As a student, you might find it increasingly more difficult to do your own thing as a developer and juggle your full-time student requirements. I am definitely not the only person who is going through this stage of study, so I’ve put compiled a small list of things that can help you as a fellow student find the time to develop your own apps and software while still getting the first class grades you’re expecting from your university degree.
Go to lectures and take notes!
This one seems pretty self-explanatory but so many people don’t do it. Simply put, go to your lectures.
While you’re in your lectures, try to pay attention to what you’re being taught while taking down important notes. Don’t just copy what the lecturer has on the slides as most lecturers provide you with these at a later date.
When taking your notes, I find it best to hand write them without having any laptop out. This allows you to keep focused and not get distracted by the internet and video games. Don’t let other laptop users distract you with their gaming and internet browsing either. Try and find a quieter area, preferably near the front of the lecture theatre.
Schedule your work
This is one that I picked up from school when planning my exam revision but it applies here too. Plan your coursework in advance, read the specifications and split the work up into smaller, manageable chunks. Treat your work, in some ways, similar to a development project where you split your work down into user stories and tasks with associated effort to complete. Doing this will not only show you where your free time is but also give you experience in planning your work, something that you will be using in your future career.
This scheduling also works for your exams too. Creating a revision timetable and sticking to it will definitely help you focus. During exam periods, I find it easier to stay focused by putting your own projects to one side until the exams are out of the way.
Turn your coursework projects into personal projects
There is something great that you can take away from your programming coursework. You may be asked for one of your assignments to develop a game for PC. After you’ve completed the coursework and handed it in, why not take it a step further by adding new features.
Or why not port the game to Windows, Android and iOS, then publish it to their app stores. This way you’re showing off your work to the world and it’s a great way to kick start your portfolio. If your apps and games are great, you can even end up making yourself a little money on the side!
Get started with mobile development
If your university doesn’t teach it, it’s a great idea to get started developing apps and games for mobile devices. Phones and tablets are becoming an everyday essential and it’s very likely that you will be developing for one of the major platforms in the future.
If you’re a C# developer, you can start developing today for Windows Phone. If you’re a Java developer, Android is probably the best place to get started. If you’re learning C++ or another C based language, iOS may be an appropriate platform to build on your skills.
Following these steps has worked for me so far and I am hoping to finish my Computer Science with a first class degree.
If you are interested in developing for Microsoft platforms and are a student with a valid UK university (ac.uk) e-mail address, you can register with Microsoft Imagine for the latest software to get your started at imagine.microsoft.com.