In this article, software engineering student Bill Xie reflects on his experience at the Computer Science Students' Association Tech Trip, supported by the ANU Research School of Computer Science.
I have always liked building things: taking simple concepts, or blocks, and combining them in interesting ways to create a system that is useful and impactful.
My name is Bill, and I’ve just finished the third year of my Bachelor of Software Engineering degree.
With my final year of study looming, I knew it was time to think seriously about my life after university and my future job opportunities in tech.
So, along with 47 other computer science students from ANU, I headed to Sydney from the 22 - 25 November 2016 for the inaugural Computer Science Students’ Association (CSSA) Tech Trip.
Over four days, we visited seven of Sydney’s largest employers of IT graduates – this was the best possible opportunity to gather information about companies that I could potentially apply for after graduating, as well as visit Sydney again (I’d only been once!)
The companies we visited were Commonwealth Bank, Google, IBM, Accenture, Atlassian, Palantir and HP - as well as the UNSW and University of Sydney Tech Societies.
Usually, each company visit included a presentation by a company representative, a tour of the office, Q&A session and a chance to network with staff.
What really surprised me when I was visiting these businesses was their diversity. I found that every company was unique in terms of values and beliefs, and this was reflected in their culture and environment.
Google’s emphasis on innovation was reflected by their innovative workspace, which included Lego, sleep rooms, themed offices and a virtual reality room.
IBM had a more traditional office environment, reflecting their long history.
Palantir’s belief in working with clients on site was reflected by their empty offices, and Atlassian's focus on collaboration could be felt through the very open environment.
Being able to experience the workspaces of these companies was a great way to discover which environment you relate to the most. For me, I certainly found Google and Atlassian’s offices to be the most impressive and the sorts of places I would like to work in.
Another feature of the trip was the opportunity to talk to a lot of industry experts and receive advice.
The single piece of advice given by every company we visited was the importance being curious and open to learning, as the tech industry is constantly changing.
What they look for when hiring is not necessary the technical skills - they can be easily learnt - but people with real passion in technology who are eager and willing to put in the time to learn.
I think this trip has definitely helped shape where I want to take my career in the future, and has shown me how to get there.
I now know when graduate positions open, what to put on my CV, the kind of traits these companies are looking for in interviews and more, which I believe will give me a competitive advantage not just for the companies we visited, but more generally too.
After seeing all the cool and exciting things these companies are doing with software, I am more certain than ever that I want to work in software development.
This article was written by 3rd year Bachelor of Software Engineering student, Bill Xie.