Graduating from university is exciting because you complete the journey into academic education, start the adventure into a professional career, and begin adulthood. Here are the things that I wish I knew after getting a computer science degree.
Coding at university is different from coding in a professional setting
At university, courses give you the foundations from which you can develop your career. You study different modules that help you understand what it is like to build software almost from scratch. At university, they give you a problem to solve with a specific set of tools and requirements, and your lecturers will assess your solution against pre-defined criteria. You write code from zero, and your studies are more involved in the science and theory of programming.
In the real world, you will have to upgrade your mindset. You will be part of a larger team comprising engineers, product managers, scrum masters, testers, etc. You will code as part of a team, collaborating with your team members, having the end-user in mind. Often, you will work on an existing codebase. It is considered a best practice to re-use code and existing libraries rather than writing code from scratch and potentially reinventing the wheel.
Interviewing is a skill itself
Interviewing is a skill for which you can practice either by getting interviews or by doing mock interviews. For computer science and software engineering graduates, job interviews often involve a coding challenge and behavioural interview.
In many cases, you have to pass the first before you get to the second. Brush up on your skills on sites such as HackerRank, Codility, HackerEarth, etc., and be ready to answer questions related to programming fundamentals.
Regarding the behavioural interview, interviewers will want to know your thought process and if you can work effectively as part of a team. Prepare examples to showcase problem-solving analysis, teamwork, and communication skills.
Ensure that you research the company you are interviewing for thoroughly, use websites like Indeed and Glassdoor. Politely reach to former and current employees on LinkedIn and ask them about their experience within a specific company.
Emotional Intelligence matters
Your self-awareness and ability to read and understand someone else’s feelings will play a significant role in whether you will succeed or not in your career. Remember, your senior engineer can teach the technical skills, but soft skills are harder to master because they directly touch and involve your individuality and pride. Being self-aware helps in knowing how you can improve as a person and team member and realize the areas about yourself that you can proactively take action.
LinkedIn is a great place to document your journey
LinkedIn is a great social media platform for students and new graduates. If you document your journey on LinkedIn by posting more content about what you’re learning, your successes and failures, you are building up your personal brand. That way looking for a job can be less of a pain because you are getting noticed by recruiters and you can stand out from your peers, simply because your profile is active, updated and more appealing. If your university hosts workshops about how to maximize your LinkedIn profile, please do attend them, they are very valuable!
Life after university is tougher
Once you graduate, life can feel tougher and uncertain. You will have more responsibilities on your shoulder, and you will become more self-reliant. But that’s where the real growth comes from. Searching for a graduate job is challenging because you will be competing with many other graduates just like you, looking for their first opportunity and unfortunately, there are more graduates than jobs available in the market. It feels daunting to see your peers getting jobs at well-known companies, but please know that the grass is not always greener and that the only competition that exists is you trying to be 1% better every day.
Finally, I want to conclude with this job searching and life in general after university can be scary, but you can join networking groups to help you mitigate this sense of loss and fear. SkillStruct University has built a network dedicated to graduates and current university students looking for their first opportunity after graduation or simply an internship. You can read more about the virtual network here.
Overall I hope that you’ve found this helpful!