I graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2014 with a bachelors in Computer Science. I taught English in Thailand for a few months and had an internship in Washington state during my college years. I now work at IBM in Austin, TX developing mobile applications. In my personal time, I write articles for my blog, contribute to open source software, or just experiment with new development ideas.
Academically, college was difficult for me. I picked the challenging major of Computer Science and most of it did not come easy, I had to study many long hours. Ultimately though, it paid off, as I am now working at IBM doing something I enjoy. Getting that job didn’t just happen though and here are a few things I believe made the difference.
Working on projects outside of required school work. I didn’t really do much of this until my senior year, but I eventually found the time and created a simple and fun iOS game, WriteDraw (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/writedrawgame/id830252077?mt=8). In making that app, I learned a lot about software development, specifically in mobile. It also made me more confident in my craft, including in the academic arena. I would suggest trying out projects for whatever major you are in order to find your speciality. Also, imagine how good it looks to an employer to see you love what you do so much that you are willing to do it in your free time.
Another helpful thing for me was having a technical blog. Simply writing about projects you work on, interesting findings, or giving your 2 cents on new products and ideas. Having my blog (http://taylorfranklin.me/) really helped me understand what I was thinking even more. The big difference in having a blog is that as it gains more popularity and the longer you do it, the more credibility you have in your field. This is another tip that can help you with your future career and your knowledge right now.
This one might be simple, but take advantage of the resources in front of you. This can mean free tutoring at your university, study groups with people who might know more than you in an area. For example, I was no good at English or Speech, so it made a big difference to have one-on-one appointments, with on-campus tutors, to go over a particular paper or speech I had written. The other huge resource I want to mention is the internet. There is more knowledge on the internet easily available than there ever has been in the history of the world. It helped me many times to just see an example or watch a video on how to solve a problem and then take what I learned and apply it to my own problem. Sure our parents didn’t have such a thing to help them in their college experience, but we do, our professors know that, so we should leverage that resource.
The last piece of advice I have is a bit of shift in comparison to the other tips I mentioned, that being, don’t worry. It is so easy to worry about the future and what you are going to end up doing after college. As long as you find something you love and enjoy, just focus on that and the future will take care of itself. Looking back, my 4 years in college went by extremely fast, but I made some great memories and learned a lot in the process. Find the balance of work and fun as quick as possible in order to have great college experience.
Being 6 months into my career, I’m happy with the choices I made in college, as I reap the benefits now. Sure, there were some courses I took that don’t affect my day-to-day, but there were some key ones I’m thankful for. To summarize, invest in your skills and who you are now and you’ll thank yourself later.