I recently interviewed some students in the co-op program at Concordia University for an internship position this summer. Overall I was quite pleased with the quality of the candidates. There was one conversation that really stuck out for me. Each of the students was asked what they did outside of school to keep up to date with technology and learn on their own. About half of the students gave me examples of extra-curricular projects they worked on, part time jobs that they had done that were related to the technology field, or just programs they had written for their friends, their relatives, etc. The other half came up with the excuse that in the co-op program it was just too much work to be able to handle doing extra stuff. I’m not quite sure why the co-op program is more work than a regular program, assuming that people in the regular program go get a job during the summer, but that is an aside. My main concern for these students is that if they get a real job, and perhaps a family, and home to look after, there is not going to be spare time to stay up to date with technology. You have to make the time. Regardless of how hectic your schedule is, I believe that is essential that you spend time on stuff that is not assigned to you. If you don’t, you will become a slave to whatever work is given to you and never be able to develop your own career direction. Interestingly, the people with the extra-curricular activities had the higher GPAs!