CS 491 PD/PDO: Professional Development

CS 491 PD/PDO: Professional Development
Course Homepage

Nancy Amato

Teaching Assistant:
Isaac Ngui

Course Goals

This course is designed to inform students about a variety of career-oriented topics and current issues in computer science and assist them in planning and preparing for the next step in their career. It will cover career opportunities and pathways for those with undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in computer science, and will include discussion of aspects of graduate studies such as admissions, funding, and success in graduate school. The course will also cover practical issues such as internships, resumes/CVs, finding a job, interviewing, job negotiations, company work environments. Finally, the course will include seminars on social and professional issues in computing, such as bias, privacy and generally the impact of technology on society.

Mechanics and Grading

The course will consist of presentations and will involve a variety of invited speakers in an interactive seminar environment. To receive credit for this course you must attend and satisfactorily complete a report for at least 12 presentations/activities. Occasionally, there may be other presentations/activities that can be used for class credit, such as the career fairs; these will be announced to the class via email and/or posted on the course webpage.

You can check your grades here. You will need to log in using your net ID and password. You will see a course CS 491 PD/PDO. If you click on that course you can hit the grades button on the left side of the screen to see the number of reports we have received. The grades will be updated on Saturdays, so please wait till then for updates to be reflected.

Presentation/Activity Reports: For each presentation/activity you attend and want credit for CS 491 PD/PDO, you need to complete a report on THIS FORM. The report should be completed within one week of the presentation/activity. The form asks you to provide:

On campus (face to face) Section: There will be additional requirements for students registered in the on campus (in person) section of this course. Information will be provided here as it is available.

Course Content and Schedule

The standard class meeting time will be Wednesdays from 5:00-5:50pm - they will be virtual and conducted over zoom. When possible (speakers must agree), they will be recorded and made available to students and others.


Date Topic Speaker Description
Wed Aug 26, 2020 Organizational Meeting Nancy Amato (Instructor) and Isaac Ngui (TA) Students will meet the instructor and each other, and provide input on topics for the semester. All students should complete this student information and interests survey to receive activity credit for this seminar.
Wed Sep 02, 2020 Career Fair Prep Seminars by Engineering Career Services Various speakers. We will NOT meet during the scheduled class time this week. Instead, you are encouraged to attend the seminars offered by the Engineering Career Services to help you prepare for the two Career Fairs that will be held next week - the CS/ECE AfterHours event on Tuesday September 8 and the Engineering Career Fair on September 9-10. Both will be virtual and will be conducted on the CareerEco Platform. You can receive a CS 491 PD/PDO presentation credit by attending any of these seminars and submitting a report (you can attend as many as you wish, but a maximum of 2 attendance credits can be received).
  • Wed Sept 2, 3-4pm: Before you say YES: Evaluating and Negotiating Your Offer
  • Wed Sept 2, 6-7pm: Virtual Career Fair Lab
  • Thu Sept 3, 12-1pm: Introductions with Confidence
  • Thu Sept 3, 3-4pm: Prepare for the Career Fair
Wed Sep 09, 2020 After Hours (Tue) and Engineering Career Fair (Wed-Internships; Thu -Fulltime) N/A Attend CS/ECE After Hours and/or Engineering Virtual Career Fair. No CS 491 PD/PDO presentation is scheduled this week so students can attend the career fairs this week, one of which overlaps our class meeting time. Both will be virtual and will be conducted on the CareerEco Platform. You can receive a CS 491 PD/PDO presentation credit by attending any of these career fairs and submitting a report (you can attend as many as you wish, but a maximum of 1 attendance credit can be received).
Wed Sep 16, 2020 Equity & Justice in Computing Conversation: Language Matters: Abolishing the Harmful and Racist Label 'Underrepresented Minority' Tiffani Williams (University of Illinois) Abstract:
Recently, I wrote a CACM blog post (https://bit.ly/2RgNf5p) to abolish the widespread use of the label "underrepresented minority" (URM), which refers to the low participation rates of racial and ethnic groups in fields such as computing and STEM relative to their representation in the U.S. population. Blacks, African Americans, Hispanics, Latinx, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives are most commonly defined as URMs. The harmful and racist label URM implies that the aforementioned racial and ethnic groups are unworthy, unprivileged, and inferior. Language influences how we feel, react, and understand. Thus, dismantling racism starts with analyzing the language we use-especially since it says much about how we see people.

In this conversation, we will discuss why the label URM is racist language and how its harmfulness hides in our everyday talk. Then, we will consider inclusive and anti-racist language for expressing underrepresentation. We will conclude by discussing ways to identify and abolish URM-like language rom our everyday talk.

Tiffani L. Williams is a Teaching Professor and Director of Onramp Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 2017 to 2020, she was the Director of Computer Science Programs and Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University-Charlotte. From 2005 to 2017, she was a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Her awards and honors include a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, an Alfred P. Sloan Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Edward, Frances, and Shirley Daniels Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, a Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE award, and a PopTech Science Fellow award. Williams has been recognized for teaching excellence at Texas A&M with the Graduate Faculty Teaching Excellence award, Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Excellence award, and the Distinguished Award in Teaching by the Association of Former Students.
Wed Sep 23, 2020 Reflections / Projections Various speakers throughout the week Technology conference held at UIUC with various speakers, influencers and companies. There are also other events such as a 24-hour AI hackathon and puzzle hunts. For more details https://reflectionsprojections.org/ You can receive a CS 491 PD/PDO presentation credit by attending any of the talks and submitting a report (you can attend as many as you wish, but a maximum of 1 attendance credit can be received).
Wed Sep 30, 2020 Startups & Entrepreneurship 101 Brighten Godfrey, Ranjitha Kumar, Jewel Ifeguni, David Cooke, Sravya Patakota Do you dream of having your own startup? Are you curious to know what it would be like to work on a startup and wonder what you can do as a student to prepare? This session will feature current students, alums and faculty who can share their experiences, give you tips that they wish someone had shared with them, and answer your questions. A link to Jewel's movie "The Drive" can be found here. Additionally a link to the #DriveTheConversation panels can be found here.
Wed Oct 07, 2020 Grad School 101 Robin Kravets and Darko Marinov (UIUC) This session will help answer questions such as: What is grad school like? How is it different from undergrad? How do you pay for it? Is it for everyone? Masters vs. PhD--what do these degrees do for you? Do you need to put your life on hold when you are in grad school? What are some of the best things about grad school? It will also offer tips on how to prepare a competitive application for graduate school and external fellowships. For example, what should you write in the personal / research statement? What should you highlight in your resume? Should you take the GRE? Who and how should you ask for letters of recommendation? How are applications reviewed? Should you contact professors at the schools to which you are applying? How important is prior participation in research? Come with your questions and we'll do our best to answer them!
Wed Oct 14, 2020 Resumes Aleksandra Faust (Google) , Arnett Mitchell (Phillips 66), Laura Stites (UIUC) Do you wonder what recruiters, research labs or grad schools are looking for in a resume? What is the difference in a resume and a CV anyway? Should you use the same one for everything? What should and shouldn't be left off? How important is it to have a professional online presence such as linkedin or a webpage? And what should be on it? What resources are available to students to help them develop their professional persona? This session will feature panelists who can share their perspectives as alums, recruiters, and career services advisors.
Wed Oct 21, 2020 Equity & Justice in Computing: " Algorithms for the People" Seny Kamara Algorithms have transformed every aspect of society, including communication, transportation, commerce, finance, and health. The revolution enabled by computing has been extraordinarily valuable. The largest tech companies Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook generate over $800 billion a year and employ 1 million people. But technology does not affect everyone in the same way. In this talk, we will examine how new technologies, ranging from facial recognition to drones, are affecting marginalized communities. We will then think about what technology would look like if its goal was to serve the disenfranchised as opposed to the powerful.
Wed Oct 28, 2020 Career Opportunities outside of Traditional Tech Laura Bleill (Research Park @ Illinois), Forrest Iandola (Independent Researcher), Erik Muro (Capital One), Fred Rothganger (Sandia National Labs) Do you wonder what you might do with your computing degree if you don't work in a traditional tech company? Actually, there are a ton of options where you can use your computing skills and have an exciting and fulfilling career. This session will feature panelists who can share their personal perspectives and experiences and provide tips on how to find these non-traditional opportunities, including advice on how to succeed and things to watch out for. Come with questions.
Wed Nov 04, 2020 Research - What, Why, When and How? Nancy Amato (UIUC), Felipe Arias (UIUC), Jose E. Moreira ( IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center) Are you curious about research and wonder what career paths are possible for computing researchers? Would you like to know how to prepare yourself so you can be a competitive applicant? Are you interested in getting involved in research now but not sure how to get started? Can you participate in research as an undergraduate? During the academic year or summer? Can you do research on a summer internship? This session will feature panelists who can answer such questions and share their perspective as alums, current students, and faculty.
Wed Nov 11, 2020 Interviewing Skills - How to Prepare Ken Taylor (UIUC), Matthew Dierker (Google), Lauren Stites (UIUC) You've landed an interview - congrats! But now you're wondering what you can do to prepare. There are many types of interviews, they come at different stages of the recruitment process, are of varying lengths - quick chats during career fairs, short on campus, and longer ``on site'' visits - and have different formats. And nowadays they are all being adjusted for the virtual mode we're all operating in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will feature panelists who can share their perspectives as alums, recruiters, and career services advisors and provide insight and advice on what you can expect, how you can prepare, and do's and don'ts of interviewing.
Wed Nov 18, 2020 Equity & Justice in Computing Conversation: Recognizing and Responding to Bias and Microaggressions Kyla McMullen (University of Florida), Colleen Lewis (UIUC) Have you ever frozen - not knowing what to say - when you heard a comment or question about diversity in CS? We will play a research-based game to practice recognizing and responding to bias. The game invites players to respond to challenging scenarios related to subtle and not-so-subtle bias. For example, what might you say if your colleague said, "Women just don't like CS" or "There are so few Black and Latinx students in CS, it is a lot easier for them to get CS jobs." We're all responsible for learning to recognize and respond to bias - and the game can provide opportunities to practice! We'll use breakout rooms to have players discuss how they would respond and you can access a copy of the game at www.csteachingtips.org/cards
Wed Nov 25, 2020 No Seminar
Wed Dec 02, 2020 Negotiating Your Offer Arnav Mishra, Nathan Handler, Lauren Stites So now you've got an offer from someplace you'd like to work. But you're not sure how to evaluate the offer.... Can, or even should, you ask for more? What is and what isn't negotiable? What should you be asking about that you aren't? Are there any resources to help you determine if the offer is competitive? This session will feature panelists who can share their perspectives as alums, recruiters, and career services advisors and provide insight and advice on what you can expect, how you can prepare, and do's and don'ts of negotiating.
Wed Dec 09, 2020 Career Opportunities in Big Tech Corly Leung, Emily Tran Many computer scientists spend their entire careers in large tech companies. Do you wonder what it would be like to do that long term? Might you get stuck on a project and have to change companies to stay excited about your work? Or maybe you're concerned that if you stay too long with one company that it would be hard to change later if you'd like to? Are you worried that you would only interact with other computer scientists? Or maybe you're not convinced that it's possible to have a life and also succeed in a place like this. This session will feature alums and recruiters who can share their perspectives from the trenches - come with your questions and they will do their best to answer them!

Statement on Anti-Racism and Inclusivity

The intent of this section is to raise student and instructor awareness of the ongoing threat of bias and racism and of the need to take personal responsibility in creating an inclusive learning environment.

The Grainger College of Engineering is committed to the creation of an anti-racist, inclusive community that welcomes diversity along a number of dimensions, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, disability status, class, age, or religious beliefs. The College recognizes that we are learning together in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, that Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous voices and contributions have largely either been excluded from, or not recognized in, science and engineering, and that both overt racism and micro-aggressions threaten the well-being of our students and our university community.

The effectiveness of this course is dependent upon each of us to create a safe and encouraging learning environment that allows for the open exchange of ideas while also ensuring equitable opportunities and respect for all of us. Everyone is expected to help establish and maintain an environment where students, staff, and faculty can contribute without fear of personal ridicule, or intolerant or offensive language. If you witness or experience racism, discrimination, micro-aggressions, or other offensive behavior, you are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the course director if you feel comfortable. You can also report these behaviors to the Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART) (https://bart.illinois.edu/). Based on your report, BART members will follow up and reach out to students to make sure they have the support they need to be healthy and safe. If the reported behavior also violates university policy, staff in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution may respond as well and will take appropriate action.

Statement on Mental Health

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, substance/alcohol abuse, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance, social development, and emotional wellbeing. The University of Illinois offers a variety of confidential services including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, psychiatric services, and specialized screenings at no additional cost. If you or someone you know experiences any of the above mental health concerns, it is strongly encouraged to contact or visit any of the University's resources provided below. Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do -- for yourself and for those who care about you.

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Obligation

The University of Illinois is committed to combating sexual misconduct. Faculty and staff members are required to report any instances of sexual misconduct to the University's Title IX Office. In turn, an individual with the Title IX Office will provide information about rights and options, including accommodations, support services, the campus disciplinary process, and law enforcement options.

A list of the designated University employees who, as counselors, confidential advisors, and medical professionals, do not have this reporting responsibility and can maintain confidentiality, can be found here: wecare.illinois.edu/resources/students/#confidential.

Other information about resources and reporting is available here: wecare.illinois.edu.

Academic Integrity

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Code should also be considered as a part of this syllabus. Students should pay particular attention to Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity. Read the Code at the following URL: http://studentcode.illinois.edu/.

Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade. Every student is expected to review and abide by the Academic Integrity Policy: https://studentcode.illinois.edu/article1/part4/1-401/. Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Religious Observances

Illinois law requires the University to reasonably accommodate its students' religious beliefs, observances, and practices in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work requirements. You should examine this syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts between course deadlines and any of your religious observances. If a conflict exists, you should notify your instructor of the conflict and follow the procedure at https://odos.illinois.edu/community-of-care/resources/students/religious-observances/ to request appropriate accommodations. This should be done in the first two weeks of classes.

Disability-Related Accommodations

To obtain disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES, you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603, e-mail disability@illinois.edu or go to https://www.disability.illinois.edu. If you are concerned you have a disability-related condition that is impacting your academic progress, there are academic screening appointments available that can help diagnosis a previously undiagnosed disability. You may access these by visiting the DRES website and selecting "Request an Academic Screening" at the bottom of the page.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Any student who has suppressed their directory information pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) should self-identify to the instructor to ensure protection of the privacy of their attendance in this course. See https://registrar.illinois.edu/academic-records/ferpa/ for more information on FERPA.