Biola University alumnus Thomas Stewart (‘16) interned and worked at various companies during and after his time at Biola. His resume includes positions at companies such as Faithlife, DigiCal, Liferay, Inc. and he is currently a full-stack engineer at Tic Toc Games. As a computer science graduate, Stewart shared his recommendations for how those earning a bachelors in computer science or STEM majors can best prepare for life after Biola.
Treat side-projects as your main projects
Research and projects outside the classroom are crucial to success after graduation.
“My dedication to working on side projects in the midst of school, my job, and the rest of my schedule was the biggest game-changer for my postgraduate endeavors, aside from my internships,” said Stewart.
Along with summer internships, Stewart regularly worked on side projects such as game development. He made an Android application using a public API, or application programming interface, which sourced information from the Bible online. This hobby continued after graduation where Stewart created Tile Cross Game which is available on the App Store.
“Be hard-working and to adopt a ‘go-getter’ mindset,” said Stewart.
Internships. Internships. Internships.
Internships provide a window into full-time work for a particular job function, company or industry.
“[Internships] helped me the most in discerning my career-path, specifically my internship at Faithlife,” said Stewart.
During his internships, Stewart gained in-depth experience using and understanding different programming languages in a work setting; furthermore, he learned to code in a real-life setting, a crucial opportunity outside of school. Stewart’s internship at Faithlife also allowed him to learn from his coworkers, which provided additional perspective into the industry. Ultimately, his internship experience significantly increased his qualifications for obtaining a full-time job.
When asked what tips he would give to current freshmen and sophomore computer science students, Stewart recommends students devoting time to textbook reading in their major classes, as it can be tempting to read through the textbooks mindlessly. Reading reports may feel redundant, with some concepts being rather “dull” or “dry” for some, but Stewart suggests viewing reading assignments as not just as schoolwork, but as a useful hobby. Stewart also recommends that junior and senior students create a personal portfolio in addition to their GitHub and LinkedIn accounts to help set them apart. Above all, Stewart reminds students to remember to know their capacity and be mindful of how much workload they can handle.
If all these tips seem overwhelming, start with one. Whether you are searching for an internship, finishing your courses well, or picking up a new programming language, any of these steps will help you make significant progress in preparing for life after Biola. If you need additional support, take a look at these various ways to gain experience or schedule an appointment with a career specialist.