Last week I finished my sophomore year at the University of Michigan for computer science. I had a ton of great experiences throughout the year and here are a few things that stood out.
1.) Computer Science and Software Engineering != Knowing to code. This new trend of “learning to code in 10 days” needs to stop. It is simply not the same as learning to build high quality software, and learning how to understand and interpret complex systems and problems. While yes, I knew how to code last year, I was nowhere near the ability to solve complex problems as I am now after taking more computer science courses and spending time learning how to approach larger, complex problems.
2.) Find friends that push your limits. (in different areas) Find a friend that is a genius at (or at least passionate about) math, programming, art, english, etc. By having friends who are experts in fields different from your area of expertise, your conversations will be a blend of what you are good at and what they are good at. This will naturally lead to ideas that are cross discipline, both making you more creative and open minded.
3.)Explore. By far, some of my best times this year were those not on campus. I was lucky enough to take several trips with Michigan students. First, I was able to go to UPenn for a huge student hackathon. Being on a huge bus full of 50ish computer science majors and exploring the city of Philadelphia was a ton of fun – and lead to some great ideas. It was also fun building an iPhone app with friends for two days with little sleep. Next, I was able to go to San Francisco a few times – once for interviews, once for a conference – with fellow students. It was such a powerful feeling to have 20-30+ students travel 2000 miles and take over a city for a week. During the second trip, Michigan students also assisted at the conference making a huge impression on all of the recruiters, developers, and other people at the conference. They were amazed so many passionate students would use their spring break to come to a tech conference and hackathons to build products (or show off previously built projects)
4.) Never become comfortable with your current skills or abilities. It is critical that you never become too comfortable with your current level of abilities or knowledge. Constantly push yourself to either know something even better, or learn something new.