Words of Wisdom

"Don't be afraid to ask for things! Ask for feedback - whether technical or general, this is how you will learn to do better, and get your career to the next level. You are your best advocate - just ask what you need to work on to get that promotion, or get assigned to that awesome new project."

   -Tawnie Thiessen
   CS Undergraduate Class of 2003 

"Some people get hung up on specific languages, platforms, libraries, build systems, databases, web-servers, design-build process... "Only my preferred [insert tech here] is relevant and useful. All other [insert tech category here] are archaic, old-fashioned, and just plain old worse than [insert tech here]." You see this all the time on forums and blogs. Here's the thing, they are all tools. That's it, tools. A person uses the tools, not the other way around. Why learn new tools? You may have found or developed a certain that works great for your needs. Because tools epitomize a certain way of thinking. Learning a new tool can teach you to think in different manner. A problem with a ugly solution suddenly has an elegant concise solution. Learn a new tool."

   -Bridget Hogan
   CS Undergraduate Class of 2011 

"Know your needs. Do what you want. Don't be apologetic."

   -Lucy Li
   CS Undergraduate Class of 2011 

"You probably know more than you think you do and you can get through this. And always take some time to smile and relax."

   -Laura Abbott
   CS Undergraduate Class of 2010 

"Two things:
1) Make sure that you're going to LOVE whatever job you take.
You will be spending approximately half of the rest of your life working (assuming you sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours), so look for a job that you know you'll wake up every morning excited to go to!

2) The secret problem
No one ever really talks about it, but anyone who graduates from CMU CS is really lucky because a lot of us end up in the same geographical areas. The hardest thing about leaving college and entering the real world is making friends. If you do find yourself going somewhere new and don't know anyone else going there, use the CMU alumni network! That's what it's there for ;)"

   -Trisha Quan
   CS Undergraduate Class of 2010 

"Nothing worth having was ever easy. Do all you can to prepare before you start, and write down all your questions. Then get all your questions answered."

   -Tiffany Chang
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2003  

"As an undergraduate, [CMU] taught me how to really work, and how to search for answers on my own. Sink or swim. Sometimes I sank and sometimes I swam. It was very humbling (but important) to learn that I might sometimes work as hard as I could and still sink. Sometimes, you have to be proud of simply not drowning."

   -Caroline Hayes
    Professor, College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota  

"And much like everything else in life, even though it may not always come easy you have to work at it and not be discouraged when things aren't going your way. It's very important to maintain a positive attitude and not shy away from courses that interest you but seem harder. Then you can prove to yourself that you can do it even though it seemed so difficult in the beginning, and that confidence will help you get through your future challenges."

   -Meenakshi Delory
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2002  

"Looking back at my academic career at CMU, it was like hiking; the first two years were the up hills, and at times it was so difficult that I wanted to give up. But persistence and encouragements from upper classmen and friends gave me the push to continue. By the time of my third year, I could see the peak of the mountain; I knew then that all the hard work will pay off. When I finally graduated, it was as if I have conquered the mountain.I could see the whole world below my feet. I felt invincible- nothing could be harder than my years at CMU, and all the hard work was worth it!"

   -Ting-Chih Shih
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2001  

"I have found, through helping others, that the biggest fear of students is fear itself. My suggestion for programming blues is to just sit down and write something. Do not fear that it might not compile or have errors or produce incorrect results. Even knowing and understanding the concepts cannot always save you from the dangers of syntax. It is better to try without all the worries. I've forced myself through difficult situations in order to get to better things. Try to stay in the department long enough to find your niche."

   -Lydia Choy
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2001  

"Jim [Roberts] explained to me the admission criteria used by the University and CS department to admit new students and pointed out that gender was not a factor in admittance. He then said to me, "You are here because you are just as qualified as any other student in Computer Science, not because you are a girl." After that, my mindset changed and I no longer felt hesitant to tell people my major."

   -Lisa Nelson
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2000  

"I have realized that you do not have to be an expert to begin with; you just have to be willing to work and learn. Even when the fundamentals classes seem intimidating, boring, or just inapplicable, remember that soon you will have many more options to explore applications that interest you. Try not to let initial trepidation keep you from your dreams."

   -Leah Miller
    CS Undergraduate Class of 2002  

"Persistence despite all obstacles, if you want something, make it happen."

   -Judy A. Jackson
    CS Undergraduate Class of 1991  

"Unfortunately, there is still a lot of sexism in this industry, but women are being taken more seriously than ever. Women tend to have several abilities that make them well suited to certain Information Age jobs, including better interpersonal skills and the ability to multitask. Keep up the good fight!"

   -Tina G. Mular
    CS Undergraduate Class of 1988  

"I remember that when I apply for college, my grandmother and mother asked me why I wanted computer science and not economics as major. I understand that many people have the wrong perception that science and engineering are not suitable for women. However I believe otherwise. I always believe in myself. I think all of us, men and women, should reach beyond the barrier of gender and appreciate our intelligence and work attitude. When I was a student at CMU, I was a member of Society of Women Engineers. I organized an event called the High School Day for SWE. The event introduced science and engineering to high school female students and encouraged them to pursue technical fields for their career. I took time to organize this event because I believed that there were many teenage women who had the capabilities but were having doubts. I wanted to show them that technical fields offer great opportunities for both women and men, and women should understand that this path is also open for them. It is great to see that women make up to about 37% of this year's freshman undergraduate CS program. I urge you to also encourage your younger sisters and friends to pursue technical fields. Every kind of business needs computer science graduates to fill their positions: Financial Services, Biochemical Research Labs, Aerospace, Hardware/Software, etc. Even after having graduated and working at a great software company for more than 3 years, I still love doing technical work. I was given the opportunity to pursue less technical positions but I chose to stay in consulting. Every day I work to solve the most difficult problems for our customers. More women are becoming successful at every level in technical companies. The CEO of Hewlett Packard Company is a woman. One of the four founders of my company is a woman. I also have earned high remarks from my company and customers because of my technical capabilities."

   -Christine Hui
    CS Undergraduate Class of 1998