Important Announcement: After blogging for about more than a semester, the department wants me to go over my experience as a blogger as well as talk about the importance of writing as a CS student and how writing can help you get a job. The talk will be held at 12 PM this Thurs. at GDC 6.302. The UTCS department will be providing FREE Rudy's Barbeque. Additionally, the first 5 students to RSVP to the link at the bottom of this post will receive a free moleskin notebook, analogous to encourage writing. And at the end, there will be a raffle done in order to give away a NEW Apple watch. If you have time, please come out then!
Just kidding! (Please don't hate.)
Whenever I see one of those event announcements, I can't help but question my inner motives when I decide to go to an event. I know it's important that I create connections with companies and build my knowledge in current technologies, along with assembling a better understanding of the state of software in the industry, but when it comes to free food, it's really easy to push that all aside. Unfortunately, as a college student, it can be easy to become consumed by just the aspect of free "material goods."
In order to paint a picture of the infatuation of these material goods, last semester, a company that gave a talk on the technical aspects of their engineers and recruiting laid out their swag on a table in front where everyone could see. While the talk was progressing, I could sense the hungry eyes of students staring at the pile of mugs, unique gadgets, and selfie sticks that they were ready to pounce on and call their own whilst mindlessly nodding their heads to what the talking engineer had to say. As the talk came to an end, the moment the recruiter announced that people could come up to the front for swag, I kid you not, a Black Friday shopping event scene erupted out of nowhere. Students in the first 3 front rows leaped over their chairs, pushed each other, and swarmed around the swag-covered table and the wide-eyed recruiter (who managed to dodge all the students), to grab as much swag as they could. I was too shocked to even get up and walk to the table because of the madness that blew up out of nowhere in front of me. After that, it made me realize how ignorant and desensitized we as CS majors have become to the blessings we've been given.
As a computer science major, there are a lot of benefits given to you. Not only is there high demand for software engineers, but the UTCS department and companies provide many advantages such as the CNS career fair, company talks, and yes, free food and swag. Additionally, there is a lot of weight that comes from the title of "computer science" major. As a computer science major, you hold the responsibility to manage companies through code, you provide new innovative breakthroughs through research, and all in all, you protect the future of education, governments, countries, and the daily lives that people live out all around you. And to see how you act around free food and swag can be scary to people.
I'm not insinuating that free food and swag is bad. In fact, it's an ingenious advertising tactic by companies. How else to draw in college students, who are overloaded with too many activities to cook, filled with stress from exams, and doing their best to pay their tuition than to provide them free food, raffles, and interesting/informative talks to ease any struggles that they are going through? And if they do well, they could earn an internship or work full-time for a company (a benefit for both sides). But when these talks are abused by the student side, it gives a bad reputation not only for the students but also for future generations of students who decide to pursue this career.
This also happens at the career fair. Whenever I go to the spring or fall career fair, which I've gotten to experience three times already, I cannot help but notice the surplus of shirts, pens, phone chargers, and other assorted swag that are handed out. These interactions are for a better understanding of the company's work-life and to apply and get an internship for the summer, or a job for a good amount of time. It seems that for many students, though, that it is a priority to talk to as many companies as they can in order to receive the most amount of t-shirts or fill as many drawstring bags with swag as possible. Just like the company talks and free food, I don't think there's anything wrong with swag, since it's the company's way of recruiting, and in fact, as a student, it's really great to receive practical things that companies hand out that improve productivity in my daily life (please continue creating more awesome things). But just like with company talks, the idea of swag has been exploited, and really hurts the image of current and future CS majors.
So how in the world do we improve so that the main first impression recruiters or other people have for computer science students aren't stereotypes of crazy, swag-loving, food devouring, ignorant brats? I believe one of the best things is not to focus so intently on the things that are given, but to build an awareness of the privilege that comes from being a CS major. Not many other majors have this amazing opportunity for companies to come to their major's building almost every week to educate, equip, and provide students with knowledge of the real world. Or a department that encourages these educational events and provides support to companies so they may be able to bring an opportunity to students. So be blessed! There is never a better time than now to realize how amazing it is to have the potential for so much impact on the world, whilst eating some free pizza
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