FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Should you buy your textbooks?

Find a copy for a reasoanble price, and yes, purchase it. You will be more likely to actually read it if you have a copy (rather than trying to borrow a copy or something). If you are getting a CS degree you should want to learn the course content. Also, not everything you need to know is covered in lecture (there just isn't enough time), and it's up to you to fill in the gaps.

Positions in the department

We consider all CS students whenever we have an opening. The most important qualities we consider are how well you do in your courses (are you one of the top few students?), how responsible and hard-working you are, and how well you communicate and interact with others.

Finding information at ISU

Think of what the department might be called, and try going to ISU A to Z and searching using the browser's search option (ctrl-f). Also, see http://www.indstate.edu/services/express for undergrads, and http://www.indstate.edu/gradexpress grad students.

How to contact your professors

Check your professor's class schedule (see the schedule of classes linked off the department homepage). You can normally catch a professor just before or just after one of their classes, and then ask them when you could come to their office or how they prefer to be contacted. Once the semester starts office hours will be posted outside of each professor's door.

Why are you Here?

Ask yourself why you are paying ISU thousands of dollars for a degree? Presumably because you are interested in CS and also want to get a job in CS after graduating. This will only happen (getting a job in CS) if you take your courses seriously and put your full effort in. Weak students who do not do their best, or try to get others to to their work, have little success in securing good jobs after graduating.

Programming and Linux

Many professors (Exoo, Sternfeld, Baker, Kinne) require students to turn in assignments on the CS server. For these courses you will be given an account for the course, and will do all your programming assignments for the course on the CS server with your class account. To be counted as correct, in these courses your program must compile and run on the CS server. See the Getting Started page linked off the CS homepage for help in getting started on the CS machines.

Planning Ahead

You should begin to think about applying for jobs at least one year before you will do so. If you wait until you graduate to think about how to get a job after graduation, you will not be as successful. Some of our graduates have decided to complete an industry certification program (e.g., from Microsoft, Oracle, or Cisco) to increase their chances of getting a job after graduation; we have been told this can take about one year from when you begin.

For both on campus jobs and jobs after graduation, you wil benefit by doing well in your classes - (i) doing well better prepares you, (ii) having a higher GPA looks better to prospective employers, and (iii) your professors can give you good recommendation letters if you have done well in their classes. It really does pay off to do your best in your classes.

On Campus Jobs

You can view available on-campus jobs by visiting http://jobs.indstate.edu/ and clicking on the appropriate category for you. Make sure to check back regularly because jobs might not all be posted by the beginning of the semester. To apply for a position, you need to apply online; it will normally not do you any good to contact the department in person as well. Make sure to submit all documents that are asked for (e.g., resume, transcripts, cover letter). A cover letter should briefly explain your background and interests, and indicate enthusiasm for the position you are applying for. For the resume, you can find examples online to get ideas for the appropriate format and contents; as a general philosophy, you should be very positive about yourself, but do not ever lie (e.g., do not say you know Java if you do not). For additional help in writing your resume and cover letter, you can contact the Career Center or more senior CS students.

Note for new students. The application system asks you to list some number of references. You can list professors who you will have in class or the CS Program Director, but they will not be able to say much about you other than what they might know from your transcript. It is better to list a reference that knows you (possibly someone you had in previous studies or work). Once you have been in class long enough to have had some assignments or exams graded, the professors you have in class might able to give more support in a recommendation for you. And always check with someone before listing them as a reference.

Knocking on Doors

If you knock on a door and there is no answer, DO NOT try to open the door. This is considered to be very rude.

If you decide to be rude and try to open the door and find nobody is in the office, DO NOT go inside and start looking through things in the office. This is considered trespassing (a crime).

If you are around long enough and interact with enough people, you will see some strange things.