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Mark Herschberg

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since Dec 04, 2000
Author of The Career Toolkit

From tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems, Mark has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia. He helped to start the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, dubbed MIT’s “career success accelerator,” where he teaches annually. At MIT, he received a B.S. in physics, a B.S. in electrical engineering & computer science, and a M.Eng. in electrical engineering & computer science, focusing on cryptography. At Harvard Business School, Mark helped create a platform used to teach finance at prominent business schools. He also works with many non-profits, including Techie Youth and Plant A Million Corals. He was one of the top-ranked ballroom dancers in the country and now lives in New York City, where he is known for his social gatherings, including his annual Halloween party, as well as his diverse cufflink collection.
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Recent posts by Mark Herschberg

Talk to people you know in difficult roles and ask them what they like and don't like about what they do. Start to make a list of things that sound interesting to you (or things you want to avoid). That should help guide you towards what you may want to do next.

1 week ago
Talks to as many people as possible, both on your team and off. Ask them what challenges and opportunities they see and what things they think you should keep in mind.
2 weeks ago
When thinking through a career plan, looking at major trends is important. IoT is likely to continue to be a growing field over the next few decades, so it's likely a good area to get into (assuming you find it interesting).

Digital transformation isn't just about the cloud. That said there while we see a lot of digital transformation today, that initial transformation, or a shift into the cloud, is a one time event. So the demand for digital transformation service we see today will decline in the US and Europe, but may continue in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Of course the digital transformation companies themselves will evolve and grow to offer more services. Likewise if you like digital transformation, doing that can set you up for other opportunities going forward.

2 weeks ago
Funny you should ask.

Twenty years ago I wrote a book on software engineering that I ultimately didn't publish (I may still publisher later). There were some topics that felt more general and in fact found their way into The Career Toolkit, This was is industry agnostic. There's not one line of code. That said in addition to general skills like leadership and negotiations, the topics of communication and ethics are very critical specifically to our daily work in software. You might also notice a few agile like concepts in the management chapter.
2 weeks ago
It's been found useful by folks ranging from college students through people with nearly four decades of experience, across a variety of professions. These are fundamental skills used throughout your career.
2 weeks ago
After months of social distancing it's great to be back here on the ranch enjoying wide open spaces!
2 weeks ago
Congratulations to all five!

--Mark
10 years ago
I was recently interviewed for this article (and quoted heavily in it):

5 Qualities Every Hiring Manager Wants in a Developer

--Mark
10 years ago

thomas silver wrote:Sorry for not mentioning it earlier that I was referring to US market. I think I am missing something as I do not understand how the company HR likes to use head hunters even if it receive %50 back from them for landing a candidate, as Rambo Prasad indicated. The company still has to pay the other %50 to the head hunters (on top of paying salary for internal HR), am I right?



In the US the standard rate for employees is 25% of base salary. (Caveat: in recessions or overheated markets it can vary from about 15-33%; executive recruiters--and I mean real executives of Fortune 500 type companies, just just people who use the term "executive recruiter" have different standards.) This means the recruiter receives 25% of your annual salary only. If you receive $100k in salary, and a 20% bonus, and lots of stock options, and they paid for some classes and sent you to conferences as part of your contract, the recruiter (or recruiting firm) will receives a fee of $25k.

Now if the recruiter (or firm) does a kickback to the company, it probably violates the employee code of conduct (and certainly is unethical) and would be grounds for dismissal.

Remember that in a large company benefits (SS, medical benefits, 401k matching, overhead) can run 20-30% on top of salary. For a firm, a 25% recruiting fee isn't necessarily that costly.

--Mark
10 years ago

arulk pillai wrote:I also noticed that the margin charged by some recruitment agencies can vary depending on how desperate you are and how well you negotiate. That is why I rely more on networking to find assignments where possible.



I haven't seen that. I have seen the rates change based on how desperate the recruiting agency is. Standard rate is 25% of the first year's base salary. In recessions it can drop to 20% and as low as 15%. Back in the late 90's some companies jacked it up to 30%.

--Mark
10 years ago

vijay jamadade wrote:Hi Friends,

I just switched to new company. I have been allocated to project. We have a big team.

Please share your experiences on how you should get mixed with the new environment? how to avoid the conflicts ? how to know about the responsibilities?

I mean what things you think to consider to do.. I want to be a good team player but people here are not frank.




The answer is simple... talk to people. Talk to your peers, talk to your boss, talk to people outside your group, talk to everyone. Ask them about the culture of the company, the business goals of this project, the business goals of the company, how people like to work together, what projects have gone well and why, what projects have failed and why, etc. Just ask, ask, ask. Don't think of this linearly, that you can ask a question and get the exact answer you need, but rather that you'll ask many questions to many people and the answers together will paint a picture for you.

--Mark
10 years ago

Danish Shaukat wrote:
No big company or a multinational will hire me for a managerial position unless I have a management related degree. Most companies here are service based companies and there is no room for growth if I stick to the technical path.



With that attitude you are absolutely right. There are plenty of big companies, service and otherwise, that hire former engineers sans business degrees as managers--but only ones who believe they can get hired.

Danish Shaukat wrote:
You can easily pick up a bunch of courses in MBA that will not have much relevance to the software sector. So it is the same with Engineering Management.



Really? Name one? Taxation and accounting? All software companies pay taxes. Organizational Behavior? Software companies hire people. MIS? Plenty use or work on MIS systems. Marketing? You're right, what software company would bother with marketing? :-p Etc.

Sure, some class on funding for NGO's may be more off topic than a class on building clean rooms, but for the most part if you want to be a general manager, even a technical leader you should understand all those "irrelevant" topics.

--Mark
11 years ago

Pat Farrell wrote:The Business Schools claim that any good manager, properly taught, can manage anything. They have to say that, its part of their charter. But I don't agree. I've seen too many MBA holding folks think they can manage software projects, and most of them fail.



The business schools are right. The catch is that "MBA" does always mean "properly taught. " :-)


Danish, start by asking yourself what you want to do. It sounds like you're not yet sure. If you're wandering the city not certain where you want to go, getting on a bike will speed you up, but you still don't know in which direction to move.

I'd start by spending more time thinking about your future. Talk to people in the jobs you would want 10-20 years out and ask them what skills they need and what they think would help you get there. be sure you honestly assess your own skills and then ask people in the two programs (administrators and students/alumni) what skills they got from the program.

As others noted most of the engineering masters classes are relevant. But still, it's sounds clearly oriented towards a different type of engineering. Sure, I could take civil management classes and the general ideas might apply to nuclear management but it seems more efficient to find a nuclear management program directly.

As for an MBA the results vary. The material you can all learn from books--although some people learn better from classes than from books (and note that in some programs classes are lectures, some are case studies with peer learning--make sure if one works for you and the other doesn't you're in the program right for you). Of course much of the value of an MBA is the certification you get plus the networking.

If you want to start your own business an MBA will only give you confidence, access to a larger network, and maybe some improvement in credibility when seeking funding. I've yet to see an MBA program teach someone how to actually start and run a business. Everyone I know learned that by doing. The degree will definitely help get interviews at big corporations.

--Mark
11 years ago

Campbell Ritchie wrote:This sounds like a puzzle question like "how do you weigh an elephant?" If you have seen it before, it is very easy. Such an interview is as much a test of memory as of intelligence.



It's actually a slightly different family of questions--of course most interviewers aren't competent enough to know the difference.

The weight question is a bounded math problem. You can mathematically express the question and the solution. Similar questions include a knight's tour, tiling problems, river crossing questions, etc.

The elephant question is open ended and tests your ability to work with unbounded problems requiring creativity to find a solution. Similar questions include moving a mountain, lightbulb questions, and to a lesser extent Feynman numbers.

--Mark
11 years ago