They Don't Even Know The Fundamentals


"They don't even know the fundamentals!". That's what I often hear from my colleagues after their trips to universities for interviewing students for their projects. I've also experienced this situation myself so many times.

A lot of students nowadays just want to work on AI/ML, Blockchain projects. They just simply turn around and never sat down for an interview after knowing that we're looking for developers who will work on payment gateway, network management system, eCommerce,...

Some of them were patient enough to sit down for an interview, but still repeat that they wanted to work on AI/ML, Blockchain,... since "it's the 4.0 revolution now". To be honest, I'm totally fine with that. Everyone has a dream and that's OK.

But when it came to the technical interview, what I wanted them to do was just "giving a list of numbers, sort them by ascending using an algorithm you knew". That's it! Nothing more and nothing less. Sadly, some didn't even know how to do that! Most of them could explain that we need 2 nested loops and swap numbers if one is bigger than the other. That's cool! It's exactly what they have been taught.

Everything was great until I asked "could you please show me how to swap 2 numbers using a programming language you're most familiar with"? This is the question I've gotten a lot of "umh" "ah" from them so far. A lot of them failed to answer that simple question! They just know there should be a method swap and you need to provide 2 numbers and it's done. Some knew that we can use temporary variable but failed to provide the steps. To be honest, I was very frustrated. If they could answer that simple question, it's likely they would be hired...but a lot of them failed.

I think having a big dream is cool. Universities can "inject" those dreams in to the students' heads. But at the same time, we also need to teach them to know where they are, and need to tell them that they have to start learning the fundamentals first. Without the fundamental knowledge, one just simply cannot do anything bigger.