UPE

This quarter I was invited to join the CS honors society at UCLA, Upsilon Pi Epsilon. I joined HKN last quarter and it’s a pretty similar process. Just go to a couple of events that they host and attend the induction. Unlike HKN, the induction process for UPE is a lot less social. At HKN we were put into houses and the house with the most points would get prizes at the end and it promoted a spirit of camaraderie. However, at UPE, you basically just show up to events, sign in, and leave. The events were interesting (Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter) and the workshops were helpful.

We had our induction dinner at Yamato and that’s where I was able to meet and talk with the fellow candidates and current UPE officers. I know a few of them from classes so it was cool catching up with them and meeting new people. Professor Smallberg and Reinman were there too. They shared some stories of stupid things their students have done. But in general, CS table talk is really interesting…

Robotics

Early in the quarter, Tim asked me if I wanted to join the robotics club. I decided to check it out since I had some free time in my schedule and wanted some more hands on experience with electronics. Seriously, UCLA doesn’t give you much hands on experience. In the labs, you build really simple circuits, perform some trivial measurements, and spend hours writing up a report. But in robotics, I was able to mess around with the Arduino, go through some of the online tutorials, and program it to do some interesting things. We were working with circuits that were a lot more complex than what is in the curriculum.

However, the club is very disorganized and poorly run in my opinion. A lot of the people in the club are new to robotics (like myself) and really have no understanding of the fundamentals. So when we were split up into our different projects, we basically have to teach ourselves how to do everything by reading online tutorials. A lot of the people got really frustrated because we were all kind of expecting that one of the experienced people would help us out a lot more than they did.

I’m in the RoboMagellan project with Tim and three or four other people. One of the experienced people in the group, Garrett, really seems to LOVE robotics. It’s kind of crazy because apparently he didn’t show up to his final exam for one of his classes last quarter, but he seems like such a genius in robotics club. So he’s been leading the project, coming into the lab a lot, and doing the majority of the work. Fall quarter we focused on going through a lot of tutorials and getting familiar with the microcontroller and operating system the robot will use. Winter quarter is when we’ll actually be putting the robot together and preparing it for the competition in the Spring. I don’t know how active I’ll be in the club in the Winter. I had to stop going to the Monday meetings in the Fall because they conflicted with IBS.

Interviews

As a senior, I started to look ahead to what I would do after graduation. As of right now, I feel that God is calling me into the working world. I would like to find work around the LA area and help out with the ministry but we’ll see how that goes. Anyways, this is the first year I went to the career fairs with the intention of actually talking with the recruiters and not just grabbing free swag. Tim kept encouraging me a lot, telling me to get practice by approaching companies I wasn’t even interested in. At first it was kind of weird approaching these recruiters and having mini-interviews, but once I’m in the groove, it’s not too bad.

I went to both career fairs during fall quarter and was invited to some phone interviews by Laserfiche, Epic, Lattice, OxygenCloud, and Oblong. I made some mistakes, but it’s all part of the learning process. I passed the phone screens for Laserfiche and Epic but decided to not pursue employment at Epic anymore since they were all the way in Wisconsin. I wasn’t willing to move 😛 OxygenCloud never called me either 😦

During the winter break I had an onsite interview with Laserfiche. The interview was pretty nerve-racking and the engineers I met with were pretty reserved and critical so it was kind of intimidating. But I tried my best to answer the questions they threw at me. When I walked out of the interview, I wish I could have done better but all I can do is wait and hope. I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

During the break I also had a phone interview with Qualcomm. I passed the screen and they have invited me down for an onsite interview in San Diego. We are still figuring out dates for the interview.

Overall, a good learning experience so far. This process has taught me not to dwell on my failures or rejections but to keep moving forward. I plan to continue to go to career fairs in the winter and check out more companies. But I want to remember to pray and seek for God’s plan for my life. He may end up calling me away from the workplace, and I have to be open to that. I don’t want to become so focused on looking for a job, while shutting God out of the picture.

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