CSpotlight: Growing Up with Computer Science

What made you decide to pursue an A.A. prior to your B.A.? Why did you choose to study computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota? 

I found out through some research that the completion of an A.A. would fulfill the liberal arts requirements for the CSCI B.A, and since I didn’t know what tech courses would transfer, I focused on completing that before I transferred. I wanted to go to the University of Minnesota because I believed it was the best in-state institution, it was the only school I applied to and I was very lucky to be accepted.

How did you become interested in computer science?

My dad has been a programmer for almost thirty years, I was always intrigued by development. I remember dad trying to walk me through making a webpage in HTML that displayed “Hello World”, when I was five, which was my first programming induced headache.

I didn’t successfully stick to learning a programming language until I took my introduction courses in college. I love problem solving and became hooked as soon as I learned the basics.

What is your favorite CSCI class? What aspects do you love most about the class?

CSCI 1913 was one of the first courses I took at UMN. I remember sitting in a lecture and it hit me that all I had to do for school was learn about computer science. That was a great moment. CSCI 4611, which I am currently taking, has been one of the most enjoyable classes because it is all about developing interactive graphics which is a huge passion of mine. 

Tell us more about your internship with Wells Fargo! How has your academic background prepared you for the internship?

I realized that my experiences in group projects are probably the most valuable thing that school has given me. Technical knowledge can be easy to obtain individually. There are more than enough resources online for you to use. The thing that is a lot harder to obtain is the ability to work in a group efficiently - things like addressing when your opinion differs from someone else's and showing respect for others' efforts. I think a lot of people bemoan group projects, but practically every possible workplace requires you to work in a group, so it is important to learn how to manage that effectively in school.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Don’t let fear guide your decisions. Honestly, every single semester I felt like I was going to fail and I felt like I was the only one failing. I am not a bad student, nor am I a very anxious person, but talking to other CSCI students they often say the same thing. Keep working hard, attend lectures, attend office hours, accept the help that is offered! You can figure it out and you can make it.  

Also, if you only picked this degree for some promise of a lucrative career, get out now before you waste countless hours working towards something you don’t want. If you can find any love for the work in the introductory courses, you belong here so keep driving forward.

What are your plans after graduation?

Wherever I end up working I just hope I’m doing something I’m passionate about, alongside people who share that passion. I want to work in a competitive and supportive environment, so whatever industry or company that is, I’ll keep searching until I’m there!