University of Maryland's App Dev Club Helps Students Gain Hands-On Experience for a Career in Tech

The student organization supports members by nurturing talent and bridging the gap to professional opportunities in tech.
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Since the App Dev Club at the University of Maryland's Department of Computer Science launched last fall, it has grown to 105 members and emerged as a hub for students to gain app development experience and marketable knowledge that will help them stand out in the job market. 

A two-pronged approach underpins the club's strategy. The club teaches students technical skills—such as JavaScript, HTML, CSS and back-end frameworks—and networking skills. Students employed at companies like Google and Microsoft share advice on crafting a LinkedIn profile, building a resume and leveraging local events for career advancement.

According to Samai Patel, a computer science major and the club’s senior executive director, the club's roots trace back to the founders' experiences in the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program in the Honors College.  

“Observing the struggles of talented peers in securing internships and jobs in software engineering, we identified a pressing need,” Patel said. “Our solution was a club offering both skill development and networking opportunities to enhance students' marketability.”  

Central to the club's mission are project teams. These teams collaborate directly with companies, creating rapid prototypes based on real-world problems. 

The club is currently working with Amazon on a space safety visualizer project, a tool designed to help non-technical stakeholders at Amazon visualize satellite collision risks. 

“The hands-on experience we provide is invaluable and unmatched by other clubs or internships,” Patel shared. “It exposes students to the complete software development life cycle, enhances communication skills and fosters team building—all while contributing a distinctive project to their resumes.”

In spring 2024, the club will engage with major companies like General Dynamics, MITRE, U.S. News and Children's National Hospital.

"Our members demonstrate a deep understanding of the challenges in securing positions at top companies," Patel said. "But their experiences have also driven us to create a platform where success is more than just securing an internship. It's about holistic growth. That's why we're dedicated to increasing project sponsorships and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit, urging members to use their skills creatively."

Matthewos Gashaw, a computer science major and the club's vice president and tech lead, said collaborations with big-name partners “enhance the club's prestige and provide tangible, real-world experiences for its members.”

"Many students are caught in the cycle of needing experience to get an internship but requiring an internship to gain experience,” Gashaw added. “It's a classic chicken-and-egg situation. We positioned ourselves to break this cycle and provide them with the opportunities they need to secure their goals."  

As the club continues to grow and evolve, its leaders remain committed to its founding vision of empowering students to compete in the workforce, building a community of like-minded students and providing engaging mentorship.  

—Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

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