Last year, I volunteered with the mentoring program for MIT undergrads. I was connected with a sophomore studying computer science.
It was actually my second year with the program, but the first go around went nowhere. Last year, I was determined to take the initiative to make it better by sending regular mails on some topic I thought would be useful to him.
a small one this time. ssh keys. Do you know how to use them and properly setup.
I imagine that even at MIT Athena (is it still called Athena? I’ve got a date tonight. yeah, with Athena) you will have the need to move data from one system to another. Lab for CS, AI lab, or media lab. It’s nice if you don’t have to enter your password all the time. you can setup cron jobs (maybe one of my mails will be on cron), github
ssh, git, rsync, scp, sftp are all super handy once the authentication stuff is out of the say.
ssh keys are possible on windows either using PuTTY or Cygwin (that’s the way I do it)
The other MIT volunteer thing that I do is I’m an admissions interviewer. I’ve interviewed ~40 kids in the last 3 years.
One of the things that sets some apart is a personal project that goes beyond just doing as you’re told. Everyone does robotics, violin/piano/whatever, tennis/track/baseball/whatever, science research internship, volunteer trip to africa. Sure those things are good experiences are valuable, but as an interviewer, I’m bored by hearing about those things. They say more about the parents and teachers than they do about the kid
So what peaks my interest?
- the kid that designed a special drive assembly/transmission for their robot. Didn’t just do as the robotics coach told him
- the kid that has a couple articles in a chess magazine
- the kid that earned a black belt. requires more sustained involvement than just doing a year of sports.
- the kid that wrote an IPhone app for Forrest Park. It became the official app for the park. It’s 5000 acres. Central park is 800. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_parks_by_size
- When I interview people for Intel, most applicants can only talk about coursework. Occasionally, someone has done their own thing. They really stick out.
Imagine an interview that goes like this:
Sure, I went to MIT. I took the relevant classes. You can ask me random bits of trivia from those classes. O(n), recursion, SQL. Fine, I’ll give you answers to those.
But I have this: <then you tell them about some app, program, whatever>.
The top quality employers appreciate drive, excitement, a don’t settle for just coursework, type of attitude.
I encourage you to find such a project. It may be something solo, an already existing open source thing, or perhaps a new collaboration. Something you work on during those inbetween times. IAP, summers,…
you don’t have to wait til graduation to enjoy the rewards of coding.