Giving a talk to software engineering students

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18 Replies - 6087 Views - Last Post: 09 March 2012 - 05:02 PM

#1 Duckington  Icon User is offline

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Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:41 AM

Hi there,

In a couple of weeks I have to give a short-ish talk to some Software engineering students, about things like: my job, what I do, my advice for students in a software development career & general employability advice.

I've never done anything like that before and was wondering anyone else has and could offer some tips on the kinds of things to talk about.

I was going to go over some of the key methodologies/techniques/tools, etc... which they will find useful in getting a job, e.g. things like:

- PDO
- MVC
- versioning (git)
- etc...



And just talk sort of generally about what I do. But I'm not sure what else students might find useful really.


Any ideas? What would you find useful if you were one of the students?

Cheers.

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Replies To: Giving a talk to software engineering students

#2 SpartanGuy07  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:17 AM

I have been doing a lot of presentations for a lot of different age groups for my place of work.

I have learned one rule that I will always follow:
Do something to catch their attention (and keep them from falling asleep).

Otherwise you can be up there feeling that you had absolutely no impact on the students. If they don't talk about your presentation the next day, you probably should've done something differently.

In your case, if the students actually want to be in that class, they already know a lot of those subjects. If they are the kind of students that don't really want to be in the class, they will not pay attention to you if you just speaking plainly about the topic.

This post has been edited by SpartanGuy07: 29 February 2012 - 08:22 AM

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#3 Duckington  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:20 AM

What sort of things have you tried for that?
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#4 SpartanGuy07  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:24 AM

Well I suppose what you can do depends on what kind of software you develop...

I was writing a robot API, so when I went and presented to elementary and middle school kids I made it do a dance and had them play "Simon Says" with the robot. Not exactly the most technical presentation but the kids loved it and even some of the teachers joined in! Obviously in this case I didn't really want to go into the details of what I did for work because that would've bored the kids to death.

When I went to a high school (robotics team) I adapted to make it look like I was having a conversation with my robot and it was responding to my conversation. Then I went into a more technical explanation of how I developed pieces of code for the robot and talked about programming structures.

For a college level presentation, I did pretty much the same as high school, but went into more detail (also had a longer presentation time).

You have to keep your audience in mind like I said before. Sure you can teach them about all the methodologies you want but do it in a way that doesn't resemble reading a text book.

What you can do to make things exciting depends on what kind of software you develop. At the very least, if you can't find any way to make your material exciting, make some cool PowerPoint slides.
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#5 eker676  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:33 PM

I think you should place more emphasis on what you do instead of the technologies you use. In the perfect world the people you will be talking to already know about all the technologies.

I would personally enjoy more anecdotes from the job, stories, etc. A half hour presentation on mvc and versioning would be informative but not necessarily interesting. I'm sure employment advice would be appreciated as well.
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#6 Duckington  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:11 PM

I wasn't planning on actualy explaining the methodologies and such, just mentioing some important things that a lot of job ask for.

Thing is I've only been working for 6 months, so I don't exactly have many anecdotes or much to share with them :/

Only needs to last about 20 minutes though.
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#7 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:22 PM

What teachers love, and I mean *LOVE*, is to tell the kids that most if not nearly all of the stuff they are learning right now is worthless to software development and also general employment. Tick of a fist full of high profile names that didn't need no school'n to make it big and just smile at the teacher as she shoots death daggers at you from her eyes.

So yes, avoid doing that.

Did we establish what grade these kiddos are in?

what about your industry? You can make this more exciting by tying in what you do to what makes your company tick.

I would really advocate not talking specific things like "versioning" or "MVC" - but abstract that to things like "patterns are key - so keep your eye out" and "always, ALWAYS, back up your work.. nothing describes the anguish of losing everything having to rebuild pure white hot genius".

Honestly this short talk won't prepare them to ace an interview so thinking of it as such won't work, right? Throw out things like "Visual Studios Express", "Eclipse", XXAMP, etc as examples of free tools. Explain to them that there's not a lot of buy in to get started.

If worse comes to it start weaving in an espionage tale and culminate with these exact words "and then we had a ninja fight!". Take a slow pull of water then continue with "I might have been bleeding pretty bad, but I was able to drag myself back to my boss's desk and turn in the source. Only half of my team returned from the Pit of Git. Of those only three may eventually find a night's sleep without waking up screaming. We were caught unaware by our competitors this time, and we have not made that error a second time. We've upgraded our street samurai with better tech, faster chips, and a bulk purchase plan from Dell and they have protected our source code. The fight against the silver leet cyber hax0rs really tested their metal *snicker* but that's a story for another visit.".

Basically make the job sound like a cross of Indiana Jones and a William Gibson novel that would be grand. Perhaps quietly mutter something about picking up filipino street fighting for the second round of interviews could provoke an interesting response.
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#8 peace_fixation  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:45 AM

I'm a Comp Sci student and I'm supremely interested in hearing about what my job will actually entail when I graduate, as it's very unclear to me at the moment.

How is the development of a large scale projects delegated / allocated between a team? Who does what? What parts are handled by junior programmers? Senior programmers? If you could have learned any software packages before you started, what would they be? Of what you learned at uni, what was super important (I love studying languages and grammars, but it's a hard slog)? Should I be practising my face off with data structures, or would my time be better spent learning a few popular frameworks? What languages/tools do you use to assist you with the main work of application programming (should I learn more Perl/Python on the side)?

I could go on. :P
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#9 CTphpnwb  Icon User is online

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 04 March 2012 - 01:49 PM

View Postpeace_fixation, on 03 March 2012 - 07:45 AM, said:

What languages/tools do you use to assist you with the main work of application programming (should I learn more Perl/Python on the side)?

You should learn to be language agnostic. Your bosses aren't going to care what language(s) you use as long as the job gets done. That often entails using multiple languages. In my main job I'm supposed to be developing in C/C++, but in the same position I've also used:
PHP
Javascript
HTML
CSS
Bash scripting

because those are languages I needed to use at the time(s).

This post has been edited by CTphpnwb: 04 March 2012 - 01:50 PM

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#10 peace_fixation  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:56 PM

I understand that, and I'm devouring everything I can, but in the course of a 3 year degree my time is finite and it would be nice to know where to focus my energy (from the perspective of someone who has been there and done that), particularly with respect to all the software that I'm not learning at uni - like scripting languages, like version control, like emacs, etc.
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#11 CTphpnwb  Icon User is online

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:05 PM

Being language agnostic doesn't mean that you know all languages. It means that you know enough about writing code that you are able to take on a new language and be able to pick it up quickly without much help. Functions, operators and objects can be syntactically different from one language to the next but they still do the same things. Beginners worry too much about syntax and not enough about logic, but if you have the logic picking up the syntax is easy.
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#12 peace_fixation  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:10 PM

I couldn't care less about learning new languages, that was not the point of my post. Forget it.

This post has been edited by peace_fixation: 05 March 2012 - 04:11 PM

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#13 CTphpnwb  Icon User is online

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 05 March 2012 - 05:36 PM

View Postpeace_fixation, on 03 March 2012 - 07:45 AM, said:

I'm a Comp Sci student and I'm supremely interested in hearing about what my job will actually entail when I graduate, as it's very unclear to me at the moment.

(I love studying languages and grammars, but it's a hard slog)?

I couldn't care less about learning new languages, that was not the point of my post. Forget it.

:no:

Well, for those who are interested, your job will entail many things that you're not studying now. You should not hope to have learned everything about the job before you get it. You should instead hope to learn enough so that you can be useful and enough to know how to keep learning on your own. This will not change as you gain experience because there will always be more to learn.
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#14 peace_fixation  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:22 PM

I was referring to Formal Languages and Grammars in general, and whether time spent on Comp Sci theory might be better spent learning frameworks, or something more ... practical that might help me to put ticks against acronyms in job ads and/or fit in to a programming team with greater ease.
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#15 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Giving a talk to software engineering students

Posted 06 March 2012 - 03:29 PM

View Postpeace_fixation, on 05 March 2012 - 01:56 AM, said:

I understand that, and I'm devouring everything I can, but in the course of a 3 year degree my time is finite and it would be nice to know where to focus my energy (from the perspective of someone who has been there and done that), particularly with respect to all the software that I'm not learning at uni - like scripting languages, like version control, like emacs, etc.



I'd suggest perhaps checking with your school's counsellors or, if you have one, the job placement service. Failing that, simply do a little searching the web for job postings in your area and find out what it is that potential employers are looking for presently. That doesn't suggest that you'd be recrafting the remainder of your education career to meet those desires but you do need to know what they're looking for so you might pay closer attention to those topics if/when they come up.

Truth is, no matter what it is you study in school it won't be anything like your first job. Almost any professional career entails continued education, learning, picking up new things and university is decidedly NOT the most agile environment to be in for those things.

So, inform yourself but don't get too caught up in whatever info you come across. Your better bet is to stick hard to your studies, get the best grades you can and then be realize that your first resume will likely have more holes than not in it from the perspective of a potential employer. Your education will be a foundation for getting that first job but your deportment, professionalism and personal attitude will be just as important.
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