AMA, Final year Computer Science (w/ year in industry) at York!

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Cascades123
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As the title says!

Ask me anything!
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jtkai
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Sorry for all the questions!

Is there much maths on the course at York? What would you say the balance between the theoretical and practical sides of Compsci is?
Where did you go for your industry placement? What kind of support is offered to find placements?
What are you doing your individual project on?
What’s something you wish you knew before starting the course?
What is your favourite thing about the course?
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Cascades123
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(Original post by jtkai)
Sorry for all the questions!

Is there much maths on the course at York? What would you say the balance between the theoretical and practical sides of Compsci is?
Where did you go for your industry placement? What kind of support is offered to find placements?
What are you doing your individual project on?
What’s something you wish you knew before starting the course?
What is your favourite thing about the course?
"Is there much maths on the course at York?"
Yes and no. In my experience there is maths throughout in various forms, but not all of it will be maths as you have at A-Level. Of course there are SOME modules which incoorperate pure maths from A-level or harder, but some work on the theory of turing machines, some focus on high level programming, some on low level programming, some on software development methodologies. It's not full to the brim with maths, but there is some.

"What would you say the balance between the theoretical and practical sides of Compsci is?"
A very good one. There is plenty of programming in various languages and paradigms throughout the course, as well as plenty of theory to back it up. There is good optionality in the later years to drop things you have discovered you don't like, but even though you may not have enjoyed one modulke or another, you still have that experience to back up your knowledge.

"Where did you go for your industry placement?"
IBM

"What kind of support is offered to find placements?"
The CS dept. is extremely supportive of the year in industry. They will help you write your CV, they have lot of companies that they have partnered with who come to the dept. building and conduct interviews there, and many companies have special places for York students specifically. Once on placement there is plenty of support for if things go wrong, and you are asked ot keep a logbook through the year to show that you have learned a lot from the placement.

"What are you doing your individual project on?"
I have self-defined my project after doing an internship with a company in York on a similar topic. It's about scanning Lego models and reconstructing them digitally brick for brick. It's pretty fun for me because I like visual stuff! If you don't want to self define a project there is usually a large variety of projects to choose from from different academics e.g. machine learning, deep learning, vision, robotics, formal methods, graph theory, others which I forget.

"What’s something you wish you knew before starting the course?"
Good questions... I think I have made a lot of good calls during my time at York. Most decisions I have made correctly for myself I think. So instead I will give you some advice I gave myself to better your experience. Go for things, especially in the first year. Join societies, work for departments, make friends, get rid of people you don't think bring you joy in your life, volenteering for support groups, make your experience the best for you. You won't get this experience again, so don't waste it!!

"What is your favourite thing about the course?"
Hard to say. I think.... although not EVERY SINGLE lecturer was amazing (and friends from other universities report to me that this is always the case), the ones which are amazing, just made my education so great. Lecturers have gone out of their way to open up personal opertunities for me to work with them, we joke with each other in the corridors, I have been invited to events by them and have been truly supported by them since coming here. I can't thank some of the academics and staff here enough. So get involved with the department and make friends!!

I hope this helps answer your questions!
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jtkai
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Thank you so much for your answers, they were very helpful. Your final year project sounds familiar - did you speak at visit days?
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Cascades123
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(Original post by jtkai)
Thank you so much for your answers, they were very helpful. Your final year project sounds familiar - did you speak at visit days?
Yeah, one of the ways I get involved with the department and university is by helping out with open days! I've been doing them about four years now and have toured, presented, shown off my accomodation, sat on panels, etc. and i've loved it! Glad you remember me!
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Cascades123
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Sorry that this means you're not getting a new opinion... but if it helps I promise I haven't been sent here by the department to preach... I just like talking to prospective students!
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yaszenn
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Hey! I also remember your talk at the CS visit day, it certainly helped clear my mind on a few things, so thank you for that!
The breadth of your industrial experience really inspired me, so I just wanted to ask - what did you do to bolster your CV in preparation for landing your internships? Loads of Github contributions? Impressive personal projects? Correct me if I'm wrong, but my (limited) knowledge is that you don't get good internships without doing super curricular work, so I was wondering what you did to that end.
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Cascades123
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(Original post by yaszenn)
Hey! I also remember your talk at the CS visit day, it certainly helped clear my mind on a few things, so thank you for that!
The breadth of your industrial experience really inspired me, so I just wanted to ask - what did you do to bolster your CV in preparation for landing your internships? Loads of Github contributions? Impressive personal projects? Correct me if I'm wrong, but my (limited) knowledge is that you don't get good internships without doing super curricular work, so I was wondering what you did to that end.
I'm glad to hear that my talks helped you! I remember when I was applying to the course I had a clouded mind, but one of the student speakers really inspired me and made me feel like I could make something of myself at York, and since joining I've aimed to pass on that message!

In response to your question about bolserting my CV, I first and foremost studied in first year and got good grades. I wasn't top of the class or anything, but i was safely in the first class bracket. I also did some projects over my summer holidays where I made a basic wireframe rendering engine in pure java as well as a circuit on a breadboard which would control LEDs live as music played to pulse along with the beat. Neither of the projects were amazing, but they were genuinly a good way to learn and most importantly showed enthusiasm for the subject! I didn't have anything else on my github really, but im sure if you did have contributions to public repos that would go down well too! An internship would also look good too!

They were all also impressed by my non-academic work! If you're competing against loads of academically good candidates, then having lots of extra curricular items on your CV will put you above the rest! I was a member of many societies, and founded a society too, and i also bonded with some interviewers over sci-fi and fantasy books, so make sure that you don't give off the impression of "I do nothing but sit at my desk all day talking to no one", because they want you to become part of a team, not some lone wolf dev!

I hope this helps! Any other questions, just ask.

George
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yaszenn
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(Original post by Cascades123)
I'm glad to hear that my talks helped you! I remember when I was applying to the course I had a clouded mind, but one of the student speakers really inspired me and made me feel like I could make something of myself at York, and since joining I've aimed to pass on that message!

In response to your question about bolserting my CV, I first and foremost studied in first year and got good grades. I wasn't top of the class or anything, but i was safely in the first class bracket. I also did some projects over my summer holidays where I made a basic wireframe rendering engine in pure java as well as a circuit on a breadboard which would control LEDs live as music played to pulse along with the beat. Neither of the projects were amazing, but they were genuinly a good way to learn and most importantly showed enthusiasm for the subject! I didn't have anything else on my github really, but im sure if you did have contributions to public repos that would go down well too! An internship would also look good too!

They were all also impressed by my non-academic work! If you're competing against loads of academically good candidates, then having lots of extra curricular items on your CV will put you above the rest! I was a member of many societies, and founded a society too, and i also bonded with some interviewers over sci-fi and fantasy books, so make sure that you don't give off the impression of "I do nothing but sit at my desk all day talking to no one", because they want you to become part of a team, not some lone wolf dev!

I hope this helps! Any other questions, just ask.

George
Thank you, that's tremendously helpful! I really want to make the most of my university experience not only with societies and other EC's but also turning myself into an ideal candidate for a graduate job and learning all I can about the field - it's always great getting insight from other people that have had success with their university experience.

I've been offered an unconditional by York (did my A levels a while ago) so I have about 7 months until the course starts with not very much going on academically. What would you say would be good to go over in that time period? Is there anything in particular you found to be really challenging, or something that would have been nice to go over ahead of time? This might not even be specifically 1st year related but even generally related to Computer Science.

Also, now that you're getting towards the end of your degree, is there anything that you would have done differently in retrospect with regards to the course itself?

And finally, what made you choose York over the other universities when you were trying to decide?
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Cascades123
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(Original post by yaszenn)
Thank you, that's tremendously helpful! I really want to make the most of my university experience not only with societies and other EC's but also turning myself into an ideal candidate for a graduate job and learning all I can about the field - it's always great getting insight from other people that have had success with their university experience.

I've been offered an unconditional by York (did my A levels a while ago) so I have about 7 months until the course starts with not very much going on academically. What would you say would be good to go over in that time period? Is there anything in particular you found to be really challenging, or something that would have been nice to go over ahead of time? This might not even be specifically 1st year related but even generally related to Computer Science.

Also, now that you're getting towards the end of your degree, is there anything that you would have done differently in retrospect with regards to the course itself?

And finally, what made you choose York over the other universities when you were trying to decide?
What would you say would be good to go over in that time period?
Hmmmmm, in terms of what to do for the next seven months it's hard to say... You could try and work on some programming project, learn a language (Maybe Java, Haskell or C++), do some https://projecteuler.net/ maybe? If you're really serious about doing some tough work then maybe revise A-level maths if you did it a while ago, look in to some further maths maybe too. What I found challenging is quite hard to revise for, in my first year (curriculum changes might mean it's not the same for you) they had me reimplment various historical computation machines like the Babbage Engine, ENIAC & EDSAC and I'd personally just not bother trying to learn that beforehand because it would be near impossible I think. Honestly I would probably say try to relax though :') Once you're here you won't get much of a break!

Is there anything that you would have done differently in retrospect with regards to the course itself?
Again, hmmmmmmm, I'm sorry for all these dissapointing answers but I feel like I have played my cards right so far! (although we'll have to see if that stay the same for my last 4 exams and final year project :''''( )

I have always picked modules that I believe I will enjoy OR that I will be able to get a high mark in. I have overanalysed statistics for each module choosing modules, and have been successful in choosing good modules I believe. For final year project I might have not self defined a project If I had known it requires more inpedendance from myself, but once again, we'll have to see how that goes. Otherwise I think I have made all the right choices for myself.

What made you choose York over the other universities when you were trying to decide?
Now this is a tricky one. It's one I get asked a lot on open days. And one I always struggle with.

So my situation was a bit unusual. I was predicted BBB in my A-levels, I then got BCDD in my AS-Levels, I applied to York who wanted AAB, I went through an interview process and they reduced that to ABB (they dont interview anymore)(I also thought this was an oddly supportive move since my grades looked poor on paper, but I guess they liked my enthusiasm), that gave me a proper goal to aim for and I then studied hard, retaking all my AS-Levels at the same time as taking my A2-Levels and came out with A*A*A. I contemplated adjusting to Imperial or Cambridge... but in the end, there was something about my visit to York and how kind they had been to me and how nice the campus and dept. was that I could feel them supporting me and I wasn't even there yet! So I stuck with my guns and I was right, I have made many academic friends through the department, been given many jobs and oppertunities, and they even managed to help me get a place with IBM... which is crazy to me... they have done more for me than I can repay them for.

They pay me for a lot of work I do for them like open days, bloggin, vlogging, photoshoots, video interviews, etc. but I would do it for free in a snap, they have taken me from BCDD when I was 17 to an IBM engineer at 20.

Also, I thought I would have high grades in comparison to the rest of the class, but I know people with like 5 A*s on the course. I would imagine York gets so many applications that they pick the best! It makes a great environment for learning and I genuinly learn a lot from my peers every day!

Hope this helps and anything else just ask! (by the way, what's your profile picture? I have been wondering :') )
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yaszenn
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(Original post by Cascades123)
What would you say would be good to go over in that time period?
Hmmmmm, in terms of what to do for the next seven months it's hard to say... You could try and work on some programming project, learn a language (Maybe Java, Haskell or C++), do some https://projecteuler.net/ maybe? If you're really serious about doing some tough work then maybe revise A-level maths if you did it a while ago, look in to some further maths maybe too. What I found challenging is quite hard to revise for, in my first year (curriculum changes might mean it's not the same for you) they had me reimplment various historical computation machines like the Babbage Engine, ENIAC & EDSAC and I'd personally just not bother trying to learn that beforehand because it would be near impossible I think. Honestly I would probably say try to relax though :') Once you're here you won't get much of a break!

Is there anything that you would have done differently in retrospect with regards to the course itself?
Again, hmmmmmmm, I'm sorry for all these dissapointing answers but I feel like I have played my cards right so far! (although we'll have to see if that stay the same for my last 4 exams and final year project :''''( )

I have always picked modules that I believe I will enjoy OR that I will be able to get a high mark in. I have overanalysed statistics for each module choosing modules, and have been successful in choosing good modules I believe. For final year project I might have not self defined a project If I had known it requires more inpedendance from myself, but once again, we'll have to see how that goes. Otherwise I think I have made all the right choices for myself.

What made you choose York over the other universities when you were trying to decide?
Now this is a tricky one. It's one I get asked a lot on open days. And one I always struggle with.

So my situation was a bit unusual. I was predicted BBB in my A-levels, I then got BCDD in my AS-Levels, I applied to York who wanted AAB, I went through an interview process and they reduced that to ABB (they dont interview anymore)(I also thought this was an oddly supportive move since my grades looked poor on paper, but I guess they liked my enthusiasm), that gave me a proper goal to aim for and I then studied hard, retaking all my AS-Levels at the same time as taking my A2-Levels and came out with A*A*A. I contemplated adjusting to Imperial or Cambridge... but in the end, there was something about my visit to York and how kind they had been to me and how nice the campus and dept. was that I could feel them supporting me and I wasn't even there yet! So I stuck with my guns and I was right, I have made many academic friends through the department, been given many jobs and oppertunities, and they even managed to help me get a place with IBM... which is crazy to me... they have done more for me than I can repay them for.

They pay me for a lot of work I do for them like open days, bloggin, vlogging, photoshoots, video interviews, etc. but I would do it for free in a snap, they have taken me from BCDD when I was 17 to an IBM engineer at 20.

Also, I thought I would have high grades in comparison to the rest of the class, but I know people with like 5 A*s on the course. I would imagine York gets so many applications that they pick the best! It makes a great environment for learning and I genuinly learn a lot from my peers every day!

Hope this helps and anything else just ask! (by the way, what's your profile picture? I have been wondering :') )
This is so helpful, thank you for all of these detailed responses! That's a lovely anecdote about the support York gave you, it seems as though the staff match whatever level of enthusiasm a student shows and will go beyond in order to accommodate that, I think that's the mark of a fantastic department. I've been to a variety of post offer visit days and nowhere seemed to quite match York in terms of the warmth I got from the staff and students there, everything I hear about the uni is making me all the more assured in my choice. I actually visited Nottingham yesterday and while the facilities were great, the campus where the CS building is didn't feel nearly as nice as York's lush greenery, I didn't get the same gut feeling and I think a lot of the time it comes to that feeling when choosing universities - somewhere you'd want to live in and grow as a person.

Your point about learning from peers also resonates a lot, I've read quite a few books on the history of computing (highly recommend Hackers by Steven Levy!) and there's a surprising number of breakthroughs that have happened just by groups of highly motivated uni students. So many tech success stories have revolved around it, so being relatively newer to programming I'm looking forward to learning from and collaborating with people who have been coding away since their early teens! It's going to be a big jump - going from the handful of people at school who dabbled with programming to sitting in a hall with a couple hundred students who are just as enamoured by the subject as I am, I'm really looking forward to that aspect!

And the profile picture is a drawing of a boy sitting on the bonnet of an old Mazda MX5 sports car I own a 1989 model MX5 myself, I work on it a lot (because it breaks down a lot, being 31 years old and all!) and I'm hoping to take it to a racetrack this summer to really push it to its limits and see what it can do. I'm also bringing it to York with me, it's my main hobby and I won't be able to do without it for 3 long years!
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