Students Benefit from Mentors, Too!

A few weeks ago we blogged about the importance of mentorship for programmers, with our focus mainly on how professional programmers can find and cultivate mentor relationships. This week we’re taking a look at how students—who aren’t yet in a professional environment—can find mentors and reap similar benefits.

University students, both graduate and undergraduate, have a lot going on. Undergraduates are probably taking several different subjects, from computer science to English to history, making it difficult to focus on a single class or skillset. Graduate students have an opposite problem: they may be so focused on a particular problem that they rarely come up for air! In both cases it can be difficult to find mentors and the time to build the relationship, but fortunately many campuses offer help. Computer science departments and student leaders recognize that having support and help in technical pursuits builds camaraderie and improves performance, so computer science student associations and social groups are popping up everywhere!

Right here in Bloomington, the IU School of Informatics and Computing is host to several student computing organizations, including the Informatics and Computing Student Association, Women in Informatics and Computing, BUILT, and the IU Computer Science Club. I think the Computer Science club says it best:

“We are dedicated to bringing together SoIC students and computer science enthusiasts for the fun, hands-on parts of CS: tutorials, pizza, research, advising, networking, hackathons, talent shows, competitions, games, and various shenanigans. All this is done in the spirit of inclusivity, bringing together seniors and first-years, grad students and undergrads, students and faculty.”

A member of another computer science student organization put it this way: “We want to encourage students to be passionate about programming and have fun at the same time. Our community helps everyone connect and de-stress. We learn together and help each other out.” Working together in a relaxed environment helps students learn better and make discoveries they might not otherwise have made. Beyond IU, there are computer science groups at many universities, including UC Berkeley, MIT, CMU, UW-Madison, CU Boulder, and just about anywhere with a CS department.

As a student, do you participate in any similar groups? If you’re an alum, did you participate while in school? Let us know in the comments, or give us a shout on Twitter!

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