The situation is similar for several computer science students – most of us fear that first “hello world” thing, and we learn as we go until we become comfortable in our own skin.
However, our journey from beginning till graduation isn’t a fine road. We mean that it isn’t that awful, but not so simple either.
Computer science students unintentionally make some mistakes, either due to lack of awareness or perhaps because they aren’t aware of their responsibilities in the beginning.
Somehow they get stuck in the same old rut and repeat the same set of mistakes made by their seniors and their seniors.
In such a situation, it’s necessary to make some things clear to you if you’re starting out as a CS student or are still in college. You need to know them.
A proper advice could be a lifesaver for most students as it would can give them some clarity and specificity in their actions.
That’s why we’ve decided to finally write it down, our “Advice for Computer Science Students.”
Let’s get started.
What you need to know
Each year, the industry is flooded with another thousands of graduates who’re still clueless about what they’re aiming for.
Several among them are the ones who did almost everything they were supposed to, and yet they lack a purpose. They’re dissatisfied.
Pay some heed to CS graduates and you’ll discover how their hearts are overflowing with regrets, getting overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the future, and how they’re feeling doomed due to their underdeveloped preparation.
Perhaps, they realize only after “throwing their caps in the air” that even an entry-level profession in the industry demands certain prerequisites.
But since they recognize it late, they’re sent back to start over again or are obligatorily forced to mold themselves, which certainly isn’t fun.
You may not want to be among them.
One of the most awkward things in life might be having a degree in hand and still being puzzled about what you want to be. This frustration is worth avoiding.
But is there a way to save yourself from this trouble?
Alright, there’s a solution.
Usually, important things to be learned during college go unnoticed in spite of their criticality in a successful career and development of skills.
Students get so much caught up with the chores that they rarely get time or care to find out what matters, or to take a pause to sort out what’s necessary.
This shouldn’t be the situation.
Practical clarifications and careful advice can make you significantly productive and make your performance skyrocket. Also, a fine piece of advice can give your hard-work a meaning by making you worthy of the opportunities that might strike you.
This prepares you for what’s probable in future.
Here are a few things which we think you must know. They’re sufficient to save from most commonly faced problems and keep you from stumbling in whatever you do.
1. Don’t let your field overwhelm you
It’s easy to get baffled by the nature of computer science. Especially when you’re a beginner.
The words “microprocessor” and “digital electronics” aren’t always as inviting as physics or chemistry, and the semicolons and names of keywords are enough to haunt you.
In fact, during your initial days of college you might even start doubting your decision of getting into computer science.
The only way to protect your sanity in such situation is to take some time to adapt to the surroundings and grasp the whole thing consecutively.
Computer science almost breaks the chain of conventional education that you’re taught in high school and junior college by introducing you to some completely new concepts.
It may seem difficult in the beginning, but as you get familiar with these theories, your attitude becomes flexible towards them. This philosophy applies to all aspects of CS.
Have a thick skin, don’t let the unacquainted side of computer science get you, and take things easy, as you’ll eventually learn everything.
In short, take it easy.
2. Before you do anything else, learn the basics
While you’re visualizing yourself standing among the future software engineers and web developers with a lot of cash in your hand, make sure that you aren’t missing out the basics.
You need a solid foundation of basics to play well in your arena.
If you’re among those who underestimate the usefulness of basics and bunk their initial lectures, you might be getting yourself into trouble.
Almost all subjects in computer science are interwoven, and falling short in any one can cause you loss in the others.
Your grip over the basics determines your capability of learning further.
If you fail in understanding them, you may likely face problems while consuming the other things that will come in your way.
Pay attention to the basic theories, concrete the fundamental concepts, and you’ll be all set to confront what may follow.
3. Start early
Do not be mistaken to think that you learn only after you get a job.
What you’ll do at work will generally be a revision and polishing of the things you learn in college.
It’s easy to fall prey to procrastination, abandon what matters now and leave it onto tomorrow. But the consequences that follow it might be dreadful.
Get a hands-on experience in your college itself and do what the employed people do. The time you spend in college isn’t sufficient to master all of the skills, but it’s definitely enough for you to cover all the basics.
The chances of your success depend critically on how soon you act on your ambitions.
Also, what you learn in college will back up your capabilities after graduation.
4. Try not to skip things
Skipping a few parts of academics, bunking lectures for hanging out in the canteen, letting programming alone for playing GTA, sounds like fun, eh?
Getting into the habit of skipping things is a perfect plan to shoot yourself in the foot. This way you fail to learn the essential work culture.
In computer science, you can learn properly, only by following the necessary steps, and skipping a few can make you fall.
If you want to create the next success, try not to skip anything.
We aren’t asking you to take up everything possible. Instead find out what should be of greater priority to you and then act accordingly, but without skipping.
Complete the courses that you take, be regular in your lectures, stay focused on a set of skills at time — that would be enough.
Feel free to have fun, but be less ignorant to this part.
5. Depend on yourself (as much as you can)
Here’s a bitter truth — others are not really serious about your learning and future career.
They don’t have time to care about you as much you because they’ve got their own tasks to do.
Your friends, teachers, and parents can guide you with their thoughts and help you whenever you need them, but at the end of the day you’re left alone with your aspirations to be taken care of.
If you’re among those who wait for their college to teach them, or expect their teachers to advise them with what’s beneficial, then stop being one.
Rely on just yourself, and make doing things on your own a ritual. You cannot keep waiting for others to help you.
You lose a lot time if you keep waiting. There comes a moment when you have to realize that depending on others for your own learning is a mere foolishness.
Do all that you can, learn by yourself, find your techniques and become self-reliant. This habit will also help you after college.
Who do you think teaches the working class? They already understand the value this trick. One major skill which common and crucial among CS people is that most of them possess a self-learning ability and are capable of working independently.
6. Stay with the geeks and nerds
“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” – Bill Gates
Practically saying, geeks and nerds are the only people who seem to be sure about what they’re doing. Everyone else is just trying to get better grades.
If you don’t enjoy the company of nerds then you might not be able to go far.
No matter how much lame you think nerds are, you’ll have to give them the respect they deserve. If you won’t, they’ll snatch it from you anyway. Without their help, you miss a lot of ideas which can otherwise help you master your area of expertise.
Whether it be the programmers or gamers, they take pride in being called a “geek” or “nerd” for a valid reason.
These words aren’t overrated, but symbolize curiosity, interest, and skillfulness altogether.
Due to these traits, nerds are always updated with the latest trends and know about the cool things.
Also, they’re familiar with the preeminent methods and have solutions for most of the problems that occur frequently since they hold a strong experience in dealing with them.
If you can be a nerd, be one. If you cannot, stay with the ones who are. This can help you a lot since you’re meant to adapt yourself to this nerdy lifestyle to fit-into your field.
7. Don’t trust your college
Wait. Did we just ask you to do that?
Sorry. Let us rephrase that – “Don’t trust your college!”
Now it looks good with an exclamation mark at the end.
Several times, your college teaches things that aren’t relevant to your aspirations or goals. Nevertheless, you’re forced to follow their curriculum whether it matters to you or not.
They don’t care if you wish to learn Python when Java is on their list. It doesn’t concern them what kind of career you wish to have because they’re busy teaching you things that they want to, instead of what they need to you want to.
Sometimes, their syllabus is from the Stone Age and their teaching methods are still the ones which were used by Adam and Eve, so you cannot expect yourself to get perfect in such an environment.
Trust your gut reactions and act according to it. If you feel that your college is dragging you down instead of assisting you, then work in a balanced manner that favors you.
What we wish to emphasize here is that even if college is a fine place to prosper, it can sometimes act like an obstruction by restraining your freedom.
The college activities take up so much time that there’s hardly any time left for self-learning and other activities, the unproductive submissions leave you exhausted, and the outdated curriculum bugs you with its irrelevance to your goals.
This somewhat makes the role of college questionable.
Overall, don’t bind yourself solely to the education provided by your college, or else you’ll fail to utilize the time in which you can refine your abilities.
College is a great place to learn for sure, but don’t become too fond of it.
8. Your teachers can be your rescuers
Everyone needs some guidance from an expert mentor to be sure of decisions and to get a bit of moral support.
Guess who your mentor can be? No, not Dennis Ritchie. We are talking about your teachers.
Although you might underestimate your teachers you cannot ignore their experiences. The years they spend teaching students and observing the hiring processes give them a brief experience about the working of the industry, which makes them aware of the qualities that are often sought.
Don’t hesitate to ask your teachers the questions that bother you. Most of the time they’re willing to help you and will try to resolve your problems in a friendly manner. In certain cases, they might also give you additional tips and hacks for making things easier.
However, remember that your teachers aren’t caterers who’d ask you again and again about what you want. It’s your duty to reach them and ask for the solutions and answers you want from them.
Either you hesitate to consult your teachers and bear the loss, or you use their experiences to reap the benefits of learning from them.
9. Dare not underestimate the need of proper tools
Your choice of tools is among the foremost factors that decide your success. Understand their role in your productivity.
If you’re among those who feel that the right choice of tools doesn’t matter, then try digging the ground first with a needle and then with a pickaxe, and you shall know the difference.
Okay, maybe this was an awful example for explanation but you cannot deny that the proper selection of tools is crucial.
For instance, the person who uses Turbo C instead of visual basic is likely to click more keys for getting the documentation right, and his chances of getting errors will be comparatively greater in the Turbo C.
Improper tools and resources consume most of your time without getting you the satisfactory results.
They can sometimes even work negatively for you instead of helping you by making you used to wrong ethics. So rather select them wisely.
Remember that, your goal isn’t to labor but getting things done, and a wrong tools can keep you laboring all day.
10. Embrace consistency
One of the worst things about computer science is the awful number of things you’re required to learn.
Also, the pile of tasks never seems to be decreasing. In such a scenario, you’re unlikely to finish all the tasks or learn most of the skills.
You need a firm plan under such circumstances or else you keep doing random activities without getting any favorable output.
Here’s a good outline of the fundamental way used for making decisions:
- Know what you want to do
- Find the skills you need to do that thing
- Learn those skills
A nice practice is deciding your priorities and starting with them instead of trying to do everything at once.
Focus on a specific set of activities and take them one day at a time. This way you’ll actually do things and also be able to conclude them.
Also, not only you will move ahead in a stepwise manner but also avoid jumbling of concepts.
Be consistent with your academics and keep learning at a constant pace, this will suffice for the need of cramming on the night before an exam.
A few minutes of programming each day can substantially elevate your progress. Few minutes of research can give you a clarity.
Work on things bit by bit, consistently, and you’ll finally be able to finish them.
11. Make productivity a priority
You won’t do things properly unless you decide to get serious about them.
You refuse to learn new tricks, keep ignoring your habits, don’t give time to renovating your methods, and keep using age old methods unless you decide to make productivity a priority.
Productivity isn’t just about doing things but doing them properly.
Nevertheless, once you fall in a rut, escaping your habits might tire you. If you keep doing the wrong things and wonder why the results are against you, then you severely need to reorganize your methods.
Some fine ways to boost productivity are using the right tools, recognizing methods that work for you, and utilizing the correct reference materials.
Just keep revising your habits regularly and find out the easiest ways to do your work. It must work.
12. Acquire extra skills
Whether you’re an under graduate college student or a computer science major, you cannot afford to stay restricted to only your field of concern.
Although most of your time will be spent by staying glued to your laptop screen (if you use a desktop, use desktop, it doesn’t affect what we have to say) you should find an escape from this for your own sake.
If you’re a visionary then it shouldn’t be tough for you to predict your future lifestyle.
What we mean is that if you don’t learn anything apart from computer skills alone, you may find yourself in a miserable state and might get fed up with your lifestyle in the near future.
We don’t know how playing sports might make you a programming genius, but it’s essential for a healthy life.
Playing a musical instrument won’t assist you in creating the next operating system, but it’s definitely a gift you can give to yourself.
Writing poems cannot help you in establishing the next tech giant, but it can surely add sparkle to your life beyond doubt.
The computer-lifestyle isn’t always fun, and gets tiring sometimes. It’s a nice thing that computer science enthuses you as a whole but don’t claim that you’ll love it till eternity.
If you manage to learn some extra skills then you shall always have an option to find solace by doing them. Also, you’ll always have the option to feel worthy about knowing them.
13. Sharpen your soft-skills
Soft-skills are a must. No matter how useless the subject of communication skills looks as a part of your syllabus, it’s there for a reason. You might be among the gifted ones to whom the manner of interacting well with people comes naturally, but not everyone is.
It may surprise you to know that a bulk of your success depends merely on your character and ability to negotiate with people, for which you may not be able to compensate with your academic knowledge and college aggregates.
Your personality, flexibility of thoughts, and synergy tell a lot about your chances of fitting into others culture, and that’s what companies search in their employees.
The necessity of soft-skills varies with your job type and work environment, yet, being a polished person with a flawless personality is always expedient.
14. Don’t rush things
You won’t learn all that is necessary while you’re in college, and neither should you try to.
It doesn’t take much time to learn something new, but mastering it takes a lot of persistence. This mastery cannot be achieved overnight or within a span of weeks.
Just because your college keeps throwing a new programming language at you in every semester doesn’t mean that you’ll thoroughly learn all of them before graduation.
In reality, you’ll have to learn just enough to survive your exams.
So don’t even attempt to sit with your laptop and a stack of five different programming language books on your desk, with an intention of learning them within a few months.
The people who astound you with their programming powers on the internet are usually the ones who have had a good deal of experience in what they do and have spent a few years of their life doing the same things over and over, so don’t compare yourself to them.
However, if you really wish to master something while still in college, then stick to some specific choices until graduation. But don’t hurry things.
15. Batmen are vulnerable in computer science
Firstly, stop blotting out your fear of being social in the name of introversion. Secondly, well, we’re unable think of a good second point.
If you’re a Batman kind of person (like us), then you’ve got something to worry about. You need to change yourself a bit in order to fit into the ambience of computer science.
Learning from others, networking and all other sort of things require some degree of communication. If you hold yourself back due to your unwillingness then you may miss a lot of opportunities.
Also, since you’ll need to express your ideas and views to a lot of non-technical people, and to colleagues when working with a team, it’ll be better if you stay prepared to get a bit social.
We aren’t asking you to suddenly bounce between people or become the guy who offers handshake to strangers, but get comfortable with a bit of stage speaking and general communication.
This way you’ll be able to survive in the industry without giving up your own personality.
16. Know the industry you wish to work in
Majority of computer science students lack an awareness regarding their industry.
They scarcely have any idea how they’ll do the job which they wish to take up, or try to learn about the functioning of the companies they aspire to get into.
This attitude is often incorrect.
In the college itself, learn about what kind of jobs are available for you depending on the knacks you possess, the form of lifestyle you’ll have, type of work you’ll be supposed to do and what would be the best option for you.
Try to gather as much knowledge as you can to understand your current situation and act accordingly.
- Do your own research.
- Consult the ones who already do the occupations you’re preparing for.
- Read blogs of industry leaders and companies.
- Get some counseling.
- Stay updated with trends (read magazines and tech websites).
It’s always good to know where you’re heading. You’ll already be a lot more prepared if you know your industry and stay aware of what’s happening around you.
17. Find what the recruiters want from you
Recruiters are tired of interviewing the candidates who claim their worthiness by showing up a resume which seems an exact replica of the ones they’ve seen before, stuffed with keywords like C++, Java, HTML, and PowerPoint (yes, such chumps exist).
Do you think hirers care about what you’ve learned? Yes they do.
But more than that they expect you to be capable of implementing what you’ve learned. They analyze you completely within a matters of minutes and draw their conclusion. What do you think they see in you within that time?
All they care about is whether you can efficiently do the task they’re assigning you with responsibility. They check whether you fit into all their aspects and can work under different circumstances.
Try to stand out by limiting your resume to relevant set of skills, instead of penning down everything that you’ve learned since you’ve entered your college, or worse, since your birth.
Here’s what we suggest:
Build a portfolio showcasing the work you’ve done. This signifies your practical experience much impressively.
You may include in it the internships you’ve taken up, your involvement in volunteering, or the tasks you’ve done independently. These activities show your passion about what you do, and thereby present you as a reliable option.
Also, this makes the recruiters perceive you as a strong candidate whom they wouldn’t want to lose.
18. Meet your friend, the internet
One simple trick which can help you throughout the college is Googling properly.
Face a problem? Google.
Got a doubt? Google.
Want to learn something? Yes, Google.
Stop pretending like the internet is your enemy. Don’t be among those who keep blaming the internet for the problems they create themselves.
The internet is a poor lad. It only shows what you ask it to show. It travels across the corners of the world to get what you want and proves its loyalty. It’s innocent.
If you keep doing random things and blame it for distracting you, then it’s your fault, not of the internet.
We know there are people who keep saying that internet has destroyed social lives, ruined health and all. Maybe, but we’re talking about something else.
Internet has Codeacademy which teaches you, Quora where you can participate in discussions, Feedly which keeps you updated with the content from your favourite sites, Tutorialspoint where you learn, and several other such sites which make learning interesting for you.
Then why would you hate the internet?
The internet is the biggest resource you own, a revolutionary weapon. You’re in deep water if you cannot harness its power.
The ideas that excite you, passion that drives you, knowledge you crave for, are all available on the internet. Pick up the art of using it and make it your best friend. We know you already know it, otherwise you might not have been reading this blog.
19. Play around with things
If the complexity of things makes you curious and the thought of doing something new thrills you then you’re a perfect cutout for computer science.
This habit of experimenting can make you go places. Think of yourself as a scientist, jump into the world of explorations, and test your aptitudes.
Computer science is one of those uncommon fields in which people come out of nowhere, even without a college degree, and yet get hired due to their capabilities. It’s a matter of curiosity, desires, and the joy of learning.
If something makes you say “Hey, what’s this thing? How can I do it?” then open your browser dig the internet and find ways to do it.
If you wonder about what would happen if you mess a bit with programs, then mess with them. If the complexities of computer astound you, then explore them. Dabbling is the most fun way to learn about new technologies.
Self-learning isn’t a skill to be learned but a habit worth inculcating.
20. Become a jack of all trades
Versatility is attractive and useful.
It’s always cool when you can do multiple tasks by yourself without relying on anyone else. It’s a smart thought to learn as much as possible. You’ve got resources and ability, so there’s barely any obstruction that may stop you.
Learn everything that attracts you, whether it be web designing, programming, or animation. There’s no harm in gaining additional knowledge. You can have the odds on your side when you’re a knowledgeable person.
Your web design skills can always help you in tweaking your personal website a bit, your video making skills and add life to your presentations, and so on.
You always have the option to become a master of certain field or skill. But while you’re busy trying to become a master, don’t forget to become a jack of all trades. This attitude certainly impacts the work you do.
You may also download the slides below for your future reference.
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