Computer science graduates are in demand. Last year, 76% of computer science graduates were working full time within six months of finishing school -- the highest full-time employment rate among new college graduates and well above the 58% average across all majors, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
But as veterans in the tech world know, earning a degree is just the beginning of a new professional’s education. To help this year’s newcomers navigate the transition from academic life to the professional world, we asked tech pros to share their best advice for computer science graduates entering the workforce. Here’s what they had to say.
Have fun and ask questions
"Find a career you enjoy. There is nothing better than getting up each morning looking forward to your day at work. Once you’re on the job, never be afraid to ask questions. Too many times I see people just starting out who are afraid to admit they don’t know something. I’ve been in technology for 18 years and I’m still learning and asking questions.” – Jacob Ackerman, CTO of SkyLink Data Centers
Accept the knowledge gap and be ready to learn
"[It’s a myth that] the knowledge gained from your degree will prepare you 100% for your role. Fitting into tech culture is all about knowledge. If you don’t know how to perfectly manipulate a CSS or how to write a JS script, you will get laughed at. You WILL be an outsider. The key is to OWN it. The knowledge gap is just temporary. The best response to fitting in is to be curious and inquisitive. Asking questions goes a very long way. Trying to learn will garner you respectability. The more you try to fight the knowledge and technical gap, the worse it will be for you. Roll with the waves until you become an integral part of the team." – Pierre Tremblay, director of human resources at Dupray
Practice old-school networking
"Even in the young, hip, tech space, the best way to network is still pretty old-school: build a network of peers. Go to hackathons, engage on social networks, participate in forums, etc. Everyone you talk to and meet can be an asset whether it's now, five years or maybe even 10 years from now. A fellow developer will be an ally when you are looking for your first job or a new job down the line when it's time for something new." – Nishant Patel, CTO of Built.io
Build your own lab
"Develop your specific skills by building yourself a lab with enough basic components that you can test your skills and knowledge. This not only improves your understanding of the field you're looking to get into, but it also helps with getting [industry certifications such as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)]. It can also give you an edge in an interview, so be ready to market the fact that you have a personal lab. You can build an inexpensive network lab for a couple hundred dollars with old gear purchased off of eBay, and a server for code development is just as easy. I've actually hired folks that had this and impressed me and the team with their learned skills." – Tim Parker, vice president of network services at ViaWest
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