People ask a question, “What’s computer science?” And I tell ‘em, it’s not about sitting in a basement working on some obscure code. Oh no. There’s a lot more than that, my friend. We all like a bit of the good life: some the money, some the expertise, others the sense of accomplishment, the glamour, or the fame. But a computer scientist - oh, he’s different. Why? Because a real computer scientist wants (and can get) the whole lot.
This is a riff on the intro to a Guy Ritchie film, but if there was one way to tell people about the potential of a computing education anywhere (in college or out), it ought to go something like that. If you had asked me four years ago what my dreams were, you would have gotten a vague pie in the sky estimate about writing a novel to change the world, all that jazz. Such were the green(er) days of high school, and sadly, days when I (and many others, even up to the present) was not exposed enough to things that both were interesting to me and good to concretely plan around (to give a context, my favorite films of the time included Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla and Public Enemies).
Four years ago, there was no plan. Now, somewhat wiser, I wish somebody had sold me the field like I just did. The world offers no easy solutions, and a desire without a plan does not a solution make. Knowing what I know now, though, would have helped me a lot four years ago.
This was my impetus to help out at the career fair at West Leyden High School in Northlake: my professor Dr. Greenberg was managing a booth there for Loyola/Illinois Computes, and I and three other student volunteers came along to help out. To the best of our abilities, we represented Loyola and the CS field at large. I worked on the other side of the booth on the fair floor, giving a short sell on what CS could mean to students and to the world before giving info handouts and directing them to the booth.
- one can only talk to one group at a time, and still only address directly one person in that group (but one can still hand out the sheet to each person)
- there would be the hard sell: i.e., the person who “barely knows how to turn a computer on,” or the mechanic - what we’re here to do is show computer science’s influence on their chosen fields and the world at large (one can simply mention Twitter or Facebook)
- One can never have too many handouts