Author Archives: adamgemmell

How to Give a Talk

Queens’ famous wednesday meetings are evening sessions, normally an hour long, organised by our Director of Studies to give us a bit of extracurricular experience and networking with each other.

Our first session of the year was led by Dr Ramsey Faragher, a Bye-Fellow of the college. With his experience working in industry he led a talk on… well, giving talks.

Ramsey had lots of advice to give us, the main points being:

  • Get your audience’s attention quickly (i.e. the first 10 seconds). The worst thing you can do is boringly introduce yourself and give a long contents page.
  • Design your talk for your audience. Don’t patronise them and don’t skip over slides because you fear they won’t be understood.
  • Keep your slides brief and don’t just read them out. Be fluent in your speech
  • Know your talk inside out, so you can fluidly move from one slide to the next

If you’d like more tips, the below video gives plenty:

Our next meeting will be the following Wednesday where the Part II students talk about their summers.

Part II students’ summers

Our first real Wednesday meeting of the term included a presentation from our part 2 (third year students on the undergraduate course) students on what they did over summer.

Katie’s summer involved an internship at Jagex Games Studio (developers of Runescape), where she worked on an implementation of a Naive matt
Bayesian Classifier to determine the likelihood of a support ticket being valid or from a potential hijacker. She also got to experience a variety of work socials, plus being an early beta tester for new game features. Matt’s summer involved interning for a joint venture with Boeing and the University, based on computer vision. The role also involved giving talks to Boeing engineers in America. Andi spent his time learning things in his own time and taking some time off, along with an internship with Google in Poland and with Palantir in New York.

Ben’s intership involved working on the Xen hypervisor, a system for managing many ben
different virtual machines on a server. Due to security issues involving a virtual machine being able to interfere with other virtual machines, the x86 emulator had to be moved to a lower permissions level with workers to perform higher-level tasks, which is easier said than done considering the emulator was written with assumptions it had a high level of privilege. Nevertheless, the task was completed by the end of the internship. Jamie didn’t get an internship, and definitely showed that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. He spent the summer doing sports and making sure he was refreshed for term to start again in October, along with exploring 3rd year topics and ideas for his project, a procedural racetrack generator. Radu had an intership at Google over summer, during which he worked on a “Merchant Telephony Notifier,” the exact details of which were secret, but involved text-to-speech. Sid worked with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, travelling and researching his part II project.

Part II students’ summers

This week’s meeting of the Queens’ CompSci students focused on what our part II students did over summer (that being the summer between years 2 & 3 of the undergraduate course).A slide from Holly's talk about an internship at Facebook

Many secured a placement for an internship. This lasted about 3 months with a variety of companies including Facebook, Amazon TV and Palantir, taking place in California, London, Russia, Denmark and more. These students gained experience in industry as well as with new toolsets, and enjoyed many of the perks of working with huge companies – Facebook’s food being especially recommended!A slide from Jeppe's talk about an internship with Palentir

One common recommendation from students was to apply early in the year for internships – interviews can start around November, and if places fill up before they process your application you can find it hard to secure something for the summer. Queens’ starts C.V. help early in the year to aid you in this. Cambridge also offers summer projects in the Computer Laboratory to build on skills learnt in the year.

Other students chose to spend their summer on independent learning – Mistral devoted a large part of his time to researching malware and computer security, for instance. Meanwhile, Jake developed an iOS app for his location-based social network company (a joint project with other students), and also worked on his YouTube series (which is featured often on this blog) and web development.

Finally, the part II students held a short panel where other students could ask them questions, followed by a great formal dinner.