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What Actually Matters When You’re Out of School

  |  June 1, 2015

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On May 9th, I was invited by the UP Association of Computer Science Majors (CURSOR) to give a career talk. The audience was primarily composed of third- and fourth-year level students 500 dollar loans guaranteed approval.

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It was a great experience. It was nice being back in UP, and I learned a lot from the students and the other speakers. The questions I got were interesting, so I’ll write about those instead of writing about the talk itself. The answers have been paraphrased from the actual answers I gave.

  1. Why doesn’t schoolwork (machine problems, projects, etc.) count as experience?

School work, while challenging, doesn’t count as experience for a few reasons. On a basic level, completing schoolwork is the minimum requirement of any student, and everyone works on the same problem – nothing to show future employers how you stand out in the crowd.

More importantly in my opinion, for something to count as experience it has to solve or address a real need or problem. Having code “out there” with actual users (you or someone else) makes a lot of difference. It brings a sense of commitment often lacking when doing projects and assignments.

  1. Follow up to #1, what if it’s a really cool or useful project? *

Show it to the world! Deploy it, distribute it, put it on GitHub, get it out there. Potential employers/clients/co-founders will be much more interested in it then.

  • When I answered the question I forgot to mention that the students should first check that they own all the intellectual property to be released.
  1. What if I have a really good idea (for an app or start-up)? *

People come up with good ideas all the time. Often, multiple people get the same idea independently of each other. A good (even great) idea is not worth much without execution. Execution makes all the difference between vaporware and something that benefits users.

  • This wasn’t the exact question. I can’t remember how it was phrased, sorry.
  1. How much do poor grades affect hiring decisions?

I’m sure poor grades do have an adverse effect when applying to some companies, but in my case I didn’t see it. I was never asked about my grades in interviews. I think hiring managers know enough about the challenges you guys go through to see beyond your grades.

If you’re worried about grades, there are a lot of things you can do to make up: extra-curricular activities, internships, involvement in open-source, building your network, etc. This deserves a blog post all its own.

In any case, grades become a non-factor after your first (few) jobs.

Background info: it took me 7 years and multiple subject failures to complete a 5-year Bachelor’s degree (BS ECE). To put that in context I think less than half of our freshman class in that program graduated, much less graduated on time.

  1. Is a candidate’s age a factor in hiring decisions?

Some companies have age limits. These may be explicit or implicit. My position is a company that doesn’t hire people who are “too old” or “too young” is a company I wouldn’t want to work for anyway, even if I met the age requirement.

  1. What does the Philippines need from its CS graduates?

We need problem-solvers. Pick a problem that matters to you and solve it. It can be big or small, as long as it’s well-defined. Again, for emphasis: pick a problem that matters to you and solve it.


About the Author:

JP MoralJP graduated with an Engineering degree in University of the Philippines, Diliman микрозаймы онлайн. He started coding professionally four years ago and has been contributing to the success of clients in a wide range of industries since. On his free time, he likes to read, sleep and eat. Connect with JP on his LinkedIn account.