Becoming a computer technician is a great point of entry into the IT field. In addition, computer hardware certifications can help demonstrate your knowledge and competency in maintaining computers, mobile devices, printers and more. Below, you’ll find our pick of six computer hardware certifications to help you get your IT career off the ground.
Although we cover our favorite hardware certifications here, the idea that hardware can operate independently of software (or vice versa) isn’t true. If you dig into the curriculum for any specific hardware-related certs in any depth, you’ll quickly realize that software is in control of hardware.
Software comes into play for installation, configuration, maintenance, troubleshooting and just about any other activity you can undertake with hardware. The hardware label simply indicates that devices are involved, not that hardware is all that’s involved.
|BICSI Technician (BICSI)||384||657||30||92||1,163|
Differing factors, such as specific job role, locality and experience level, may impact salary potential. In general, hardware professionals can expect to earn somewhere in the mid-$60,000s. SimplyHired reports average earnings at $71,946 for IT technicians, with highs reported at almost $116,000. The average national salary for computer hardware technicians ranges from about $31,000 to more than $53,000. However, some certifications command higher salaries. Certification Magazine’s “Annual Salary Survey” (Salary Survey 2018) average salaries for CompTIA Server+ at $98,060 and the A+ credential at $97,730.
The CompTIA A+ certification is the granddaddy and best known of all hardware credentials. For anyone serious about working with PCs, laptops, mobile devices, printers or operating systems, the A+ should at least be on their radar, if not in their game plan.
Since the first A+ credential was awarded in March 1993, the program continues to draw active interest and participation. With more than 1 million IT professionals now possessing the A+ credential, it is something of a checkbox item for PC technicians and support professionals. It also appears in a great many job postings or advertisements.
A+ is also ISO 17024 compliant and accredited by ANSI. Thus this credential must be renewed every three years in keeping with concomitant requirements for continuing education or regular examinations to maintain certification currency. Some 20 continuing education units (CEUs) are required for renewal.
Earning an A+ from CompTIA involves passing two exams: 220-901 and 220-902. test 220-901 focuses on hardware, networking, mobile devices, connectivity and troubleshooting. test 220-902 draws on knowledge of installing and configuring common operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X, Android and iOS). It also covers issues related to cloud computing, security and operational procedures. Candidates will find a variety of question formats, including standard multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and performance-based questions on these exams.
Candidates who earn the A+ often find themselves in job roles that include technical support specialist, field service technician, IT support technician, IT support administrator or IT support specialist. The A+ is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (in DoD Directive 8140/8570.01-M). Also, technology companies, such as Ricoh, Nissan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dell, HP and Intel, require staff to earn the A+ certification to fill certain positions.
The A+ certification encompasses broad coverage of PC hardware and software, networking and security in its overall technical scope.
|Certification name||CompTIA A+|
|Prerequisites & required courses||9-12 months of experience recommended|
|Number of exams||Two exams (maximum of 90 questions, 90 minutes): 220-901 and 220-902 (CompTIA Academy Partners use the same numbers)|
|Cost per exam||$211 per exam. Exams administered by Pearson VUE. test vouchers available at CompTIA|
|Self-study materials||CompTIA offers several self-study materials, including test objectives, sample questions and study guides ($178 for the eBook $198 for the print edition), as well as classroom and e-learning training opportunities. Credential seekers may also want to check out the CertMaster online learning tool. Links to CompTIA training materials may be found on the certification webpage.
Given the popularity of Apple products and platforms, and widespread use of Macintosh computers in homes and businesses of all sizes, there’s demand galore for Mac-savvy technicians.
The AppleCare Mac Technician (ACMT) 2018 credential is Apple’s latest hardware-related ACMT certification. (The credential was formerly called the Apple Certified Macintosh Technician or Apple Certified Mac Technician.) Per Apple, the ACMT 2018 “qualifies a technician to repair all the Mac products that were covered by prior ACMT certifications, plus all other Mac products that were produced before April 2018.” Technicians with the ACMT certification who work at an Apple-authorized service facility are allowed to perform service and repairs.
The ACMT’s two required exams are the Apple Service Fundamentals and the ACMT 2018 Mac Service Certification. Service Fundamentals focuses on customer experience skills, ESD and safety, troubleshooting and deductive reasoning, and product knowledge. The Mac Service test covers troubleshooting and repair of Mac hardware (mainly Apple iMac and MacBook Pro systems). Note that the Apple Service Fundamentals test is also required for the Apple Certified iOS Technician (ACiT) 2018 certification.
The ACMT 2018 is a permanent credential and does not require annual recertification. However, as new products are added to the Apple portfolio, AppleCare will make associated courses available through Apple Technical Learning Administration System (ATLAS). You must complete these courses to service new products.
|Certification name||AppleCare Mac Technician (ACMT) 2017|
|Prerequisites & required courses||AppleCare Technician Training recommended|
|Number of exams||Two exams (must be taken in this order):
Apple Service Fundamentals test (SCV-17A) OR Apple Service
Fundamentals test (SVC-18A)
ACMT 2018 Mac Service Certification test (MAC-18A) Each exam: 70 questions, 2 hours, 80 percent passing score
Tests administered by Pearson VUE; Apple Tech ID number required
|Cost per exam||TBD|
|Self-study materials||Self-paced training: Apple Technical Learning Administration System (ATLAS)
Instructor-led training courses: LearnQuest
BICSI is a professional association that supports the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, mainly in the areas of voice, data, audio and video, electronic safety and security, and project management. BICSI offers training, certification and education to its 23,000-plus members, many of who are designers, installers and technicians.
BICSI offers several certifications aimed at ICT professionals, who mainly deal with cabling and related technologies. Two credentials, the BICSI Technician and the BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) are pertinent (and popular) in this story.
The BICSI Technician recognizes individuals who lead an installation group or team, perform advanced testing and troubleshooting of cable installations, evaluate cabling requirements, recommend solutions based on standards and best practices, and roll out new and retrofit projects. Technicians must be well versed in both copper and fiber cabling.
Candidates need a good deal of knowledge about the hardware, networking devices and communications equipment to which they connect cables.
To earn the credential, candidates must pass a single two-part test consisting of a hands-on practical evaluation and a written exam. In addition, candidates must possess at least three years of verifiable ICT industry installation experience within the past five years. Credentials are valid for three years. Certification holders must earn 18 hours of continuing education credits (CECs) in each three-year credentialing cycle and pay the current renewal fees to maintain this credential.
Interested candidates should also check out other BICSI certifications, such as the Installer 1 (INST1), Installer 2 Copper (INSTC) and Installer 2 Optical Fiber (INSTF).
An advanced credential, the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) is so well respected that the Department of Defense Unified Facilities requires RCDD for all telecom-related design projects. The RCDD is geared toward experienced ICT practitioners with at least five years of ICT design experience. Alternatively, candidates who do not have the requisite experience but who possess at least two years of design experience plus three years of knowledge “equivalents” (combination of approved education, certifications or education), may also sit for the exam. All experience must have been within the preceding 10 years.
RCDD candidates should be able to create and prepare system design specifications and plans, as well as recommended best practices for security design requirements, for business automation systems. RCDDs are also well versed in data center, cabling systems and design for wireless, network, and electronic security systems.
To earn the credential, candidates must meet the experience requirements, submit the application plus credentialing fees, along with a current resume. In addition, candidates must submit four letters of reference two of which much be from current or former clients. One reference may be personal while the remaining references must come from the candidate’s employer.
Other advanced BICSI certifications include the Outside Plant (OSP) Designer, Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC) and Registered Telecommunication Project Manager (RTPM).
|Certification name||BICSI Technician|
|Prerequisites & required courses||Three or more years of verifiable ICT industry installation experience (must be within past five years to qualify)
Adhere to the BICSI Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
Physical requirements: Distinguish between colors, stand for extended periods, lift and carry up to 50 pounds, climb ladders, and possess manual dexterity necessary to perform fine motor tasks
Technician test prereqs: Both the Installer 2, Copper and Installer 2, Optical Fiber credentials OR the Installer 2 credential
Note: There are no additional credentials required for candidates attempting the Technician Skip-Level exam.
50 hours review of BICSI Information Technology Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM)
TE350: BICSI Technician Training course ($2,545)
IN225: Installer 2 Copper Training course ($2,305)
IN250: Installer 2 Optical Fiber Training course ($2,505)
|Number of exams||One two-part exam, including written test (140 multiple-choice questions*) and hands-on, performance-based test (hands-on performance test delivered last day of TE350 course; written test administered the day after the completion of the TE350 course)
*If the candidate doesn’t have both the Copper and Optical Fiber Installer 2 credentials or an Installer 2 credential, the written Skip Level test will have 170 questions.
|Cost per exam||$295 (non-refundable application fee must be received by BICSI 15 days prior to exam; retake fee of $130 applies)|
|Self-study materials||Information Technology System Installation Methods Manual, 7th edition electronic download, $220 member/$240 non-member; print and download combo, $260 member/$290 non-member; printed manual, $220 member/$240 non-member, Web-based training through BICSI CONNECT|
|Certification name||BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)|
|Prerequisites & required courses||Five or more years of verifiable ICT industry design experience (must be within past 10 years to qualify)
Two or more years of verifiable ICT design experience (must be within the past ten years) plus three additional years of ICT equivalents from approved education, experience, or ICT licenses or certification (CCNA, for example)
Adhere to the BICSI Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
Minimum of 125-150 hours review of BICSI’s Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM)
DD101: Foundations of Telecommunications Distribution Design ($1,030) (BICSI CONNECT online course)
DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems ($2,815)
125-150 hours of TDMM study
TDMM flash cards ($275)
RCDD Test Preparation Course ($925) (BICSI CONNECT online course)
|Number of exams||One test (100 questions, 2.5 hours)|
|Cost per exam||$495 BICSI member/$725 non-member application fee, (non-refundable application fee must be received by BICSI 15 days prior to exam; retake fee of $225 BISCI member/$340 non-member)|
|Self-study materials||Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual, 13th edition (TDMM) electronic download ($310 member/$380 non-member; print and download combo, $350 member/$435 non-member; printed manual, $310 member/$380 non-member)
Web-based training through BICSI CONNECT
Cisco certifications are valued throughout the tech industry. The Cisco Certified Technician, or CCT, certification is an entry-level credential that demonstrates a person’s ability to support and maintain Cisco networking devices at a customer site.
The Routing & Switching credential best fits our list of best computer hardware certifications, and it serves as an essential foundation for supporting Cisco devices and systems in general.
The CCT requires passing a single exam. courses include identification of Cisco equipment and related hardware, such as switches and routers, general networking and service knowledge, working with the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), and describing Cisco IOS software operating modes. Candidates should also have a working knowledge of Cisco command-line interface (CLI) commands for connecting to and remotely servicing Cisco products.
|Certification name||Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) Routing & Switching|
|Prerequisites & required courses||None
Recommended training: Supporting Cisco Routing and Switching Network Devices (RSTECH) ($299)
|Number of exams||One: 640-692 RSTECH (60-70 questions, 90 minutes)|
|Cost per exam||$125
Exam administered by Pearson VUE.
|Self-study materials||Cisco Study Material page provides links to the course, study groups, test tutorials, and other related content, including test syllabus, training videos and seminars.|
CompTIA also offers a server-related certification, which steps up from basic PC hardware, software, and networking courses to the more demanding, powerful, and expensive capabilities in the same vein usually associated with server systems.
The CompTIA Server+ credential goes beyond basic courses to include coverage of more advanced storage systems, IT environments, virtualization, and disaster recovery and business continuity topics. It also puts a strong emphasis on best practices and procedures for server problem diagnosis and troubleshooting. Although Server+ is vendor-neutral in coverage, organizations such as HP, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Xerox, Lenovo and HP use Server+ credentialed technicians.
Those who work or want to work in server rooms or data centers, with and around servers on a regular basis, will find the Server+ credential worth studying for and earning. It can also be a steppingstone into vendor-specific server technician training programs at such companies as those mentioned above, or with their authorized resellers and support partners.
Note that the CompTIA Server+ test is still listed on that organization’s website as “good for life,” meaning it does not impose a renewal or continuing education requirement on its holders. The SK0-004 launched on July 31, 2015. Typically, exams are available for at least two years. If CompTIA’s revision history for Server+ is any guide to future updates and revisions, then it’s likely that we’ll see a new test making an appearance sometime before the end of 2019.
|Certification name||CompTIA Server+|
|Prerequisites & required courses||No prerequisites
Recommended experience includes CompTIA A+ certification plus a minimum of 18-24 months IT-related experience
|Number of exams||One: SK0-004 (100 questions, 90 minutes, 750 out of 900 passing score)|
|Cost per exam||$302. test administered by Pearson VUE. test vouchers available at CompTIA.|
|Self-study materials||CompTIA offers a number of self-study materials, including test objectives, its CertMaster online study tool, sample questions, books and more. Formal training courses are also offered. Links to CompTIA training courses may be found on the certification web page. Additional resources may also be found at the CompTIA Marketplace.
CompTIA Server+ Study Guide: test SK0-004, 1st edition, by Troy McMillan, published June 20, 2016, Sybex, ISBN-10: 1119137829, ISBN-13: 978-1119137825
There are many more hardware-oriented certifications available that you might want to consider. As you get into IT and start to develop a sense of your own interests and observe the hardware systems and solutions around, you’ll be able to dig deeper into this arena.
You can investigate all the major system vendors (including HP, Dell, IBM, and other PC and server makers) as well as networking and infrastructures companies (such as Juniper and Fortinet) to find hardware-related training and certification to occupy you throughout a long and successful career.
Although ExpertRating offers many credentials, we rejected them after viewing several complaints regarding the general quality of the courses. Obviously, such complaints are from disgruntled customers but were enough to make us proceed with caution.
This is also an area where constant change in tools and technology is the norm. That means a course of lifelong learning will be essential to help you stay current on what’s in your working world today and likely to show up on the job soon.
Microsoft is looking into new issues encountered by users running remote desktop software on Windows 11 following the latest update.
Over the last couple of weeks, multiple administrators have taken to the Microsoft community forum to report problems. “All of our remote desktop users using Windows 11 are having problems. It just hangs at connecting,” explained one customer.
Vole has neither confirmed nor denied the problem nor offered up any advice via official communication channels, but apparently is investigating and is not out to lunch.
Other issues include Windows 11 22H2 hindering the performance of Nvidia GPUs, causing significant framerate drop-off, as well as causing blue screen of death (BSoD) crashes for users running 11th-gen Intel CPUs.
The update forced some printers back to their default factory settings, as well as causing connectivity issues that prevented professionals and home users from completing print jobs.
Until a fix has been implemented, IT administrators will have to roll affected devices back to a previous version of Windows 11 or do without remote desktop functionality for a bit.
Microsoft Defender for Cloud now has two new features designed to Excellerate DevOps platform management and insights into cloud security posture.
The first, Microsoft Defender for DevOps, is a centralized platform designed to manage the security of several DevOps environments at once, in a bid to help businesses prioritize critical code issues and secure applications as they’re built.
Another new feature, Microsoft Defender Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), will build on Defender’s “existing [security posture insight] capabilities” to help businesses identify the resources that are most vulnerable to attack.
Put simply, Microsoft Defender CSPM will inform IT admins of where their infrastructure is vulnerable to attack, while Microsoft Defender for DevOps will make it easier and faster for them to respond manually to untapped vulnerabilities or active threats.
The company claims that the “agentless scanning capabilities” of Defender CSPM will save IT teams time by allowing them to integrate insights from Defender for DevOps to only monitor the most critical risks to vital infrastructure.
This should make the lives of IT admins more straightforward; Microsoft believes the two services working in tandem can reduce recommendation noise “by up to 99%”.
These two new features follow the release of Microsoft Defender External Attack Surface Management (EASM) earlier this year, which aims to alert IT teams to unprotected endpoints across their organization. For automatic patch management, which can neutralize some of these vulnerabilities, IT teams can look to Azure.
The new features are available now from Microsoft Defender for Cloud’s dashboard.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman issued a warning mixed with amazement about AI. "There is literally magic happening," said Hoffman, speaking to technology executives across sectors of the economy.
Some of that magic is becoming more apparent in creative spaces, like the visual arts, and the idea of "generative technology" has captured the attention of Silicon Valley. AI has even recently won awards at art exhibitions.
But Hoffman's message was squarely aimed at executives.
"AI will transform all industries," Hoffman told the members of the CNBC Technology Executive Council. "So everyone has to be thinking about it, not just in data science."
The rapid advances being made by Copilot AI, the automated code writing tool from the GitHub open source subsidiary of Microsoft, were an example Hoffman, who is on the Microsoft board, directly cited as a signal that all firms better be prepared for AI in their world. Even if not making big investments today in AI, business leaders must understand the pace of improvement in artificial intelligence and the applications that are coming or they will be "sacrificing the future," he said.
"100,000 developers took 35% of the coding suggestions from Copilot," Hoffman said. "That's a 35% increase in productivity, and off last year's model. ... Across everything we are doing, we will have amplifying tools, it will get there over the next three to 10 years, a baseline for everything we are doing," he added.
Copilot has already added another 5% to the 35% cited by Hoffman. GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke recently told us that Copilot is now handling up to 40% of coding among programmers using the AI in the beta testing period over the past year. Put another way, for every 100 lines of code, 40 are being written by the AI, with total project time cut by up to 55%.
Copilot, trained on massive amounts of open source code, monitors the code being written by a developer and works as an assistant, taking the input from the developer and making suggestions about the next line of code, often multi-line coding suggestions, often "boilerplate" code that is needed but is a waste of time for a human to recreate. We all have some experience with this form of AI now, in places like our email, with both Microsoft and Google mail programs suggesting the next few words we might want to type.
AI can be logical about what may come next in a string of text. But Dohmke said, "It can't do more, it can't capture the meaning of what you want to say."
Whether a company is a supermarket working on checkout technology or a banking company working on customer experience in an app, they are all effectively becoming software companies, all building software, and once a C-suite has developers it needs to be looking at developer productivity and how to continuously Excellerate it.
That's where the 40 lines of code come in. "After a year of Copilot, about 40% of code was written by the AI where Copilot was enabled," Dohmke said. "And if you show that number to executives, it's mind-blowing to them. ... doing the math on how much they are spending on developers."
With the projects being completed in less than half the time, a logical conclusion is that there will be less work to do for humans. But Dohmke says another way of looking at the software developer job is that they do many more high-value tasks than just rewrite code that already exists in the world. "The definition of 'higher value' work is to take away the boiler-plate menial work writing things already done over and over again," he said.
The goal of Copilot is to help developers "stay in the flow" when they are on the task of coding. That's because some of the time spent writing code is really spent looking for existing code to plug in from browsers, "snippets from someone else," Dohmke said. And that can lead coders to get distracted. "Eventually they are back in editor mode and copy and paste a solution, but have to remember what they were working on," he said. "It's like a surfer on a wave in the water and they need to find the next wave. Copilot is keeping them in the editing environment, in the creative environment and suggesting ideas," Dohmke said. "And if the idea doesn't work, you can reject it, or find the closest one and can always edit," he added.
The GitHub CEO expects more of those Copilot code suggestions to be taken — in the next five years, up to 80%. Unlike a lot going on in the computer field, Dohmke said of that forecast, "It's not an exact science ... but we think it will tremendously grow."
After being in the market for a year, he said new models are getting better fast. As developers reject some code suggestions from Copilot, the AI learns. And as more developers adopt Copilot it gets smarter by interacting with developers similar to a new coworker, learning from what is accepted or rejected. New models of the AI don't come out every day, but every time a new model is available, "we might have a leap," he said.
But the AI is still far short of replacing humans. "Copilot today can't do 100% of the task," Dohmke said. "It's not sentient. It can't create itself without user input."
With Copilot still in private beta testing among individual developers — 400,000 developer signed up to use the AI in the first months it was available and hundreds of thousands of more developers since — GitHub has not announced any enterprise clients, but it expects to begin naming business customers before the end of the year. There is no enterprise pricing information being disclosed yet, but in the beta test Copilot pricing has been set at a flat rate per developer — $10 per individual per month or $100 annually, often expensed by developers on company cards. "And you can imagine what they earn per month so it's a marginal cost," Dohmke said. "If you look at the 40% and think of the productivity improvement, and take 40% of opex spend on developers, the $10 is not a relevant cost. ... I have 1,000 developers and it's way more money than 1000 x 10," he said.
The GitHub CEO sees what is taking place now with AI as the next logical phase of the productivity advances in a coding world he has been a part of since the late 1980s. That was a time when coding was emerging out of the punch card phase, and there was no internet, and coders like Dohmke had to buy books and magazines, and join computer clubs to gain information. "I had to wait to meet someone to ask questions," he recalled.
That was the first phase of developer productivity, and then came the internet, and now open source, allowing developers to find other developers on the internet who had already "developed the wheel," he said.
Now, whether the coding task is related to payment processing or a social media login, most companies — whether startups or established enterprises — put in open source code. "There is a huge dependency tree of open source that already exists," Dohmke said.
It's not uncommon for up to 90% of code on mobile phone apps to be pulled from the internet and open source platforms like GitHub. In a coding era of "whatever else is already available," that's not what will differentiate a developer or app.
"AI is just the third wave of this," Dohmke said. "From punch cards to building everything ourselves to open source, to now within a lot of code, AI writing more," he said. "With 40%, soon enough if AI spreads across industries, the innovation on the phone will be created with the help of AI and the developer."
Today, and into the foreseeable future, Copilot remains a technology that is trained on code, and is making proposals based on looking things up in a library of code. It is not inventing any new algorithms, but at the current pace of progress, eventually, "it is entirely possible that with help of a developer it will create new ideas of source code,," Dohmke said.
But even that still requires a human touch. "Copilot is getting closer, but it will always need developers to create innovation," he said.
Microsoft Teams says it will end communication issues caused by sudden and momentary drops in internet connection with a new artificial intelligence-based solution for its video conferencing software.
In a demonstration on the Microsoft Teams blog (opens in new tab), Microsoft said that its new machine learning model is built on an existing technique it calls “Packet Loss Concealment” (PLC), which looks to “make assumptions about the missing content” when a connection drops and a call participant is speaking.
It also claimed that the AI model can predict “up to 80 consecutive milliseconds of audio”, a considerable improvement over PLC implementations that aren’t enhanced by AI. This, it says, makes packet loss undetectable to users.
That’s a bold claim, and although the early feedback post-release is positive (users report detecting packet loss 15% less frequently), and the demonstrations are certainly listenable, there’s always room for improvement.
That improvement may come sooner than expected, as Microsoft has shown commitment to sharing this technology with researchers and developers worldwide.
For an event at speech technology conference INTERSPEECH (opens in new tab) earlier this month, Microsoft “open-sourced network traces [it] collected”, and a “PLC Mean Opinion Score Model”, so others could incorporate an existing dataset, built from over 600 hours of audio analysis, into their own work.
We perhaps shouldn’t expect miracles - Microsoft itself noted that it can’t Excellerate the stability of an external network - but this should go some way to reducing the frustration of sudden connection drops cutting off sentences, which has plagued the world of hybrid working since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
It should also mean that enhanced PLC implementations become more common on the web in the future, as users wanting to see improvements to call quality aren’t locked into Microsoft Teams.
In the meantime, however, Microsoft Teams users on Windows can enjoy the improvements right now, which are designed to run only when needed to reduce CPU load. Microsoft has stated that Mac and mobile implementation is also on the way.
“Even if the company does not require a cover letter, I think it’s good to at least practice writing it”
“The first 2-3 rounds are the most difficult. Once you clear one company, it’s highly likely that you will have the foundation to clear all”
Mastering and cracking programmer interviews is never easy, particularly when preparing for an interview with top tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, Monster Lab, Bloomberg and Microsoft. The entire process of preparation can turn out to be a daunting experience. The key to crack such interviews is, however, careful planning and thoughtful preparation.
To make the process easier for you, our expert Meghalee Goswami shares her experience as to how she managed to crack her interview as a software engineer at Apple and at other top tech giants.
About Meghalee: Meghalee Goswami has been working as a software engineer at Apple for the past 5 years. At present she is engaged in developing products for Apple’s Content Delivery Network Team. After completing her Master’s in Computer Science and Communication Engineering from Waseda University, Tokyo she managed to get shortlisted for job interviews at Apple, Facebook, Monster Lab and Bloomberg. Belonging to a middle class Indian family, banking on her family’s finances was never an option for her to study in Japan and hence with her careful planning and strong networking skills, she managed to bag a scholarship from the Japanese government, allowing her to complete her entire education free of cost.
1. How did you manage to get shortlisted as a candidate at Apple? Can students apply to Apple outside of campus placements? If yes, then how?
As you can imagine, these kinds of companies get thousands of applications for a single position. The first step is to stand out from the rest and make sure your application is seen. This can be done in a couple of ways. One is an obviously known fact, the resume. I usually keep my resumes one page long, not cramping the space too much. After all, a resume is just to show a glimpse of your previous experiences and education, not to know everything about you. I personally prefer a very basic minimalist style.
The other part is a cover letter. Even if the company does not require a cover letter, I think it’s good to at least practice writing it. This will supply you dedicated time to a) research the company and b) figure out why you want to apply for that position. This will also help you answer some questions during the interviews later on.
The other important but often overlooked thing is to know people within the organisation. I don’t hesitate to send messages to strangers or recruiters on LinkedIn if their work or career interests me. Please be careful to not come across as a spammer. Most people only care to reply to genuine texts backed by research. During my time in Tokyo, I networked a lot, went to a lot of career forums, and recruitment events, made a list of all the companies I was interested in applying to, and tried to figure out a way I could connect with people inside the organisations. I also made sure I have the recruiters added to my network.
In one such event at my university, I chanced upon a recruiter from Apple. I told her I was really interested in doing an internship. She told me she will get back to me if anything opens up. And a few months later, I got an email from her asking me if I was interested in applying for a position.
2. You worked as an Intern at Apple for quite a few months. What were the areas you touched upon as an intern and on the basis of which qualities were you selected to work as a full-timer?
I was the first intern that was hired in my team and the bar was really high. I worked with extremely smart people from all over the world which meant a lot of growth but also imposter syndrome. I worked on technologies I did not know before. I think the most important thing to succeed was the ability to not know something but figure it out without giving up. Apart from the technical challenges, I gave presentations to the top-level management. I recorded myself for hours before each talk to make sure I sounded okay. Eventually, the project I worked on during the internship received a lot of recognition and was appreciated by everyone. And then, they extended me a full-time offer.
Thereafter, the first step was to clear all the interviews. I had 7 rounds of interviews. I needed to be technically prepared. So I practiced coding algorithms from books like How to Crack the Coding Interview and practiced problems from websites like Leetcode. I also revised System Design, Databases.
3. How did you manage to get a scholarship from the Japanese government?
I wanted to go abroad for studies, and banking on finances from my family was never an option. The only way around this was to get a scholarship to study abroad that would cover my living expenses too. I narrowed down my priorities 1) get a scholarship; 2) go somewhere with comparatively cheaper living costs and choose a course that allows me to work part-time. I researched all kinds of scholarships. WeMakeScholars helped me narrow down scholarships. There’s a lot of content around this nowadays on Youtube, too. But everybody’s situation is unique and so are the challenges. There were a lot of deadlines and I remember having a huge calendar where I marked all the scholarship deadlines and worked accordingly. Each scholarship was unique and had separate requirements so I had to tailor what I was doing accordingly. Courses in Japan are research based and I don’t think I paid any money to apply to the colleges, unlike other countries where you have to spend money to apply to colleges. I needed a good research proposal that would be liked by a professor and therefore accepted into a university. Without the professor’s consent, the research won’t be accepted. I made a list of all universities that were doing areas in research I was interested in.
I studied how to write a research proposal, consulted with anyone I found doing research in the area, and eventually wrote a research proposal on how I want to use game theory and AI algorithms to solve gaps in areas of low connectivity. I collected the email IDs of professors from university websites and emailed them individually. Some replied with rejection, some did not reply and a few of them were interested in my research proposal and wanted to have a chat with me. I explained I wanted to come to Japan and do this research. I also was very honest and clear about my financial situation. I asked for help. Eventually, my professor recommended me for scholarships. Recommendations work a lot in Japan. That’s how I could get scholarships and even a research assistantship position.
4. How did you manage to get such a high-paying part-time job in Japan?
Although I got scholarships, it was not enough to live comfortably in Japan. I needed part-time jobs to sustain myself. Honestly, I was getting rejected from places like cafes or restaurants because back then I did not speak any Japanese. I applied to many jobs but the only places I could get accepted to were places that teach English or STEM subjects in English or as Programming Instructors. I realised I could make a lot of money by teaching kids how to code. The skill is very special in Japan or anywhere now and parents want their kids to know how to code. I got an interview call from a start-up in Tokyo that specialises in STEM and Coding Education, also SAT and ACT test prep. During the interview, I was asked to supply a mock SAT & ACT test in Math, Physics, Chemistry, Programming, and English. I failed Chemistry but I passed Math, Physics, and Programming. I started teaching middle school, high school, and university students how to code, Math, and test prep. And I got paid 5 times the average salary in Japan per hour.
5. You cracked Monster lab’s interview as well? What was the entire process like? And how can a young student prepare for the same?
I think all coding interviews have a standard process. The first 2-3 rounds are the most difficult. Once you clear one company, it’s highly likely that you will have the foundation to clear all. Since I had prepared hard before the Apple Interview, all I needed to do is to keep practicing algorithms and brushing up on my fundamental Computer Science concepts. Apart from the website and book mentioned before, I also studied Orielly Core Java, Data Structures, and Algorithms. I also recommend practicing coding on a notepad or platforms like CoderPad. If you use an IDE often you’ll have a dependency on it for syntax corrections. Practicing one programming language was also important for me. I have coded in a lot of languages but I only stick to Java during my interviews even if my job demands knowledge of another programming language. I state my preference for the language and usually, they comply. It’s important to be comfortable in such nerve-wracking situations.
6. You even managed to get through a few rounds of interviews at Bloomberg and Facebook till you withdrew your applications midway as you wanted to join Apple. What was the entire interviewing process like there?
For these, I followed the same strategy. During the Facebook interview, I had a few initial calls with the recruiters where they asked me about my research work, and previous experiences. In the next round I had a talk with the hiring manager for the team. He asked me extensively about the algorithms that I used during my research work, what could I have done better in the algorithm, and questions like if you go to the browser, and type facebook.com, what sort of API calls supply back the request. After this round I was asked to do a coding round, I prepared from the websites and books I mentioned above. By this time, I had received an offer from Apple and I really wanted to join Apple. So I just informed them that I’ll be taking another offer.
For Bloomberg, there were two major areas that they were recruiting for and I was interested in them. I set up some initial calls with the recruiters and asked for the details about what the team does so that I could prepare more for those skills. The first interview for Tech companies is usually always a call with the recruiters discussing your experience and if they think you're eligible they forward you to the next steps that are usually done with the team that you are applying for. For example, Bloomberg deals with a lot of fast transactions of data, so they would definitely be interested in someone who can performance-tune their code. So I focussed on writing more efficient and performant code during the interviews.
Most candidates are terrified of entering the daunting process of technical interviews. The main reason being the large number of applications these companies get for their vacant positions, leading to intense competition and difficult interview processes. Mastering a technical interview at a big tech company may seem nearly impossible, but as our expert Meghalee Goswami confirms, with thoughtful and systematic preparation, you can end up landing your dream job.
Last updated on 17 Oct 2022
A new mandatory NCEA literacy and numeracy test could be too tough for some pupils. Secondary school students will have to pass the new requirement to get any level of NCEA from 2023. (Video first published in December 2020)
NCEA examinations are just weeks away, with thousands of secondary school students expected to sit the tests when they kick off on November 7.
Recent changes to our national qualification framework have sparked controversy. New literacy and numeracy standards set to be introduced in 2024 have been criticised for being too difficult, and moves to digitise exams and assessments have received mixed reviews from students and educators.
Mathematics exams have proven particularly curly in the past – tricky questions have been the subject of a string of complaints since 2017.
Would you be able to ace last year’s exams? Test your knowledge on these 2021 NCEA test questions.
* 14 NCEA subjects to offer digital exams in 2019
* How hard was that NCEA Level 1 Maths exam?
* NZQA to discuss maths test that left students in tears after teachers' open letter
* Parents 'frustrated as hell' after tough NCEA maths test jolts kids' confidence
Ben has been painting some straight lines on the field for his rugby team to do some training exercises.
The total length of all the painted lines shown in the diagram below is 20 metres.
If the shaded area is 14m², find the possible values of x.
Water is poured into a cup, and a coin appears, as shown below.
Explain why you cannot see the coin in the cup with no water, but when water is poured into the cup, the coin suddenly appears.
Use a ray diagram to help explain your answer.
A) Photosynthesis occurs in the leaves of plants. Describe the process of photosynthesis.
B) Water is an important requirement for the process of photosynthesis. Explain how water enters a plant AND how it is used in the light-dependent reaction.
In 2020, New Zealand’s inflation rate was 1.4%. Despite this relatively low inflation rate, the price of some goods and services increased significantly. For example, the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables increased by 8.9%.
A) Explain why not all households will be equally affected by an 8.9% increase in the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables.
B) Explain one reason why the 2020 inflation rate of 1.4% was less than the 8.9% increase in the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Explain the difference in the atomic radii of calcium and selenium.
A water tank developed a leak.
6 hours after the tank started to leak, the volume of water in the tank was 400 litres.
10 hours after the tank started to leak, the volume of water in the tank was 256 litres.
The rate at which the water leaks out of the tank at any instant is proportional to the square root of the volume of the water in the tank at that instant.
How much water was in the tank at the instant it started to leak?
You must use calculus and show the results of any integration needed to solve the problem.
Microsoft plans to update its Office Pro Plus products by the end of April to address a series of privacy concerns raised in an audit commissioned by the Dutch justice ministry that flagged what the auditors called "high risks" to government users' privacy.
The update for many of the company's Office Pro Plus customers, which has been confirmed by Microsoft, will address concerns relating to a package of popular Microsoft programs — namely that they were sending diagnostic data from Europe to the United States without adequate documentation and user controls over what was sent.
Microsoft and the Dutch justice ministry agreed on the changes as part of an "improvement plan" with an April deadline. A ministry spokesman told POLITICO that if Microsoft's responses proved "unsatisfactory," the ministry could raise the concerns with European data protection authorities for further action that could include "enforcement measures."
In a statement, Microsoft's top privacy and regulatory counsel, Julie Brill, underscored that the Dutch ministry had commissioned the audit as a customer of Microsoft and had not sought regulatory action against the company.
“The ministry commissioned the report in its capacity as a customer to clarify how our services are run and we’re working with the ministry’s staff to share additional information and help resolve its questions as we would for all enterprise customers,” Brill said.
She added that the issues raised in the report, conducted by the Privacy Company, a Hague-based consultancy, relate to “diagnostic data in one product,” Office Pro Plus, and that the company is “confident this is consistent with Dutch law and GDPR,” Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation privacy law. Office Pro Plus includes a range of Microsoft programs.
“We feel good about what we’re doing to supply customers transparency and choice on the diagnostic data they share with us, but we always want to do more,” Brill said. “In the coming weeks we will take additional steps to make it easier for customers to understand what data needs to go to Microsoft to run our services and why, and where data-sharing is optional.”
When Microsoft updates products, the update usually takes place worldwide for users of the product and the company gave no indication that would be different in this case.
Under the EU's data protection laws, the Irish Data Protection Commission is the “lead supervisory authority” in charge of making sure Microsoft complies with the rules. If the Netherlands chose to escalate its concerns, it could forward a request on the relevant issues to the Irish regulator. Meanwhile, any issues would be closely monitored by the European Data Protection Board, which gathers all EU data regulators, and the European Data Protection Supervisor, which may in turn start their own investigations that could lead to enforcement action.
A spokesperson for the Irish Data Protection Commission said it is “aware of this matter and its significance to companies using the Microsoft product in question. On becoming aware, the DPC immediately engaged with Microsoft seeking further information on the processing of telemetry data, in response to which Microsoft is providing detailed responses.”
The Privacy Company, a consulting firm that the ministry contracted to do the audit, said in a blog summary of the findings that “Microsoft systematically collects data on a large scale about the individual use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.”
It added: “Covertly, without informing people ... Microsoft does not offer any choice with regard to the amount of data, or possibility to switch off the collection, or ability to see what data are collected, because the data stream is encoded.” A major concern of the Dutch was that the company sends the data back to its servers in the U.S.
Microsoft doesn't agree with some of the assertions of the Privacy Company's report but is making changes to its products as it routinely does to accommodate customers. The company has previously disclosed to customers its use of diagnostic data.
The new focus on privacy comes as different components of Microsoft, one of the world's most valuable companies, have recently faced scrutiny for a variety of privacy concerns, especially LinkedIn, which Microsoft bought in late 2016 for $26 billion.
Nicole Leverich, a spokesperson for LinkedIn, said “member data is never shared with customers on an individually identifiable level, only in aggregate for ad sales.” Last November, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission found that LinkedIn used the email addresses of around 18 million non-LinkedIn members to target individuals with ads on Facebook all in an effort to grow its customer base.
The regulators noted that LinkedIn’s actions violated its protection standards, although the dispute was amicably resolved.
Leverich said the company “fully cooperated with the DPC’s 2017 investigation of a complaint about a European advertising campaign and found the global processes and procedures we had in place were not followed. We took appropriate action and have made the internal changes to help protect against this happening again.” In Brazil last year, federal prosecutors said Microsoft had violated local laws with its collection of Windows 10 users’ data without getting proper consent. In 2016, France ordered Microsoft to cut back its collection of user data and to halt tracking of the web browsing habits of Windows 10 users without getting permission.
Despite these privacy dustups, Brill touted the exact steps Microsoft has made to Excellerate users’ privacy, including “new features in the Windows setup process, enhanced options for error data reporting in Xbox, a feature called Lockbox for Azure, and updates to our Privacy Dashboard including new tools for parents to manage their children’s settings,” she said.
Microsoft has been the subject of a number of complaints to the Irish Data Protection Commission, according to a commission spokesman, but none were serious enough to warrant a statutory investigation, and of the 16 open investigations into multinational tech companies, none are related to Microsoft. There have been 3,500 complaints to the commission in total.
Unlike other tech companies, like Facebook, that have drawn fire for privacy issues and problems spreading fake news, Microsoft has set itself up as a paragon of good behaviour, welcoming scrutiny into the company and the broader tech industry. Company leadership routinely highlights its proactive investments in privacy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments after Microsoft challenged an American search warrant for a customer email that resided in Microsoft's servers in Ireland, and last May, the company announced it was extending the privacy rights that are at the core of GDPR to its worldwide consumer customer base.
“Having the scrutiny is actually good, I think,” CEO Satya Nadella told the Washington Post last October. He urged the tech sector to Excellerate its behavior. “Anyone who is providing a very critical service needs to raise the standards of the safety of that technology and the security of that technology.”
The huge problems affecting Facebook have touched other companies as well, including Microsoft. The New York Times reported in December that Facebook gave Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, the ability to view the names of almost all Facebook users’ friends without permission and also had data-sharing arrangements with companies including Netflix, Spotify, Amazon and Yahoo.
“Bing did not maintain profiles based on Facebook data for advertising or personalization purposes, and we took significant engineering steps beyond what Facebook required to ensure this could not happen,” said Brill.
“We ended our contract with Facebook in February 2016 and data stopped appearing in search results.”
BRUSSELS, Oct 6 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are asking games developers whether Microsoft (MSFT.O) will be incentivised to block rivals' access to "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard's (ATVI.O) best-selling games, according to an EU document seen by Reuters.
EU antitrust regulators are due to make a preliminary decision by Nov. 8 on whether to clear Microsoft's proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision.
The EU competition enforcer also asked if Activision's trove of user data would supply the U.S. software giant a competitive advantage in the development, publishing and distribution of computer and console games, the EU document shows.
The planned acquisition, the biggest in the gaming industry, will help Microsoft better compete with leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T).
After its decision next month the European Commission is expected to open a four-month long investigation, underscoring regulatory concerns about Big Tech acquisitions.
Games developers, publishers and distributors were asked whether the deal would affect their bargaining power regarding the terms for selling console and PC games via Microsoft's Xbox and its cloud game streaming service Game Pass.
Regulators also wanted to know if there would be sufficient alternative suppliers in the market following the deal and also in the event Microsoft decides to make Activision's games exclusively available on its Xbox, its Games Pass and its cloud game streaming services.
They asked if such exclusivity clauses would reinforce Microsoft's Windows operating system versus rivals, and whether the addition of Activision to its PC operating system, cloud computing services and game-related software tools gives it an advantage in the video gaming industry.
They asked how important the Call of Duty franchise is for distributors of console games, third-party multi-game subscription services on computers and providers of cloud game streaming services.
The questionnaire, with about 100 questions, asked which of the rivals such as Nvidia's GeForce Now, Sony's Playstation, Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and Facebook Gaming could be considered the most attractive following the deal.
Respondents have until Oct. 10 to reply.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Susan Fenton
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