When students have excuses

Many students “dream” of having a good job but it is only “a dream” because some have excuses for NOT making their dream become a reality. I have received many emails asking for advice. Following are some of my short answers.

When a student complained: “I like to have a good job but Computer Science is too difficult.” I answered: “There is nothing easy in this word. If you want something, you have to put in your efforts to achieve it and do not let any obstacle prevent you from achieving your dreams.”

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When a student disagreed with my advice: “Why do you keep insist on study Computer science? Are there other better fields? I explained: “Of course, there are many fields to study that you can choose. Today computing jobs are among the highest paid, have more job opportunities when other fields pay much less and may not have many Job opportunities. You can choose whatever you like because the future is yours, not mine.”

When a student blamed the system: “The education system in my country is too slow to change.” I told him: “You can wait until it changes or you can actively find another way to study what you need. There are thousands of online classes providing everything that you need, if you put in the efforts, you can learn anything.”

When a student laments: “But companies require experience, I have a degree but do not have the experience?” I advised: “Show them what you can do, demonstrate your skills and if needed, volunteer to work one month without pay to prove to them that you are able to do the work. Do not take “NO” for the answer, be active in your job search. Having the right attitude is enough to convince them to hire you.”

When a student wrote: “A computer is nothing but a machine, are you advocating learning something inhumane here?” I wrote to him: “ The most important aspect of computer science is problem-solving, which is also an essential skill for life. As students, you study the design, development of software to solve problems in a variety of business, scientific and social contexts. Because computers solve problems to serve people, there is a significant human side to computer science as well.”

When a student complained: “Many people cheat and have good grades in the class.” I told her: “You should focus on your skills as long as what they do does not directly affect you. They may have a good grade and even a degree but after all, it is who has the skills NOT who has a degree or the grades that count. Just focus on your efforts to develop your skills. Time will tell.”

When a student argued: “College is not only for studying but also about other activities. I need time for my girlfriend as someday we will get married and build a family.” I told him: “No, you go to college to study, everything can wait. If you do not study, do not graduate, do not have a good job, do you think your girlfriend will marry you? How do you build a family when you cannot even take care of yourself?

As students, you need to figure out what you want to do with your lives. No one can answer this question except yourself. You should NOT be afraid to do your best because it is your lives and no one can live that lives but you. The future is in technology. If you want to have a good career, you should study a technology field. Do not let anything stopping you. There is NO excuse for NOT go after your dream if it is indeed your dream. There are many opportunities waiting for people who have the courage to go after their dream.

When looking for a job make sure you have a good idea of what you want out of the job because you do not want to be at a job you do not like. When you know what you want, it is easier to put all efforts for it and focus on developing the skills you need for your career. You need to learn more about the business of the company whether in your first, second or even third job. Make sure you take the time to get the most out of every position you hold so you can bring those skills into your career. As long as you have the lifelong learning attitude, you will succeed.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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