How to Stay Productive During Quarantine

From the title of this article, you might be wondering: why would I want to be productive during a time like this? Although it feels like what’s going on will never end, that couldn’t be further from the truth. At some point, things will return back to normal–classes will resume, friends will reunite, and some of us will even return back to find exciting internships and jobs. It may feel like that’s ages from now, but it will happen, and when it does you might want to be prepared. Being productive is hard, however, when you find ways to be productive that are also fun, it becomes a tad bit easier. So, to spare you the trouble of figuring out what those ways might be, here is a list of some fun (yet beneficial) ways to stay productive during quarantine.

1. Virtual Hackathons

Robot Typing

 

 

One way to stay productive is to attend a virtual hackathon. Although many of us may be more familiar with attending in-person hackathons, it doesn’t hurt to attend a virtual one. Plus with everything going on, a virtual hackathon is definitely much safer to attend. Not only are you doing your part by social distancing, but you’re also doing yourself a favor by putting in valuable coding time. Don’t let your skills get rusty. Take part in something that will build the skills you already have. There are plenty of virtual hackathons to attend, so look into one that might fit you!

2. Coding Activities

Girl Pretending To Type

 

This next idea is more of a group effort. If you’re stuck at home with any younger, female-identifying family members who also have an interest in technology, you should try introducing them to Girls Who Code, which is a program that encourages young girls to pursue any potential interest they may have in technology. With the gender gap in this field gradually increasing, it is not only important for us to provide girls with the resources they need, but it is also important that we make them feel welcomed. If you have any time to spare, you can also sit down with your sister, cousin, etc., and walk them through some weekly Girls Who Code At Home Activities. That way you get to help them expand their knowledge while also spending time with them and learning a little bit more yourself.

3. Revamp Your Resume

Girl At Job Interview

Despite everything that’s going on, once life returns back to some level of normalcy, we all have internships and jobs to look forward to. That’s why one of the best uses of any free time you have now could be used towards tweaking your resume. Thankfully, there are ways to make that process easier. One of the first steps is to book an appointment for a resume workshop on Handshake. All you need to do is log in with your Pace credentials, click the Career Center tab, and go into Appointments. Another thing you can also do is work on your resume using the Resume and Cover Letter Guidebook before your appointment. Doing so will save you a lot of time and help you complete your resume much faster. Also, please note that in order to apply for internships or jobs through Handshake with Pace, your resume has to be completed and approved by Career Services.

4. Look Into Potential Internships

Character Saying I Got The Job

After your resume is completed and approved, you can start looking into internships on Handshake. Using the website or the app, you can search for internships based on your major and internships based on location. Also, Handshake will show you the employer’s hiring preferences and whether or not your major, year level, or experience matches what they’re looking for.

5. Work On A Project That Interests You

Woman Lowering Her Glasses

Whether it be an app, a website, or a computer, work on a project that interests you. It can be something that you’re excited to do but also sharpens your technical skills. Being productive and staying motivated are less strenuous when you’re doing something you absolutely enjoy. With all this free time available, you can finally get started on that project you’ve been thinking about. If you don’t have a project idea, think of something you’re passionate about. For instance, if you’re unhappy about something that’s currently going on, maybe you could think of an idea that has the potential to help others. It could be a big and elaborate idea, or it can be small, simple, and to the point. Whatever your idea may be, go for it!

6. Attend A Club Meeting (via Zoom)

Fictional Business Meeting

If you’re a member of any Seidenberg clubs or genuinely interested in becoming a member, you can officially attend a club meeting using Zoom. Also, Pace Women In Tech, PCS, Seidenberg Tech Collective, and the Pace Cybersecurity Club are all really active – they are sharing events on social media, Discord, and email!

7. Relax

Woman At A Spa

Yes, being productive is important, however, productivity is nothing without peace of mind. If you’re too tired or stressed to be productive, then chances are your work will reflect that. Have a spa day, do some face masks, watch a movie, FaceTime friends, etc. Do what you have to do in order to recenter your mind, body, and soul.

During this unprecedented time, the Seidenberg School of CSIS would like to thank those working on the frontlines to protect the wellbeing of others and we’d also like to send our condolences to families who have lost any loved ones to this outbreak. It is important that during this time we look out and care for one another. For any students struggling to cope with what’s currently going on, here is a link to some tips and resources that you may find helpful.

 

 

Pace Professor Miguel Mosteiro Gets Work Published in the JACM

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems is proud to announce that the work of one of our very own community members, Associate Professor Miguel Mosteiro (as seen on the far left), has been accepted by the Journal of ACM for publication. The ACM, or the Association for Computing Machinery, is an organization that “brings together computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges.” Through the ACM, members of the computing community are constantly encouraged to expand their knowledge and discover new ways of thinking.

Miguel’s article on “Polynomial Counting in Anonymous Dynamic Networks with Applications to Anonymous Dynamic Algebraic Computations,”, which also won an award for best paper at ICALP in 2018, will soon be added to the ACM’s list of prestigious journal publications. With papers ranging from top research institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Cornell University, it is an honor to have Miguel be recognized amongst other top educators in this field.

“These results received the Best Paper Award at ICALP 2018, the flagship conference of the European Association of Theoretical Computer Science and top 4 worldwide, and now were accepted for publication at the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery (JACM),” Miguel explains. “To have one’s work published in JACM is an important accomplishment for a CS researcher. The ACM is the top scientific computing society worldwide, and JACM is the top 1 journal venue* in Theoretical Computer Science (TCS). I am honored to have our work on ADNs so recognized by the TCS scientific community, and I look forward to continuing this successful line of work.”

Congratulations to Miguel Mosteiro on his accomplishment. The Seidenberg School is proud of his work on dynamic networks and we’re excited to cheer on his future achievements moving forward!

Hackathon Survival Guide

If you’re already into the tech scene, then chances are you already know what a hackathon is. However, if you haven’t, the definition of a hackathon is as follows: it is, “a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program.” Hackathons are great for improving your coding skills, learning more about technology, and coming up with ideas that can garner the attention of major businesses. GroupMe is one example of a hackathon idea turned multimillion-dollar acquisition. The prototype, which was created at TechCrunch Hackday, did not win any prizes but it did become successful later on. It was the experience of going that provided the creators with the inspiration needed to conceive the idea of GroupMe. Their success is one of the many reasons you should consider attending a hackathon. If you’ve never attended a hackathon, here are the top 17 tips for surviving your first one.

17 Tips for Surviving Your First Hackathon

1. ARRIVE EARLY

Person Jumping

The best thing you can do for yourself when attending a hackathon is to arrive early. If you’re attending a hackathon that’s a good distance away plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get there. For the most part, hackathons have many participants, all of whom are trying to arrive around the same time as you. Take this into account when planning your departure time and you should be good to go.

2. BE OPEN

Man Opening DoorsIf you decide to work in a team for the hackathon, being open-minded is crucial. There is nothing worse than working with someone who has no interest in understanding your point of view. Teams are a collaborative effort and in order to succeed, you must be willing to compromise.

3. BRAINSTORM BEFORE YOU GET THERE

Person Confused

If you’re given the project before the hackathon even starts, do your research and brainstorm. This saves you the trouble of having to desperately think of an idea on the spot. Instead, you get to focus on successfully implementing that idea in a timely manner.

4. THERE ARE USUALLY PRIZES

Although the experience of going to a hackathon should be enough encouragement to go on its own, it’s also good to remember that there are usually monetary prizes. If not, companies sponsoring the event tend to give away their own products as prizes. For example, at Technica in 2019, VR headsets and Google Home Minis were offered as incentives.

5. BRUSH UP ON CODING SKILLS

Cat Typing Really FastGetting some practice in beforehand is essential for keeping your coding skills sharp. Whether that be Java, C++, HTML, or CSS. Practice whatever language needed to implement your project successfully. Websites like Codecademy and Udemy are perfect for reviewing how to program.

6. MENTORS ARE AVAILABLE

There are usually mentors available to assist you, whether that be helping you fully understand the project or answering any coding related questions you may have. Mentors are volunteers who want to help you so please don’t be afraid to ask them questions.

7. TAKE LOTS OF BREAKS

Spongebob Taking A BreakPlease do not stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion. It’s nearly impossible to put out good work when your brain is fried, or your body is tired. That’s why you should take as many breaks needed to refresh your mind and body for the competition.

8. EXPECT COMMUNITY GAMES

Community games are held for participants to get to know each other and relax in between working. These are a great way to make new friends and have fun so if possible, you should consider taking advantage of them.

9. KNOW HOW LONG THE HACKATHON LASTS

Lady Pointing To Her WristThere are many different types of hackathons. Some last 24 hours, 36 hours, and even 48 hours. Know how long yours is and prepare accordingly. If it’s your first time going to a hackathon maybe a 24 hour one might be a good place to start. However, if you’re feeling ambitious maybe a longer hackathon is perfect for you.

10. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WORKSHOPS

Take advantage of the workshops that hackathons have to offer. More often than not, they provide beneficial information that can help with your current project in addition to your future ones.

11. THEY HAVE SLEEPING SPACES FOR STUDENTS

Animated Cat Yawning

Although sleeping spaces are usually provided, be sure to bring an air mattress and/or sleeping bag as necessary. Although some hackathons do provide air mattresses, don’t be surprised if there aren’t enough or if the ones they provide aren’t the best quality.

12. DO RESEARCH ON SPONSORS

Woman Holding Phone

Check to see if any of the sponsors for the hackathon are companies that you might be interested in working for. Some sponsors actually have internships or job opportunities available. Because of this, going to a hackathon puts you at a far greater advantage than most people who are also interested in those companies. It’s also a good idea for you to bring a few copies of your resume. Doing so shows those companies that you’re serious about working for them.

13. CHECK OUT DEMOS

At the end of a hackathon, there is usually a demo session of all the projects. Use this as an opportunity to look at what everyone else has made. Demo sessions are not only for company representatives. Participants are encouraged to look at projects aside from their own for innovative inspiration.

14. MOST HACKATHONS ARE FREE

Girl SpeakingAlthough most hackathons are free of charge, there are a few that may require a fee. This is rare but double-check that it’s free to be sure.

15. TRANSPORTATION MAY BE PROVIDED

Some hackathons do provide transportation. This could mean that they provide their own OR they refund your travel expenses. The refund process is that you have to pay your traveling fees at first, and then afterward they will refund you. Because of this, it is important that you hold onto all your traveling receipts so that they know exactly how much to refund you.

16. PACK LOTS OF SNACKS

Patrick Eating A Lot Of PattiesWhether you have any dietary restrictions or not, pack as many snacks as you can. Hackathons usually provide food for participants, however, if late-night cravings are a common occurrence for you or you simply cannot eat the food they have to offer, then it’s probably best that you bring your own snacks.

17. IT’S OKAY NOT TO KNOW A LOT OF CODE

Elmo Shrugging

If you have a brilliant idea but don’t how to create it, making a presentation is also acceptable. Making a visual presentation allows you to convey the idea you’ve come up with without the pressure of having the full code prepared. Even if you don’t have any code at all, presenting a few slides is better than presenting nothing at all.

For this article I’d like to thank Seidenberg senior, honors college student, and vice president of Women in Tech, Sammy Chen-Li for sharing her vast knowledge of hackathons! If you’re looking to attend a hackathon anytime soon, Pace University’s Women in Tech Club is actually having their very own hackathon called Sunflower Hack! It’s scheduled to take place Saturday, February 29th, 2020 from 9 am to 9 pm on the 2nd floor of 163 William Street. It’s an 8-hour hackathon open to all current undergrad and grad students at Pace. For more information please click here!

Tech Leadership Series: UPS STEM Innovation and Diversity

This October, the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series had not only one, but three amazing guests from UPS at the Seidenberg Lounge: Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development, Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology, and Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager. Being that tech has always been seen as more male-oriented, it’s refreshing to see and meet women who have found tremendous success in this field. Their presence proves that women in tech have the ability to flourish in any aspect of technology.

Diane Chan
Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development

Diane Chan, like many college students, started school with one major in mind and finished with a degree in another. Through trial and error, she was able to recognize that her passions laid less with finances and more with technology. Initially an accounting major, Diane graduated from Pace University with a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS), thus demonstrating that college grants students the ability to explore other topics of interest.

 

Carla J. Garcia-Maier
Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology

Carla J. Garcia-Maier had a similar experience. It was in the U.S. Army that Carla developed her love for technology. After serving, Carla tried to follow in her father’s footsteps as a real estate agent, but quickly realized that she desired a career involving technology and leadership. Once that decision was made, Carla joined UPS in 1999 and has been working there ever since.

 

Stacie Morgan
Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager

Stacie Morgan discovered her interest in technology after realizing the application of computers for business problems through programs like VisiCalc and dBase. Although her interests involved technology, she later found that she was more interested in the organizational side. Once hired by UPS, Stacie started off as an Information Center Analyst and was promoted to Lead Programming Analyst until, in December 2015, she was finally promoted to Senior Application Development Manager.

Because technology is being used in every aspect of our lives, the market for jobs in the tech field has increased tremendously – and so has job competition. With so many people who are equally qualified competing for the same positions, how do you make yourself stand out?

Diane’s answer to this is: “You have to step out your comfort zone.” This was a lesson she had to learn throughout her career at UPS. She stressed that, in order to be recognized for your accomplishments, it’s important to take that extra step and make yourself known. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll become one step closer to success.

Carla had her own guidance to offer. When asked about her transition from military to civilian life, she explained one perk of working with people whose background differed from her own: the increase in expansive ideas. When working with people who don’t share that military background and are more relaxed in their way of thinking, the chances of coming up with the same idea is much lower. Solutions become more creative and individualistic that way. When everyone thinks the same, deliberation stops, and you end up settling on an answer that may not be the best or most efficient answer to the problem. Being open-minded is key to working in the technical field, especially because a majority of the work gets accomplished in teams.

Despite a majority of those in the tech industry being men, when asked how it feels to be a woman working in that field, Stacie confidently answered, “I’ve never seen myself as a woman in information systems,” thus, highlighting that women in technology are people first before anything else. Unfortunately, because there is a major disparity between the number of male and female workers in tech, a disparity with a ratio of 4:1 to be exact, women may often feel isolated in their careers. Stacie, on the other hand didn’t fall victim to this. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until she was given her managerial position that she noticed how few women were on her teams. She suggests that, as a woman in tech, it’s best to pay more attention to the task at hand. Focusing more on their capabilities as a person in tech will help them pay less attention to that gender disparity.

Thankfully, here at Pace University, our Women in Tech club provides a safe space for female students studying technology to connect and relate. If you’re a Pace student feel free to stop by one of their meetings every other Monday. Click here to be added to their mailing list and see all their latest events!

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Opportunities in Africa 2019: wrapping up the conference presented by the Seidenberg School and Wutiko

Seidenberg’s international connection continues to grow, and the conference that occurred earlier this September is proof of that. On Friday, September 27th, Seidenberg hosted Opportunities in Africa at One Pace Plaza for professionals, students, faculty, and staff. 

The day kicked off with a breakfast and transitioned to the morning ceremony for opening remarks. Dean Hill, Marvin Krislov, Dr. Scharff, and many others expressed gratitude to both the Seidenberg School and Wutiko for bringing this event to Pace University. Upon the completion of the ceremony, gifts were presented to the VIP guests, photo opportunities were had, and connections were made. The rest of the afternoon consisted of panels focused on professionals from Senegal, Mauritius, and Nigeria. Between these events, participants had the opportunity to network and converse with business representatives. Overall, it was a wonderful day for connecting brilliant minds to talk about the future of business and tech.

This event was made possible thanks to the partnership between Wutiko, a professional platform known for connecting individuals to business opportunities in Africa, and the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. 

Kémo Touré, CEO of Wutiko, and Dr. Christelle Scharff, Professor of Computer Science at Pace University, brought this networking opportunity to Seidenberg after meeting at a conference and connecting over their passion for tech and community outreach.

Speakers at the event included C.D. Glin, President and CEO of USADF; Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation in Senegal; Papa Amadou Sarr, Minister of DER/Senegal, and many more. Important guests ranged from government officials, CEOs, and company founders who were featured at the event. 

Africa is known for its massive economy, which is why this event was so crucial for connecting professionals in NYC to those in Africa. According to Wutiko, Mauritius is the #1 country for doing business in Africa, Nigeria is the continent’s #1 economy, and Senegal is the #1 in hospitality in Africa. Imagine the professional opportunities in the area!

Christopher Cherestal, a Seidenberg senior about to obtain a BS in Information Systems later this year, attended the Opportunities in Africa event last year and was particularly impressed by how the event has grown.

“Seeing it go from such a small space to the Schimmel Center was quite the transformation,” he explains. “It was so cool to see that upgrade.”

We’re so happy we were able to partner with Wutiko for this event. Here’s to bringing it back in 2020! If you missed the conference, you can watch the live-stream provided by Seneweb online.

 

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Building with Accessibility in Mind at Codeland 2019: a Seidenberg student’s story

Luisa Morales, a Computer Science graduate student, has a lengthy list of achievements from her academic career at the Seidenberg School of CSIS. The former Seidenberg student assistant, undergraduate economics student, and Engineering Fellow at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity curated a resume full of achievements that any student would be proud of.  This summer Luisa went above and beyond—she hosted a workshop at Codeland 2019 titled, Building with Accessibility in Mind.

Codeland, a conference created for new and growing developers, was held in New York City on July 22. Luisa joined a fantastic lineup of workshop mentors and speakers including Avi Flombaum, Co-founder and CIO of Flatiron School, and Jasmine Greenaway, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. 

Luisa’s workshop called attendees to “come demystify web accessibility with me and get into the nitty-gritty of what it is, how you can test for accessibility on your own, and common best practices. We’ll build an accessible website in the process that you can boast about on GitHub. You’ll also gain practical experience you can utilize to make your current, and future, projects more accessible.”

She explains that her workshop took a very collaborative and hands-on approach with attendees working on demo sites. Everyone in attendance worked in pairs to learn a variety of skills: how to use a screen-reader and keyboard to test website accessibility as well as integrating common practices for improving the accessibility of their projects. 

Asked about specific techniques she teaches her students, Luisa says “this includes things like using semantic HTML, color contrast, font sizes, and ARIA, amongst other things.”

It’s a fair assessment to say that those who learned from Luisa’s workshop earned some crucial and exciting skills to utilize in the future. But where did the idea for the workshop come from?

“The inspiration behind the workshop is my belief in the importance of making the things we produce as developers accessible to as many people as possible and demystifying the idea that it’s too difficult to do or unnecessary,” she explains. “By making a website accessible, you make it better for everyone and increase your potential market share, so I’m not sure why some people think it’s not important. At the Mayor’s Office, it’s ingrained into the development process and a lot of what I’ve learned there is influencing this workshop. I hope that attendees [came] away feeling more comfortable building with accessibility in mind and that it informs their choices as developers, designers, [and] product managers going forward.”

Luisa would like to encourage students—whether they attended her workshop or not—to attend Codeland in the future. She explains that it’s a “very inclusive environment and it’s a great opportunity to meet other people on a similar career path and potentially even your future coworkers!”

Codeland offered an opportunity for Luisa to teach others what she’s passionate about. She had the chance to improve the skills of those in attendance and explains just what that felt like for her.

“I’m proud of how curious and empathetic the workshop attendees were. Building accessible experiences, and especially testing your work with a screen reader, can be overwhelming,” Luisa explained. “Everyone in the workshop was excited to learn how to improve the experiences they created for users online. They were also keen to experience the web as visually impaired users do” by using screen-readers or only keyboards.

While she is proud of her students, Luisa took the time to acknowledge the pride she takes in her own role at Codeland.

“I’m also really proud of myself for putting together the workshop and presenting it at the conference,” she states. “It was very scary to do, but definitely worth the effort and jitters. Would do it again!”

We’re very proud of Luisa here at Seidenberg as well. Students like her who go out of their way to assist other developers to improve their skills are fantastic examples of our community. 

To make things even better, Luisa made sure that her workshop is available online for free! Anyone can access the workshop on GitHub and go through it themselves. She also makes herself available on Twitter for anyone who has questions about her workshop or web accessibility.

Curious about web accessibility? Luisa included some helpful resources for students to check out to learn more. Take a look:

  1. “YES, your site can (and should) be accessible too. Lessons learned in building FT.com” – by Laura Carvajal (https://vimeo.com/215169705)
  2. Tech Done Right Podcast Ep: “Accessibility With Luisa Morales” (https://www.techdoneright.io/49)
  3. Web Fundamentals: Accessibility by Google (https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/accessibility)
  4. What & Why Of Usability by usability.gov (https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/index.html)

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