Student Q&A: Rithik Choudhary
Rithik Choudhary is a 5th year Bachelor of Computing major and Co-founder of GryphHacks. We discussed his experience so far at the University of Guelph and his future career in software engineering.
Q: Discuss your first lecture on campus and how that went
A: My first lecture on campus was both exciting and challenging. It was a programming course (CIS1300) primarily focused on C, a language entirely new to me, as I had previously only worked with Python and Java. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the content and the eye for detail required to understand the content. It also felt very different being in a class of multiple hundred students with just a single professor. However, despite all that, the professor and their TAs made me feel like an important part of the class and took special care to ensure that our transition from the learning style used in high schools compared to universities was smooth. They assumed that everyone had zero experience, so they taught from the ground up. I think it was a very good start to the program.
Q: Explain how you think you have changed from first year to now and the impact that U of G has had on that change
A: Over the past few years at the University of Guelph, I've undergone significant personal and academic growth. U of G’s curriculum has given me the opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge to several programming languages and applications in a variety of different fields. This challenging transition allowed me to develop a more versatile skill set, fostering adaptability and problem-solving abilities crucial in the field of software engineering. Additionally, my involvement in student organizations and clubs has refined my communication and leadership skills, equipping me with the confidence to network easily with peers and employers, as well as to organize large-scale events. Overall, the University of Guelph has provided me with an environment that fosters both academic and personal development, enabling me to become a more well-rounded and self-assured individual, fully prepared to pursue my career goals.
Q: Discuss some of your extracurriculars on campus (intramurals, clubs, etc):
A: During my time on campus, I've been actively involved in a range of extracurricular activities that have allowed me to make a meaningful impact. As a Unibuddy University Representative, I engaged with several dozen prospective university students, providing valuable insights and answering questions about the University of Guelph's Software Engineering and Computer Science programs. Additionally, I cofounded GryphHacks, the University’s first worldwide hackathon, bringing together a combined total of 600 students from 28 countries and over 150 universities worldwide. In this role, I was able to connect students to sponsoring employers, host dozens of workshops and give out prizes to the most innovative projects. As President and former Director of Challenges of the Guelph Coding Community (GCC), I organized various academic and non-academic workshop and skill-building events, allowing students to discover and learn new technologies and frameworks outside the UofG curriculum. In my role as Vice President External for the Society of Computing and Information Science (SOCIS), I supported numerous student-focused initiatives and shared valuable opportunities, including scholarships, job openings, and networking events to the students. Lastly, as the UofG Representative for the Computing Councils of Canada, I expanded Guelph's outreach to over 30 other universities by relaying university events and informing Guelph students of external opportunities, both academic and non-academic. These experiences have enriched my campus life and allowed me to contribute positively to the university community.
Q: Top three favorite things about U of G?
A: The three C’s:
- Community (peers and faculty),
- Clubs (extracurriculars across all colleges within UofG), and
- the Curriculum (the wide range of courses offered within my program that can introduce me to any Computer Science or Software Engineering career path I could ask for)
Q: Favorite thing to do on campus?
A: I really enjoy having all-day study sessions with my group of friends. Usually, we’d book a room or head to McLaughlin library and spend the day working on our own individual assignments or helping each other understand content if we’re in the same courses. We’d also periodically take breaks to play video games like Mario Party, or play cards, or take a stroll through the University Centre (UC) for lunch and to discover whatever intriguing booths are set-up that particular day.
Q: When did you become interested in your field?
A: I first became interested in software in Grade 10 when I took a programming course at my local high school. The content came to me so naturally and I found the programming aspect so interesting that I always completed the assignments a few weeks early and spent the rest of the time tutoring my fellow classmates. I went ahead to become a co-founder and executive of our high school’s first Coding Society club to teach other interested students more content outside our course curriculums.
Q: Did you have an AHA moment? A time when something you learned, or a professor just blew you away?
A: One of the most profound and eye-opening moments of my time here at the university was when I was taught an advanced CS concept called recursion. The professor explained it was like solving a big puzzle step by step. Imagine you have a massive puzzle with smaller puzzles inside it. You start by taking one of these smaller puzzles and work on it. If you find even tinier puzzles inside, you keep breaking them down until you reach the simplest puzzle, which is your "base case" – a puzzle you know how to solve perfectly. Once you've solved the base case, you use that solution to work your way back up, solving the smaller puzzles and then the bigger puzzle itself. This process continues until you've solved the entire big puzzle.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your co-op experience
A: My most recent and current co-op experience at SOTI has been truly rewarding. As a software developer, I've had the opportunity to work extensively with Angular and C# on the XSight product, which has allowed me to expand my skill set and gain valuable hands-on experience in the field. The work culture and environment at SOTI have been exceptional, with a supportive team and a focus on collaboration and innovation. All the managers are very dedicated on ensuring that this internship is more than simply me contributing to their product, but also them contributing to my technological growth by providing mentors and dozens of great resources like regular workshops and a variety of free online courses in various fields. It's been an amazing opportunity to contribute to meaningful projects while learning from talented colleagues. Overall, my co-op experience at SOTI has been both professionally enriching and personally fulfilling.
Q: What would do you tell future students about U of G? What would you tell them about the field?
A: Guelph offers an environment where students have access to dedicated faculty, a wide range of resources, and numerous opportunities for personal and academic growth. I would also highlight the campus's vibrant student life, including various clubs, organizations, and events that make for a well-rounded university experience.
The software engineering program at U of G provides a solid foundation and practical skills that are highly valuable in the tech industry. I would advise future students to stay curious, engage in many hands-on projects, and take advantage of internships or co-op programs to gain real-world experience. Ultimately, I would encourage them to embrace the field with enthusiasm and be prepared and willing to continue learning outside university as well since the field of technology is always changing. This career path can be highly rewarding, but a student’s success will only ever be equivalent to however much effort they’re willing to put in.
Q: Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
A: In five years, I envision myself as a successful and financially independent software engineer. I will have hopefully decided which field of software I’d like to dedicate a large portion of my career to (i.e. mobile, web, game programming, etc). I aspire to work for a good company that prioritizes its employees' well-being and fosters a positive environment and work culture. I hope to be in a position where my career feels less like a job and more like a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby. My goal is to continue learning, growing, and contributing to innovative projects within the field while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.