Tag Archives: School/Work

Is being a student or having a full-time job more difficult?

Depends on the job. Speaking as a Software Engineer, being a student was tougher for me. I had about 4–5 programming assignments due every week. I had literally no free time. I was sleeping in the computer labs and surviving on instant ramen and popeyes chicken and Red Bull for 4 years. Each Final you had to tediously study hard for because it was worth like 60% of the final grade, and it was usually at 7am-8am in the morning, and the whole class average is like a C+ at best. Most of the professors at my lectures were inevitably East Asians or Indian or East European which meant that they had an accent that was impossible to understand.

Then I had to study for all these interviews and the first jobs out of university are the hardest. You can only get the junior positions or internships, no one wants to hire a guy who has almost no work experience. You have to pass the grueling algorithm challenges against 1000 other students also looking for a job , and you get paid peanuts.

When I am a full time worker, other than the occasional overtime day, I come in at 9 and I leave around 5 or 6. I have free time after that to do what I want. I have enough experience to change companies easily. I can ask for higher salaries for the same reason. The actual coding experience at companies isn’t nearly as difficult as the coding challenges you undertook getting there. Yeah you have to deal with your boss and coworkers, but overall I would much rather be a full time worker. Did I mention that you make money? As a student I was surviving off of pennies made from various part time jobs in university.

Status of my goals and end of undergrad

Last year, I outlined a list of several goals that I had set for myself this year to achieve.

Let’s check back on the status of these goals now.

1) Graduate on time
I just finished writing my last exam today, and am confident of passing all my courses. As for my GPA, hopefully it will be improved.
Edit: Finished with a 2.75 GPA, achieving my goal of having my GPA >= 2.7!!

Status: Done

2)  Eliminate three quarters of my debt
If you take a look at my spending levels compared to last year:

Spending May 2009 - Sept 2010

Spending May 2009 - Sept 2010

Spending Sept 2010 - present

Spending Sept 2010 - present

Comparing the two, it’s easy to see that without a car or eating out everyday, I saved a lot of money. The increased tuition and fees in this period is because of full time school plus cost of attending conferences and events this year. I’m happy to say that I took a lot of money out of my stock account this year and paid down $14,400 of my debt, that’s 77%. So yes, I achieved this goal.
Status: Done

3) Secure a job by graduation time
After many interviews, I managed to get the job offer from the company I was interviewing with in San Francisco. What a relief for me! I’d like to thank everyone who supported me, including those who comment on my blog, my family, friends, my professor for my CSC490 CS Education course, my AIESEC VP of Communications and my  former manager from Environment Canada for serving as my references. I worked hard and I will continue that way.
Status: Done

So all of that is done and it feels rather surreal to me. Seems that college went by rather fast, a lot of all nighters, and maybe not enough socializing. Still, I think it helped me evolve as a person. Even this year, I am quite different than a year ago. I don’t have a car anymore, no steady source of income yet, no $20k in stocks, and no girlfriend once again. Yet I feel more mature somehow. Maybe cause I have tangible achievements now. Anyways, I thank the University of Toronto for causing me to become a stronger person, and feel quite relieved to end off my 17 years of education (since kindergarten). I still don’t know about grad school yet (GPA too low), but I am ready to move on to the real world now.

Stress, Stress

I think ironically, though I am only taking 3 courses this semester, I’m somehow busier than last semester. Anyways, I’ve been job searching the past few weeks, and it’s almost like having another course because I have to study for these interviews. In addition to all my assignments, I think I’m booked till the end of the term.

Jan 19-28: 5 interviews, Macroeconomics midterm 2
Jan 29-Feb 4: CSC490 project proposal, 2 interviews
Feb 5-15: 490 project, 490 assignment 1, 1 interview
Feb 16-Mar 1: ECO336 midterm, ECO336 research paper,2 interviews,AIESEC review board
Mar 1-Mar18: 490 assignment 2, Macro midterm 3
Mar 19-Apr 7: Conferences, 490 project, 490 test
Apr 7+: Intense job searching if I haven’t gotten one, 2 economics finals

In addition, I have to keep actively searching for jobs + interviewing because I’m graduating in June, keep up with AIESEC duties as Communications member and Webmaster/Social media manager including weekly meetings and updates, do weekly 490 research paper summaries, and gather data for my 490 project.

Hopefully I can keep updating my blog regularly though, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, feel free to watch my amateur John Mayer covers: