A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.
Charles M. Schwab
I had the good fortune of being selected as one of the engineers to go to the 2012 Grace Hopper conference on behalf of Intuit. It’s really quite strange being on the other side of the table after having been a college student for five years. Suddenly, everything everyone ever told me made perfect sense. Now that recruiting season is almost upon us again, I wanted to bring up something that I noticed at last year’s conference.
After speaking with the endless amount of amazing talent at GHC, it became clear to me one thing that seemed to be lacking in even some of the most qualified candidates. Aside from the general advice everyone gives to technical candidates (study your data structures, brush up on those algorithms…etc.), there’s one specific thing that can make even the most inexperienced person someone that every company wants.
Are you ready for it?
Really ready for it?
Ok. Here it goes.
It’s as simple as that.
The best candidates are the ones that can barely hold back a wide grin when they talk about their favorite classes or the awesome project that they worked on. They’re the ones with the spark in their eyes when they describe what it was like to be involved in a student organization. They’re the ones with the delight in their voice as they describe the first time they wrote a simple mobile app that, by all means, isn’t the most technologically advanced thing most engineers will ever see, but it’ll sound like they’re describing how they discovered the cure for cancer. Those are the memorable ones.
Technical skills can always be developed. There’s no question about that. But, if the passion for problem solving and delivering something that can potentially revolutionize the world isn’t there, then it’ll never be there. That’s something that can’t be taught. You can fill your resume with amazing projects and a ridiculous number of technical skills that would make any recruiter drool, but if you don’t have any passion for the things you worked on, then people won’t be excited about you and what you can bring to the team. You’ll fade into the background, lost in the endless sea of resumes that get collected at these conferences and career fairs. Trust me, that’s the last thing you want to do.