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Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the take-the-hard-road dept.

Google 358

theodp (442580) writes "In a NY Times interview on How to Get a Job at Google with Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google, the subject of grit-based hiring came up. Bock explained: 'I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer.' Bock also advised, 'You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans.'"

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Breaking bad (0)

blagooly (897225) | about 8 months ago | (#46804501)

Incoming:

turning math class into a medium for theorizing about social justice as a group process to reach consensus

“mathematics educators must be pushed to grapple with the complexity and particularities of race, marginalized status, and differential treatment by providing a lens for examining social, institutional, and structural inequities that contribute to differentials in the opportunities to learn mathematics.”

http://www.invisibleserfscolla... [invisibleserfscollar.com]

Re:Breaking bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805179)

uhhh... dafuq...???

15" Golf Holes (4, Funny)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 8 months ago | (#46804503)

Google employment interview: "Do you think increasing the hole size is good for golf?"

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

  John F. Kennedy

Re:15" Golf Holes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804561)

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

FYI, "the other things", and the cause of all of the cheering, was not from this awesome moon thing, but from the line just before... "Why does Rice play Texas?"

Re:15" Golf Holes (0)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 8 months ago | (#46804591)

When I first read that article this morning, I thought I was on the Onion. Sadly, I was mistaken. That being said, having larger holes might make it easier for some children to pick up the sport, and retain it.

Re:15" Golf Holes (2, Informative)

loufoque (1400831) | about 8 months ago | (#46804719)

I would share my google interview questions (some of them were pretty original and interesting), but unlike you I happen to remember they're confidential.

Re:15" Golf Holes (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 8 months ago | (#46804783)

That makes them very suitable for confiding them to us,doesn't it?

Re:15" Golf Holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804871)

I would share my google interview questions (some of them were pretty original and interesting), but unlike you I happen to remember they're confidential.

We admire your integrity.

Re:15" Golf Holes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804963)

but isn't it Google that thinks everything about everyone should be public?

it keeps everyone honest.

Re:15" Golf Holes (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804981)

Are people really that fucking pathetic that they respect the "confidentiality" of an abusive multi-billion dollar corporation?

I guess if you weren't such a spineless, toadying tool, you wouldn't have interviewed with them in the first place.

Re:15" Golf Holes (1)

plopez (54068) | about 8 months ago | (#46805153)

Larger hole sizes are handy in a number of places. But those web sites are NSFW.

Double A (1)

OffTheLip (636691) | about 8 months ago | (#46804511)

I earned mostly A-B grades in CS and English because I saw value in each. I may have worked harder in some of the liberal arts courses but, as a returning student with a lot to prove, I demanded excellence.

It's still about $ (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804599)

Graduated CS program with a 2.089 GPA, makes six figure salary in small-mid size city.

Re:It's still about $ (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804641)

Right there with ya. Took me 9 years to get my CS degree, and it was worth every penny. 2.1 gpa, 6 figure salary.

Re:It's still about $ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804781)

Graduated from high school a year early and never went to university. Now wealthy and retired before the age of 40.

Re:It's still about $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805071)

That is great man, Your quality of life sounds excellent! I am someone who has 3 Computer science degrees and got a 3.81 cumulative across all three degrees, and can't find a job, other than getting funneled into entry level stuff that makes my degrees not worth the time and money.. IE they are the same jobs I was getting when I didn't have any degrees, the difference now is that I am educated, older and more experienced and am only able to get interviews for the same jobs.

What is it that you actually do in your job for all that money? Could you outline some of your accomplishments? What are your responsibilities? Could you outline some of the deliverables that outline some of your best work? The term "six figures" really doesn't give us much.

Thanks in advance!

Re:Double A (5, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | about 8 months ago | (#46804683)

Doesn't Google have on campus coffee shops? If so they need English majors to bolster their barista ranks.

*sigh* (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 8 months ago | (#46804513)

Big surprise.. tech hirer not valuing fields they do not hire from.

Though given how laborious and difficult an actual english degree is and how high the failure rate is, saying that CS has more 'rigor in thinking' and 'challenging' is laughable. Those upper level english courses require a lot of rigors thinking and are quite challenging, even if they do not get the same respect as the more profitable CS degree.

And this is coming from someone with a Computer Engineering degree. However I wish there were more english majors in tech since they can bring some pretty useful skills and thought patterns to the table and can provide, esp if your department is aspie-culture heavy.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804551)

Though given how laborious and difficult an actual english degree is and how high the failure rate is, saying that CS has more 'rigor in thinking' and 'challenging' is laughable.

Laughable? Maybe different kinds of people try to enter each field. People with different preferences, different levels of intelligent, or a different amount of willpower. I don't think saying "More people fail to get English degrees, so it takes more critical thinking skills to get one!" or some such, is valid. Although, most programmers and CS grads have no clue what they're doing, so it's not like I hold these people in high esteem.

Re:*sigh* (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 8 months ago | (#46805065)

I don't think saying "More people fail to get English degrees, so it takes more critical thinking skills to get one!" or some such, is valid. Although, most programmers and CS grads have no clue what they're doing, so it's not like I hold these people in high esteem.

However, that's what the Google guy was saying about an English degree.

Re:*sigh* (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 8 months ago | (#46804559)

Those upper level english courses require a lot of rigors thinking

I'm sure they did.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805121)

Apples and Oranges.. besides if accomplishments were judged on how much effort, or more to the point how much "perceived" effort went into them, then I think we would see a lot more type 1 diabetic Mr. Olympia, but so far only 1 of these has happened that I know of and he got it not because of his talent, genetics but hard work on top of hard work on top of hard work.

Please take a second to appreciate the point that being smart or talented or mentally gifted is not enough, you have to work hard to develop your gifts and make them what are referred to in the industry as "strengths"

Re:*sigh* (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#46804579)

I wish there were more english majors in tech since they can bring some pretty useful skills and thought patterns to the table

Which of those would be useful to Google or another company that writes a lot of software?

Re:*sigh* (4, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 8 months ago | (#46804675)

Which of those would be useful to Google or another company that writes a lot of software?

A different point of view? If you have a company full of programers with CS degrees and someone shows up with a Lit degree but still knows how to code and program and meet the qualifications, why not hire them? They might look at a situation differently than everyone else due to a different education and might come up with a solution no one else would have thought of. It never hurts to hire people of different backgrounds as long as they are qualified for the job.

Re:*sigh* (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#46805089)

someone shows up with a Lit degree but still knows how to code and program

Now you're adding additional qualifications. I've known some excellent programmers who had degrees that weren't in CS or a related field. In that case though their degree is irrelevant. Why not hire people who have on HS diplomas? I've know some excellent people like that too.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805159)

We get better employeees by not interviewing people who have only a CS degree. While having one isn't a deal-breaker, it certainly doesn't move up in the pile of resumes.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 8 months ago | (#46804929)

Given what I've seen of Engrish in help files- tech writing?

Re:*sigh* (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#46805043)

It was better back when such things were written by people who spoke English as their primary language. Some understanding of the subject matter you're writing about doesn't hurt either, but such people have been deemed too expensive.

Re:*sigh* (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46805003)

We're here. We're just invisible.

Re:*sigh* (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 8 months ago | (#46805081)

Critical thinking skills. Analytical ability. Comparative analysis. Language skills....you know things that would be very helpful for a company that makes a search engine....

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804643)

Big surprise.. tech hirer not valuing fields they do not hire from.

Though given how laborious and difficult an actual english degree is and how high the failure rate is, saying that CS has more 'rigor in thinking' and 'challenging' is laughable. Those upper level english courses require a lot of rigors thinking and are quite challenging, even if they do not get the same respect as the more profitable CS degree.

And this is coming from someone with a Computer Engineering degree. However I wish there were more english majors in tech since they can bring some pretty useful skills and thought patterns to the table and can provide, esp if your department is aspie-culture heavy.

Q.E.D.

Good thing that's Latin...

Re:*sigh* (3, Informative)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 8 months ago | (#46804691)

As someone that makes tech hiring decisions, I do value people with good English skills. (or is it well?...)

To be serious, though, while I value communication skills. I value engineering skills more. However, if someone failed English class, they probably lack the communication skills to get reach me in an interview.

Re:*sigh* (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 8 months ago | (#46804747)

given how laborious and difficult an actual english degree is and how high the failure rate is, saying that CS has more 'rigor in thinking' and 'challenging' is laughable.

Swinging a sledge hammer is laborious.

Community colleges have astronomically high failure rates. That doesn't mean their courses are harder than 4-year colleges.

Those upper level english courses require a lot of rigors thinking and are quite challenging,

Art and philosophy require lots of "thinking", too... just not the exacting, logical, process-oriented type needed for engineering.

Re:*sigh* (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#46804925)

Art and philosophy do actually require rigorous thinking, for much the same reason as engineering.

When designing, the engineer must consider all possible scenarios in which his design will be used. Some scenarios may be assumed from the start, and others may be accounted for in the design. Regardless of how careful the engineer is, there are always people who will use the design in an unintended manner, perhaps better or worse than the original goal.

An artist, when creating a work, must consider the environment the work will be viewed in. Some aspects may be controlled through framing or instructions to curators, but there will always be different interpretations for different people. Philosophers, too, must consider every implication of their theory, and must understand the universe of discourse in which their theory holds. Another person may interpret a particular situation differently, so a comprehensive philosophical theory must account for that.

Consider, for example, Michelangelo's statue of David. Michelangelo designed the work to be placed high on a cathedral, so the hands and head are enlarged so they'll be noticeable from the ground. A modern viewer ignorant of David's history would see the statue as grotesque, obscuring the quality of the work.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804997)

Math is a branch of philosophy. Try writing a research paper in a Liberal Arts program without faultless logic and you won't do well.

Re:*sigh* (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 8 months ago | (#46805103)

Computer Science, not engineer. Stay on topic zippy. Not alot of rigorous thinking goes into writing computer programs. most are cut and paste, formulaic.

Re:*sigh* (4, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about 8 months ago | (#46804751)

Though given how laborious and difficult an actual english degree is and how high the failure rate is, saying that CS has more 'rigor in thinking' and 'challenging' is laughable. Those upper level english courses require a lot of rigors thinking and are quite challenging, even if they do not get the same respect as the more profitable CS degree.

Oh, bullshit. Do not confuse laborious with learning to think rigorously. Do not confuse sophistry with rigor.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 8 months ago | (#46804965)

Oh, bullshit. Do not confuse laborious with learning to think rigorously. Do not confuse sophistry with rigor.

I don't. Neither do you, apparently, but in a much different way.

Re:*sigh* (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 8 months ago | (#46804883)

Big surprise.. tech hirer not valuing fields they do not hire from.

Big surprise.. tech hirer not valuing fields from which they don't hire.

Stupid non-English majors...

Re:*sigh* (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 8 months ago | (#46805133)

Really? Because most people I know in the field did not come from a CS background. Swing and a miss.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 8 months ago | (#46804919)

NOBODY hires English majors. There's no need for the skills anymore.

Re:*sigh* (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46805019)

There absolutely is. Otherwise software documentation would not be in such a sorry state at most organizations.

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805073)

It is far more challenging to find someone who possesses excellent communication skills than one who skates through a CS program. Further, a candidate with strong critical thinking communication skills will find themselves much less susceptible to competition to lower-cost offshore resources. That is not to say that you cannot obtain such skills from a college or university that offers CS or engineering degrees, but to suggest that English or any other liberal arts programs do not produce valuable (and valued) talent is, in my opinion, false.

Riiiiight (5, Insightful)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 8 months ago | (#46804519)

Bock also advised, 'You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans.'

So, basically, you should be ridiculously highly skilled in multiple specialized fields so that we can hire you and make you take on the work of three to five people for the pay of a single position (or maybe just for the glory of being an intern so that we can pay you even less!).

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804573)

Yes. But so what? Decades ago, you would have the art department make a presentation, and now you use PowerPoint. Before you would have a secretary type something up, now you use Word. (Or perhaps you're like me, and you use LaTeX for both.) But in each generation, you're doing the jobs of many from the previous generation.

Re:Riiiiight (2)

daremonai (859175) | about 8 months ago | (#46804627)

True. It's just that, judging by the average presentation I've seen / paper I've read, you're probably doing those jobs poorly.

Re:Riiiiight (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#46804891)

Yes, but you also get the necessary tool to do it yourself. More and more sophisticated tools make it possible to us now to do things that required lots of training before. I can make phone calls, a century ago that needed an operator who had to be trained to know where to plug what cable to get me connected. I can navigate while driving because my navigation tool and GPS not only tell me where I am but also how I get where I want to go without having someone next to me reading maps.

What we don't get, though, is more time. When you eliminate that secretary position and I have to write my own letters, of course i can do it and format them sensibly, even do serial letters without needing dozens of typists, but I have to do it on my own time instead of handing it over and being done with it.

So yes, we don't need professional skills anymore because we have tools taking over the skill requirements. What that means, though, is that we still need to take the time to do it, and that time comes out of my "time pocket" now, so to speak.

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804619)

I've worked with people who wouldn't perform any job not directly connected to their "professional training" - a classic example is when a delivery of books turned up they wouldn't help unbox them because it was "menial work". They didn't last long. And that attitude has become more and more common in the last 15 years or so.

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804753)

There's something to be said for not getting too distracted from the job you're supposed to be doing. But on the whole, I agree, it seems to me people have gone too far down the "not my job" kind of hot potato line of thought. When there's work that needs to be done somebody has to do it, and if it's not a significant detriment to your other work, why not you? I wonder what these people do at home. Spill some milk on the kitchen floor and then what? Not my job, call the cleaning lady?

Re:Riiiiight (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 8 months ago | (#46804887)

How is that example even relevant? Were those people hired for a full-time book unpacker position? Obviously many people do the occasional odd job in at their workplace but how is that supposed to be comparable to the issue at hand eludes me.

Re:Riiiiight (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46804803)

Exactly. If you want skills party for them, don't offer shitty internships.

Re:Riiiiight (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#46804833)

Erh... yes? Of course?

How long have you been on this planet that you come to the realization just now?

Re:Riiiiight (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804967)

I'm a radiologist. I interpret MRI scans. Doing so requires 4 year undergraduate training, followed by 4 years of medical school, an internship year, and 4 years of residency training. I've had to pass numerous national boards exams to get where I am today. What training does it require to staff a call center?

The analogy is preposterous. There is an absolutely enormous amount of anatomy and pathology required to properly interpret MRI scans. One cannot go from being a call center operator to a radiologist overnight.

Re:Riiiiight (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#46805057)

we can hire you and make you take on the work of three to five people for the pay of a single position

Do you mean to say the work, or the roles?

If you're actually being as productive as several people, as though they had been working productively 100% of the time, then you should be paid more.

On the other hand, if you're just doing the same amount of productive work, but able to help with other tasks outside your primary discipline when you otherwise would be waiting on something, then you're doing exactly the work you're being paid for.

Well .... duh. (5, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | about 8 months ago | (#46804527)

In other news, industries where command and use of the English language is the priority will state that it's better to be a 'B' English Grad than an 'A+' CS Grad.

Google's comments don't prove anything new about the value of the degrees of either course - short of the fact that it's generally better to have a degree in the industry you intend on working in.

Re:Well .... duh. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 8 months ago | (#46804809)

What? Now you tell me? I have an arts major. Hey, perhaps I can make images in milk foam or something like that.

No Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804537)

A CS graduate with a "B" grade is likely someone who has worked for the "B" in demanding courses which are heavy into problem solving.

A english major has very limited problem solving training and have little use in a environment such as Google.

Re:No Shit (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#46804763)

"A english major has very limited problem solving training and have little use in a environment such as Google."

Even someone who has passed High School level English knows it should be An English major.

Re:No Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805011)

As someone who doesn't work for Google, but also doesn't like English majors, I'd like to point out that this is the sort of thing that could be trivially picked up for no cost with a Bayesian classifier. You're going to need to bring more to the table to work at Google than replacing a very small shell script.

Yes, study CS to be a call center operator (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804545)

Was that supposed to be a pitch for or against CS?

Or win the lottery (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 8 months ago | (#46804547)

'You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans.'

Sure, that's a good idea. If you were able to do every job, then there would always be something useful to do if your job or industry disappeared. But since we're talking magic here, why not win the lottery of inherit a fortune instead? Provided you've got a good finance guy, that's an even better plan for long-term economic stability in your household.

Or have a 300 IQ and 2 centuries Unix experience (1)

theodp (442580) | about 8 months ago | (#46804855)

Right, Catbert? [dilbert.com]

What passes for rigorous thinking apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804555)

"a student who was a COMPUTER SCIENCE and MATH double major, who was thinking of shifting to an ECONOMICS major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in COMPUTER SCIENCE than an A+ student in ENGLISH "

Re:What passes for rigorous thinking apparently (1, Funny)

daremonai (859175) | about 8 months ago | (#46804651)

C'mon. English and economics both start with the letter 'e' so they're pretty much the same thing.

Re:What passes for rigorous thinking apparently (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804733)

So does 'enema' which is pretty much what you have for a brain, you arrogant prick. Fuck you.

Re:What passes for rigorous thinking apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804947)

I'll bet you're really nice in person.

Vocational school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804593)

So it's better to be a call center lackey for Google than to be a well educated, successful business person who thinks for themselves and has a well rounded education? It sounds to me like Bock is trying to steer people in the direction of what used to be called vocational school: Have thorough training in a narrow field and maintain humble expectations when entering the job market. But vocational school graduates don't start out in adult life with a debt of $100,000+ for school loans.

Re:Vocational school (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#46804667)

well educated, successful business person who thinks for themselves and has a well rounded education?

1. What sort of university education do you think is important to be a successful business person?

2. Does it depend on what type of business you're in, or is there just some sort of generic education that's equally useful in all businesses?

3. w/r/t the above, please distinguish between education that's genuinely useful, and that which is merely ticket punching (i.e. a bachelor's is the new HS diploma).

Open contempt for the humanities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804601)

An A in English can be just as difficult to receive as an A in Computer Science.

Re:Open contempt for the humanities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804729)

An A in English can be just as difficult to receive as an A in Computer Science.

And an A in English can be just as valuable to employers as the ability to lift 20 pounds. i.e. it's nice to have, but won't guarantee you a job anywhere.

Re:Open contempt for the humanities (1, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 8 months ago | (#46804739)

The difference being, the A in CS will usually be an objective measurement, whereas the A in English will be dependent on adopting the grader's ideological hobbyhorse and imitating the style of whatever postmodernist gobbledygook is currently popular.

Re:Open contempt for the humanities (3, Funny)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 8 months ago | (#46805067)

So, English Majors are good for documentation and middle management?

And he is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804603)

Before research tier work, mathematical thought is fairly robotic: I sailed through a first mathematics degree at a top tier UK university, and had not too much more trouble with an MSc. Having assisted some of my linguist compatriots with creating software to assist in their research, I have found that a good language degree - and I emphasise good here - requires not only rigorous thinking skills of the style required of mathematicians but a whole host of other talents. The workload is also far greater.

At undergrad level, mathematics is mostly about having a knack or not, and if you don't have the knack, being slightly bothered to work. Compsci is similar but with less breadth and rigour. I wouldn't ever hire a compsci or a mathematics graduate with only a first degree. During my short, regrettable (from an ethical PoV) stint in finance, I found that the most gifted person had a... biology degree. He had just enough rigour, but he didn't just think in terms of simplistic axioms.

Re:And he is wrong. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#46805157)

I wouldn't ever hire a compsci or a mathematics graduate with only a first degree.

In which case you're rejecting quite a few highly qualified people.

It's also odd that you'd require an additional degree when you said that "[I] had not too much more trouble with an MSc". Are two easy degrees much better than one?

the most gifted person had a... biology degree

Last time I checked biology is a hard science, and definitely not one of the humanities.

Re:And he is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805177)

Maybe your school just wasn't very good or competitive.

Context (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 8 months ago | (#46804645)

Note the context:

I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.

I think it's important not to drop out the first part of that sentence. The message here is not really about the superiority of CS over English (at least I hope it wasn't), but the idea that "If you're worried about your post-graduate future, worry less about grades and more about what you're studying." There may be very rigorous, interesting, challenging English programs out there. From my experience talking to some CS majors, it seems that not all CS programs are very good. Making a strict comparison between different subjects isn't easy.

Re:Context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804773)

adding the implied words "if you want a job at google, or another tech company" it makes even more sense.

Re:Context (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 8 months ago | (#46804923)

It seems to me that the Google guy either wasn't listening or doesn't know the difference between English as a subject and economics.

As it is, in other parts of the world, the quality of degree is more of a door-opener than the subject - or the university. So you're sometimes better off getting a 2-one from a less rigourous college than a 2-two from a more prestigious establishment. As so many places only ask for an upper second or better and care little about the subject or where you studied.

My personal experience (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804661)

I've worked for several well-known companies, including the largest ISP in the US as well as Microsoft. The smartest, most well-adapted, well-rounded IT guys I've ever worked for and with never had CS degrees. Google and companies like them are pedigree shops pure and simple. It's the caste system of IT. I once worked with a guy we'll call "D". D was a high school graduate who was our best UNIX admin. There was *nothing* D could not sort out. He could program in Perl, Bash, build Solaris, Linux, BSD boxes, set up Web servers, debug code, you name it. By far the smartest guy I've ever worked around. The others I look up to? One of them has a Associatesd degree from a small college, but he's as smart as a tree full of owls.

Specialist shops may need specialist talent, but anyone suitable motivated can learn CS. I did. I don't have a four-year degree and don't want one. The university of life is far valuable than university -- unless your are a specialist -- and we know what Robert Heinlein said about specialization: "it's for insects." IT people should be well rounded in the classical sense. Whilst at the smoking deck, we should be able to converse about more than IT. You should know who Dostoevsky was. You should know the difference between shallots and onions. If all you know is CS, you're shallow with a pedigree and I will never hire you. I want well-rounded people in my orbit, not shallow, one-dimensional tech freaks.

GPA does not show much. also grade inflation mixes (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#46804673)

GPA does not show much. also grade inflation mixes stuff up.

grade inflation also can very school to school so a B at one can be just as good as A at an other one.

there should be a split GPA or some classes that are just pass / fail.

Like have an GPA for core classes one for general education classes and one for the filler / fluff classes.

Re:GPA does not show much. also grade inflation mi (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 8 months ago | (#46805141)

Actually, that's the case for some electives at the university I attended. PE classes were pure pass/fail, usually based on attendance.

MRI ????? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804701)

This Bock dude is full of it.

Quote:" Bock also advised, 'You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans"

I've been looking at MRI's for over 15 years professionally, as a medical specialist, though i'm not a radiologist. I still don't think that i can " interpret an MRI". Sure i see a lot. Sure i know what to look for in my field. But i will never be able to " interpret an MRI"

He/she doesn't know what he/she is talking about.

Re:MRI ????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805023)

You're better at your field of study the less you know about it.

Google wants good tools, not tools with good taste (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804741)

Google wants to use you during your productive years and then
discard you.

You've been warned.

                                                                          - Former Google Employee who left for greener pastures

Incorrect reasoning. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 8 months ago | (#46804759)

It is also better to be a "B" economics major than an "A+" English major.

Laszlo Bock needs to take a course in paying attention to what is said.

Surpise: To work at Google, major in CS (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 8 months ago | (#46804769)

You cannot predict how "fluffy" a major is simply by looking at the name. There are killer CS programs out there, and killer English or Economics programs. And I am sure there are schools where one or more of those programs are "fluff" instead.

Your best bet in picking a major is to, obviously, pick one related to the field you'd like to go in. That doesn't mean that an English major can't be a successful developer, or that a CS major cannot write literature. But if you have to pick something to major in, why would you pick something completely unrelated?

(And as a side-note Google: In the US anyway, you better not be taking on a career in reading MRI's unless you have a medical degree, unless you want to get thrown in prison for practicing medicine without a license.)

What about C+ CS Student? (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 8 months ago | (#46804779)

My gpa was 2.88. Is there still hope?

MRI? Why would you want to know biology for that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804797)

I'm more scared that they think an programming degree will somehow make you good at reading MRI's.

Self selection (2)

Primate Pete (2773471) | about 8 months ago | (#46804811)

"I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English

-might be re-phrased-

"I hire people that I think are like me."

I'll grant that there are a lot of unskilled liberal arts majors out there, but I've also interviewed hundreds of people with technical degrees and no skills, sense, or insight. Degree is just not an accurate enough heuristic to use as a filter. Unfortunately, there's not degree available in Generalized Problem Solving.

So sick of Google This Google That (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 8 months ago | (#46804815)

In 1999 Fast Search and Transfer was neck and neck with google for speed, volume, and accuracy. The board at FAST were idiots and said there was no money in search and basically stopped trying and let google win.

What I learned in this time is that Google was no better than FAST, and is no better than any other company. They won because viable competition walked away. Google's only real innovation was thier revenue model. Right now, Google has BILLIONS to toss at projects. We hear about a LOT of successful or nearly successful projects, but how many failures are there that we never hear about? Its easy to be innovative when you are grossly profitable.

For any "hiring practice" to be better than any other, you need to *prove* that the cost of labor compared to productivity (innovation, etc.) that is directly related to revenue has a better ratio than that in other companies. Frankly, I don't see it. Google sells ads, nothing else even comes close on their books.

Google is just the Microsoft of the late '80 and early '90s. A pundit's darling, a fictional yardstick by which the ignorant measure what they don't understand.

Better? For whom? (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 8 months ago | (#46804881)

It sounds like that Google guy already has a career mapped out for the B-grade students:

You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today

Google: Avoid

As a former B student (barely) in English... (1)

twocoasttb (601290) | about 8 months ago | (#46804935)

I've had a successful career in software development for more than twenty years, but do sometimes wonder if I'd be better off today had I worked harder in college and gotten a CS degree. No way to know, really. Maybe I'd be less annoyed by poor spelling and grammar in comment blocks.

English majors are hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46804955)

It isn't reading poetry and telling others how it makes you feel inside. It is learning how to logically argue issues, perform research, detect biases, being able to fully understand both sides of a debate, and understanding a language that is far more complex than C and Java.

Analytical training (which is what a B.A. in English will give you) is useful no matter the field of work.

I work in the tech field, most of my colleges can't argue. They hit upon logical fallacies, which when pointed out causes them bewilderment or anger.

Economics != English (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 8 months ago | (#46804991)

[...] who was thinking of shifting to an economics major [...]. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English

Except being a B student in economics is probably better than being an A+ student in English as well.
But is being a B student in economics better than being a B student in English?

Also, wanting to not be rigorous is apparently better than wanting to be rigorous, seeing as this student has gotten an internship.

Laszlo Bock, BA in International Relations, MBA (1)

Primate Pete (2773471) | about 8 months ago | (#46804999)

...has strong opinions about HR issues, and wants you to know that CS majors make better peons than English majors.

Why would anyone listen to the HR director about what's good for you? He's looking out for the company.

why we need english majors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805027)

"I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load."

At least the English majors can get their nouns and pronouns to agree.

Why you should not get a job at Google (1)

jonfr (888673) | about 8 months ago | (#46805049)

Google is the king of the new IT bubble. Last time there was an IT bubble Yahoo! was that same king. Guess what is going to happen, one day the bubble is going to explode and then implode and Google is not going to be king (monopoly) any more. There are many good reasons not to apply for an job at Google. But people have to find those reasons for them self.

Let's compare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805137)

Generally, children write legibly and coherently by 10. Writing a computer program that works safely by then? No generally.

Internship (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 8 months ago | (#46805145)

So now he's been anointed by the Goog and will be viewed as a golden child at every job he interviews for in the future.

Walk the talk, Mr. Bock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46805155)

Please have your MRI scans be interpreted by your Call Center operator. please. Better still, have your kid's MRI scans be interpreted by someone who is a call center operator who happens to be 'adaptable'. forget any specialized training, medical degree, etc. Just be adaptable, like any of your employees! Will you? Oh will you????

Mr. Bock, you are not the ultimate word in everything, just because you work for Google. It only means that you set the policies for someone with a lot of money, and have some power. Does not make your opinion any less bunkum than say north korean leader's.

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