Given that more than half of the libraries are closed for the time being, this limits where students can get out of their dorm/apartment and have good enough wifi to attend classes. A lot of my favorite places to study were closed, so here is a list of my new favorite spots on campus to study!
1. Langsam Library
This isn't really a new spot, but they are the only library near my apartment that is still open. Although they have closed off like 75% of their floor space, I found it super easy to find a spot to study. And even with the 6ft restrictions, I could sit close to my friends and study with them.
2. Lindner College of Business
Another common place to study but I love being next to the Starbucks and enjoying the tantalizing smell of coffee. Again, they've closed off a lot of study spaces but they have outdoor seating too! It was also relatively easy to find a spot to sit.
3. ACM Office
Unfortunately, access is limited to this space since it is only for exec members, but it has good school study vibes that I desperately need. Since access is limited and it's in the engineering building, no one comes in and I can study with friends in there. Normally, this is where we hold our office hours but that has moved online. (Also we have snacks in there from our previous events so that's awesome too!)
This is another common study space but there were so many open tables! And I visited around lunch time so I was very surprised! The upstairs area also had overflow space for studying.
Although it sounds like a lot of places are open, there are some of my normal study spaces that aren't! These include the engineering library, engineering women's lounge, and the 801 Rhodes. I really liked the engineering women's lounge since it also had a mini-fridge but that's not too big of a problem.
I am also super appreciative of UC to try and keep these places open. Being stuck at home watching lectures and studying is not how I want my semester to go.
A short life update, since it has been a couple of months since I have updated this blog.
I wrote last week about how I joined a study group with friends from classes to do leetcode problems. The expectation in the study group was that it would be intense studying with 6-7 problems per week. Going through those problems, however, I felt like it would be better if I studied on my own and really understood the problems by going at a slower pace. I still would like to work on leetcode this summer, so by writing it here I will hold myself accountable to 1-2 questions a week.
My web design project for ACM-W which I am also using as an honors experience was approved last week. I'm excited to start working towards it soon.
I was also picked to be the logistics team lead for the 2021 RevolutionUC hackathon. Although I was an organizer for the previous hackathon, this is a huge jump in responsibility. I met with the previous team lead to get some insight and as long as I stay on top of things, it will go great! This will really test my time management skills, since planning starts in fall, when I go back to school and have other responsibilities for the student orgs that I am in.
I'm very happy about this 3 day weekend and getting some rest tomorrow :)
Leetcode is something that is familiar to most CS majors who are aiming to work at big companies. That includes me. Leetcode, for those of you who haven't heard of it, is a site with coding problems that often use data structures and algorithms knowledge with different difficulty levels. These problems are used as interview questions for top tech companies.
A group of my friends came together to create a study group over this summer to practice these problems and become better prepared for technical interviews. I'm excited to start this journey because sometimes I feel like I am lacking in my coding knowledge and this will be a great way to practice! This week we just finished our first week of studying and it made me realize that this is something I will need to put some effort into. Typically, applicants are given about 45 minutes to solve a problem and I simulated that by giving myself a timer. This first week, I was only able to solve 1 completely that had an acceptable Big O notation for time and space complexity. The other questions I was able to complete partially with some test cases, or not at all.
One consideration I have to make is the language I am solving the problem with. I have had the most recent experience with C++ now, making it the easiest language to code in, but I look at some problems and realize I should probably be using Python because that implementation is going to be 20 times easier. It made me realize that I need to brush up on the languages I haven't used in a while. One app I used to use is SoloLearn, and I really should go back to that!
I'll also be starting a web development project where I try to redesign the website for the UC chapter of ACM-W. I am planning this to be my summer project since the website is in need of refreshing and it'll be a good way to gain some new skills!
Also, my coop rotation starts tomorrow, where I will get to work on machine automation development, so I am very excited for this semester of learning!
It has been a while since my last post, but I thought it would be beneficial if I had a post about how my first coop rotation went. I will also include tips to other interns throughout this post.
My coop rotation was at The Lubrizol Corporation, a multi-national chemical company in Greater Cleveland owned by Berkshire Hathaway. I worked in IS in the Security Operations Center. In the SOC, I had responsibilities overseeing the cybersecurity of our company. This was one of the teams I requested in my interview because the idea of cybersecurity was interesting to me and it really was interesting to see how a company manages their security system. The team warmed up to me and valued my opinions when I gave them. It was nice to see that despite my level of experience and my title as a coop, the work and ideas I contributed had a real impact (Tips to interns: If you don't feel valued or are given side projects that don't have much meaning, find another company for your next internship). I was directly responding to security situations and helping with resolving the situation.
Another beneficial aspect of coop is networking. Your team, your mentor, and even the people you meet when you go get coffee in the break area are all people you interact with and could create the bonds to network with them. I also created relationships with the other interns and coops, since they are also students and are in a similar stage of life to me. (Tips to interns: Try to work at a company that has other interns.)
However, from my experience in the SOC, I realized that cybersecurity is not for me. And that was what I expected. Nevertheless, it was a good experience for me as I obtained a lot of general knowledge in this area. It also helps me rule it out as a potential career path. I am very excited about my next rotation and all the wonderful new things I will learn.
This week marks my 8th week on coop; time flies when you're having fun.
Today I'm going to share a couple of tips as someone who is now halfway through a coop rotation and perhaps things to remember as we start settling into our roles
1. Don't get too comfortable
I'm starting to get to a point where I am a little too comfortable with the work I do. An important aspect of being a coop student is to challenge yourself in every way possible. If you feel comfortable with the work you are doing, that is a good thing; that means you are learning and have become proficient at your tasks. However, I think it is important to take another step and ask for more challenging work. That way, you can maximize your learning opportunity and make a good impression on the people you work with.
There are also other ways to challenge yourself. You can try networking with people (something I am trying to do) or learn about other aspects of your company that you are unfamiliar with.
2. Connect with the people around you
Connecting with the people around you seems like something that should come naturally, since you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with the people you work. However, it's important to consciously connect with people in meaningful ways. For me, I am challenging myself to network with 3 people outside of my team. This goes back to point 1, since networking is something that makes me uncomfortable. In the long run, I know this will pay off. The connections could lead to a position or even a source for advice and support down the road.
Some of the ways I already do this is by partaking in Trivia Night Tuesdays with some of the newer coworkers at my company. I get to know them as people outside of the work setting, which lets me connect and relate to them. I also have assimilated into the team I work with by finding things I can relate to and contributing to jokes that they often say. Not only does this help me connect with my team, it also makes work and meetings funner (I know funner isn't a word haha). I have also been fortunate to not only connect with the other coops but to actually get to a point where I can call them my friends. As people who are going through the same experiences I am as a college student, it has been so easy to get along with them and have fun. I'm so glad to be at a company with so many other coops.
3. Remember, you can still learn outside of the office
Every day, I am learning something new about cyber security. And that's great, but I also have all this free time after work that I could be using to brush up on skills that I'm not using. I guess this tip is just a reminder to myself and other coop students that you can always learn new things on your own too. I am writing this down so I can hold myself accountable until the next time I make an update. My personal goal: get through the Crash Course playlist on Computer Science.
This was just a quick update that hopefully everyone can learn from (@ like the 5 people who actually see this). Needless to say, I am enjoying my time on coop and not having to take midterms. I am starting to miss being on campus though and I am so excited to sign up for spring semester classes tomorrow.
This fall semester, I have not been attending classes. At most universities, this would be alarming to hear. However, I am an engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, which means I will be completing 5 coops within my 5 years of studies.
Currently, I am a Security Operations Coop at The Lubrizol Corporation. My responsibilities include investigating email phishing tickets submitted by employees and helping with other activities carried out by the Security Operations Center.
Being part of this team has opened my eyes to the security and networking aspects of computer science. So far in my path of CS, I have only formally learned coding languages. One of my goals is to learn more about how information is transferred and I have been able to do that in my role. I learned at the SoNIC workshop that information is transferred in packets. In my role, I am able to see the information passed through firewalls and servers from externally to internally and vice versa. The lack of knowledge I have in the way that computers fundamentally work has inspired me to learn more about it.
Another work in progress are my communication skills. In my role, I run 2 weekly meetings and send email updates every day. I also communicate with employees directly to follow up on security incidents. Because of this, I would like to think that my communication skills are improving.
Although this is a short update, I am excited to see what the next 10-ish weeks brings me!
Although it's been quite a while since my last post, I just wanted to wrap up the experiences I had at the SONiC workshop at Cornell. To reiterate, the goal of the workshop was to expose CS students of minorities to the idea of pursuing graduate degrees.
During days 3-5, we heard talks from more Cornell faculty and staff about their roles and experiences. One highlight speaker was Hadas Kress-Gazit, who oversaw the Autonomous Systems Lab, which focuses on robot innovation. We were able to take a look at the lab and the projects she and her students were working on. One project was a robot companion that would lead people to safety during a fire. Although the project was still in its stages of infancy, we were able to observe a demo of the robot.
We also got to hear from Hadas about her journey to her current position and her experience as a woman in a more male-saturated field. Hearing her story inspired me and reinforced my validity as a woman in CS.
On day 4, we had the chance to go on a boat tour of Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes near Cornell. Although it was windy and about to rain any second, we were able to mingle with the rest of the workshop participants and exchange stories. Snapchats and Instagrams were exchanged and even today, a couple of months later, I still talk to the people I met.
Day 5 was the last day of workshop activities, which included a final presentation of what we learned during the research portion of the workshop. The research portion included reading data from network packets in C. The most important takeaway for me personally was that there is still so much I don’t know about computers and technology. Networks and the hardware of computers are important in order to know fundamentally how a computer works and I lack knowledge of both of these topics. I never really thought about how the data is sent through the internet; this is a huge gap in my knowledge that I am determined to fill soon.
The big question, after reading all of this, is “Will I pursue a graduate degree?”
The answer is probably yes*. The asterisk is because I don’t plan or feel ready to go straight to pursuing a Ph.D. after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I don’t think I will know what topic I would be interested in focusing my graduate studies on within the next 3 years. My plan is to go into the workforce and see what I like and don’t like and use that time to see what makes me go “I would like to really learn about this and become the world’s expert on this topic.”
Of course, things could always change. I may find the topic that interests me within my next 3 years. So I am keeping my mind open to all paths.
Although we had a rainy morning, we spent this time hearing from more professors and PhD students at Cornell. One of the main themes I have seen throughout the talks is that people who pursue a PhD often have a curiosity for research and like problem finding rather than problem solving. I think I would like to pursue a Master's or PhD but I am someone who prefers problem solving, as I enjoy the satisfaction of finding the solution to a problem. However, my interests may change in the future, so I am keeping an open mind towards graduate school.
One lecture I enjoyed today was given by Jon Kleinberg, a professor of CS and Interim dean of CIS (Cornell’s School of Computing and Information Science). He showed a data visualization of the friends of someone on Facebook and the connections between friends (mutual friends).
As someone who is minoring in Business Analytics, this map of depicting the connections between people really piqued my interest. It makes me want to recreate it myself using my data of Facebook friends.
Another professor covered the topic of bitcoin. The more I heard about it, the more it sounded like blockchain was a form of an immutable linked list.
We also viewed a data network center at Cornell. As I walked through rows of cable and boxes, I realized I barely know anything about how devices connect to the internet and how a network server works. It’s something I will have to YouTube later.
After a long trip and many complications with flights, I arrived in Ithaca yesterday for the Cornell SoNIC Summer Research Workshop. I applied to this workshop a few months ago, and to my delight was accepted to attend and learn from some of the best CS professors at Cornell University. This workshop is an opportunity for those in under-represented groups to feel encouraged to get a PhD through an all-expenses paid trip and sponsored by Google and Instagram.
Today was the first day of the workshop. We were mostly introduced to the idea of pursuing research through anecdotes from the Dean of Computing and Information Science (CIS) Greg Morrisett and the Dean of Engineering Lance Collins. Both deans emphasized the importance of a PhD as the path to life long learning, broadening our horizons within the field of computer science. We were also introduced to the idea behind SoNIC, which started as a PhD research project on computer networks. The founder of the workshop, Professor Hakim Weatherspoon, expanded the project by adding the workshop.
The focus of the workshop is on cloud computing and networks, so we learned about how data is transferred from the internet to the user. This involves packets, which hold the information needed. I didn’t know that there were gaps between packets and that even when a page finishes loading, idle gaps are being sent. It really made it clear that I should start researching CS topics on my own and not rely on my classes.
We were also able to explore the Falls of Ithaca. It was a great way for all the workshop participants to mingle and socialize!
I’m very excited for the rest of the workshop!