On College Prepping Students For Job Interviews …
Regarding our Interview Survival Guide which can be seen by following the link above, I am of the opinion that getting your first job out of college, while it is quite important, should not be the reason you do the things you choose to do in college.
I think that college is a space in which students can learn and grow, adding tools to their tool belts and developing themselves into humans that can participate in and add to society. It’s a fantastic time in which students can explore different avenues without much of negative repercussions. I don think it should be a job training ground. You should not join a club you think is boring and pointless just because it will look great on a resume. Join extracurricular activities because you want to. Get involved because it will be fruitful for you.
However, all that being said, college is a time to develop our skills. It’s a time to form a great base from which we can stand and grow as we take the next step forward in our lives. This means developing skills that will be helpful for those of us who would like to enter the industry. For the most part every single Computer Science I have taken at Notre Dame has included at least a few, “so remember this when they ask you this in a technical interview…” or “companies will use methods or languages like this…” So the technical interviews have been on our minds for a few years now. It is true, however, that overall Notre Dame does not treat our curriculum as job prep. Because the focus of the university is to produce well-rounded students, we do take courses that might not be relevant in our future jobs. And that makes us feel behind those students at other universities that probably have almost a year of extra computer science courses than we do.
I, as an individual, actually value the open opportunities at Notre Dame. I believe as a human person, I have benefited from my Anthropology, Theology, Philosophy, and etc. classes. I think it is important to know what kind of knowledge is out there in order for us to be more fully aware of humanity. Would I have traded maybe those two Intro to Engineering classes and PE for a couple of extra cool or fundamental Computer Science classes? In a heartbeat. I think that Notre Dame could revamp the curriculum to more adequately meet the need to CS students in the current environment.
But I think what it comes down to is, if you want that job at Google, study that coding interview book. If you want the highest, toughest technical gig, put in the extra work like a lot of Notre Dame CS majors have done. One day you will be able to traverse trees until your heart is content. But take advantage of the opportunity to learn cool things in different fields while you have the beautiful, fleeting chance during your years at college.
I think the most important aspect of our Interview Guide are the parts that encourage students to take advantage of the resources offered to you during the job hunting process. The interviewing process, like everything else is something you can get good at if you practice. Your college curriculum should not be the sole reason you get a job. You should get a job, because you are confident, intelligent, prepared, and because it’s a company you truly believe you could belong at, and you had the ability to show the interviewer that you belong at that company too. The best advice I received was advice about prepping. Someone told me that it would be beneficial for me, while prepping, to take a look at myself, what characteristics and skills I had to offer, which ones of those I thought I needed to convey to that company, and why I would be a good candidate for that job. Knowing the answers to those questions helped a lot with confidence, answering questions I did not have a prepare answer for, and having an earnest and productive conversation with my interviewer.