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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.

Participate and contribute

"Online participation in open source is the new job interview. …A candidates' participation in an open source community tells a lot more about the person. Not just their understanding of computer science concepts, but also their ability to communicate clearly, and how they work in a team. … No matter what area of computer science you want to focus on, you can easily find a half dozen active open source projects in that field. Participate, contribute, and you may well find yourself being courted by companies looking to hire you before you graduate." – Amrith Kumar, CTO and co-founder at Tesora

Develop problem-solving skills

"Companies who know what they’re doing will want to see how you think and problem solve. They may give you a problem or scenario and ask you to talk through how you would approach solving it. They want to know that you can think through the process, ask the right questions, and come to a conclusion. This may or may not involve writing code. … The specific language(s) you know are not as important as your ability to learn and to problem solve. Anyone can pick up a language. It’s much harder to find someone who fully understands software development." – Ann Gaffigan, CTO at National Land Realty

Don’t rush into projects

"Make sure you have collected enough data before you begin a task. Become a voracious note taker and investigate problems with the care of an old-school investigative journalist. Know the ‘who, what, where, why, and when’ behind a problem before you formulate ‘how’ you’re going to address it. Good engineers and developers will operate within the guidelines of a process like Six Sigma DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, implement and control), but too often the definition and measurement [phases are] shortened or overlooked. That leads to assumptions in the analysis and implementation… and often uncontrollable outcomes." – John Chapin, lead consultant at Capital Technology Services

Sharpen customer service skills

"We find that a lot of recent computer science graduates have very similar skills and experience, so when hiring, we look for other things. Any customer service experience is valued here (like retail or waiting tables), because that tells us the candidate knows how to communicate with others well. We look for humble candidates because there is always something to learn – even if someone comes to us with stellar coding skills, we need to know that he or she will be able to take criticism and also be open to learning other programs." – Aryana Jaleh, social media manager at Eboxlab

Get to know the sales team

"You should absolutely spend time with the sales team at your company. Make a point to walk by their cubes and speak with them. Invite them to lunch, go to their happy hours. It will be out of your comfort zone. Good. You need that. Realize that there will come a day when you might want to start a company, and you know absolutely zero about sales. Fix that ASAP. ... Not saying you should ignore your development colleagues, just make an effort to know the sales team. You need to find out who the top performers are and spend time with them. You also need to know who the low performers are and avoid them. Figuring that out is an amazingly valuable life skill that you didn’t learn in college." – Robert Reeves, CTO and co-founder of Datical


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