With summer quickly approaching, I thought it’d be a good idea to lay out the options and opportunities that many Computer Science and Engineering majors generally take over the summer that will strengthen their relevant skills in the field. The gap between the end of Spring quarter and the beginning of Fall quarter is 15 weeks, and I generally believe in making good use of one’s time. Here they are:
1. Getting an Internship
Internships are probably the best way for engineering majors to apply their skills learned in school. Interning at a big company, a small company, or at any institution that allows you to apply Computer Science knowledge can build up the experience you need after you graduate. Most people at UCSD look for internships; that’s why we have so many job fairs. Also, one internship counts towards a technical elective requirement, CSE 197 by CSE advising, which is a very nice benefit that gives incentive to intern.
2. Taking Summer Courses (Summer Session)
Taking summer sessions at UCSD to take classes is a great way to stay ahead of things, and graduate earlier. UCSD has two summer sessions, and like two quarters, you’re allowed to take two sets of classes that can help accelerate your graduation path (or maybe catch up on dropped classes). Each summer session is a lot shorter than one quarter, though, so learning material will be more fast-paced.
3. Doing Research
Working in a CSE faculty member’s lab is another great way to apply learned skills and learn even more than what you already know. You get to build lasting professional relationships, and explore a new field of interest. Research opportunity programs out there, such as the UCSD Academic Enrichment Program (AEP), the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), and the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experience (PRIME) are great programs to try out if you’re an undergrad looking for research experience. But then again, there’s also the option of knocking on a professor’s door to ask, if there is someone in mind. It would never hurt to ask, because the worst that can happen is that they say no.
4. Become a Tutor
One thing that I really like about the CSE department here at UCSD is the tutor program. Once a student finishes a CSE course with high marks, they are given the option to tutor for that course the next quarter. It is either volunteer or paid, and tutoring is a great opportunity to not only improve communication skills, but also help other students who are struggling with concepts improve their learning. As there are CSE summer courses offered during summer session, many of the CSE courses are looking for tutors to help out with lab hours.
5. Do a Personal (or Group) Project
…Because during the school year, most likely you won’t get those 15 weeks of time. If there was any project, any app that you’ve ever wanted to make, summer is the time to do it. If there are any old high school friends majoring in CS that you’ve wanted to make something with, then summer is the time to do it. You got 15 weeks to make something cool; make it count.
Of course, there are many other things to do over summer as well (travel abroad, visit family, become a tourist), so don’t limit yourself. Do something that you’ve always wanted to do, because chances are, you don’t get those 15 weeks back to spend the time.