Author: Sam Lightstone
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Aimed at: Those embarking on a career in software development
Pros: Motivating, interesting and even practically useful
Cons: Reading about success can't actually make you successful
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
"Software is an amazing place to build a career".
If you agree with this sentiment that opens Sam Lightstone's book you are likely to enjoy reading it and find it motivating. Whether it actually helps you to "Get the Job. Work the Org. Become Great" as the subtitle suggests is perhaps not quite as assured - but it does have a lot of pointers.
The advice comes primarily from author Sam Lightstone who has a fairly prestigious career in his own right but it is supported by insights from seventeen big names - or in the case of the interviewees you haven't heard of senior people in key organisations like Microsoft and VMWare.
Although the interviews occupy only around a quarter of the book they were the bits most readers will turn to first. The list on the back jacket is an impressive one. It starts with Steve Wozniak the creator of the Apple Computer. OK so he's first and foremost a hardware guy - but including him in the book's section on Greatness is perfectly reasonable.
The first interview you come to, in the Fundamentals section, is with "Google VP and First Lady of Software" Marissa Mayer and she answers (or perhaps dodges) a question about why few women go into computing with an observation that with the growth of the Web more women are doing so. Next up is Jon Bently, author of Programming Pearls and a contributor to Beautiful Code.
Each interview is preceeded by a page or so about the interviewee allowing you to get a potted history of Linus Torvald (Mr Linux); Bjarne Stroustroup (C++), James Gosling (Java), Ray Tomlinson (inventor of email), and Robert Kahn (co-inventor of the Internet) - to mention only another five of this prestigious list.
The book is both easy to read and easy to make use of. There is advice about writing a reseme and strategies for finding a job. If you are preparing for an interview look up interviews in the index and read "Fifteen Points to a Good Interview". If you are in a job Working the Org, Career Advancement and Career Killers are recommended chapters.
The book retains its focus on software throughout - so as well as a chapter on Time Management there is one on Avoiding Software Development Overruns and another on Secret Insights of Software Project Management.
A recurring message of this book is emphasised again and again and can be summed up as "enjoy what you do" or "do what you enjoy".