Vicente Chavez graduated from New Paltz in December 2009. His major was Computer Science. The Computer Science Department awarded Vince our Top Student Prize. In his first 11 CS courses Vince received a grade of A. He “slacked off” on his last CS course and got A-.
In less than a month, Vince has gotten himself a job in the city as a Perl/SQL programmer. I asked him to comment on his new surroundings and answer a few questions. But I'll let him speak for himself.
“How is everything going Mr. Pletch? I have taken on a new role at work. I'm extending a management application designed by a programmer many years ago when the Perl cgi was very popular.
When I took this position I only knew basic Perl; for example' control structures and simple functions to deal with databases. Over the last weekend I read a 700 page perl book and now I know Perl like the palm of my hand, haha! I recently finished writing a Perl SOAP client to retrieve search results from Google, Yahoo, and BING using their respective APIs. The client is more complicated than that but that was one of the functions. I have to work using OOP in Perl which is a little more complicated than Java where almost everything is hidden from you. Dealing with references can get complicated but I guess that is what separates good programmers from the rest. I'm very happy with the job.
Here are my answers to your questions:
1: How different is working from study?
The most noticeable difference between both is the responsibility to finish what is assigned to you. For example, as an employee of a company, I’m responsible for coming to work well prepared and I’m also responsible for keeping up with new technologies everyday by learning things on my own. Unlike in my college days, I don’t have the advantage of telling my professor, in this case my supervisor, I was not able to finish a certain task because I procrastinated or didn’t know a certain technology. Another difference is the effort you put into your work. In College, mediocre students are able to get degrees by doing mediocre work, in real life, mediocre workers are not able to maintain or get jobs.
2: What tools do you use that you learned about at New Paltz?
Two of the most important tools I learned at New Paltz and that every student should possess, are critical thinking and problem solving. These tools have allowed me to take on new roles and be able to solve complicated tasks. In respect to Computer Science, relational database is the tool I have used the most. It doesn't matter what career path a CS student takes, somewhere along the path, there will ALWAYS be some kind of relational database work to be dealt with.
3: What did NP not teach you that you should have known?
The thing I wish New Paltz had taught me was to prepare me for rejection from employers. As a newly graduated student, I faced many obstacles while interviewing for jobs. Many of the employers I dealt with wanted an individual who had some work experience. Entry level positions are almost non- existent and I recommend that new CS students do school work and obtain good grades, but also to start learning new programming languages and new technologies on their own. I am certain that when most employers read my resume they looked at the things I knew how to do and not at my degree.