I didn’t think I would find myself on WordPress for my final quarter at Oregon State, but here we are. As this post will go up before my team and project are decided, I’ll briefly talk about my experiences with the program and how I handled stress throughout the quarters.
One of the significant stressors of this program is time management. Most students who enroll as postbaccalaureate are established with responsibilities that may not have been present in degree #1. I started the program working full-time but soon found myself amid layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Possibly a blessing in disguise, I had an opportunity to explore other activities in the interim.
However, it wasn’t until I participated in extracurriculars that my time was constantly running out. I threw myself into research, becoming an Undergraduate Learning Assistant, and CodePath courses (https://www.codepath.org/). But this took away time and energy from activities that were not related to programming. And I burned out, a lot. Needless to say, I’m doing two of those things again: being a TA and. hopefully, doing the Android CodePath course in February.
This time however, I’m keeping it simple by doing enough. If I don’t have room to do more, then just say no. You do not have to feel that you’re indebted to doing anything that you don’t have to capacity to respond to. I’m not saying that I’m going to avoid doing office hours or responding to questions, but only do so WITHIN the time you are required and take a break. If you don’t want to go out or don’t feel like coding, make sure to create those buffer times to NOT do anything.
As for getting stuck, that happened a lot when I was reading theoretical information or trying to do something with programming that I did not have the vocabulary for. Theory is hard and depending on the book, the notation might not make it any easier. I don’t think I fully understood all of the algorithms or discrete math jargon. I reduced the reading as best I could and applied it to solve the problem with what I knew. It worked for me, and my classes moved on.
For programming, I usually go and read the documentation and determine whether or not it makes sense to me. If it doesn’t, I go to StackOverflow and try to find a similar example of the keywords I’m trying to use. I always make use of code snippets given to me in class, if possible. This has allowed me to finish most, if not all my programming homework during the program.
I will say that I struggled doing this at my internship. The codebase was huge and being remote and new to a programming internship made me struggle for the first month of my three months. Three months is nothing when everything is flying by. Honestly, it wasn’t until the end of my internship where I started feeling comfortable asking more questions and being more productive.
I couldn’t find a suitable balance before then. In other words, ASK questions, be it on Slack, Ed, or the workplace. Nobody thinks about questions being dumb.