What advice would you give to a first-year CSE student?

Studying in the first year of Computer Science Engineering (CSE)? Know what experts suggest you should focus on while pursuing CSE.

Welcome to your next step in education! It is always exciting when you start a new journey – which most of you would be making in a city away from your home and in a totally new environment.

Here are a few things, I would suggest every engineering student focus on during their first year of Computer Science Engineering.

First of all, the key topics I would recommend a Computer Science student to get proficient at would be Data Structures & Algorithms and Web Development. Data Structures & Algorithms form the backbone of the Computer Science curriculum and play a crucial role while applying for Software Engineering positions. Further, it’s my personal belief that every computer science student must know how a website functions and should be comfortable with the nitty-gritty of Web Development. No matter which domain you get interested in (Mobile Development/Web Development//Data Science), Web Development would help one to deploy those products created on the internet.

Following Web Development a student can do summer internships in various colleges/tech companies or apply for Google Summer of Code. At this stage, he/she is all set to further explore and narrow down their domain as after learning Web Development I feel students gain maturity in Computer Science to make informed decisions. Read about various fields one can take up here: What do Software Engineers do?  

Besides, there are other key points I would like to mention to first-year students:

1. Focus on strengthening your fundamentals in Computer Science focused courses, especially programming 101

In the first year of college, you will be introduced to at least two key computer science courses like Intro to Programming and Data Structures & Algorithms. As these form the backbone of the field I can’t emphasize enough on their importance. Take these courses very seriously and make sure you understand holistically.

2. Keep a check on your grades

It’s easy to lose out marks on non-computer science subjects especially in first year when the bunch of courses focus on Chemistry, Physics and so on. But it is of utmost importance that you keep a check on your grades and during campus placements some companies might have a minimum graduation percentage requirement.

3. Invest time in co-curricular to expand and check your interests

First-year, besides brushing up one’s computer science skills, may also be utilised in other activities such as participating and managing college festivals, clubs etc. These opportunities will not only help you network with people but will also help you hone your personality skills. Being involved in activities outside the curriculum would also help you understand your skills and interests.

4. Reach out to your seniors

People who have been in exact same shoes as yours would be the best guides you could have. Reaching out to seniors will help you understand the institution’s culture and how the placement scenarios work. They could also help you with referrals at their companies when you start looking for jobs.

5. Work on projects to complement your college courses

“Don’t tell, show!” While studying in a technology-related field, knowing the concepts of a subject well is only the first step in learning. It is of immense importance that you could use the knowledge acquired and be able to come up with a practical project with it. These projects not only make it easier for the recruiters to see your commitment for the field but also in a way, prepares you for a career in computer science.

6. Focus on self-development, strengthening communication skills

The college provides one with the best environment to focus on self-development. This is not just specific to computer science students but to everyone out there in their late teens and 20s. Never let an opportunity where you get a chance to improve your communication skills go to waste. Be it a club meet or a meetup group you could be a part of, grab it and take the occasion to improve your personal skills.

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