Monday, February 6, 2023

Nicole Wong: ServiceNow Scholar

UC San Diego undergraduate computer science student Nicole Wong is one of the inaugural recipients of the ServiceNow Scholarship. In this Q&A, she shares what excites her about computer science, and what she hopes to do in the future. Learn more about the inaugural cohort of ServiceNow Scholars here. 

1)Why did you decide to study computer science?

I think what attracted me the most to computer science was the creative potential of programming. When I first became involved with— well, basically anything to do with code, it was because of video games. I wanted to figure out how everything worked, how you could translate words on a screen into graphics and action and a compelling story. It was really that storytelling aspect that drew me in, being part of this massive project that had the potential to evoke really powerful emotions, or maybe just bringing players satisfaction from well-designed and implemented game mechanics. That player/user-centric design is also kind of what's fueling my career aspirations right now. If not game development, I'd love to work in software development or operating system development and help create a piece of software that's able to improve user experiences and give them useful options for functionality.

2) Have you been involved in any groups on campus that have been particularly meaningful or beneficial to you?

This is going to come a little out of the blue but one group that's meant a bunch to me in my time on campus is UCSD Wushu. I remember being super relieved when I found out that there was a wushu club at UCSD, since kung fu has been such a major part of my life for so many years. Every group that I've been in has had such a strong sense of community because of the discipline and teamwork inherent to practicing a martial art (everyone endures the same physical struggles and takes opportunities to learn from each other, whether it be forms or things outside of wushu). The people in this organization haven't been any different; they're super friendly and welcome beginners with open arms, and it really helps you feel connected to both the instructors and the other students.

3) Any idea what you'd like to do with your CS degree in the future?

I mentioned this a little earlier but I'd love to pursue either game development or software/operating system development because of my passion for the creative potential and user experience aspects of CS. With game development, my goal isn't necessarily to work in a AAA studio, but just to be able to work on something that can create some sort of community for people to interact in, and maybe share their own creations as well. As for software/OS development, my interest in it is fairly new so I'm not sure what specific path I want to take, but I do know that digging into how applications and computers work is fascinating. Hopefully, getting that degree will help me learn more about these topics!

4) Any advice to students interested in studying CS?

My main piece of advice, not just for CS majors but anyone who's interested in CS even moderately, would be to just find resources and start programming. To learn code, you don't need cutting-edge tech or 1000 IQ points; find an online tutorial (there are plenty of free ones on Youtube and paid bootcamps/online courses that routinely go for sale) or pick up a "How To Program in (Language) For Dummies" book at your local library and teach yourself. Search up what the easiest languages are and start from there, and don't be afraid to use the internet. Forums and online documentation are your best friends because they teach you what the square peg is and what hole it goes into. They're also easy access to experts who might not be available to you without formal education; just make sure to take whatever advice you get on the Internet with a grain of salt. If it's available though, I still recommend taking some CS classes. Having professors and TAs available is still an invaluable resource, and while online communities are good for getting advice, nothing is better than advice from someone you know you can trust who also has experience in education. Plus, courses and structured curricula teach you what online how-tos may not teach, like how to think, or certain theories and topics that are hard to find online unless you know exactly what you're looking for.

5) How does it feel to be named a ServiceNow Scholar?

It still blows my mind sometimes. When I was applying for the program that led to this scholarship, I didn't think I was going to qualify for anything. I guess the moral of the story is that you never know if you don't try, so keep on trying!


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