Playing the Student Card
Jesse Chen • March 9, 2012 • 5 min read
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.
- 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.
© 2021, Jesse Chen • ea3e0f0