Experience is what most companies are looking for in a applicant. A good way to attain experience and get a good career head-start is by looking for all or any possible opportunities available to you. As a student in UCSD, I am in awe of the resources and support I get as an undergraduate student in Computer Science. UCSD is known internationally as one of the top public universities and have ranked in the top ten for the past few years. (http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/grad/facts.shtml#ranking) Of all the resources offered to us in UCSD, I will focus on three that have peeked my interest. SAGE, Students Achieving, Guiding, and Enriching Calit2’s Summer Research Program, and Global TIES (Teams in Engineering Service) provide the perfect opportunity for any student to get their feet wet in Computer Science and Engineering.
First, SAGE, Students Achieving, Guiding, and Enriching is a great way to help other students in Computer Science learn and achieve success. As quoted from their site, “students helping students” is an atmosphere you can come to love as a member of this club. Before you can apply, you must first make arrangements with the professor of the class you want the tutor. This club is volunteer-based and tutors will teach lower division Computer Science courses. Most of the lower division classes for CS is taken within the first year or two, so a good time the apply for the club is after you have taken the lower division classes. Teaching other students is a good way to really understand and master the material you already learned. It creates and improves problem solving skills needed in future endeavors in Computer Science. (http://csesage.ucsd.edu/home/index.php/main)
Second, Global TIES (Teams in Engineering Service) is a innovative humanitarian engineering program within the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. Basically, this program allows students to apply what they learned in school to the real world by designing and implementing various projects offered by non-profit organizations to help improve the lives of many people living in developing countries.
“Global TIES – Teams in Engineering Service is an innovative humanitarian engineering program of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Global TIES puts multi-disciplinary teams of undergraduates to work building the dreams of not-for-profit organizations and their clients in San Diego and in developing countries around the world. Renowned UC San Diego faculty and researchers advise the teams, and students receive course credit for their work. Global TIES teams give students an invaluable opportunity to apply their skills in a real world setting, while learning firsthand the role that engineering and technology can play in solving the problems that face their local community and the world. Not-for-profit organizations receive critically needed but often cost-prohibitive technical expertise to help them improve the lives of their clients.” (Quoted from http://globalties.ucsd.edu/index.html)
Students interested in getting a career head start in Computer Science will find that applying what you learned in school and working as a team will strongly improve your chances of landing a job in the future. Global TIES has a curriculum in UCSD in which students must take two courses ENG100A: Principles of Engineering and ENG100L: Team Engineering Laboratory. The first course ENG100A provides a good foundation of what it feels like to work as engineer and how team-oriented it can be. Weekly lectures in class show students the ins and outs of the design process from the verbal and written communication to the project management. The second class is where you applied what you learned from lecture into actual hands-on experience. All majors can apply.
The projects that have been actively worked on students can be found on the Global TIES page. Ranging from Transborder Communication to One Village Philipines, getting to design and implement an project is a great early career opportunity in Computer Science.
One particular project that interests me in is the Information Network -Haiti [MPHISE]. The goal of this project is to improve coordination between NGO, Non-governmental organization on the ground in Haiti. Currently, they are trying to create a universally accessible online database that will help aid first responders and anyone who would like to contribute in areas of disaster and need. So they are creating a web application to fulfill the needs by using social devices such as email, sms(text messaging), or by the web application. I find this project to hold many key elements to Computer Science as it emphasizes the use of HTML and many critical thinking skills you learn as a programmer. Additional information can be found here: http://globalties.ucsd.edu/haiti.html .
Lastly, I want to talk about another early career opportunity in Computer Science offered in UCSD by Calit2. Calit2 focuses on research and innovation by bringing together multidisciplinary teams from all UC campuses and beyond to innovate and create new ideas in technology. To hone in on what they have to offer to undergraduate students, they hold a Summer Research Scholarship program in UCSD for undergraduates. As short description about the program:
“This program, which began the summer of 2001, provides talented undergraduates with hands-on research experience to help them better define their career goals and help them sort out what options to pursue after graduation. Students conduct 10 weeks of research under the guidance of UCSD faculty and participate in a series of meetings focused on topics of interest to them. The program typically ends with a formal scholarly poster session to in which the students present their work to their peers, advisors, and often the larger campus and industry communities.” (From http://www.calit2.net/education/ucsd/ugrad/index.php)
This is a great to apply what you learned in school and have hands-on on research-related technology. This also allows you to build up your network and learn different ways of solving a problem. The industry in Computer Science will be very wide open after such an opportunity and it will help you nail down what career goals in this profession you want to accomplish.
Also available are design courses in ECE and MAE departments with a core space for research in the Calit2 building known as the Student Design Studio.
After learning about what is offered in UCSD by the CSE department and Jacobs School of Engineering, no student should be afraid to try their hands in these valuable learning experiences. These experiences help shape and define a person and that is something no one can take away. To succeed in life, you must take risks. And with those risk, better rewards.