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Monday, 29 June 2020

7 Advice to Graduates from Apple's SVP of Software Engineering


Craig Federighi is the Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple.
He oversees the development of iOS and macOS.

He's the guy that's been doing quite a fair bit of presentation and demo during Apple's various events.

He was invited to the University of California (UC), Berkeley, to share with the students on how to become 'him'.

1. Do What You Love

Focus on the journey, not the destination.

If you do what you love, things you do during your spare time becomes things "that help you develop in your career".

"If I have a moment on the weekend, I'm gonna be reading things about programming, I'm gonna be reading things about software or artificial intelligence, because that's what I love!"

2. Work With People Whose Work you Admire

Seek to work with people who creates/develops products or services that you love.

Craig was drawn to NeXT because of the company's products mesmerised him and he wanted to learn from and work with the people who developed these products.

NeXT was founded by Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, and was eventually acquired by Apple.

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3. Pay Attention

Pay attention in class, in things going on in your life.

"During life..., you are, through your working life, through your school life, you are surrounded with all of these opportunities to learn. And not just in your field, not just in the thing that you think you're studying, but all those things peripheral to the field you are studying."

Craig actually carries a notebook and pencil to note down all the interesting things he sees.

4. Never Stop Acting Like The New One On The Team

It is ok if you don't know everything.
It is ok to ask for help or ask your team members to explain something to you, even if you are a senior member.

"It turns out, some of those questions are questions the team probably should have been asking themselves and wasn't. And so if you're asking, you might get some answers that everybody needs to hear."

Most importantly, asking these questions allows you the opportunity to keep learning and broaden yourself.

You don't want to make a fool of yourself during an important moment because you didn't clarify with your team members previously before the moment.

5. Team > Self

If you engross yourself into the team and what the team does, you will find that there are many ways you can help.

"When I join projects, I've decided that whatever the team's mission is, whatever we're trying to accomplish, I want to be part of making that happen. And I want to do everything that can be done to make that happen."

Craig once joined a team that was tasked with solely fixing software issues, which didn't sound like a cool thing he wanted to do.
But he ended up learning a lot from the experience because he adopted the mission of the team/project.

Focusing solely on what one will get out of the task will cause one to lose out on a lot of learning experience.

6. Commit, Focus, Reassess

Set a fixed number of years and commit yourself completely to performing that task.
Don't question yourself with "Should I go elsewhere?", "Should I transfer to another department?", "Am I doing the right thing?".

Imagine "if you got married, and every day you woke up and you say, 'am I married to the right person?'. Like that would not be a good relationship."

Instead, just commit yourself to what you have, give yourself an opportunity to experience it.
Set a deadline for yourself, like a year or four, before you step back and reassess what you want to do next.

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7. Follow Your Heart

Trust your gut and listen to yourself.

"When I went to NeXT, I took a big pay cut to join a failing company. It didn't seem like too smart a move... But when I thought of making the decision on that (logical) side of the thing, I just got a feeling in my gut like, 'No! I want to be there!' ".

Bonus 8 Advice: Be Very, Very Lucky

At the end of the day, Craig recognises that this is just 1 person's experience, his experience specifically.
It worked for him, but it might not work for everyone.

He could just be lucky.
So, luck plays a very big part too!

The 50-Minute Video

If you have the time, here's the video on the 50-minute presentation he gave to students at the UC Berkeley.

You can jump to the 23-minute mark for the Q&A.
Before that is just the 7 points we listed above.


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