For this assignment, I attended the alumni symposium, where former students of the Department of Computer Science speak about their experiences getting a job and working in the field. Everyone who came seemed to be glad that they were there, and I enjoyed hearing about all their experiences. Most importantly, everyone did a great job of putting my mind at ease! Everyone’s experience was different, but all of them wanted to express the idea that no company expects you to be contributing something super valuable on the first day. They also described their experiences going through training, with Megan in particular noting the importance of pair programming in getting her up to speed on her job. Knowing that this kind of assistance is out there, as I said, puts my mind at ease.
Eventually, the discussion came up of changing the curriculum for a degree in computer science to be more geared towards practical skills as opposed to theoretical knowledge. Not surprisingly, when the question came up, everyone said that they wouldn’t change a thing about the curriculum at the College of Charleston since the Department Chair himself was in the Zoom call! Still, I found it interesting that each of them expanded upon this further and said that the curriculum prepared them well. While some did concede that there could be a few more classes that would be beneficial, none of them would say that they would change anything significant about the degree. Personally, I believe that understanding theory can help you to better solve particular kinds of problems. If you can think through the theory, you can probably think through a problem where that theory can be applied. Likewise, learning theory can help you grasp the true value of some of the practical tools you will use out in the field. This enables you to better engage with those tools and have a better understanding of what they can and can’t do.
Overall, I’m glad that I attended the alumni symposium. I received some great information about starting one’s career in computer science, had my mind put at ease, and got to catch up with some people I knew from class.