Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering

Utku Mert, Class of 2017

Can you tell me about your background and how you came to work for PlayStation Network?

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at Bogazici University in Turkey. I worked at Turkcell (Turkey's version of Verizon) and (Turkey's version of Amazon) as a Software Development Engineer. I not only developed and improved these companies' official iPhone and iPad applications but also my own app ideas. I have deep knowledge about Objective-C, iOS/tvOS SDK, Xcode and Cocoa Touch framework. PlayStation has always been one of my favorite top tech companies. It feels absolutely great to be able to work for them.

What is a typical day in the life of your position?

I work in the PlayStation Vue tvOS development team as a Software Development Engineer. Every day we start with a stand-up session to get in sync with all the developers and testers. Then I will move to actual implementation of my user story. When it is completed, I send PR (pull request) and another developer reviews my code. I do the same for other developers' PRs. In case there are defects or some important comments, I do the necessary changes and update my PR. When the PR gets merged, I update my task hours in scrum board. As a final step, I will write UT (unit test) for my user story.

When you were in the master’s program where did you complete a summer internship? What was the search process like?

I completed my internship at PlayStation Network, where I currently work, in San Francisco, CA. The search process was intense. I applied to over one hundred forty companies, received four returns (interviews), and ended up with three offers from top companies.

What has been your most valuable experience at PlayStation Network so far, and why?

My iOS development experience with Objective-C was right on point. PlayStation started developing the PlayStation Vue application for AppleTV a month before I joined the team. Since tvOS (Apple’s TV operating system) and iOS (iPhone and iPad operating system) have a lot in common, I adapted to the project very quickly. I had a major impact on the application. They could make use of me as full-time developer because of my solid experience in iOS. I had to study a couple of tvOS-related concepts from time to time. I developed the entire settings page of the application. In the current version, the application still has my code running.

What can a first-year graduate student be doing to prepare themselves for a career in your field?

A first-year student in the master’s program should have either developed some applications or kept their GitHub account up-to-date even before joining the program. The student should start applying to internships in October or sooner. Due to the time commitment associated with researching companies, filling out applications, and preparing proper resumes, they won't have enough time to develop apps, start side projects or keep their GitHub up-to-date. Studying for interviews is the key since you will have to solve (write code) for as many questions as possible. Knowledge and problem-solving skills are vital for attaining a CS internship. No one cares how you dress or how you look.

If you were an incoming graduate student again, what would you do in your first year to maximize your chance of breaking into your industry, field, or function?

I would try to connect with more people in the industry. An internal reference seems like the only way to get interviews for some companies, even for well-known ones. I would also start studying interview questions in the summer before the first autumn quarter starts.