David Somers

BEng Computer Science, 2007 - 2010

Development Lead in Research & Development, News International

Why did you choose to study Computer Science at York?

I was really attracted by the balance of hardware and software the course provided. So many universities focus heavily on software development but I felt I wanted to get the opportunity to experience a broad range of disciplines. I didn't want to miss out on something I might find I really enjoy!

Did you enjoy your time with us? 

Absolutely! I think my highlight was simply learning so many new things, and meeting like-minded people who I could talk to about topics that interested me. Also, unlike school, you are 100% focused on a topic that interests you and for me that was really enjoyable.

Which part of your course did you most enjoy or find the most useful?

The knowledge I gained about different algorithms, data structures and programming fundamentals have been the most useful to me since leaving university.  I also really enjoyed learning about hardware and the hardware projects.  It was something I'd never had the opportunity to do before and I found it helped me gain an understanding of computing right across the stack - from circuitry to source code.

What did you think of the Department?

I cannot emphasise enough how organised I felt the Department was regarding course material and procedures. It was also very supportive and welcoming: during a difficult personal time in my final year, my tutor did everything in his power to ensure I had what I needed. I never felt I was neglected. The campus is a wonderful place to live and learn, with plenty of facilities and plenty to do.

Has the programme helped with your career?

Definitely. Not just the programme, but also being at the University of York. Whilst at university, a fellow student and I created a web-based Twitter client called Twitterfall. I would not have been able to do that without the knowledge I gained from the programme, and of course having a fellow Computer Science student working with me helped!

Twitterfall received a lot of press attention and, in particular, we found that the Daily Telegraph was using Twitterfall extensively. The paper invited us to London for an interview and to meet its technology department. It is directly through this connection that I got the job I have now.

The friend who worked with me on Twitterfall relocated to San Francisco to work for Twitter, again directly as a result of the work we did together. None of this would have been possible for me without being at the University of York and studying Computer Science.

Do you have any advice or tips for people thinking about studying Computer Science at York?

If you're unsure about how long you want to be at university for, then start with the longest period you can! You really don't know how you'll feel once you get there. You might decide that three years of study is enough and you want to go out and work, or you might become really passionate about something you'd never heard of before and want to continue into research.

If you think you've got what it takes to be an entrepreneur, start at university! Think of a problem you have and use what you are learning to make a product to solve it. That's how Twitterfall started: we were fixing a problem with how we used Twitter to keep track of live events.  Now we have hundreds of users and it has landed both of us interesting jobs!