Internship Searching

I had an interview with Analog Devices Inc. on Tuesday. The couple days prior to it I was somewhat anxious because of the potential technical questions. I haven’t been grilled by technical questions in any of my previous interviews (all two of them) so I was nervous, especially since whenever I come across a brain teaser, I usually can’t figure it out. I figured that I didn’t need to study analog circuits since they are relatively fresh in my mind (which turned out not to be true as I found out later at the career fair). Thus, I decided to research technical questions/puzzles online to warm up my brain for “thinking outside the box,” rather than reviewing digital logic or HDL’s (hardware description languages). Here’s pretty much what happened:

ADI_interview

Ok so it wasn’t that bad because the guy from ADI was nice and understanding of the fact that I hadn’t touched Verilog in a year. My “verilog” up/down counter turned out to be more of a C-style counter, but at least I knew what an up/down counter was. All in all, a much better interview than HP.

Onto the career fair! Sensata, a company that designs sensors and other feedback type components, was basically giving interviews on the spot. They asked a couple behavioral questions (“Give me an example of when you were working with a group and your ideas disagreed with everybody else’s, Tell me about a time you had to make a hard decision with a limited amount of information, etc), and then some technical questions. I was asked basic circuit stuff like finding the current through a simple resistor network, identifying a lowpass filter, and some other stuff. Even though they were all easy questions, because I didn’t understand the material that well while I was learning it, I know I got some of it wrong. I remembered how to draw a circuit that has arbitrary gain using an op amp, but I forgot how to derive the gain (“Um…I know it’s the ratio of these two resistors…”).

The worst was nVidia. I told them I was more interested in digital circuits and was given a mini-test accordingly that I had to sit down and work through. I hadn’t touched digital logic in a year and so I forgot a lot of the methodology and stuff. I couldn’t fully answer any of the questions except one or two (Draw the diagram for a CMOS AND gate at the transistor level). I wanted to quickly hand in the test and run away. I ended up going over my meager answers with a recruiter so he could see my thought process (or lack thereof).

On top of all that, I didn’t get any cool free stuff :(

Moral of the story: if you’re an ECE or EE and looking for a hardware position, don’t waste your time trying to do silly puzzles and brain teasers (some of which are admittedly interesting though); review material in courses you’ve taken and are relevant. That seems pretty obvious enough; don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a software or consulting or financial position, make sure you’re good at “thinking creatively” and develop a knack for probability and brain teasers.

Personally, I think the worst thing that can happen to me in an interview is if the interviewer gave me a Rubik’s cube and asked me to solve it.

Blah…I hope I find something.

Databases and Valentine's Day

I need a crash-course on databases (how they work, how to make one, and how to query one, not necessarily administration or optimal design). I’ve started developing a mini web-based application in PHP that helps me keep track of my expenses and such (and yet I’m still in awe as to where all my Cisco wage was spent…), and am starting to realize that if I want to query only expenses taken from certain sources of funds (e.g. things I bought using the money from a quartet gig), storing all the information in text files doesn’t really cut it.

I’ve been meaning to convert the text files into XML which I think offers a little more flexibility in terms of extracting specific information and is probably a good portable and scaleable way to store data in general, but never really had the time to do that after the summer ended. But after working for my part time job and getting a little bit of exposure to databases, now I know that databases are just exactly what I need.

Of course, this is pretty much just a personal exercise in computer programming and probably doesn’t need all the “professional tools” that I want to try to use, nor conform to any readability and scalability conventions/standards, but good programming practice never hurts :p (ignore the fact that this page completely fails valid xHTML 1.0; I didn’t write the template!)

Anyways, anyone recommend any teach-yourself books on databases? Assume I have zero background on databases and SQL (which is pretty much true).

So, what does Valentine’s Day have to do with databases? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to point out that I spent my Valentine’s Day with two other asian guys in my room playing Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, and 3 (although they did more of the winning while I did more of the dying) and Kirby Super Star. Who needs dates when you have super nintendo!

Home

In all the glitz and glamour of going to an Ivy League and competing with numerous brilliant, ambitious, and capable students for grades, internships, and jobs, and trying to improve one’s qualities in this rat-race-like society such as leadership, innovation, and confidence, there’s something about “home” that transcends all that superficiality, especially if “home” is church, where no one pays much attention to what school you go to or what grades you get. I spent this weekend at home because of a dental appointment I have today in Jersey, which meant I got to see my friends in church, some of which I haven’t seen in awhile.  I spent Saturday morning and lunch at Elizabeth church and later went to Hillsborough for the afternoon.

As I was getting my stuff from the chapel to leave Elizabeth, I said good-bye once again to a friend of mine, one whom I’ve grown up with since I can remember. He acknowledged my departure and held out his right hand to shake mine. It’s sincere gestures such as these that make temporary visits home worthwhile, even if I was holding my stuff with my right hand and reflexively stuck out my left hand instead, resulting in a somewhat awkward hand-holding substitute for a handshake. I know both of us were still chuckling as I continued walking out. It’s funny; I haven’t even left for Cornell yet, but I already miss home.

Hymn 197 – ‘Mid Pleasures and Palaces

‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.

* Chorus
Home, home, sweet, sweet, home! Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain –
O give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
The birds singing sweetly, that came at my call;
Give me, then, that peace of mind dearer than all.
*Chorus

To us, in despite of the absence of years,
How sweet the remembrance of home still appears;
From allurements abroad which but flatter the eye,
The unsatisfied heart turns and says with a sigh –
* Chorus

Thoughts

This semester is great so far, even if on the outside I appear to be anti-social because I spend more time alone. I’m taking 15 credits, broken down into two ECE classes, one communications course, a pass-fail C# course, research, and orchestra. I start after 12 pm 4 days out of 5, but I’ve mustered the discipline to still wake up by 8:30 am to do daily devotion, go to the gym, and either some reading for class, documentation for my part time job, or a bit of research. All in all, relatively productive with a good amount of alone-time, thank God.

I don’t know what really spurred it, but I think I’ve been unconsciously trying to be more independent, after realizing gradually how extremely dependent I am on other people. I guess a consequence of this is just doing more things on my own, which has resulted in some decreases in social interaction that I used to have more often in previous semesters. I guess after seeing how needy people can be, myself included, I want to do anything I can to not be needy. Maybe I’ve just become more calloused towards a lot of people, but I’m glad that I can get by everyday without feeling bitter about eating meals by myself or not seeing people, especially since I am increasingly becoming the odd-wheel in more of my “sub-groups” of friends (3rd wheel, 5th wheel, etc). In a sense I’m happy about that because it kind of forces me to spend more time with guy friends, which I didn’t have much of sadly since I came to Cornell.

Moving onto a completely different topic, yesterday I tried learning something new, which is something I feel like I haven’t done in awhile. Some orch dorks and I went snowboarding! Only one of us knew how to snowboard and so he was basically trying to teach us for 4 hours. I figured since I had tried skateboarding freshman year, snowboarding shouldn’t come TOO unnaturally to me. WRONG! On a skateboard, your feet are free to move; on a snowboard, they’re not. If while skateboarding you start to get scared, you can just jump off; on a snowboard, you’re screwed. Snowboarding is definitely more injury-prone than skiing is; there were definitely times when my left knee almost bent or twisted the wrong way because the board would get wedged in the snow but the rest of my leg/body would keep moving forward. Thank God I didn’t injure myself though – just a couple bruises on my butt and knee.

Painful though it was, the experience was quite refreshing. I definitely get a kick out of physical activities, infinitely moreso than from like “academic enlightenment” or just typical socializing. I haven’t had the experience of “we fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up” thing in awhile, and even though I probably spent more time falling than I did snowboarding, I feel proud for sticking with it, continually getting up after each tumble to try again, knowing that the next fall could result in a significant injury. Granted, most of us stayed on the bunny slope for pretty much the whole time and I’d be scared to try going down anything much steeper on a snowboard, I still felt “rejuvenated” (not so much this morning though). Maybe this is kind of a secular thought, but I hope that my future spouse will share the same enthusiasm and desire for physical activity and athleticism as me. If it doesn’t turn out that way, then I dunno…God knows better anyways.

Another thing that I experienced this past weekend was joy in spreading the gospel via personal evangelism. I’ve never felt that kind of satisfaction and joy before; probably a mix of realizing that God can open opportunities we didn’t see before and knowing that God can use us to spread his glory, even if it starts with planting seeds.