Hi, I’m Vivek! I’m in the second year of my Computer Science degree. Today, I want to share with you my experience of the ETAS Excellent in Computer Science Scholarship, and why I think you should apply!
What is the ETAS Excellent in Computer Science Scholarship?
First of all, you might be wondering what this scholarship entails, and who exactly are ETAS? ETAS is a software company who provide tools for the automotive industry. They are owned by Bosch (the people who you might know for their fridges or washing machines). They are an international company, but their main base in England is in York, which is handy as they have a long-standing link with the Department of Computer Science!
The scholarship gave me:
- £1k cash
- Access to a mentoring scheme with an ETAS employee during my first year of uni
- A summer placement
- The opportunity to take my year in industry with them (subject to another interview)
All I had to do is have an offer to study a Computer Science course at York, and record a two-minute video application to be considered.
A video application seems scary
Initially, this may seem like a daunting task, but all I can suggest is to be yourself. The only requirement is that you answer the questions (which you can find under the ‘How to Apply’ tab on this webpage) and speak for a maximum of two minutes.
I remember when I sat down and did it, I took around 20 takes! It’s okay to take multiple attempts, and you can work on it over a period of time. Perfectionism can not be rushed, after all!
The concept of my video was to explore my computer science journey so far, while linking it to the questions. I mentioned some courses I have done, like my EPQ (extended project qualification) and my NEA (non-exam assessment) for Computer Science A level. You’ve got to be succinct, though, as those two minutes will quickly pass by. I made a PowerPoint to go along with it. However, not everyone who got it did this, so there is no strict way of formatting the video.
Just remember: be yourself and showcase your passion for the subject.
Make it fit around you
If you’re anything like me, you know that you’re interested in Computer Science, but don’t know what you would like to do yet. However, this is perfectly fine. You should use the opportunity with your mentor to ask as many questions as you can, however insignificant they may seem. These are people who have been in your shoes just a few short years ago. Many of the employees may even be former York students.
In my mentoring meetings, I got career advice, but it wasn’t about ETAS in particular; it was all about my personal development.
After my initial meeting with my mentor, I came up with this list of ideas about what I wanted to get out of the summer project:
- Group Project Experience
- Learn to use the software, Git
- Something to put on my CV
- Systems engineering
- Learn to have faith in my own ideas
It was definitely a vague list, but during my second meeting, we narrowed down to the specifics of what I wanted to do. I realised that I’d most enjoyed the Introduction to Data Science module and Python module, which led onto my summer project being a data-tracking project.
My main highlight of the project was being placed into a real team, as this put my course into perspective. I took part in the meetings like a full-time member of staff, which was confusing at times, but also interesting. Being in a team helped me understand what software engineers do on a daily basis. It gave me an insight into software development lifecycles, which I found to be a big advantage in the software engineering project in my second year.
Learn new things
One of the tasks that I had was to learn how to host a dynamic website, which can link files as they are added to a folder without any user input. This was something I’d never done before, but I found quite interesting. It led to me learning Python’s flask library, which is something I wouldn’t have ordinarily done as part of my course.
I think that is the key thing with placements and internships: you get to try stuff out!
The summer placement absolutely flies past, and before you know it you’ll be in 2nd Year. My initial list was definitely a bit unrealistic, but I did most of the things I wanted to, eg teamwork, data science, using Git.
My summer project allowed me to get a head start on the databases module, and the software engineering module. More importantly, I’d developed an understanding of how Computer Science works in industry, which helped me put the course in perspective. I also developed my soft, transferrable skills, like communication and critical thinking.
My placement year
Simply put, having experience in industry from the scholarship definitely helped me when looking for a placement. But it also helped me know more what I want, and don’t want, from a job.
The summer placement helped me discover that I’m not a fan of the following:
- Working on the same product over a fixed period of time
- Remote working
These might be things that are perfect in someone else’s opinion. However, this was the disadvantage I took from it. Hence, I found a placement at a software consultancy that I will start next year.
My final advice
Attempt to get every opportunity you can, even if it doesn’t go to plan – if you don’t try, you have no chance of success. This doesn’t just apply to the scholarship; it could mean trying for a sports team or going for a committee position in a society.
The ETAS Scholarship was an excellent opportunity which involves a lot of personal development. However, there are other things like societies, volunteering and summer internships that not only boost your career but enhance your soft skills and ultimately lead to doing activities you can enjoy.
If I could give one piece of advice to a fresher, it would be to take every opportunity you can and make the most out of university.