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Playing the Student Card

March 8, 2012 9:48 pm by


One memorable quote I remember from being in Ken Singer’s Mobile Entrepreneurship class is him telling us to always “play the student card”. People enjoy helping students because of a combination of a) its less pressure for them since we don’t work yet (not trying to use them to get a job, or for any other obvious personal gains) and b) they want to help younger folks because they once were in the same situation before as a student. For companies, they want to help us because they want to invest in their brand loyalty toward younger audiences, so that once we have a job and money, we are aware of their company and will continue to use their products.

Turning in my student card

As my years of being a student comes to an end, its time to take a look back and acknowledge the different people and companies that helped me get to where I am now.

  • GitHub
    • As a student studying CS, having a Micros plan on GitHub is invaluable.  A free Micros plan allows you to have up to 5 private repositories with unlimited collaborators.  A must-have for your CS projects and hackathons.
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5
    • Starting in August 2011, all UC Berkeley students gets a free copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5.  Normal price is 379$ for a license (which is out of reach for the 99% of students), so this is a great opportunity for people to learn how to use Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator and etc. for their class and personal work.
  • Microsoft Software
    • UC Berkeley students get MS Office and MS operating systems like Windows 7 and XP for free.  Students can barely afford food to eat, who in their right mind would cough up 100$ for a Windows 7 license?  This is a strategic move by Microsoft to ensure that we continue to use their products rather than their competitors.
  • Amazon Prime
    • Back in my day (~2010), Amazon had a promotion for students to have 1-year of Amazon Prime for free (free two-day shipping on all eligible products).  Now, it’s only 6 months but it’s still great.  When my trial expired, I was so spoiled by Amazon Prime service that I renewed my service for 40$/year.
  • Google I/O
    • Every year, Google holds a developer conference to bring thousands of developers for a two (this year, three) day event to network, attend talks, and listen in on the newest products coming from Google. This is a great opportunity for students to get a taste of the real world.  When I first attended Google I/O in 2010, it showed me what computer science is outside of academia, and made me so excited to pursue programming.  That led to me going again in 2011 by the skin of my teeth.  They gave me my first smartphone (my current phone at that time was a Motorola Razr, remember those things?), and since then, I have wrote Android apps, tutorials of many sorts, and have brought me into my passion for mobile.

Now these are services or events that are discounted for students.  The next list is a list of competitions I attended where I played the student card to my advantage.  Younger students take note 🙂

  • Facebook Mobile Hack
    • Facebook’s Mobile Hack is where you learn how to integrate Facebook services into your mobile app.  At the end, there is a hackathon where you compete for prizes.  I find that when introducing ourselves as “students at UC Berkeley studying CS”, we tend to get more attention that way (since everybody else were working adults).  Take it for what it’s worth, but playing the student card when you are the minority seems to give you an edge.  Not to mention, winning this hackathon got me a job offer.
  • AnDevCon III
    • Playing the student card once again, to try to appeal to the contest organizers.  However, notice there are also several other students playing the student card.  I think perhaps why mine stood out some more was the fact that I was more clear on why I feel like I should go.  Winning a 1,245$ ticket for writing a comment?  Not bad!


Take advantage of the fact that you are a student.  You only have this liberty for 4 years in college before you become a working adult.  The companies, people, and events that you meet and go to love the fact that you are an ambitious student and often times are willing to help one way or another!  For me, I will always be grateful for my student card because it

  • got me my job
  • got me into my career/interest, mobile
  • got me into building apps and competing in more hackathons
  • got me into conferences that I would never be able to afford

The student card is only valid for 4 years.  Use it before it expires.


Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 9:48 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.

Google I/O Bound!

April 6, 2011 11:11 pm by


Last year, I had the privilege of attending Google I/O and it was nothing short of amazing.  When registration opened up for Google I/O 2011, it was sold out in 59 minutes.  I tried registering about 30 minutes upon opening, but I was unable to get a ticket.

Luckily, Google launched a contest called Last Call for Google I/O, which they describe as

“A contest that spans 10 days, 10 developer challenges and 100 chances to win tickets to attend the now-sold-out Google I/O 2011.”

I knew that this was my chance to win a ticket.  For each category, there was two rounds that developers must go through.  Round 1 is just a fast quiz that everyone enters, only the quickest and most accurate 200 submissions will move on to Round 2.  Round 2 is a 24-hour coding challenge, out of the 200 individuals that make it, only 10 will be selected for a free pass to Google I/O.


I made it to Round II in the Accessibility category, and for Round 2, the goal was to design an Android app that searches only for YouTube videos that have captions.  It must then be able to playback the video and be able to quickly share the URL with others.  It also must be accessible-friendly (obviously).

After 24 hours of disregarding homework, classes, and sleep to finish this app, I submitted it with little hope of winning.  I did not fully satisfy all the specifications, and my app was not optimized at all (Mark and I agree that it is quite the POS).

However, on April 4th, I received the great news that I was one of the 10 winners!  They even featured my name on the contest website along with the other winners.  Also, Google Code wrote a blog post that goes into more details about the winners of each category.


I will be attending Google I/O again this year, and I already can’t wait for it to begin.  I learned my lesson this year…next year I will make sure to be ready by the second.

In case anyone is interested, the source code for my AccessibleYoutube android app is here.

Screenshots of AccessibleYoutube

Filed under: Android,General — Tags: , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 11:11 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.

College So Far

September 30, 2010 4:03 pm by

My name is Jesse Chen, and I am a third year student here at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Sometimes, I have to say that in my head repeatedly to convince myself of my existence in this world.  As one of the many hundreds of students studying EECS here at UC Berkeley, it makes me think about where each and every one of us will be.  Truthfully, I feel like there is very little that separates a person from another.  As an EECS major, there are probably true generalizations that one can make.  For example: probably Asian, below average hygiene, spends majority of life staring at a LCD screen, enjoys working with computers and likes video games.  Right?  These generalizations bunch us into a single group, and it is very hard to stick out and be someone unique and different.  I feel like that is one of my challenges here while I’m in college, which is to try to find who I really am.  But not only that, I want to be different from my peers, I’m not going to be another cookie-cutter EECS major who just came fresh out of the UC Berkeley oven.

There are much more talented students out there in EECS than me, it is undeniable and I am happy to be at a university that promotes intellectual curiosity and academic success than a university that doesn’t.  It inspires me to do better as well, but at the same time, sometimes you get that sunken feeling that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t be as good as some people.  As if their intelligence is a natural trait that you somehow did not receive when you were born and there is no way to reach the same level as some of your peers.  To this day, I still think about it – if this natural tendency for someone to do better academically than another is a hard-coded trait that can’t be changed, or if it is because their priorities are different from yours.  I can say that with me balancing school, work, long-distance girlfriend, basketball/video games at the same time is a respectable challenge.  However, against someone who does not have as much priorities, perhaps they do better at school because they do not have as much things to worry about?  Maybe it is because they are more productive with their time.

As a third year, I am among the ranks of my peers who are seeking for internships this summer to gain work experience and for the possibility of joining a company right after graduation.  Job recruiters are going to be looking among hundreds of candidates, people who are just like me.  Who will they select for the next round of interviews and who to eliminate?  Each of us are all trying to separate themselves from the stereotypical model of an UC Berkeley EECS student, trying to be unique and different to look more appealing.   My questions, to myself, are: How are you different from the other people trying to get the same internships?  What makes you any better than the other candidates?  Why should they hire you?

Time to think real hard about that – internship seeking time is now.

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 4:03 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.