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Tech pros share advice for new computer science graduates

Ann Bednarz | June 21, 2016
As veterans in the tech world know, earning a degree is just the beginning of a new professional’s education.

Work on communication skills

"One of the most critical items that I see missing from many new grads entering industry is a lack of proper communication skills. As helpful as it is to know technical concepts such as algorithm analysis, if your coworkers and management don't enjoy being around you, you are going to find it difficult to have sustained career success. I highly recommend computer science and software engineering graduates to deliberately work on soft skills such as communication and learning to get along with team members. It will lead to a more enjoyable career path and better overall work culture." – Jordan Hudgens, CTO of CronDose.com, co-founder of devCamp, and graduate student in the computer science department at Texas Tech University

While in school, pursue learning outside the classroom, too

"School is the best time to fail because, frankly, you have nothing to lose. Start a business or a company, develop a product, or two or three. Every line of code you write in a practical setting, integrating an API, SDK or learning a new technology will pay you back in the future. … Build something that works, and publish it to GitHub. Everyone else is also working on a few projects, so don't worry about someone stealing your billion-dollar idea. If you're passionate and skilled, it'll show and you'll win. By joining the community, you give yourself a name and open yourself to learn from others. These projects are also a great way to get noticed by recruiters and to build an identity for yourself in the tech community." – Nishant Patel, CTO at Built.io

Remember the users

"[Staying] mindful of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) is crucial. Not all computer science professionals know how a user actually engages with an interface, but job applicants who understand those nuances will rise above the pool of other candidates. At the end of the day, we don’t create programs that are used by other computer scientists. Focusing on the behavior and understanding of the user who will be engaging in the programming, and delivering a product that is based on the other person’s perspective, are what will set you apart." – Dane Pelfrey, vice president of product development at Businessolver

Commit to learning business basics

"Harvard's computer science program is rigorous. There’s not a lot of time or energy left for studying other subjects like business or sales. But as an employee at Threat Stack, I’ve learned that software engineers need to understand the business value of the products they’re building. I regularly chat with our company executives and sales and marketing team members, which has given me a holistic understanding of what it takes to build, refine and deliver products to customers. Having this kind of hands-on exposure simply isn’t possible at school; I’m gaining the critical information and skill it takes to be an entrepreneur, which is something I’ve always dreamt of pursuing." – Michael Chen, a Harvard undergraduate who decided to defer a full year before his final year of school to work at Threat Stack

 

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