June 29, 2021

What Does it Take to Get 36 Job Offers?!!! © Cici Mattiuzzi

What does it take to get 36 job offers? Focus? Drive? Discipline? Persistence? Strategy? Hard work? All of that and more...

It is hard to believe, but Sam Lee, a new computer science grad, has managed to get a ridiculous number of job offers during the worst pandemic in 100 years. This is remarkable! For all of the years that I have done career counseling, I have never known a new graduate to have so many job offers to choose from.

I met Sam four years ago, when he was a freshman at Sac State. He attended a meeting of the Institute Electrical and Electronics Engineers, where I spoke on career planning and job search strategy. My advice was to get active in career related professional clubs and to run for office. Sam became the president of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association of Computing Machinery. Over the years, he kept in touch and we talked about his career plans.

It helped that Sam comes from a family that knows the value of hard work.

It is fitting that they settled in the Sacramento Valley, which produces 20% of the U.S. rice harvest.

Sam is the son of Hmong immigrants. They were rice farmers in the mountains of Laos before being forced to leave their homeland. Sam’s father was born in Laos, in 1969, coming to the US in the early 1970s with Sam’s grandparents, to escape war and find a better life. They lived as refugees, traveling from Laos through Thailand.

Like many Hmong immigrants coming to the US at that time, they joined family members in Minnesota and embraced the essentials of being American – learning to speak English, finding housing, sending their children to school, and learning the ways of their new country. Life was a challenge, but it was a relief to leave the war behind and find a place with unlimited opportunity.

Dropping into an American suburb, Sam's grandparents struggled to learn English and raise their children. Sam’s parents arrived in the US as toddlers and learned English easily, while still retaining their native language and culture. From Minnesota, the family moved to Oregon, and then to Fresno and to Merced, finally setting down roots in South Sacramento, where four generations lived under one roof – 17 people in 2000 square feet! Great grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children – 5 sons and 3 daughters all together.

The Lee family, like countless immigrants before them, worked hard to make it in America. Some went to college while some went to work immediately after high school. America gained a social worker, a financial analyst, a restaurant worker, a budget analyst and an office worker. All contributed to helping the family’s next generation grow and thrive in the US.

These first generation Americans advised their children, nieces and nephews to work hard, get an education, take on responsibility, and learn to network. Their children learned by example.

When Sam Lee sets his mind to something, he does it… and does it big. Sam majored in computer science after watching one of his uncles build computers. He searched for jobs like some people play computer games – with intense focus and a seriously competitive strategy.

Over the last semester of his senior year, Sam received offers from some of the most recognizable companies in America – insurance, financial services, technology, consulting, defense, aerospace, government, and manufacturing: Allstate, Accenture Federal Services, BAE, Ball Aerospace, Caterpillar, Chevron, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Ford, HPE, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, the NSA, Northrop Grumman, Northwestern Mutual, Raytheon, SAP, SAIC, Tata, Visa, Boeing, VISA, Wells Fargo… along with a few less familiar companies… and offers ranging from $45k (ridiculously low for a computer science major) to $90k per year.

Sam’s top criteria for assessing offers included the people on the team he would be working with, the technical challenges, opportunities for growth, location, benefits, and compensation.

Sam accepted the best fit for his goals – an offer from Intel in Folsom, California – because he liked the people and he loved the technical challenges in software engineering of the automation for computer drive testing processes. (Drives that are used to store data on your computer - documents and videos). He knew the team and the work challenges from an internship he completed with Intel during the spring of his senior year.

How does someone get 36 offers?!!!

In spite of the demands of a computer science degree program, Sam joined every engineering professional organization he could find – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Association Computing Machinery, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Society of Women Engineers, and National Society of Black Engineers. He was an equal opportunity joiner and the clubs welcomed him! He met lots of people.

Sam held internships throughout college – working 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours during summer and winter breaks. Through his internships he got a chance to see IT in multiple environments. He held internships at the CA Department of Health, CA Franchise Tax Board, CalTrans, Chevron, SMUD, Allstate, and Intel.

Sam networked, researched companies, applied for jobs, and interviewed until he was sure he knew exactly what he wanted and what opportunities were out there that matched his goals, knowledge, interests and values.

He attended engineering events and conferences throughout his education, meeting engineering students from across the country and recruiters from hundreds of companies. Sam left no stone unturned…The conferences and professional activities over the course of his degree program provided him with exposure to large and small companies and Fortune 500 companies that wanted to attract and cultivate technical talent.

Sam also maintained a 3.6 GPA – not an easy thing to do with so many balls in the air. He had a great resume and asked for career advice when he needed it.

Sam has a serious competitive streak. He knew of another engineering student from USC with 23 offers. He wanted to show that a kid from a State school could beat that record. Sam Lee worked hard and it paid off. 36 offers!!! Wow wow wow!!!