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Making it Big in Software: Get the Job. Work the Org. Become Great. Paperback – March 20, 2010
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From the Back Cover
The Software Insider's Guide to Getting Hired and Getting to the Top! Here's all the information you need to jumpstart your software career: the best ways to get hired, move up, and blaze your way to the top! The software business has radically changed, and this book reveals today's realities-everything your professors and corporate managers never told you. In his 20 years at IBM as a software architect, senior manager, and lead programmer, Sam Lightstone has briefed dozens of leading companies and universities on careers, new technology, and emerging areas of research. He currently works on one of the world's largest software development teams and spends a good part of his time recruiting and mentoring software engineers. This book shares all the lessons for success Sam has learned...plus powerful insights from 17 of the industry's biggest stars. Want to make it big in software? Start right here! Discover how to - Get your next job in software development - Master the nontechnical skills crucial to your success - "Work the org" to move up rapidly - Successfully manage your time, projects, and life - Avoid "killer" mistakes that could destroy your career - Move up to "medium-shot," "big-shot," and finally, "visionary" - Launch your own winning software company Exclusive interviews with Steve Wozniak, Inventor, Apple computer John Schwarz, CEO, Business Objects James Gosling, Inventor, Java programming language Marissa Mayer, Google VP, Search Products and User Experience Jon Bentley, Author, "Programming Pearls" Marc Benioff, CEO and founder, Salesforce.com Grady Booch, IBM Fellow and co-founder Rational Software Bjarne Stroustrup, Inventor, C++ programming language David Vaskevitch, Microsoft CTO Linus Torvalds, Creator, Linux operating system kernel Richard Stallman, Founder, Free software movement Peter Norvig, Google's Director of Research Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Fellow and Windows Architect Tom Malloy, Adobe Chief Software Architect Diane Greene, Co-founder and past CEO of VMware Robert Kahn, Co-inventor, the Internet Ray Tomlinson, Inventor, email
About the Author
Sam Lightstone is the creator of MakingItBigCareers.com as well as Program Director and Senior Technical Staff Member with IBM’s Software Group, where he works for one of the world’s largest software engineering teams on product strategy and R&D. Sam is a sought-after public speaker, author, inventor, recruiter, and mentor. He has presented to dozens of Fortune 500 companies, industrial and scientific conferences, and major universities on topics related to careers, new technology, and emerging research needs. Sam has been quoted in eWeek, InformationWeek, InfoWorld, and the MIT Technology Review. His management career has spanned from small high-performance applied research teams up to large-scale projects with more than 200 staff across multiple geographies.
Sam is the founder of the IEEE Data Engineering Workgroup on Self Managing Database Systems and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Autonomous and Autonomic Computing Systems. Sam is inventor and co-inventor of more than 30 patents and patents pending and author of several books and scientific papers. In 2003 he was awarded the title of IBM Master Inventor for his contributions to IBM’s patent portfolio and his sustained work mentoring software engineers about the process of invention. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and a Master of Computer Science & Software Engineering from the University of Waterloo.
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Sam managed to write a captivating book on the topic, very inspirational and full of interesting and useful content.
I have been in this industry for over 10 years and I recommend this to (1) anyone thinking of joining, (2) those who have been in it for a while but needs a reminder on what makes this industry great and (3) definitely to those starting out, since this could boost your careers significantly .
The interviews are simply brilliant, I would recommend buying this book just to read those! Sam has managed to leverage them to further prove the points he is making throughout the book.
Very well done!
very inspirational , and spot on advice
"Making it Big in Software" brings a great perspective to the idea of breaking through to becoming an elite thought leader in the software profession. The first thing that caught my eye was the stellar nature of the people Sam Lightstone interviewed for this book. These include James Gosling, the inventor of Java, Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple computer, Grady Booch, co-founder of Rational Software, and many other luminaries in our field.
Lightstone anticipates the question most people have right out of the gate, "Why bother?"
"But with long hours, considerable stress, and no guarantees, the obvious question is whether it's even worth trying to make it big. I believe the answer is unequivocally yes. The most compelling reason is that, in most cases, you have to show up to the office and work like a lunatic anyway--it's really not optional (if you want to eat). So if the difference between being a midlevel career programmer and making it big is an incremental strategic investment of time and energy, then it's more than worth it for you and for your family. In the long run, the benefits are significant: a more satisfying career, greater influence and impact within your company and the industry, more fun, and more money. And while there may not be less "crap" to do, at least it's strategic work rather than "grunt" work."
Some of the enticing things about making it big are:
Fun and interesting work
Corporate and industrial influence
The betterment of society
Freedom to work on what you want, when you want (Lightstone makes clear that this is what you want to work on, not how much you have to work!)
(As an aside, I humbly say that as a minor software testing celebrity, I experience these things on a regular basis and it is good. While travel can become a chore, it is cool to teach in Rome twice a year.)
Software testers and QA professionals will appreciate Chapter 2, "What Good Software is Really About." This chapter is a concise case for better software and why we need to refine our craft, profession, or whatever you call what we do as software people.
Lightstone lays out all kinds of practical, real-world advice, such as "What to Look for in a Company." I like this list and it reinforces a key idea that you do not have to strike out on your own to make it big.
"1. Is this a company that has experience in building professional, high-quality systems?
2. Are there really talented people here I can learn from?
3. Is the position I'm being offered one that is interesting, with long-term growth potential on something I can believe in?
4. Do they have savvy business executives who really understand the business requirements for success and have a track record for delivering it?
5. Does the company have clarity of vision for the product it produces?
6. Is there an independent research arm?
7. How does the company innovate, and how profound has their innovation been?
8. Is the work environment pleasant and flexible, and does it suit my lifestyle?
9. Does the company seem stable? Do I believe it will still be around in ten years?
10. Is the pay in line with industry standards?"
The book goes back and forth between interviews and practical guidance, which is a good thing. The interviews let you get inside the heads and hearts of these gurus, while the guidance gives you a plan of attack.
Good economy or bad economy, it doesn't matter in terms of the importance of standing out and making your mark. Economies rise and fall. We all need to learn to not let our jobs distract us from our careers. This book helps light the way to do that. I highly recommend it to anyone in the software field!
And it far exceeded my expectations! The chapters cover topics that are relevant to jobs in many areas (dealing with people, leadership, growth, advancement, time management, zen (!), ...). Although similar material is presented in many other books, Lightstone's versions are interesting, original, and spiced with personal anecdotes. Not only will his book will help me to answer students' career advice questions, but I can also tell them to get it.
There is more. The book contains 17 interviews with people who have made signficant contributions to the industry in one way or another. Many of the names are well-known (Wozniak, Stroustrup, Stallman, Torvalds, ...), others less so. But they all have something interesting to say. Every interviewee answers the same questions. This is both good and bad: bad in that the answers occasionally seem a little forced, good in that we get to compare different points of view on specific topics. It's very tempting to peek ahead: what is Wozniak's pet peeve?
If you are starting a career in software, this book will be useful. If you are in mid-career, you will probably pick up a few tips. If, like me, you are near the end, it's fun to compare experiences: been there, done that! Recommended.