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Computer Science at University of Cambridge

by Chetna Vasishth

This article is the transcript of a video interview with Neel Satra who is a full scholarship holder, B.S and M.S in Computer Science from University of Cambridge who talks of the Google and Microsoft interview process, Cambridge Interview Process, Job vs. start up, Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering, one thing he would have done differently and much more.

Neil Satra talks of the following salient points during the first part

1. Job vs. Start Up for Computer Science Majors

  1. These decisions are not easy and you can’t go wrong with either choice
  2. He thinks that early in his career he has the least to lose, and he can try out a start-up, work on interesting problems
  3. Some benefits of a software development job – you can work with Google and impact a large number of people
  4. Internships are the most valuable to spend three months trying out different things
  5. Internships can be used to close some doors
  6. Comp Science students sometimes get into big banks but it is good to rule it out early

2. Google Interview Process

  1. Google interview process can be layered and complicated
  2. Google selection process can be subjective and they are eliminating candidates
  3. Campus recruitments were the starting point, career fairs
  4. Engineering talks at colleges are meaningful
  5. Find out which company you would fit into in a cultural sense
  6. Try to be the dumbest person in the room
  7. Try to apply to a few specific roles in specific companies and focus on getting to know, speak to as many people as possible
  8. There are a few good books
  9. Referrals are a good way to get your foot in
  10. Product development roles or product management interviews
  11. On site vs off site interviews are available
  12. Google, Microsoft interviews are discussed

3. Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

  1. Computer Science is the keyword and you move through the process faster
  2. For computer engineering and information systems you may be put through another filter
  3. Most people working in this field would have gone through Comp Sci (cs)
  4. Google spreadsheet – says look for specific projects and specific modules

4. Interview Process at Cambridge

  1. Interviews at American Universities vs. UK Universities
  2. Cambridge Interviews are Mathematical
  3. The Oxford and Cambridge interview reflects how you think through problems
  4. The interviewer pushes you till the edge

5. Early Interest in computer science

  1. He had a passion to study computer science and engineering from a very early age. This passion translated into a cs major at Cambridge University and a career in computer science
  2. Comp Science has mathematical skills, if you enjoy mathematical puzzles, if you ae analytical and self-motivated. You don’t need to have studied CS at school. Usually students have done some programming.
  3. Computer Science is highly focused on Math and the abstraction of that logic

6. University of Cambridge Experience

  1. He recommends study abroad since it gives you a new cultural perspective
  2. Living and learning, being independent in a new culture expands your horizons
  3. Cambridge is a beautiful town which has the best of both worlds
  4. He cycles to college and labs every day
  5. Studying abroad builds confidence
  6. Cambridge is surrounded by nature and beautiful cathedrals

7. US vs. UK

  1. His choices were Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkeley and Cambridge
  2. The scholarship helped him decide in favour of studying in UK
  3. The computer science course allowed him to take a minor in psychology and do a little Economics as well, some law and business advice was also included
  4. Flexibility on the Comp Sci course in UK can be limited overall
  5. The Comp Sci classes had some mandatory components and he feels that this helped him understand the basics of a large number of courses
  6. He wanted to do software and machine learning largely
  7. The UK system forced him to learn the fundamentals in the computer science department

8. Visas

  1. The UK Visa expires within a few months of the course getting over
  2. Visa regulations have been getting tightened, largely for the masses
  3. Students from top universities will always get jobs, lot of jobs and there are few good universities
  4. Being in the US implies working with a large company
  5. UK allows a start-up visa if your university signs up your business plan
  6. Larger tech companies based in the US are recruiting from UK and Europe since they are reaching their limit of recruitment in the US
  7. Gates Center of Microsoft recruits off the campus itself
  8. 3-5 companies apply to advertise at the career fair for every cs student and each company offers multiple jobs
  9. Comp Sci students should not have a job issue in UK

9. Start-ups in Europe

  1. UK is encouraging start-ups.
  2. Europe is bringing in private investors to back the start-ups
  3. Private investors are derisked
  4. There are low hanging fruit and big problems to solve in Europe

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