- Mason Fan
Chen-Wei (Mason) Fan was so excited about the future of computer software that when he moved to the United States from Taiwan, he couldn’t wait to update his programming skills.
“It used to be that we’d try to squeeze all performance out of a computer,” he says. “But nowadays every computer has the ability to launch a rocket to the moon. Because our computers are so fast, we are able to develop software much faster with high level languages. I got a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but that was 10 years ago, and things are totally different now.”
Fan studied English for six months before starting a Computer Programming certificate at UCSC Extension. In Taiwan, he had worked as a software engineer and was an advanced user of C programming. Extension’s program appealed to him because of the breadth and depth of the topics covered—Java, Python, iOS and JUnit, to name a few—as well as the services provided for international students.
“I had considered a few other universities,” Fan says, “but sometimes university programs are too theory-based. I have enough theory from college. I wanted to learn something new. Here they teach you the language itself, not just theory. UCSC Extension was an excellent choice.”
In addition to his course work, Fan had the opportunity to complete an internship at a Silicon Valley start-up, an experience he recommends for international students who might be new to the work culture in the United States. The benefit from volunteering at a start-up, he says, is that he had the freedom to put his new Python programming skills into practice.
“It’s not just about learning new skills; you must translate what you learn onto your resume,” he says. When it comes to the job search, he notes that “recruiters don’t care what language you learned; they care what project you finished.”
Once he completes his certificate, Fan will be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which will allow him to pursue one year of paid work experience to complement his studies. Fan points out that even if he were employed, he’d still see the value in taking Extension courses, because there are always more programming languages to master.
“These days, it is hard for new graduates to find jobs, and harder still for programmers to switch languages,” he says. “That’s why institutions like UCSC Extension are becoming more and more important. Even if you have a job, you’ve got to keep learning.”
For information on services and programs for international students, visit our International Programs page.