Why Practice Makes Perfect Isn't Just a Cliché

Practice Makes Perfect. Even though it might be a cliche, it's definitely not a joke. There really is no shortcuts or easy ways out to get something you want. The only way to get somewhere is to practice. Whether it's going after an internship you've been dreaming of for the past year or getting a score that meets up to your standards for a course you've been taking at school. Practicing helps you to catch your mistakes & give yourself constructive feedback as you go. Being real with yourself & knowing what you did wrong the first time around will help you to make sure not to make that mistake in the future when the next interview or exam rolls around.

There are plenty of resources out there for you to practice your skills, test yourself, and apply to the opportunities you are interested in. Opportunities are the doors you come across & one you're at it, the only way to get through is to practice. There is always an interview stage or the exam day that gets to the nerves of all of us. However, if we just keep practicing and taking our time to realize what has been alleviating us from going past this door, the next time another door comes along, we'll be able to get through. Here are a few resources which I'd recommend that helped me:

School/Courses Advice:

○ Planners & Agendas are a great way to set your goals, manage time well, and stay on track of your coursework! I would highly recommend getting one at the start of the school year - I personally love the Day Designer Planners (https://daydesigner.com/)!

○ Utilize the Weekends to get ahead on course material & practice, practice, practice!

○ Attend class & listen closely to the professor - how do you expect to learn and earn a good grade if you don't attend lectures? Also, I would highly recommend attending office hours if you have any questions regarding the content covered in the course

○ Attend Career Fairs & follow-up with recruiters and representatives over email or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com) to let them know you care & are determined in your job/internship search, keep reminding them if they don't follow-up & if they don't respond or you receive a rejection email from a job/internship you apply to, attend the next career fair & repeat!

Technical Internship Resources:

○ Practice-It provides plenty of practice problems for CS students (https://practiceit.cs.washington.edu/)

○ Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/) contains plenty of online courses if YouTube videos don't work out! - I know my sister uses this to make sure she covers all coding topics

○ Grace Hopper Celebration (https://ghc.anitab.org/) is a conference which occurs annually aimed to help aspiring female programmers find jobs & internships! I would highly encourage students to attend the conference!

○ YouTube videos are extremely helpful to walk through the process of solving coding questions one of my favorite channels is definitely Lucid Programming (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFxcvyt2Ucq5IL0_1Njzqlg), his questions are great for coding in Python & practicing technical interview questions!

Personally, from the perspective of a student, I can tell you that starting your search early & creating these habits will really benefit you in the long run! At the beginning of this school year/end of summer, I had no experience in technical interviews or knew how to start. However, I took every opportunity which came to me & did technical interviews and some more practice on the side. I gradually improved on my elevator speech & my thought process during interviews came more naturally where I didn't have long pauses of time to think. I thought out loud & helped my interviewer to understand how I thought through the process while solving the technical question. 

Each time I failed or didn't meet my interviewer's expectations, I'd ask for their feedback or how I can improve. These questions, constructive criticism, & tips of advice helped me to improve on my next one. On the next one, I'd fail again but I took it in and kept going. I can't stress more that the key is to keep going & practice. It will come one day - maybe not today or tomorrow but it will if you work hard at it!

Last week, I landed an offer to intern as a Software Engineer Intern for the summer at Cisco Headquarters in San Jose, California & it felt great receiving that offer letter. At that moment, I thought to myself "hard work really does pay off" and practicing was really what helped me to get to the place I am at today.

I still remember in my Cisco Networking Academy class at high school, our entire class took the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Exam at the end of the school year and only one person in our class passed the exam. It wasn't me but I was two points to passing the exam after intense weeks of studying. I was devastated but right where I was just about to throw away all of my effort & time to studying for the exam in the garbage, my Cisco teacher pulled me in his office and gave me a paper telling me to retake the Exam in a month. I studied during the beginning of summer & sacrificed one of my Saturdays during my summer break to take the CCNA Exam one more time and I passed. I couldn't be happier that day the fact that my hard work paid off & I earned my CCNA Certification, making my Cisco teachers proud! 

It is also really important to be appreciative of not only these opportunities coming to you but also be appreciative and thankful for the people in your life you have encountered and supported you along the way. I contacted my Cisco teachers of my internship offer with Cisco and they can't be more happy of my success - it has been really a rollercoaster ride going through everything that came in my way ever since the beginning of the school year. Really taking those opportunities that come to you & going for them can make a difference - in the long run. If things don't go right the first way around, change your approach & go at it again - I promise you will succeed but only if you keep going!

After all, there really is no one else hindering your process in succeeding—it is about what you are going to do about it and if you are willing to practice or not. A rejection or a bad exam score is not the place to give up, but instead the place to identify what you did wrong, change that, and continuing to build yourself with practice—because practice makes perfect!