Crafting your education

In the movie Wordplay, all about NY Times Crossword Puzzles, they interview Will Shortz and he talks about how he crafted his own education (a degree in enigmatology).  I was thinking about how crafting  your education can take you many places.

For instance, ever now and then I’ve been know to go on an interview or two… In this day and age people are very focused on asking directed programming puzzles – the classic is the FizzBuzz problem.  Over they years I’ve done so many whiteboard/computer programming puzzles in interviews that I’ve lost track of them.  Everything from string sorting, to multi-threaded deadlock contention.

What I realized last night is that I did craft my education in college to help with these problems.  Sitting at the bottom of my resume is the often overlooked fact that I participated in two different International ACM Programming contests – the second year that I participated we got the Computer Science department to offer a for credit class in programming puzzles.  So, for an entire quarter we worked on short programming problems, under time pressure.  The only downside is that because of rote familiarity with the form, I can be viewed as a little cavalier to the topic…

Looking back, the ability to craft your education, leaves you with some very handy skills.