Things I’m Glad I Did My First Year in STEM

Hello coders, gamers, and other entertainers, I’m the LME and I am officially free for the summer. Since this blog is meant to show my journey through software engineering in college, it’s only natural that I actually reflect on the past school year. Now if you’re expecting a day by day playbook of my year, you’ll be a little disappointed. Instead, I’m going to tell you some of the things I did that I feel helped me going into STEM. Positivity is important, so instead of reflecting on what I did wrong, I must first state what I did right.

Improved Public Speaking Skills

A little bit of backstory, I actually joined the speech team at the end of my freshman year and it was one of the best decisions I could’ve ever made. I know this one sounds a little odd for a blog about tech, but it’s actually really important for this industry. Think about it. Let’s say you build the most mind-blowing app that has ever graced mankind and you’re invited to present it to a room full of people who want to invest in it. If you’re not comfortable speaking in front of people, all that work will go to waste. So long story short, if you want to help build your career, you need to work on speaking in front of people. If the introverted blogger can do it, so can you.

Found a mentor

 This one I believe more people should take advantage of. I’ve discussed this in a previous article, but I suffered from impostor syndrome during my first semester. One of the main ways I got over that was getting a mentor. I actually found her though a mentoring site online.  A mentor can not only help you make concrete goals, but they can also help you build your network. It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know and your mentor is apart of it. Mentors are people who have been in the industry and have been through what you’re going through. They are not there to hold your hand, but they will stand in your corner. Shout out to my mentor Cimone for bringing me this far.

Started networking

  On the note of getting to know people, I found that going to tech events, no matter how big or small, is so important. Tech is constantly changing so I needed to keep up as a software engineering major. I didn’t even know how many opportunities there were to expand my tech skills in my city until I looked online. In my second semester alone, I went to three or four events and gained knowledge I would not have learned in a textbook. If you want to find events near you whether they be tech, cycling, or even cooking, look up Meetup.com. It will connect you with all sorts of groups for any interests that you may have.

Learning Outside the Textbook

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this tip! If this was a cartoon, it would be highlighted with 20 colors and have sparkles floating around- or it would in cartoons I used to watch. Moving on, the only way you can truly learn anything is working out of class. Work on personal projects outside will help you understand programming a lot faster than just doing assignments in class.  If you’re into game development, build a simple web game using a language you know. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t know everything. Going through the process of building, getting errors, searching Google and repeat will help you learn so much. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

These are just a couple of things I feel like made my first year as a software engineer a valuable one. And don’t worry, things I wish I had done my first year is coming soon.  Until next time, keep on coding.

Posted by Mel

Hey, I'm Mel. I'm in a junior in college who is looking to leave her footprint on the tech industry. When I'm not studying, I'm creating pure css images, watching youtube videos, and being a total geek.

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