It's all about teamwork and community
“Software Engineering is an amazing community at UNSW. There’s a big encouragement to work in teams, and even in lectures they treat you as a participant in the learning process. We have access to mentors, lecturers have drop-in hours and there are numerous Facebook groups and forums of students helping each other out on projects. Getting different perspectives on doing things is so valuable.” - Ofir Zeevi
Ofir Zeevi chose programming as an elective in Year 9 and hasn’t looked back since. “I loved the fact there was problem solving and math, which were my strengths in high school. I won a bunch of prizes for my work in programming throughout Years 10-12 and it seemed like the most obvious choice to pursue at uni.”
Now in his second year at UNSW, he is “absolutely loving” his Software Engineering degree. “It’s really fast-paced and I’ve realised how much more knowledge I’m absorbing as opposed to high school. It’s not just what I’m being taught, it’s also the encouragement from lecturers and other students to go out and research things for myself.”
He says a perfect example of this are the project-based workshops that supplement the weekly lectures. “In one or two hours a week of lectures, they can’t really teach us all the technical knowledge we need, so they teach us how to work as a team, how to discuss a project and how to figure out ourselves what needs to be done.”
With the team focused on a specific project, Ofir says the technical skills just come of their own accord. “Teaching us technical knowledge or syntax or anything else that you can just find online isn’t really valuable,” he says. “It’s the focus on helping us learn the skills of self-enquiry that adds a lot to this degree and makes it so useful,” he explains, adding that in a recent internship at the Commonwealth Bank he found the true relevance of this type of learning.
“When I got to the workplace, I found they were using the same sorts of diagrams and working in a team in the exact same way that we had been taught to work in. It was a lot more relevant than I was expecting.”
To someone considering Software Engineering at UNSW, Ofir says that if you enjoy solving problems which don’t really have solutions then engineering is definitely the right degree, and software engineering is probably one of the most rewarding because it’s a lot more tangible. “Once you’ve got some basic skills you can quickly see results,” but he also says his main advice would be to immerse yourself in campus life where the opportunities are almost limitless.
“Definitely get involved with societies and work on your skills outside of the degree,” he says. “I’m involved in the Jewish community on campus, which links me into my cultural and religious background, and I’m also Social Head of the Computer Science Engineering Society (CSEsoc). This in particular has added to my uni experience. It’s improved me as an engineer because I’m applying my problem-solving skills more broadly. I’ve had to challenge myself in the space of performance and communication, but I’m now comfortable to get up on stage and make jokes, and I know how to organise events. We have lines going all the way across campus every week for our barbecues! It’s been so good to just socialise and study with great friends and really develop myself as a person, whilst also being part of a community that really means something to me.”
Ofir says his future plans are still wide open. Further study is appealing but he is also interested in joining a big company with the plan of learning as much as he can about business, teamwork and technical know-how, before branching off to work for a start-up, or perhaps even starting his own.