Traversing Technology in Montreal
Meet Kanika Singh Pundir, a second year Computer Science student at McGill University. We spoke to Kanika about her experience at university, how she navigated her studies, and how the faculty positively impacted her time at McGill University.
Discovering Computer Science
Kanika discovered Computer Science before her university years, “I did some programming in high school, and I enjoyed it when I went into college. I participated in some other classes related to programming and the field of computer science.” Kanika found it very interesting and did some research of her own before figuring out which university she wanted to pursue for her computing degree. “I was considering engineering and a few other options, but I stuck with computer science because I went to many seminars to learn about the field.” Kanika attended seminars, took some computer science classes, and finally chose to pursue the captivating subject.
Kanika knew she was destined to attend McGill University: "I was born in Montreal, so I've wanted to go to McGill forever." As this student is bilingual, she wanted to remain in Montreal to continue using her French and English skills. Kanika mentioned that she wanted to attend McGill University due to its high-ranking status and excellent reputation. In addition, she wanted to remain close to her family: "I think a part of academic success is having a support system. For me, staying here was essential as my family and friends are in Montreal." Kanika mentioned, "McGill University opens up many doors for me in the future if I want to move or go to the U.S. for my graduate studies." As McGill has a stellar reputation, it would be a seamless transition from McGill to a university almost anywhere in the world.
This student expressed that Montreal and McGill University are incredibly multicultural, with many different people speaking various languages. Alongside the inclusive and diverse nature of the city– it also has a unique tech landscape. “There’s also a large tech scene, which is another reason I wanted to stay here. The startup scene is pretty good as well.” Kanika paints Montreal as an incubator for innovation, hosting a fantastic university with “amazing facilities and an incredible faculty.”
Another facet of the university that intrigued Kanika was the research capabilities at McGill University. “The professors are famously known in their field, or they are currently working in research in their field,” Kanika mentioned that this is important to her as a student. “Learning from amazing teachers who have participated in research in their field shows that they can teach their students everything they need to know about the industry.” In addition, McGill receives a lot of research funds, which helps facilitate the research conducted at the university. High-quality research also speaks well to the graduate prospects at McGill University. Kanika agreed that their research reputation is an excellent indicator of their high-quality master’s and PhD programs.
The magic of multidisciplinary
This young student described her course as an interesting multidisciplinary degree applicable to many different areas. “If you go into computer science, you can’t have a one-track mind because subjects change so much,” Kanika mentioned that her course is well-rounded as it’s structured so you can learn theory and participate in projects. “It’s an excellent program in the sense that you have a lot of applications, you have a lot of different areas where you address real-world problems, but you also have the program which is structured in a way where you learn theory and also have projects so you can grasp those theoretical concepts,” Kanika mentioned that computer science is a vast discipline that is very different from other sciences. “Coming from a broad science background where I had to do biology, physics, and maths, computer science is expansive.” She mentioned that focusing on a subject like computer science has helped her succeed academically.
Moving away to university can come with its challenges; Kanika explained that one of the surprises she encountered when coming to university was the workload. “I didn’t realize how big McGill University is and how much work there would be.” However, McGill University is highly supportive, and this student always felt like she had the help of her teachers and peers. “My professors are attentive. They have so many office hours even though they have their research.” Kanika expressed that her professors have office hours where they help students understand areas where they’re struggling. “They still spend time with us and don’t leave everything to the teaching assistants.” Kanika said she had “one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my entire life” at McGill. She explained that this professor had his research going, and he created a system where students could gain experience in coding. “It was a virtual world where we did some coding challenges and fully text-based games; we would gain coins for our efforts– it was a very enriching experience.” This virtual environment created by the professor demonstrated the passion present within McGill’s faculty.
In the future, Kanika would like to enter the world of cloud computing, specializing in this field of computer science. She wants to move into her master’s studies and possibly complete a cloud computing PhD. This future cloud computing professional ended our interview with some advice. “It’s important to balance work and your social life well, but try not to get sidetracked.” As McGill is a downtown campus, there is much to explore, so much so that some people tend to get sidetracked. Staying focused on the task at hand while continuing to enjoy university life will ensure academic success in the eyes of this student.