Reflecting on the journey of CS3216

Now that STePS is over and all my backdated blog posts are done, I just want to write a general post-mortem on the whole process, which hopefully would be useful for anyone considering to take this mod.

Firstly, if you’re considering whether to apply, I would say just work hard to level up before applying and just give it your best shot. I too was concerned about whether I was good enough, I had applied at the end of year 1 sem 2, having done Orbital and GSoC in the summer. I could build web apps and do designs with PS and Sketch. That was my skillset, and although I know I wasn’t the best I knew I could hold my own ground and do the work. The people who apply for CS3216 all have serious skills and impressive portfolios - some of them were coming back from internships at Uber, Google, CS3217, etc. but my experience is that (mostly) everyone (technical people) can build what needs to be built. Some will do more work than others but it’s not the kind where 1 person carries the team, my own experience is that my teams for all 3 assignments had our own differentiated skillsets (biz, backend, frontend, design, etc.) After receiving my acceptance email I had actually considered dropping out as I thought I was not good enough, if not for my persistent friends who encouraged me, I would have missed this amazing opportunity to sharpen my skills.


I think picking the right team really helped, being more of the front-end developer I could design and also implement mockups using React/ Angular. Being used to developing with mongoDB and noSQL really was a pain, as the assignments required us to use a SQL database for the schema diagrams and such, but fortunately there was always someone who knew how to settle the backend.

I’m glad to have known all my teammates, it was awesome working with these fun and talented people. (Irvin, Chi Thanh Lam, Eugene, Larry, Thành Nguyễn Hữu, Kai Yi, Xu Jie, Kent)

Fighting Spirit

I used to joke that this mod was like fighting a war, and I’m glad it’s over so I can start studying for my other mods, but still I kind of miss the long nights and overnight coding sessions at utown and SoC. It really almost feels like going outfield. Anyway, Colin did say CS3216 was like ‘Ranger Course’, and I guess if the analogy holds then ‘fighting spirit’ is definitely a core value that all CS3216 people will develop.

From learning and building new shiny things like progressive web apps in a matter of weeks (days), to pivoting our ideas with 3 weeks to STePS, and talking to and getting real users, the whole experience really pushed me out of my comfort zone, and made me more confident in my skills.

I think this quote from alice in wonderland that colin showed in his final lecture really struck a chord in me so I’ll just end with this too.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”