How Did I Get Here?
I’m nearing the end of my second year at Victoria University, having recently landed a summer internship and a scholarship to visit the Huawei headquarters in China I’m thinking to myself: How did I get here? What things have made it possible for me to achieve this?
At Vic we have a programme called Campus Coaching, this is held at the beginning of each year to help new students transition to uni life as smoothly as possible. I was a Campus Coach this year and have signed on to be a Campus Coach next year too. I’m by no means an expert but I’ve learned a couple of things since being at uni — this is the advice I’ll give new students:
- Take every opportunity. Even if you don’t think you’ll get it, go for it. I applied for 9 different scholarships this year and was rejected by 7. But that’s okay! I wouldn’t have gotten anything if I had thought to myself, I don’t think I’ll get it, might as well save some time by not applying. The time it takes to write an application is almost always worth it. Treat everything as a learning experience and you’ll be so much better off for it.
- Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t just wait for things to fall into your lap, go out and actively look for opportunities to learn, grow and develop your skill sets. Join clubs, read blog posts and articles, listen to podcasts, attend meetups, make connections, get involved! I attended my first tech event in April this year, Code Camp Wellington. Hearing all the different talks was eye-opening for me, this was where I really found my motivation to up-skill myself as a developer and get involved in the Wellington tech community. WellyTech is coming up at the end of this month which will be an awesome way to get involved. You will learn so much from hearing other people’s stories!
- Know when and where to ask for help. This was a really big one for me in first year. Having never done programming before I was struggling with concepts like recursion and different types of data structures. I felt waaaay in over my head and after almost failing the mid-term test I knew I needed to get help. After a quick google search I found the correct contact point for struggling students, who then directed me to a senior tutor for weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions. I managed to turn my grade in that course from a C- to an A. Learning how to ask for help has been one of the most valuable things I’ve learned since being at uni.
- Keep a schedule. I’m frequently asked by friends how I have time to work, socialise, and keep up with uni at the same time and this is honestly the simplest answer. Put everything in your calendar, and stick to it. Give yourself reasonable amounts of time to do uni assignments and work, but give yourself some time for relaxing and socialising too. Employers aren’t looking for someone who codes 24/7, they are looking for well-rounded people that they can connect with!
- Get a mentor. This was huge takeaway from Sam Jarman’s talk at Code Camp Wellington (as well as lots of other huge takeaways, like starting a blog, and going to meetups, and doing side projects). I’m in love with the idea of sharing knowledge and learning from others so I thought this whole mentor thing sounded pretty cool. Your mentor doesn’t have to be someone who’s 50 years older than you with 30 years of IT experience! It can just be someone who you look up to or someone that can share their experiences with you. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a mentor who encourages and supports me, and opens me up to opportunities I never knew existed!
I thought it was about time I started documenting my journey into technology, hopefully someone out there will benefit from reading this!