Applying for universities,Visa, flight tickets, packing, finding room mates, selecting courses. And we thought we are free after appearing for GRE. The list doesn’t even end here. The list goes on with 1st semester, internship applications, 2nd semester, looking for internship, getting jealous of people who have already got internships, work on summer internship, 3rd semester, look for full-time jobs, getting jealous of who have already got fat salary offers, join company, getting jealous of who have already got girl friends, H1…the list goes on! Here is a guide which would be useful to help you in USC. Though I am not a stud who has Apple/Google in hand, I have tried to see experiences of people who come here and achieve great things. This is from a perspective of a CS grad in USC, though can be applied to other grad programs.
First Semester: Miss home. Start networking with people who are already employed. And start slogging. Target for a perfect 4.0 score. (I wish I was a 4 pointer). It DOES matter. Rather only 4.0 matters. (no 3.95, 3.99. All scores from 3.5-3.99 are considered at same level). This is because when you apply for internships in winter holidays, you have 4.0 to show if not anything else. It is more than enough to get you a call. Take courses which are coding intensive and algorithmic. It helps in interviews.
Winter Holidays – How to prepare for interviews: Geeksforgeeks.org; careercup.com; topcoder; and leetcode.com. (No shitting around)
Second Semester: People with whom you have networked in first semester, contact them and ask them to refer you in their respective companies. Its the best way to get a call. Generally first interview is a telephonic interview. Prepare well for that. Be prepared to get a lot of rejects and don’t get disheartened by them. Learn from them and apply rectifications in your next interview. Do go to each and every career fair. In first semester, do collect goodies while giving back your resume at every stall. Take a big back-pack along.
Even if you have got an internship, keep on giving interviews. The interview experience is priceless as you would talk to very different people each time. Don’t judge the company or a profile before you get an offer. Interview with them, get an offer and then decide whether you wanna go for it or not.
Summer: Work a lot at company during your internship. Convert it into full time. Save money for next semester’s fees.
Third Semester: Get a full time offer where you interned, chill out. If not, look for full time jobs.
Fourth Semester: If already have an offer, do a full time internship else do a part time and look for full time jobs.
Courses: Here are some of really good courses, which I know, at USC. This is not a comprehensive list, though.
- CS 402, OS
- EE 450, networking under Prof. Zahid
- CS 571, Web Tech, under Prof. Horowitz
- CS 551 (all profs are good, depends on you which one to select, I took under Prof. Cheng, awesome project)
- CS 570, Algorithm under Prof Cote
- CS 530, Security under Prof Neuman(He worked on Kerberos, superb prof)
- CS 571, under Prof Crowley (takes in summer normally)
- CS 558L, Distributed lab (awesome if you are going in networking)
- CS 561, under Prof Itti
- CS 503, Parallel Programming
- CS 565, Compiler Design
- CS 652, Wireless
You can skip taking CS 450 (which is a pre-req for many courses) and take its placement test, instead. The test is easy to crack if you have watched all lectures of Prof Zahid’s EE 450.
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