Procrastination“Procrastination attracts us because of hyperbolic time discounting: the immediate (guilty) rewards are disproportionally more compelling than the greater delayed cost. Procrastination is the reward itself.

An MIT professor found that when he allowed his students to give themselves their own homework deadlines, they would artificially restrict themselves to counter procrastination. However, they did not set deadlines for optimal effectiveness. I am personally a huge procrastinator and it’s always a pull between rational logic (giving yourself the most time by choosing end dates as the deadline), and your past experience saying you will put it off so force yourself to start early.”

At the same time, while it is inefficient to start late, but one should not try to start earlier than necessary. The task will occupy your mind longer and especially if you don’t like to do the work, it will stress you longer. The task does not become more difficult if you put it off until you need to do it. It just gets longer, because you will allow interruptions (there’s still time, so…).

Bigman2003 on SlashDot quotes this from his personal experience

” I manage a small programming team, and one of my jobs is to set up deadlines. The nature of where we work means that we don’t really HAVE deadlines at all (gubment) but we need to make progress. So, I impose deadlines on my team. Usually they are fairly aggressive, but we always meet them. Two days before the last deadline, my team was all working frantically trying to get things done. One of the guys asked, “Why the hell did you make the deadline so early? Why not just push it out two more months?”

My answer was the same as always: “If I had pushed this deadline out two months, we’d be going through this same exact crunch time, just two months later.” It’s just a fact, if we have six months to do a job, we’ll finish in exactly six months. If we’re given 12 months to do the same job, we’ll finish in exactly 12 months.”

I have observed two things. If the imposed deadline is shorter than the time actually needed to do the job, then the job will appear to be finished (i.e., people will say they are done), but there will be many things missing. Later, people will say “Oh, we were all under a tight deadline, so I guess we must have forgotten to do that”.

More interestingly, if the deadline is longer than the time actually needed to do the job, I have observed that the job is done early. But (and this is an important but), all of the functionality is actually there.

To perform this experiment for yourself, I suggest that you take several small problems (small bugs are good for this). Try to find problems that will take from 1/2 a day to a day. Assign deadlines ranging from 2 hours to 3 days. Record the amount of time it actually takes to do the work. Then do code reviews of all the work.

I think you will find the experiment very instructive.

I have found that when there is always work in the queue, there is no point to setting deadlines. Instead it is better merely to estimate the work (so that you can make predictions). It is also counter productive to measure the amount of time each task takes (otherwise people will cut corners in order to meet some kind of unreasonable expectation, sometimes self imposed). Instead, just keep a rolling average of how close your estimates are to reality (i.e., we’ve gone 10 days and we’ve finished 11 days of estimated work, therefore we are going at 1.1x our estimated rate). This gives you predictability without the negative side effects of measuring too closely. IMPORTANT: Don’t complain or cheer if the work rate is different than the estimated rate. This is to be expected. The information is only to allow you to communicate progress with management.

In every case that I have implemented this (and obviously this isn’t my idea — it’s standard practice in many shops), productivity, quality and predictability have all improved. It’s worth a try

Another reader winknerd suggests the following tips for a geek on how to beat procrastination

The entry level job market is fiercely competitive, unless you’re a specialist.

Job SpecialistThe Chosen One Getting a job is much like competing for market share. Auto-makers, for example, strive to control a larger share of their market just like job-seekers contend with hundreds of other candidates for a single position.

Where you encounter the fiercest amount of competition is where there exists the least amount of “dissimilarities,” or distinguishing factors. Ford and Chrysler, for instance, compete in the booming economy-car market yet their cars are very similar. Thus, they must turn to heavy marketing and promotion to distinguish themselves.

This scenario closely resembles the search for your first job out of college. Competition is brutal at this level. Why? “Because everyone looks the same on paper,” says Ben Biba, Resource Manager at the telecommunications company Bellcore. “You’ve all received the appropriate degree and, for the most part, none of you have experience.”

Since you can’t buy advertising like Ford and Chrysler (well, you could, but how would you choose a billboard to display your resume?), you have to find some way to separate yourself from the competition. And that is by becoming a specialist.

Studying abroad means missing junior year on campus. But staying local means missing out on learning in another culture. What will you miss the most?
   
Study Abroad programsVarinia Michalun still wishes she had checked that “yes” box nine years ago when she was a student at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She still wonders whether a semester in London would have tempted her to stay or a year in Florence would have extended into a decade. She often muses over cappuccino and biscotti about what the study abroad experience could have done for her international marketing career.

For Jason Gerbsman, a Colby College International Studies major focusing on Political Science of the Middle East, the decision to spend 12 months in Jerusalem was an easy one. Having traveled in Israel before, he was comfortable with the cultural differences and he was ready to refine his Hebrew. His close friends from school were also going to be away from Colby, so he had no sense of loss in leaving campus for a full year.

Study Abroad Web Destinations
You’ll be glad to have made these stops part of your Study Abroad Web Research Tour itinerary.

Peterson’s.Com, the people who produce the massive hard-copy Study Abroad directory allow you to search for descriptions of study abroad programs by field of study, country and tons of other categories. Sorry no “Countries where Jerry Springer is a minor God” category.

University of Michigan Overseas Opportunity Center has all kinds of information about working, studying, and traveling abroad, including advice and links to OOC tested, student-approved resources.

University of Minnesota’s International Study and Travel Center directories of studying and volunteering abroad resources are available for your perusin’ pleasure.

Aspiring world travelers looking for magazines and other spiffy reads about studying, traveling and all other activities abroad (except for that one) check out Transitions Abroad Publishing.

Brush up on your personal and professional skills and you might walk away from an interview with a job.

Interview tips and tacticsThe company has seen your resume and cover letter. Now its managers want to see you. From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, you’ll be under scrutiny. You’ve heard advice about being confident and knowledgeable, but how do you manage to control your nerves at such a critical time?

You’d never walk into an exam without studying, and an interview is just like an exam. The key to successful interviewing is preparation. If you’re thoroughly prepared, you’ll be more confident and relaxed. The company will see your personality, not your perspiration.

If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to research the company. Check the newspaper for mentions of the company and current happenings in the industry. You’ll also find information on the company’s Web page, or from friends who work in the industry.

Interview Tips and Tactics

� Practice interview answers with a friend or a mirror

� Dress conservatively and appropriately

� Know how to get to your interview

� Bring a notebook and pen, along with extra copies of your resume

� Eat a sensible meal before your interview

� Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early

InternshipSummer internships can be challenging, informative, and look great on your resume.

Ryan Dadey found out the hard way how important an internship is to getting a job after college.

“I thought if I had a high [grade point average] I’d be fine,” he says. Dadey graduated with honors and a 3.6 GPA from Ohio State University in 2005 with a marketing degree.

But interviewers asked Dadey why he did not have experience. Without previous marketing internships, they usually eliminated Dadey from consideration.

After working as an assistant manager at a Toledo mall store for more than a year, Dadey has decided to try college again. He is now taking accounting classes at the University of Toledo part time. Dadey believes there is a better job market in the accounting field.

“I’m going to do it right this time, do an internship and get a job I feel I’m qualified for,” he says confidently.

Geoff Humphreys, Director of the Office of Professional Experiences Programs at the University of Toledo, believes internships are essential for any career. OPEP helps Toledo students find internships for college credit.

“I’m a firm believer that all majors must do an internship,” he says.

Below are 2 lists of companies that have recruited undergraduates and graduates alike for internships and full time in recent years. If you are searching for a job, these lists are a good place to start looking. However, they should not be seen as exhaustive lists! There are plenty of opportunities to be found with companies that aren’t listed on this page. If you find any problems with the links on this page (broken links, outdated email addresses, etc…) please let us know so we can fix it!

The first list contains 83 companies that have provided a specific contact person. Students and prospective candidates should get in touch with the contact person directly to inquire about a position. Check out the Cover Letters section if you aren’t sure what you should say.

The second list contains companies that have not provided specific contacts. Most of these companies have online resume submission pages. Check out the Resumes section if you need help tweaking your resume.