A long time since my last article. During the last few months, I was fully involved in my last big project at my university. Dozens of articles and books, hundreds of visited pages and thousands of words later I had finished it and a few weeks later I defended my master’s thesis.
Since I took a short break from almost every activity, I had a lot of time for thinking. When I look at 2012, I see the young guy who knows everything he needs and he wants to only the paper to confirm it. Now, in 2018, I’m equipped with knowledge, a completely new point of view and goals in life. But it wasn’t so obvious even during my education.
Some people asked me what studies gives me at all. Was it worth to spend almost every weekend for the last 6 years at the university? Do I feel the difference? There are no simple answers to these questions because they depend on the approach. And it changed over time. But let me sum up.
The main thing that studies gave me was a wider look at the life. What does it mean? Thanks to the studies, I’m more aware what I don’t know yet so I reduced the number of things I don’t know that I don’t know. Moreover, I’m a kind of person who likes to knows how things work and why. Discovering and learning something new gives me a lot of fun.
I have respect for all people who continue Ph.D. and decided to learn and teach others. I thought about this path but without full devotion, it doesn’t make much sense to me. At least not now.
My expectation when it comes to studies were related to the extension of my skills as a professional software developer. What is interesting, the best things I learned weren’t related directly to programming itself. Moreover, knowledge in those others fields gave me a fresh look at some problems in my disciplines. I still like to connect dots.
I decided to study at weekends because I had wanted to start a regular job. I couldn’t sit at home. In the office, I had an opportunity to acquire the knowledge from other people. Personally, I don’t have an impression, that thanks to my studies, I have a good job. The education was important, but my own work, self-education, and researching approach played the bigger role. It doesn’t mean that I disregard the influence of studies on my life. It’s hard to be objective in this field.
In spite of the attractiveness of some lectures and exercises, the lecturer itself has a big impact on the quality of the lesson. A lot of things matter: the way of speaking, the presentation, contact with the audience, and the general attitude to own job and the knowledge. Unfortunately, it was rare to find a single person with all of these features but when somebody had most of them, it also conducted the most interesting lecture. I still don’t know if it’s a rule or case.
I had pleasure met a lot of fantastic people – both lecturers and other students. They were so supportive and they shared knowledge willingly. Otherwise, I had to deal also with cruel and unfriend ones. All these contacts gave me value and learned how to deal with them.
Too often people pushed an only minimal effort to pass through everything that is mandatory. In the beginning, it was too easy to work this way, but later the requirements were high enough to say about them as challenging.
One of the favorite ways of conducting projects is to assemble people to so-called teams to work on some project together. It often meant that everything was done by one or two people on the team while the rest of the team were doing nothing but the documentation. Universities should push more effort to encourage and teach people how to work as a part of the team.
Improvement of soft skills
However some lessons were dedicated to practice soft skills like public speaking, presenting etc, in the vast majority, it was a waste of the time. A few hours during whole studies are not enough to learn students how to prepare a good talk. If someone didn’t learn somewhere else how to do it, he ended up speaking to the sleepy audience, sometimes including the lecturer.
The reason is, 90% of the time, people spend listening to someone who is also learning as others. There is no way to get knowledge how to do it well except a few comments from the lecturer. The rest of the time you may spend conducting your own talk. But talking to the group of people that don’t want to listen is unpleasant.
People need a friendly environment and the coach. Someone who see the posture and movement. Someone who listens to each word. Not to count the number of mistakes but to show how to improve them. I wish met someone who teaches me how to speak to people well.
I had a tendency to repeat the same mistakes again, especially when it comes to writing a thesis. I wrote two: Bachelor’s thesis and Master’s thesis. I hadn’t wanted to explore something I already knew. I treated this part of the study as an opportunity to learn something completely fresh for me. Regardless of the topic, I had a constant problem with starting doing something. A procrastination is a good word here. I procrastinated (and I’m still doing it) a lot. The Parkinson’s law is very brutal.
This post is based on my personal experiences. You may have different opinions and feelings and this is completely fine – if you want, you can share them in comments.
Every time I hear that somebody talks to other about the sense of computer science studies, I recall why I started them and what I got at the end. And I have no regrets.
Diploma degree or the title don’t really matter. The only thing you’ll use after studies is everything you learned during them. Keep learning. The more you know, the more opportunities you see.