Monday Oct 15, 2007

University Recruiting, Tiger Style

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Princeton University Industrial Affiliates Day and presenting college student opportunities at Sun to a small auditorium full of seniors and graduate students. This is part of our on-going effort to build college and university relationships, make students aware of what Sun is doing and what job opportunities exist, and continue the major campaigns of attracting developers to our platform and entry-level engineers to our company.

I had seven minutes to convey why someone would want to work at Sun, what our culture and career paths are like, and why this might be a good first step in a technology career. And not to set the bar too high, but the master of ceremonies for the day was none other than Brian Kernighan who manages to get laughs without resorting to language syntax references.

The pitch (hey, I'm in sales, there has to be a pitch): Email me, find me on FaceBook, read my blog, or go to Sun's Student Zone for information on campus events and job openings. 15 seconds to summarize the different ways to engage with Sun.

The culture: At Sun, we enjoy disrupting the accepted notions of computing systems. As one of the few true systems companies in the technology space, we have challenged convention from including TCP/IP and Ethernet in the Sun-1 to SMP to open source economics to investing in CMT to drive the next wave of scalability. Sun's engineers make design decisions; we expect our senior engineers to thoroughly "own" their products and technologies. We have a highly open culture, from open doors and inboxes to a focus on transparency through blogging, open source software and hardware (SPARC RTL), and communities that exist outside of Sun. FaceBook group references played here.

The career path: You can be an individual contributor from an entry level person through director and vice president. You don't have to go into management to advance, and outstanding technical contributions are recognized. We have engineers working on everything from magnetic fields and robotics (in the tape world) to cooling, thermal engineering and packaging to processor and ASIC design to operating systems, languages, middleware and security software implementation. We're also building competencies in the "emergent disciplines" -- policy, privacy, energy management, long-term sustainability, recycling and re-use, and embedded systems reliability.

Why I'm here after 18 years: Imagine every device on the edge of the network, and all of the ways you'd use those devices to build a tighter mesh with people around the world. We power that network, from Java environments in the devices through to the storage systems that preserve state in the network.

On the way out, I ran into the Assistant Dean of Development (ie, fundraising) for the Engineering School, who reminded me of my upcoming major-major reunion. I did what any self-respecting engineer would in that situation: I bought an Engineering School t-shirt. I'm still the student when it comes to big campaigns.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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