For Skype interviews, get a space in the library

Yesterday The Consumerist linked to an article called “10 Tips to Shred the Competition in your Skype interview.” Author Jenny Foss’s 5th tip reminded me of a conundrum I had toward the end of my sophomore year when I was interviewing for summer jobs and internships. Here’s the tip:

Don’t even think about doing it in a coffee shop. Quiet, clean room. Absolutely no environmental hustle and bustle, none.  Oh, and when I say “quiet, clean room?” Assume I mean “quiet, clean room with no weird crap in the background.”

Two years ago I interviewed for a lead instructor position at a kids’ tech summer camp. Continue reading

Standing desk via cardboard boxes

A notable article on hacking oneself a standing desk made the rounds of Hacker News and Lifehacker this week. Tonight, I needed the energy for one last push to get some work done and stop slacking off. Lacking the motivation to actually put my desk chair atop my desk, I pulled some cardboard boxes out of my closet and made do. It’s a little rickety, but it gets the job done, and I got my work done.

Practical advice on shopping for freshman year

It’s really easy to overbuy for freshmen year. When I was a freshman, I made a lot of mistakes in my dorm shopping. There are obvious things you need, like clothes and laundry detergent, but I wish I’d known some of these subtleties before I went shopping.

Textbooks and chocolate are essential.

Obviously, before you start buying anything, consult with your roommate(s) and school website. Don’t bring anything that the school provides in the rooms already.

General tips:

  • I go to school on the opposite coast from where I live, so I had special concerns in terms of getting all my stuff there. Whenever I purchased something the summer before freshman year, I tried to buy it online and have it shipped directly to the school. I saved a lot on shipping costs that way. Consider whether shipping an item you already own will cost more than buying it near campus. It was cheaper to buy my fan on campus than to buy one at home at ship it there, even though the fan I bought was more expensive than one I would have bought at home.
  • Continue reading

My roommate is a bit puzzled

When my roommate brought back about 15 puzzles after Christmas, I knew she was serious about completing them. I didn’t realize just how serious she was until I came across her method of sorting the pieces.

Ack! They're in grids!

Apparently once she had gotten to the point at which all the remaining pieces were the same color, some more organization was required to complete the puzzle. Still, that’s dedication, right there!

How to make a dorm-style Christmas tree

tree1December is a particularly hectic time for college students: in addition to all the normal holiday preparations and festivities, we have an extra hurdle: finals! For this reason, most of us can’t get out in time to get a Christmas tree, even a little one, before it’s time to go home for winter break. So, inspired by Pooh’s tree from Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too, I decided to bring a little holiday cheer to my dorm suite by making a wall-mounted paper tree. I think it worked out pretty well, and only took an afternoon to print and assemble. (Click images to enlarge.)

You’ll need:

• Christmas tree template image
• Color printer and white paper
• The Rasterbator
• One string of tree lights
• Painter’s tape
• Scotch tape

The first step is to print out your tree. I used The Rasterbator to transform my tree template into a huge, rasterized image of my tree in easily-printable PDF format. You can adjust the size of the image to fit your wall space; mine came out at 30 pages, measuring about 40″x60″. Make sure to follow the instructions on the website for best printed results.

Once you have printed out the tree, lay out the pages on the floor so you can see how they should be taped together. Trim away the white space from the each pages. Since very few printers can print all the way to the edge of the paper, all the pages will have some white space on the edges. The pages that have interior tree segments should be trimmed with care because the edges need to match up when you tape them together. The edge pages can be trimmed a little less tediously, because a little extra white space on the edge isn’t so noticeable once it’s on the wall.


Once each page is trimmed, the tree is ready to assemble. Piece the tree together upside down on the floor, then tape the edges together. I found that I had to use quite a bit of tape to get the edges to line up nicely and not show the wall through the final picture, but there’s probably a better way that I didn’t think of. Tape was easy to use, and I had it on hand. Either painter’s tape or scotch tape would be fine for this image because the whole thing is dark, but I’ve taped rasterbated images together with painter’s tape before and been sorry later because the blue tape showed through the white parts of the image.

Use painter’s tape to mount the assembled tree on the wall. I had to use painter’s tape because my dorm won’t let me use anything else on the walls, but other means of adhesion probably would have worked just as well. Make sure you mount it near an electrical outlet so you can plug in the lights. Next, using clear scotch tape, starting at the top, tape the Christmas tree lights on the tree, winding your way down until you get to the bottom. I liked the clear tape because it blends in pretty well, but I had to use a lot of it because it doesn’t stick terribly well. Make a paper star to tape on top and stick it up there.

The tree at night! Click to enlarge.

I think the final result looks pretty nifty. We put ours about a foot above the floor and over a little bench so we could put presents underneath. It won’t fool anyone during the day, but at night with the colored lights on the effect is rather striking. It would also look pretty cool with paper ornaments taped on.

I say it’s a dorm-style tree, but it would be great for anyone living in an apartment, condo, or other small space. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than buying a real tree for me, because I have a quota with my college’s printing system that I haven’t maxed out yet. I’m not sure if printing 30 color pages would have been more expensive than a real tree if I had to pay for the ink myself. It’s certainly cheaper once you factor in the cost of ornaments.

If anyone else tries this out, I’d love to hear about it!