Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Résumés Are For (and Elevator Speeches)

First, because you probably won't believe me on the subject, read what Seth Godin has to say: No one ever bought anything on an elevator. Contrary to what anyone else has ever told you, you want time to make your proposition. You don't have that time in the elevator.

The principle is the same where a résumé is involved, right? You don't have the space to write down all of the good things you might do for an employer. Or, in other words, the résumé will not (usually) land the job for you. All you can hope to do is to whet an employer's interest in you—and more importantly indicate your interest in solving the problems that employers have. What you are trying to sell is an opportunity to meet to show that you can do what the employer needs.

When Something Good Happens Share It!

A few weeks ago I wrote here about the health benefits of keep a journal, which is just a forthright, private daily record of your own thoughts and feelings. I've just learned that you can do yourself some good by telling others about the good things that happen in your life.

You might as well read it too, eh?: Share news of your positive experiences and your joy will be multiplied.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ada Lovelace Day: Maud Menten

This is the day when everyone, worldwide, is invited to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

I would like to mention Dr Maud Menten, whose work I encountered in the form of Michaelis-Menten kinetics when I was an undergraduate. In preparing for this year's ALD I have learned that (a) Menten was a woman, (b) that she was Canadian, and (c) that she was undaunted by the attitudes of her time. When she was not allowed to do research here she took herself off to where she could do it. It's outrageous of course that that should have been necessary.

In trying to fit the Michaelis-Menten equations to data I learned a lot. For instance, you can't expect to estimate four parameters with four data points, especially when error masks the true values. And, using linear approximations to equation systems can make a mess of error structures. And ... well, I've already said I learned much.

Nonetheless I eventually I realised that I was better at applications than discovery and I owe some of that to her. Now that I can look back at this over several decades I am even more amazed by what Menten was able to accomplish.