10 things I wish I knew before completing my computer science degree

Whether you graduate from a boot camp or any other degree it’s important to build yourself as professional before actually becoming one. I have listed in no particular order things I wish I knew to make this process a little easier for me and hopefully it will help you too!


Although some might say securing one internship is good enough, I think 2-3 is more ideal to gain more insight into what field you really want work in. Internships can be done year-round. You have the option to do an internship in the summer which is typically 3 months full-time or during the semester part-time or full time for 4-5 months or even longer this is called a co-op. Some internships and co-ops can also lead into full-time positions so it’s very important to do them!

2. Research career paths

There are many paths you can take having a computer science degree since it’s such a broad major and it’s important to choose a path suited for you. To name a few you can get a career as a Software Developer, Data analyst, Customer engineer, Support Engineer etc. Each of these career paths require very different skills so it’s important to establish a career tailored to the experience you have through coursework, projects or internships.

3.Complete side projects that are not course related

When interviewing it’s important to let the employer know that you have done projects you weren’t forced to do to show your dedication to the role you are applying to. It also shows that you’re always learning. In addition, sometimes in college you just might not get projects that give you the proper exposure and it’s up to you to learn these on your own time.

4.Networking early on

LinkedIn is essential to creating professional relationships and to network and I highly recommend creating an account ASAP. With this you can directly connect and network with professionals who are working in potential companies you want to work for which can help you gain more insight into these companies.

5.Building meaningful relationships with students/professors

Some companies require you to list 3-5 references for consideration and it must be people who you worked on a project with or completed a project for. You want to create these meaningful relationships because these are the people that are going to put in a good recommendation for you. These references will potentially be the gate keeper to you receiving a job offer so this is very important!

6. Job hunting months prior to completion of degree or program

Job hunting can be draining, frustrating and time consuming but you can tone down this down simply by giving yourself time to apply instead of waiting for your last semester or last month where you find yourself applying to 300+ jobs a week in desperation of landing a job in 4 months. Realistically speaking some of the interview processes you encounter are going to take up to 6 rounds and depending on the company’s timeline this process can take months before you enter the final rounds and land an offer.

7. Volunteering

Volunteering can be great especially in those semesters where you don’t have an internship and want to utilize your leisure time in a more productive manner. There are many non-profit organizations that need your help and some of these non-profit organizations can be STEM related and can help add on to your interpersonal and technical skills. You also meet people volunteering and who knows you might just meet someone who can give you that internal referral in the future.

8. Create a portfolio

A lot of applications give you the option to attach a link to a portfolio or a GitHub account and sometimes including these links might short list your application and give you a lead in that pool of candidates. You can start building your portfolio as soon as you receive any coursework such as coding projects, research projects, etc. It’s also free to create a GitHub and there are ways to deploy your project for free as well.

9. Attending Conferences/Summits

There are several conferences out there you can attend that can either help motivate you or help you land a job/internship. These conferences usually take place from the Spring and Fall but they do have a few in the winter and summer as well. There are conferences that are more inclusive or more general so dependent on gender/ethnicity or interest. In these events you have the opportunity to not only learn but gain connections and possibly connect with recruiters and do live interviewing. My personal favorite events to attend was the AWS re:Invent which is a huge conferences dedicated to everything in cloud computing and more and Latinas in Tech Recruit and Summit!

10.Interview prep

Last but not least interview prep should be done several months before graduating. Now, there are many free online resources that can help you prep for a technical interview such as LeetCode, educative, Hacker rank, YouTube and much more. Although, the technical portion of the interview is important there’s also a behavior portion which is just as important so be prepared to showcase your personality and to discuss how you work well as a team or under difficult situations! Overall, Interviewing can be slightly intimidating so it’s important to do mock interviews beforehand so you can get comfortable.

Finally, to whoever currently in the process of completing a degree, boocamp or program remember to keep in mind the end result and to never give up on any goal you set for yourself no matter how difficult it might be because with hard work and dedication anything is possible!

Chelsea, I think this is great! As a bootcamp grad who then went on to senior engineering and leadership, I'd add a few other things. Hopefully people find it helpful.* Consider an apprenticeship * When you're networking, reach out to companies, specifically engineers or engineering managers. Ask for a quick 15-20 informational coffee and find out what it's like to be a dev at that job. What's the day-to-day like? What has each person's career trajectory been? * Consider what you want to focus on. You can always change your specialty later (I went fullstack, frontend, fullstack) but give some thought into what intrigues you. Backend? Data engineering? Frontend? More generalist with fullstack?* Look at Meetup Groups and Slack channels. Join them! Ask questions, see what people are chatting about. Women Who Code has been a great asset to me. There's also the Grace Hopper Conference, Girls Gone Wired on Reddit, and so, so many more.Thanks for adding these. It helped jog my memory for other suggestions I have.Sarah(former engineering manager now coach to women in tech <3 )
Yes I completely agree with you! I actually read about your journey a few months ago and it was very inspirational to me! I hope you continue to coach women in tech : )
What! That means a lot to me @chelsearodriguez, thank you <3
Yup, I believe it was through a slack channel for one organization I'm apart of!