ideas for making the campus event even better. I really enjoyed chatting with other IBMers who were also passionate about what they do. =)

I think it was a good event. We helped some people who hadn’t originally considered working for such a large company see the benefits of doing so, and we answered lots of people’s questions. I’d do it again. It was a good experience, and next time, I’d probably find it easier to start the conversations!

Blogging helps

People often tell me that they’ve thought about blogging, but they don’t know if anyone would be interested in what they have to say. Sometimes I wonder why people are interested in what I write, too. =) But the strange and wonderful thing is that my [mis]adventures through life end up helping people along the way. That’s pretty darn cool, and that’s why I don’t mind ‘fessing up even to embarrassing mistakes (like my recent calendar mishaps).

Somehow, from the jumble of technical and life-related posts, this is what Maira got:

Ways in which your blog has already helped me:

  • Made me realise that I wasn’t the only introvert geek growing up; and that it’s ok – and even fun – to be like that.
  • [your Japan trip] Reminded me of how much I love to learn new languages and new cultures, made me want to go back to learning German (I started studying it on my own earlier this year, in my free time, just for fun).
  • Reminded me that I also like making life easier with technology. I caught myself thinking the other day “if only I could set up a keyboard shortcut, so that I could press only ONE key, instead of Ctrl+ ->” (I don’t know why but I don’t feel ergonomically comfortable doing this combination), and then I was like “huh, this is such a Sacha mindeset.”
  • Reminded me that I like Science (I gradauted in CS too) and that I like studying, but that spirit got lost somewhere along the way during University years.
  • Made me realise that I should use the net more efficiently (blogs, social networks) instead of being a “prisoner” of them (ie, never having time to keep up with people’s posts and updates), RSS could be a good start.
  • Made me want to write my own blog. I do have a personal one, but I don’t have much time to write in it (ie, I don’t FIND much time to write in it). Your geeky blog made me realise that maybe writing about geeky trivial stuff can be interesting to other people. Although, in terms of time-optimization, I still think (for me), writing about feelings is more important. Oh, well just some ideas.
  • I related a lot to one of your reflections on your trip to Japan: that when you are traveling you don’t have time to waste being introverted in an Internet room, you want to enjoy each moment “out there in the world” as much as you can. I felt like that in my 2006 trip to Canada (more on that later).

Maira Bay de Souza, Brazil

… and if someone like her can learn that from the blog of someone like me, imagine what someone else out there can learn from someone like you. =)