Matthew Romero will be graduating this spring. Matthew will be earning, with honors, the BS in Computer Science with a mathematics minor. Originally from Winslow, Arizona, Matthew developed an interest in computer science at a young age. After graduation, Matthew will be moving to the bay area as part of Google’s Engineering Residency Program.
When asked about the interview process for Google's residency program, Matthew answered:
Response: The whole interview process consisted of 7 rounds beginning in September 2019 and ending with an offer in December. Throughout the entire process, I was a nervous wreck. After each interview I would feel terrible, thinking that I just blew my chances. I was assuming the worst over the entire 3 months, which was really unhealthy for my mental health. Despite this, I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I could see it to the end. I wanted to make both myself and my family proud. So, I would tell myself that as long as I try my hardest, there is no reason to be disappointed. I knew that even if rejection did come, it wouldn't be the end of the world, or mean that I am less of a programmer. By taking a more stoic approach, I was able to cope with feelings of uncertainty. I am sure that many of us have experienced just how competitive the industry is nowadays. With that said, it is important to remember that failure does not define you or "place" you in a certain tier of programmers. I failed at many other interviews during all stages of my college career and would go through periods of stress and frustration as a result. Just remember to shake it off in a healthy way and continue to push towards your personal end goal.
Omar R. Gebril is a senior computer science student. Omar is from Cairo, Egypt and became interested in computer science as a result of participating in a robotics engineering camp.
When asked to recount a memorable experience in CS, Omar answered:
Response: The whole journey from start to end is a memorable experience of its own. I mean, the most unforgettable to me personally is the countless number of long nights spent programming and pacing around my room trying to get my code right before the deadlines. I assure you the word “countless” is an understatement. However; the all-time most epic experience ever related to our department is definitely going to the HACKATHON! Even if you’re not trying to submit projects, it’s so much more than worth it to go talk to the sponsors’ representatives and meet people. Trust me, if they’re at a hackathon, they have to be interesting.
Nick Rizzo is a first year pre-computer science student. Nick is originally from Indiana and decided to attend the University of Arizona because of many reasons including great weather, scholarship opportunities, helpful advising, and job prospects.
When asked to provide advice for incoming CS students, Nick answered:
Response: Do more than what is required, CS is a very big field and there is always something more to learn. When you aren't doing classwork, work on learning another language, another library, or another technology. Employers love to see that you know how to use the technologies they use, it will make your github account look really good, and it will make you better at coding in general.
Student Spotlight: getting to know our CS students
There is no question that the Department of Computer Science is home to amazing faculty, staff, and students. I wanted to provide an opportunity for those inside and outside the department to learn about our students. The Student Spotlight provides a platform to tell our students unique backgrounds, experiences, and stories. After reading, I know that you will agree- our students are incredible. The interview and spotlight of Angel Aguayo was conducted and written by Arthur Jordan, CS Coordinator of Career Development.
Thanks for reading! - Martin Marquez, Director of Academic and Support Services
From Arthur: It has been a pleasure working with Angel throughout his time here in the Computer Science department. I first met Angel in my role as an Undergraduate Academic Advisor where I was able to help him navigate University policies and procedures and he has made it a point to be actively engaged in the department through various roles. Angel has continuously demonstrated persistence, resilience and perseverance despite various personal and academic challenges; meanwhile, he has given back to his computer science peers through section leading and his time as an undergraduate TA. Angel is constantly reflecting on his experiences to better himself and this is very clear in his personality and his self-confidence; I am excited to see the impact that Angel will have in his role at Google.
Question: Tell me a little about yourself and how you started off in Computer Science.
Response: My name is Angel Aguayo and I am a Computer Science major and I was also a Mathematics major up until last semester, but I changed my Mathematics major to a minor when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to complete the requirements in the same timeframe as my Computer Science requirements. My interest in Computer Science started at a really young age because I was always interested in computers but my family neither had computers or internet growing up. During elementary school I would join as many clubs as possible that involved technology; the most significant club was in 5th grade where we did the Techno Squad and worked with different recording software, PowerPoint, etc. This got me really excited about technology in general and come high school there was an introductory programming course in QBasic, which my friend and I instantly hopped on. As a Senior in high school I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college, but I had been involved in band since the 5th grade so I thought I would go ahead and study music. Upon entering college, I auditioned to play flute and I got accepted but it didn’t feel like the path I wanted to pursue; I ended up meeting with the Advisors a couple weeks before the start of the semester and changed my major to Computer Science.
Question: What has been the biggest challenge as a Computer Science student?
Response: I really enjoyed CSC 110 and 120 and determined that Computer Science was the perfect major for me to pursue alongside math, but at the end of my sophomore year I was hit with an episode of depression that put me behind in my math courses. At that time, I was in CSC 335 and 345 and lost motivation halfway through the semester and was attending fewer and fewer classes. One of the biggest obstacles I’ve experienced is a lack of motivation in general; at the beginning it was really hard to tough it through and try different things to figure it out. I was not used to failure and it severely hindered my growth, but I feel that it was a learning experience in the way that I finally realized the benefits of going to office hours. This realization gave me confidence and motivation to be more involved with the department and helped me to secure internship opportunities.
Question: What has your Career Development looked like as a Computer Science student?
Response: At the beginning of my sophomore year I started to think more about my future and started attending the various career fairs on campus where I could interact with individuals in the industry. This led me to speak with representatives at State Farm, which is how I was able to secure my first internship with them. During this time, I also spoke with Microsoft and applied for the Microsoft Employer Program where I went through a series of phone interviews, in-person interviews, ‘whiteboard’ interviews, etc. Eventually I was brought on-site to interview, which went terribly because after each ‘round’ I left feeling that I did not perform well. After being rejected by Microsoft I received an offer with State Farm to intern over the summer and found it to be a very wonderful experience for a first internship. After my time at State Farm I wanted to aim bigger and secure an internship with Microsoft for the following summer. During the fall career fair, I was able to land interviews with Sandia National Laboratories, Google, Microsoft, and Hexagon Mining; I ended up securing two competing offers with Sandia and Hexagon Mining. Through a series of unfortunate events I was not able to participate in either experience but was able to secure an internship with N P Photonics. At the conclusion of my Junior year I started looking ahead to finding full-time employment where I secured interviews with Raytheon, NSA, Google, and Microsoft. While I was going through the Google and Microsoft application process, I took a lot of time to practice questions through LeetCode and went into my interviews more prepared. I remember working with my biology lab partner on a lab report and getting an email from Microsoft extending a full-time offer and I couldn’t be happier. I didn’t accept the offer right away because I was finishing up my final rounds of interviews with Google and needed an extension; after about two weeks I was in the atrium waiting for a class to start and I got a phone call from my Google recruiter extending an offer. In the end, I accepted the offer with Google despite Microsoft being my ‘dream company’ because my gut was telling me to go with their offer. It was an incredibly humbling experience to reflect on my journey and starting off with no access to a computer or internet and struggling with courses and mental health, which would eventually lead to success in the way of solidifying an offer with Google.
Kapua is a first year pre-computer science student. Kapua was born and raised in Tucson and graduated from Amphitheater High School. Kapua recently accepted a paid internship experience with Axon for this summer.
When asked to provide a study tip/advice to her peers, Kapua answered:
Response: My best study tip for peers in Computer Science is to start projects early, we can listen to all the lectures and workshops, but our skills develop during assignments, the application of the tools given to us is what makes us learn. To the peers I have in general, find that mode in which you study best, and exploit it as much as possible. For me, it's in a busy environment (like the union, mall or a cultural center) with instrumental upbeat music."
Junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Computer Science and a minor in Information Science, Technology, and the Arts (ISTA).
What suggestions do you have for students doing online coursework?
Response: Creating a consistent weekly schedule can help manage one’s time and help with keeping up with all the lectures and homeworks being put out. I think one thing I constantly struggle with is creating unreasonable tasks for myself. I’ll plan to wake up at 7am to crank out a few assignments, but I’m totally a night person and I usually end up sleeping through the 20 alarms set. That being said, creating a reasonable schedule that works around the times that you feel most productive is definitely key. Also, take lots of notes!