💻 Things I wish I know when I started studying Computer Science at University

I was lucky enough to study at a prestigious university, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne). Here the advices I would have loved to receive at the beginning of my studies.

1. Make a personal website

Prefer to work on things you can show. Prefer to work where people can see you. Prefer to work on things you can own

Start your personal website as early as possible. Develop it yourself (almost) from scratch. Personalize it, and make it your own. Make it simple to keep it up-to-date.

It’s also okay to start using Ghost, WordPress, or a similar CMS. What matters is that you start working on it as soon as you can.

2. Start writing a blog

Writing is the beginning of all wealth

Now that you have your own personal website, start blogging about it. One article a month is more than enough. If you start early enough after 5 years you will have 60 blog posts. People will then begin to find you and follow you.

As a newbie programmer, chances are you will get easily blocked on some technical nuances. Exactly like you, there are many thousands of other scholars with potentially the same issue. Describe your problem and how you solved it and publish it.

3. Work on open-source projects

Your net worth is your network

Pick an open-source project you care about and start contributing and engaging with the community. By practice, you will learn faster and way more than any other lecture, plus, you will meet other cool people with eventually your same interests.

A good way to start is to look for “good first issue”.

4. Don’t get crazy if you don’t take the maximal vote

When you are at University and study computer science (or a related field), it seems that if you are not a genius at math or you don’t program in vim as fast as Linus Torvalds, you will be miserable for your entire life and will not find a job in IT. Wrong.

When I was looking for a job I applied to more than 20 different places. No one asked about my grades. But, they checked my GitHub contributions, personal project, and LinkedIn profile. Invest your time and energy in things you can show.

Job-wise, soft skills such as communication are equally important.

5. Participate to University activities

Hackaton, University groups, Faculty’s assembly, organize party, … make new friends.

6. Keep tracks of your learnings

Use Notion or a similar platform.

7. Learn how to learn

Read “A mind for numbers” by Barbara Oakley.

6. Conclusion

Keep showing up

I cannot emphasize this enough. And I learned it the hard way on my skin. Start early. Start now. Go to vercel.com, copy the blog example and start personalizing it. Tomorrow add your profile photo, and after tomorrow write your first blog (or just the title). Keep going like that. In two months from now you will have a magnificent blog and in two years from now thousands of followers and potential employers, customers, or new friends on Twitter and Linkedin.

Good luck and have fun. Is a good time to study computer science. I cheer for you! 🥂

© Copyright 2023, Jonathan Besomi