Reflection of Fall ’13

It’s been awhile since I have been home for the holidays for more than a week. To be exact, I’m be home for 2.5 weeks. I had plans to go on a trip to Japan and South Korea, but my friend bailed on me due to lack of funds. We then planned to do a Montreal trip, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen either since my mom lined me up for a bunch of appointments. My eyesight has been particularly unstable in these past few weeks (sometimes I feel like I can’t ever get Lasik because I work in front of a laptop 24/7).

I’ve spent most of my break so far catching up with high school friends (our annual Secret Santa), watching movies and dramas, and cleaning/organizing my belongings at home. You really end up with a ton of clutter after living on and off every 4 months. You can’t bring everything with you when you move far away, and you always end up bringing more when you come back. I also started doing this thing where I keep all my receipts or significant cool pamphlets I get every term in separate folders. These folders were getting really unorganized in the past couple terms due to lack of time (because when I do have the time, I’d rather be doing other things).

More specifically, I’ve accumulated a huge wardrobe. I’m not even high on the shopaholic standards. I just buy clothing when I feel like I need it, based on my current wardrobe. The problem with this is that I only have a partial wardrobe at all times (when I’m living off campus or renting a place for co-op). This makes it difficult for me to remember whether I already had a ton of white tops, for example. Now it isn’t as bad for school terms, but it really sucks for co-op terms in the States. I am way, way more limited in the partial wardrobe I can bring. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to fit all the clothing I want to bring for next term.

Speaking of next term – I’ll be in SF again, work term #5 at Rdio. I had a tough time deciding where to go because (if you didn’t read my last blog post) I really wanted to return to FB (or specifically Instagram). I originally decided that I would be happier to return for the Fall (of 2014) instead of the Winter as there will be potentially more returning interns (or new grads) that I already know. I also didn’t really want to be in the Peninsula again for Winter as I prefer SF, and I didn’t want to do a long commute either (FB gives housing to interns or a stipend if you want to live in SF). I almost slightly regret choosing Rdio even now, simply because I really miss my coworkers back at IG. They were extremely hard-working, fun people to be with 8 hours a day. I wasn’t able to properly appreciate and thank them due to a family member passing away around the end of my internship. Thinking back, I really appreciated the experience and the opportunity to meet awesomely talented people.

It was a really strange part of my life because I was extremely happy with everything, but knew it wouldn’t be able to last. Facebook spoils their interns. So hard. It was such a huge jump when I went back to Taiwan to visit family immediately after. I was sucked into the tech bubble of SF Bay Area, almost forgetting what it was like to be elsewhere. It’s a great place to be if you enjoy being around people who are always innovative and willing to try new things, for sure.

So what have I been up to this fall term? As you can tell, I haven’t had much time to write up a decent blog post. I actually have a ton of half written posts that just never made it because I lost my momentum. Or the topic didn’t seem very interesting or relevant so I gave up. Or I just felt that my posts were unworthy because they are always walls of text. If you really want to keep up with my life, check out my Twitter or Instagram profiles. They have much more activity than this blog. I admit that I’m used to talking in < 140 chars at a time, and writing up long posts (and taking the time to edit them) is something I don’t have the patience for. Apologies for the lack of activity, but I’m hoping to write a few more times in the next few weeks.

This term was one of my favourite school terms. It was another 6-course term, but surprisingly, 2 of our required courses (SE 390, SE 463) had very little workload. And I even took a bird elective course (SCI 238). To top it off, two of the other courses had only 3 assignments in total (CS 348, CS 458), so really, the only tough course I had was CS 343 (and even then, I got a great final mark).

It was the first school term I had free time – a LOT of free time. I remember having no assignments due for two weeks in November. It was nice and relaxing, but after 2 days of inactivity, I got a bit restless. Normally I would be engaging in extracurriculars in times of boredom (at least back in high school), but I haven’t had time for extracurriculars much throughout my undergrad. The life of an engineer means it’s tough to take on commitments like weekly club meetings. I usually leave extracurriculars to co-op terms.

I decided to use the time to ponder about life and catch up with friends I don’t normally see. As an engineer, you will spend hours and hours with your classmates. You live on basically the same schedule, but you will barely see those outside of your program. Is it weird that I’m talking about this? I guess it’s become progressively more difficult to make new friends so I decided to keep up with old friends – but really, everyone’s still quite busy during school terms. And people are lazy. If it’s one thing I learned – don’t be lazy if people ask you to catch up through dinner especially if you have the time for it. I did it once this term to one of my friends and I kind of regret it – because they are graduating next year and I probably won’t see them again.

Yes, that’s another thing. I met a ton of amazing people this year. Without really realizing it, a huge percentage of them (and other old friends) will be graduating in 2014 but I won’t be able to see them next term since I’ll be in SF. So it was essentially my last opportunity to hang out. It’s saddening because I don’t actually know a lot of people younger than me, so it will be a huge change in my next school term. That’s the problem with Waterloo – I lose contact with people very easily due to on-and-off co-op. And that’s what got me to keep up with everyone.

For some reason, when I’m at work, I get a good amount of random FB messages from people. And also, in the middle of the night, friends will randomly message me, thinking I’m still online when I actually am not (silly FB not reporting the correct status). Anyways, I would spend most of my time giving short replies and answering questions but not really continuing the conversation. I just never really had time for that. In the summer especially, I wanted to maximize the amount of time I was socializing offline. It became really important to me because most people suck at online communication. You will never know if the other person is just bored and wanting to actually chat, or if they have a specific motive behind saying hi to you.

So I wanted to do that this term. Maximize the amount of offline socializing. The thing is, there isn’t a lot to do in Waterloo. My interests lie in nightlife, and a good bulk of my friends aren’t into that. Normally, in SF, there would be many options – pool, shopping, exploring, tons of awesome restaurants, and to top it off – great weather so everyone is willing to go out.

I’m just venting now, but I really thought I was facing a quarter life crisis at one point this term. I realized that I didn’t need to give it my all to still obtain an amazing term average (so far, the marks getting posted have been above my expectations). I think I’ve gotten used to having only 2 days to study for a final exam.

That’s it for now.. I’ll have a separate blog post up soon regarding my coursework review for this term, and perhaps generalize it for choosing CS electives.

Hope everyone’s having a great holidays!


4 thoughts on “Reflection of Fall ’13

    • To land a co-op job at Facebook, you first need to land the interview. This is about pumping up your resume because they obviously get thousands of applicants. Next, it’s about preparation and practice for technical interviews, which is a whole other topic.

      The TLDR version is that I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration conference in 2012 upon receiving Facebook’s scholarship for the conference. I’m not sure about this year and future years, but during that year, they gave every scholarship recipient a chance to interview for an FB internship. I did well on the interview process, and received my offer within a couple days.

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I was wondering about the research opportunities for software engineering students at Waterloo. Are there any positions for software engineers as research assistants in the classroom or during the coop term? Does this count for coop?

    Also, I’m not sure if you already covered this in your blog but what was your software experience before entering the program? What type of experience would you recommend to get before entering first year?

    Also, how did you land your coop job at Facebook? Do they looked at open-source projects etc that you make yourself? Did you have any work experience before going in?

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer all my questions!

    • Hello there! The majority of co-op opportunities will be industry, but there are a handful of research positions that are usually found through your professors. I have heard of people doing research during school terms as well, but those would not count for co-op since you need to do them during a co-op term.

      I recently started migrating my blog over here, and here is the post that covers my experience before entering the program.

      I recommend doing side projects (i.e. web or mobile applications) as it will help for admissions (unless you’ve already been accepted), and it will definitely help for your resume when you start applying for co-op jobs.

      I answered your first question about my Facebook job in the previous comment for this post, so I’ll just copy/paste it here:

      The TLDR version is that I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration conference in 2012 upon receiving Facebook’s scholarship for the conference. I’m not sure about this year and future years, but during that year, they gave every scholarship recipient a chance to interview for an FB internship. I did well on the interview process, and received my offer within a couple days.

      Yes, they look at open-source projects (side projects I was talking about earlier!) I applied when I only had 2 co-op terms in.

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