Need advice on how to find and engage with a computer science community? Look no further – here are four tips to help you find one.
Studying computer science and trying to break your way into the tech field is stressful and it's definitely more stressful if you’re doing it alone.
There are innumerable benefits to finding a computer science community and different communities can support you in different ways. Sometimes you may just need to vent about an absurdly difficult exam, while other times you may be looking for people to share career advice. You may simply want to showcase and get feedback on a cool new project you're working on. Whatever you’re seeking, there are other computer science students searching for the same thing, so of course there are plenty of different types of communities to check out.
No one said engaging in a computer science community was always easy though. There are definitely challenges to finding a group of people you feel comfortable with and can easily engage with.
Here are 4 tips to help you find a computer science community:
1. Show up to things.
Showing up to events on your campus or in your local community consistently is one of the most important things you can do to meet other students in computer science. That might mean showing up to awkward mixers and late night hackathons, even when you’d rather be at home in your sweatpants scrolling through social media.
Of course, showing up is only half the battle. There is more to becoming engaged in a community than just physically being there, but it’s a great start. You’ll likely start to notice more and more friendly faces around campus once you make that first step.
So, if you have trouble motivating yourself to get out there and participate in lots of icebreaker activities and small talk, just make a commitment to yourself to at least show up and check it out.
2.Connect with your classmates.
Since your classes may be the only time you’re around other computer science majors regularly, they’re the perfect opportunity to connect with other students studying the same subjects at the same time as you. Making these connections can definitely be complicated by the class size and structure. If your class doesn’t have any group assignments or projects, it might be hard to find the time during class to get to know your peers.
Instead of giving up completely, one way to work around this and simultaneously set yourself up for success in the course, is to be engaged during and after your lectures. If your professor asks a question, give it your best shot. Try and get a seat in the same area each class and maybe show up a few minutes early. This gives more time to chat with other students even in big lecture halls.
Don’t miss out on any opportunities to engage with your fellow students outside of class, like class discussion boards. Showing up comes into play here too. Going to any office hours or recitations only increases your chances of finding a computer science community in your courses and at your college in general.
3. Join clubs.
Clubs seem like a really obvious way to find a computer science community, but maybe you feel like they aren’t right for you or your schedule. Well, don’t write them off just yet. Depending on the club, there could be a lot of flexible and courseload-friendly ways to participate and engage.
If you’re worried that it’s too late to join any clubs this semester, or maybe even during the rest of your degree, don’t be. Many clubs want new members even throughout the year and if you’re not sure, it can never hurt to shoot them an email inquiring.
Clubs are a great place to explore your specific interests within computer science, even if you have no previous experience with a topic. You may still be working your way through your introductory courses, but if you’re dying to learn about cybersecurity then try to see if your college or university has a cybersecurity club. You may be surprised how many different types of clubs your campus has to offer, even if these more focused clubs are smaller.
4. Join online communities.
If you’re not feeling any of the in-person or local communities that your campus or area has to offer, then you might find yourself right at home in an online computer science community.
There are plenty to choose from with all different kinds of focus and reaches. Some online communities are also great if you’re just getting a feel for the computer science world, because they can connect you with people with a wide variety of experiences and locations.
For example, in the r/csmajors subreddit you’ll find advice from college freshman and full-blown software engineers alike. Your college or university might also have a specific subreddit, and in my experience the computer science majors are usually pretty active in it. Be warned, as with any anonymous online encounters, people’s advice may not always be very helpful, encouraging, or kind. Still, at the very least it's good to know you're not alone or the only one with a question.
There are also computer science communities that are tailored to supporting computer science students academically and career-wise, such as Edlyft’s Community Discord. This discord seeks to connect computer science students with each other as well as to spread the news about internship and mentorship opportunities and interview prep.
Want to connect with a flourishing computer science community? Check out Edlyft and sign up for the newsletter here.