How I got a job at #1 software company

User of SuperMemo Feb 4, 2000

New article by Dr. Piotr Wozniak: The true history of spaced repetition

The text below has been received at SuperMemo World in response to our survey upon publishing SuperMemo is Useless. The text has been published with the permission of the author on conditions of anonymity

Dear SuperMemo,

I'm on day 656 as a SuperMemo user!

Thanks for soliciting my opinions on the interesting article SuperMemo is Useless. I find this type of article motivational for keeping on with my methods.

Here is my story for you to consider on how I've made use of SuperMemo. Maybe my experience will be helpful for someone who is considering the large investment of time that using SuperMemo does require. My history:

  • 1981 - 1994 Served as a military officer in the radio/radar field.
  • 1994 I'm caught by the downsizing of the military.
  • 1994 - 1995 Using my Japanese language training from the military as a starting point, I attended a university program of technical Japanese translation in my attempt to become a translator. I became a bit desperate to get a leg up on the learning process and found Ostrander's book Superlearning 2000. I eagerly studied it and recorded learning tapes set to 60 beat-per-second Baroque music. This technique seemed to work somewhat but I became overwhelmed with how to manage large quantities of material and had to give it up.
  • 1995 - Running out of money and finding translation work to be sparse with my skill level, I took a job at a software firm doing telephone technical support that occasionally used my Japanese translation skills (5% of the time). I'm earning a salary about half of my military pay. The job was a huge struggle due to my lack of computer knowledge.
  • 1996 - Unhappy with the pay and difficult work I schemed to improve my lot. I continued to search for a better way. I read "success" books by the likes of Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, etc. I also read a number of memory training books such as those by Harry Lorayne. I discovered Tony Buzan's Mind-Mapping techniques.
  • 1997 - I observed that those getting recognition and promotions in my field were earning Microsoft certifications. I struggled through a huge training guide to Windows 95 and passed the certification exam. I decided to try applying mind-mapping techniques to earn additional certifications. I set the goal of being certified as a Systems Engineer (6 exams) and doggedly worked building a stack of mind maps of one large training book after another. Building the maps was the easy part -- reviewing them was sporadic and I found myself cramming the mind-maps before the exams. I got the certification after having failed only one exam which I passed later.
  • 1998 - I received a promotion and decided that I could get into a field I really found interesting--software development--because I felt I could teach myself anything I needed to know now. I started mind-mapping a beginning programming book. A friend told me about SuperMemo. I stopped using mind-maps. I pursued Microsoft certification as a developer. Now I didn't have to worry about scheduling reviews of mind maps.
  • 1999 - Using SuperMemo I built a knowledge-base made up of the training books for three software developer exams. Without any last-minute cramming I passed all three on the first try. Now certified as a developer (but admittedly short on practical experience). I continued my SuperMemo repetitions.

    I applied for a programmer's position (temporary agency) and was hired. I still had little practical experience but continued to use SuperMemo. For example, I selected 2- or 3- key points per page of the book Bug Proofing Visual Basic by Rod Stephens. The cover flap says You'll get the kind of advice and information that usually only comes from years and years of hard-won experience! This knowledge was extremely valuable to be able to recall when needed. (This is the best application of SuperMemo I've found yet--I'll have to find more books like this!) I found that I could be successful at this job, even with the "short-cuts" I took. I continued to add to my knowledge-base from books, magazines, and the Internet.
  • 2000 - Am offered a full-time position as a software developer at the #1 software company.

-- What else can I say? I attribute much of my success to SuperMemo. The amount charged for the program is laughable given the benefit's I've gained. It's lucky for me that you don't charge a percentage of my pay increases!

Piotr, keep up the good work!

Sincerely, A Satisfied SuperMemo Customer