This post is primarily aimed at those looking to study computer science at the University of York. If you’re interested in studying here and curious about how you could make the most of your time at our university, then read on!
The tips mentioned here are also relevant for students studying other subjects.
1. Look at year in industry placements and internships
If you’ve done your research, you’ll no doubt be aware of the amazing year in industry options and incredible career support in the department.
In my first year I did an internship focusing on web development where I gained a very valuable introduction to industry best practices such as how to use git and the agile development methodology.
I’m now about to start a year in industry and I’m looking forward to what the experience will teach me. I believe that the experience and skills that I’m gaining from doing a placement and an internship will give me a massive advantage when applying for jobs.
I found the Computer Science department very helpful when I was going through the process of securing my placement. They gave me valuable advice and arranged a mock interview for me. I also think the department’s fast-track placement process is brilliant! I was able to upload my CV to the system and then select from a list of employers that I wanted to apply to – the process made it easier to search for and apply to placements.
2. Enter competitions and apply for scholarships
Competitions are a fantastic way to become better at working in a team, enhance your presentation-making skills/confidence and discover any hidden leadership potential that you may possess.
I took part in the Explore Enterprise and BIE competitions in my first year which were a very formative experience for me – they are both Dragon’s Den style business pitch competitions. I would recommend these competitions if you’re curious about what it would be like to start a business. I had great fun, made friends with some brilliant people and learnt a lot about entrepreneurship. There is a thriving entrepreneurial community here in York centered around the university. There is an Entrepreneur Society here too, for which I am the treasurer.
I also know of some other competitions to look at such Keyloop and York Leaders. I did the York Leaders competition in my second year. Even though it wasn’t directly related to computer science I still definitely think it was worth doing because of all the transferable skills I’ve managed to improve on because of the experience.
Scholarships are also a big one to look at – for all the same reasons mentioned above and more. The biggest one I keep hearing about is the Laidlaw scholarship which sounds like a great opportunity.
3. Develop an interesting side project
Employers value experience outside of academic work, so both individual and team side projects will look spectacular on your CV and are likely to impress. Bonus points if your side project or hobby is related to the job you’re looking to get. Additional bonus points if your projects are displayed well on GitHub for employers to admire.
For example, if you’re interested in web development then start building cool websites! I am part of the web development society where we work together on projects. One of the things we’ve made is a Wordle clone which we called Yordle!
4. Grow your skill set while giving back to the community
The job market can be competitive so it’s important to do things outside your course to develop a well-rounded skill set that sets you apart from the competition.
By actively engaging in the community, you can enhance your skills while also making a positive impact. Activities such as joining a society committee and volunteering allow you to develop essential soft skills like leadership, communication, and teamwork – and can provide practical experience that complements your academic knowledge.
Some ideas for computer science students could include things like becoming an academic course rep or community coordinator. There’s also plenty more opportunities such as volunteering with Enactus and becoming a student consultant for York Community Consulting.
In my case I decided to get involved as a web developer for York Community Consulting. We’re working to develop a new website from scratch – so far, it’s been a challenging, but very rewarding experience!
I see opportunities like this as a win-win situation that will enrich your personal growth, look good on your CV and make a positive impact.
5. Your network is your net worth
I’ve found that one of the best things about university is that there are so many opportunities to meet new people.
Meeting new people who share your interests is one of the most worthwhile things you can do at university. Even if you’re naturally introverted, like myself, I would strongly urge you to do this. Communication is such a valuable skill that is essential to success in every area of life.
I’ve met so many great people here in York that I will keep in touch with after I leave. By connecting with like-minded people, you can learn about (and share) valuable opportunities and gain diverse perspectives. The network of people you know will become an asset for personal growth and career advancement.
Going to networking events with people in industries you’re interested in is equally as important as meeting other like-minded students. You can get advice about working in different industries and gain insight into industry trends and best practices. There is a networking group in York called Tech York where local professionals in the tech industry regularly meet.
I would strongly encourage all students to embrace the chance to meet new people and actively engage in the vibrant community we have here in York.
If you’re heading to university then I hope you have a great time.
Have fun and study hard – but also remember to consider your employability and what you want to achieve in life!