Advice For Kids: How To Get Hired By Mr. Gates - InformationWeek

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Advice For Kids: How To Get Hired By Mr. Gates

Time was, talented computer jocks would knock on Microsoft's doors and wait for an audience with its hiring gatekeepers. Now, Microsoft can't hire the kind of folks it needs fast enough. Listen to chairman Bill Gates' sales pitch at the company's Faculty Summit for researchers in Redmond, Wash., this month: "Microsoft is trying to hire every great college graduate who has basic computer-science skills and we think is highly talented," he said. "We've got open head count, these are super-well-paying jobs, you can get your own office." When Bill Gates has to dangle a door to convince talented programmers to come work for him, times are tough.

It's not just Microsoft feeling the pinch. Enrollment in computer science as an undergraduate major fell by more than 60% between 2000 and 2004, according to a UCLA study, while the Labor Department lists data analysts, health-information technicians, and software engineers among the fastest-growing jobs in the next seven years. Microsoft isn't finding enough people to hire in the United States, even as it plans to keep the majority of its development in Redmond, Gates said. "The competition for someone who has the right background is phenomenal," he added.

As computer science sinks, the fastest-growing college major in the country is phys ed, Gates said. That set him off on a mocking riff. "What is going on in that field? I mean, are they making breakthroughs like speech recognition or artificial intelligence? I'm dying to see these new games they're inventing, new rules. The poor Chinese, they don't realize this is the coming field, and 10 years from now they're going to wake up and say, 'Oh no, physical education, we completely missed that activity.'"

So what's the secret to landing one of those open Microsoft jobs? "Say somebody came for an interview and they said, 'Hey, I read The Art Of Computer Programming, that's all I ever read, I did all the problems,'" hypothesized Gates, who'll host 1,200 interns on his lawn this summer. "I would hire them right then," he said. "Even if they didn't do the double-star problems.

Illustration by Superstock

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