Humans of CSE April

Humans of CSE April

Embarking on postgraduate studies is a journey filled with unique challenges and triumphs. Unlike their undergraduate counterparts, postgraduate students embark on a more specialised and rigorous academic path, navigating through a maze of research, deadlines, and personal growth.

To capture the essence of this experience, CSESoc Outreach has conducted interviews with postgraduate students within the UNSW CSE community. Join us in exploring their stories and insights in this month’s edition of Humans of CSE.

Ziming Gong, 2nd year Master of IT and Commerce student

What inspired you to pursue a postgraduate degree?

I decided to pursue a postgraduate degree because I'm eager to deepen my expertise and stay updated with the latest advancements in technology. I'm also really excited about the opportunity to participate in university-led projects and events, which are great platforms for practical learning and networking. These experiences are key to developing my skills further and preparing me for advanced professional challenges.

Would you be able to explain how postgraduate studies differ from undergraduate studies?

Undergraduate studies usually focus on teaching basic concepts and skills, often through methods like exams and practical exercises, such as coding. Postgraduate studies, however, tend to focus more on advanced knowledge and applying what you've learned to real-world problems. In postgraduate courses, there's a bigger emphasis on doing research, writing detailed reports, and giving presentations, which prepares students for professional or academic careers.

How do you balance your academic workload with other aspects of your life (e.g. family, work, personal interests and hobbies)?

For me, prioritising is key. I allocate significant time to academics, ensuring that I stay on top of quizzes, assignments, presentations, and other academic commitments to meet my grade expectations. This focus is essential since academic success is a primary goal of my time here.

However, I also recognize the importance of maintaining a well-rounded life. Therefore, after fulfilling my academic obligations, I strategically use any remaining time to engage in activities that rejuvenate me and keep me connected to those I care about. As an international student, staying in touch with family is vital, so I make it a point to schedule regular video chats with them weekly. This helps me stay connected despite the physical distance.

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for after you’ve completed your postgraduate degree?

After completing my dual degree in IT and Commerce, I am particularly interested in entering the fintech sector to apply technology solutions to real-world financial problems. I'm also considering pursuing a PhD, which would allow me to delve even deeper into this field, contribute to cutting-edge research, and further develop my expertise in technologies that can transform the finance industry.

On that note, how do you maximise your skill development, particularly for future employment, during the 2 years of your studies?

To maximise my skill development during my studies, I've focused on specialising in AI and finance areas I'm particularly passionate about. While some university courses can be theoretical and not always directly relevant to specific job technologies, I actively seek to bridge that gap by aligning my coursework with my career interests. I believe that by excelling in these specialised areas, I'll enhance my job prospects significantly. Additionally, I keep an open mind about future employment, recognizing that the skills and knowledge I acquire can open up various opportunities in the evolving job market.

What resources or support systems have you found most helpful in your postgraduate studies (e.g., mentorship programs, academic advisors, peer networks)?

During my postgraduate studies, I've faced several challenges, from coursework difficulties to registration issues. I've found that tutorial sessions and tutors are incredibly helpful for academic guidance, while academic advisors and the Student Hub are great resources for addressing general concerns. Additionally, reaching out to friends and peers has provided me with valuable support and practical advice.

As an international student, I've encountered unique obstacles, which led me to discuss these issues with over a hundred fellow students across different faculties. These conversations inspired me to create a platform called, a website aimed at leveraging AI and community knowledge to help students overcome similar challenges.

Finally, any words of advice for other current or future postgraduate students?

Postgraduate study can be particularly intense, especially for those coming from different backgrounds.

My advice for future students is to start preparing early. If you're new to the field, practice coding and engage with fundamental courses to build a strong foundation for your studies. For those already experienced in IT, focus on areas that interest you and explore opportunities that align with your career goals.

Additionally, actively participate in university events and seek out projects that excite you. These experiences are not only enriching but also crucial for gaining practical knowledge and learning about new technologies. This proactive approach will enhance your skills and better prepare you for your future career.

For more useful resources:

Coming back for CS: The Postgrad Experience - CSESoc Media Podcast.

CSESoc Discord - A great place to ask questions and get advice from fellow students!

UNSW Subreddit - This is not CSESoc affiliated, however it is popular amongst students when seeking useful advice that may have been asked by past students in subreddits. Use at your own discretion. - As referenced by Ziming in the article, a great tool they developed to help university students overcome challenges.

Postgraduate Guide - Check out our 2021 guide with some advice for postgraduate students. We are looking to update this guide, so if you are interested in making any contributions please reach out to us!

CSESoc Outreach aims to release monthly articles that highlight the diverse experiences of students. We invite you to submit feedback or share your own insights through the form. Your stories, advice or perspectives could be invaluable to someone navigating university life.

Joyce He & Sapphire Wildie