Important Announcement: After blogging for more than a year, the UT CS Department has given me an opportunity to speak about the importance of writing as a CS major. It's my pleasure to invite you out to GDC 6.102 this Friday at 12PM to the talk. Lunch will be catered with Cane's. Additionally, a raffle will be held at the end of the session, post Q&A, for a FREE Raspberry PI kit and APPLE WATCH.  Finally, the first 5 people who RSVP to the sign-up link at the bottom of the blog post will get an exclusive UTCS Blog T-Shirt. Hope to see you guys out there!

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Sorry, there is no event :P (Throwback to this post)

Whenever I see an announcement about a talk, a Facebook Event by a company, or receive an email about CS events, I can't help but scour the text to find specific key terms that SIGINT my processes (sorry OS kids :P):

Free Swag. BBQ. First 5. Raffles. Jeff Bezos. Free T-Shirts. Giveaways.

All these things are like shiny nuggets of info that I can't help but seek out. Either saving a trip to the local Chik-Fil-A at the SAC or providing an "endless" supply of unadulterated shirts, free stuff has never been a problem as a CS Major (sorry other majors ._.).

In fact, it has become too much of not a problem that it's easy to take for granted all these opportunities that we're provided.

(honestly, fidget spinners at the career fair? Spinsanity!! O.O)

As awesome as free swag, meals, and sweets are though, it's easy to get lost in the blinding storm of "free" and find ourselves with a blurred lens to view through over the value an event may truly provide. In actuality, there is so much to gain from an event, hidden behind the brushes of delicious bbq and birdhouse painting.

For instance:

  • At hackathons, companies provide mentors that can help transform an idea into a working product.
  • Company tech talks give informative sessions to learn a new skill.
  • Info sessions allow for more face-to-face time with engineers and recruiters.
  • Competitive programming events provide a good chunk of time to practice data structures and algorithms (and win prizes).
  • And much much more!

Additionally, the CNS career fair is an amazing event that brings in 200+ companies who are hungry to hire interns, researchers, and full-timers from UT. Trading a resume for a t-shirt, fidget spinner, or crazy gadget is great. But, in my opinion, being able to experience the interview process with a company which could nab a gig for the summer, if not post-grad, is 1000x much more rewarding.

Now I'm not saying free stuff is bad. I love free stuff - shirts, fidget spinners, stickers, and all the random gadgets you can get at events are honestly too good to not take. And on the company's side, I think it's an awesome way to promote and bring college students out to events. The problem for me personally is when I don't take full advantage of what an event has to offer for me.

Because we all go to events for different reasons - to learn, to get a job, to hear someone's story, to eat food, to get free swag, or some other archaic reason.

Taking note of why I go to an event allows for me to make better use of the time I spend there. If I have a goal when going to a company event, I can really maximize the time I spent. Whether it's discussing company mission or core values with recruiters, asking engineers about the latest stack challenges they've faced or taking a break from code to eat food and learn, being able to know my goals before an event allows me to achieve them with greater intentionality.

And it's not to say that I couldn't possibly gain anything besides that. Sometimes, the best things in life are never planned.

But those are just my two cents.

Anyways, whatever you do and wherever you go, I hope you guys know the reason why you go to the events. Connect with company engineers/recruiters, learn how to create the next LiftBook for Oogle (and such), and make sure to save me some swag!

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of UT Computer Science, The University of Texas or any employee thereof.