What I would have liked to hear when I started studying computer science

Photo by Damian Zaleski

I just graduated and I thought it would be nice to share my experience with others. In this article, I want to share what I think you should do in order to succeed during your studies, and tell you what I would have liked to hear from someone else during mine. So here we go!

Technology watch

This was probably the most underrated task at my school. I can’t even remember someone talking about it. Really. Technology watch gives you feedback on every technology you want to try out, information about upcoming technologies you have not heard of yet, a cultural knowledge on what is going on in your field, long story short, it is how you will stay up to date.

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Harry S. Truman

There is a lot of resources on the web. You can find plenty of information and, because the web is so resourceful, you often find yourself in a situation where you don’t even know where to start. My personal resources are mainly coming from Medium, Quora, Youtube and FreeCodeCamp. Each of these resources are in english and since english is not my native language it brings me to my next point.

English is to developers as the hammer is to blacksmiths

One of the most important skills required for software development is being able to understand english. Not only does it give you comfort when reading documentation, it also gives you the possibility to stay on the top of the curve. There are multiple ways to learn english nowadays, plus if you are studying computer science, chances are you already know the basics. Read, watch your tv shows in english, play online games with strangers, everyone can find an enjoyable way to learn english.

Build a project from end to end on your free time

This can be anything, as long as the result is presentable to a recruiter. These projects will make the difference between you and another developer. It is your added value. I suggest that you find a charity organization or a family member who runs a small company and that you offer your services, even if it is for free.

Focus on learning something in depth before moving on to another

One of the mistakes I made was probably to try to find the perfect language. The one that would suit every need I could possibly have. This language does not exist, and it will always be this great new technology that a friend told you about. If I had to do it all over again, I would go with Javascript, because I think it is the best language you can learn at the moment, because of how great Node.js and Javascript front-end technologies are doing right now. That is just a personal opinion but what you should aim for is to focus on one thing to learn at a time, and learn it in depth, before moving on to another.

There is a great article on how you should approach learning. I strongly suggest you to read it.

Schedule things as much as possible

This is the kind of thing you know deep down but you don’t try to change. It is really hard to make the decision to work instead of having fun. It is like working out, we all want to do it, but every time we have this good excuse to reschedule it for the next day. I think the best way to avoid this kind of behavior is to build a program that you are going to follow over the week. It will definitely help you to become more consistent in your work sessions.

You are not alone!

The best way to keep learning things is to interact with other developers. You have so much to learn from them.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard

Some people are so about competition that they forgot that programming is all about collaboration. Talk with other people on what they are working on, share your thoughts, pair program with different people, go to Hackatons, do whatever you want to do, but don’t do it alone. The world is full of developers who want to work with others. Join a community, for example the FreeCodeCamp’s one, or work with a group of friends at your school. Not only you will improve thanks to them, they will help you to stay motivated.

I hope this can be useful to some people and help them find their path. I wish you luck in your adventure!