In another "Ask Annie" segment at Fortune, a student writes of wanting to work for Google. But this Ivy League college student, because of working so much on outside tech projects, barely has a 3.0 grade point average. He or she wants to know whether it's true that Google will not interview anyone with a GPA below 3.7.
In the Fortune piece, Gayle Laakmaan McDowell, author of "The Google Resume," says Google and other tech companies are looking for four things: passion, creativity, initiative and the ability to get things done. It's a matter of demonstrating those things on your resume. As I wrote previously about overuse of the word "passion":
Show, don't tell. It follows that if you have passion, that must manifest itself in something tangible. That's what you put on your resume. Describe how your passion compelled you to do something that the potential employer might find valuable. And be specific.
That brings us to the problem for many young job-seekers who are full of potential. Here's one definition I've heard of "potential": It means you haven't done anything yet.
What have you done? I would think this Ivy League student who has worked on so many projects would have a lot to put on a resume. In the comments, software engineer Dan Kegel pointed to this page he put up for those just starting out. Kegel has worked with interns at a number of companies, including Google. (He also takes on interns in Los Angeles.) Basically, he says companies are tired of interviewing programmers who can't code, so you have to be able to show what you can do. If you're still in school, he recommends taking courses where you work on seriously difficult projects for the entire term.
That follows the advice of IBM systems engineering guru Bruce Douglass:
... try to get as much experience as you can with real, hands-on projects. Focus on getting internships that will expose you to the practical side of engineering.
Aside from that, there are plenty of organizations in your neighborhood that could use some volunteer tech help.