Don't Work Alone
One of the tips I have to share to my fellow students is to not work alone, especially outside of collaborating on homework solutions. The myth of the lone programmer or engineer slaving away in his basement is something that is vastly exaggerated in popular culture.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the curriculum for most Universities adequately addresses this issues; there is a reason why most students hate group projects. It’s a real shame that this happens, since creating any system today requires large amounts of collaboration and communication between people. And if the students that are getting pushed through school are adverse to collaboration, how do we expect them to properly work once they enter the workforce?
For any engineering or computer science student looking to develop him or herself, I offer the following advice: get yourself out there. Meet people and talk to them about technical things. The horrible feeling you get from group assignments is just the way it’s going to be sometimes. You’re mixed in with people from various backgrounds, and often times your university does not provide enough mentorship to help alleviate this issue.
The best thing I did for my academic career was getting out there, talking to and working with other people. If you need to, take your search outside of your campus - I joined up with the local hackerspace in my area, HI Capacity.
Don’t forget that when you’re doing real professional work, you’ll need to interact with and collaborate with people daily - it’s never too early to start. I used to be a little more adverse to this, but after practicing this for a bit, I found that I make faster learning gains when I have people to talk to things about! In the end it’s not only good for your professional development, it’s also important for your technical development as well.