Now more than ever, finding a career path that isn’t likely to be replaced by a machine, algorithm, software solution or robot is crucial. Given the effects of automation and outsourcing, in particular, being well-trained in highly-specialized skills can safeguard against the loss of employment in the years and decades to come.
The world of computer science offers a wide variety of career options for those who wish to pursue this field of study, as virtually every major business and employer needs well-trained tech specialists in multiple capacities. Combined with high pay, it is not surprising that many are choosing to pursue this major.
However, computer science majors don’t have an effortless path in pursuing their education. There are many considerations that must be made while studying and after obtaining a computer science degree. As such, let’s examine what any computer science major must consider in order to guarantee a quality career in this broader field.
Where (and How) to Pursue a CS Major
The very first consideration that prospective computer science majors must make is where and how they intend to pursue their degrees. In today’s world, the majority of colleges and universities now offer computer science classes and degree programs, but choosing the right university requires consideration.
For example, CS majors must first decide whether they wish to attend college at a nearby location, or move in pursuit of a more prestigious degree. Some of the best computer science colleges and universities include:
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Harvard University
- University of California, Berkeley
Just as an important factor as considering where to go is how to go. Choosing whether to attend physical classes in a traditional setting or pursuing an online computer science degree can make a big difference in a person’s life. While an in-person computer science degree program offers in-person assistance and guidance, an online computer science degree program offers flexibility in scheduling.
Whether to Pursue Development, Programming or Something Else
There are many career paths available to computer science majors, but it’s recommended that CS majors have a general idea of which specific occupation they would like to pursue before graduating.
Which career paths are available to computer science majors? Here are a few prime examples:
- Computer programming
- Software development
- System analysis
- Database administration
Many people who pursue a traditional or online computer science degree ultimately enter the world of computer programming, which is vast and consists of dozens upon dozens of programming languages.
However, developers comprise a solid percentage of those who choose a different profession. According to computerscience.org:
“Software developers use various source debuggers and visual development environments to modify, write, and debug software for client applications. They also document and test client software and write code to create applications that either stand alone or boost access to servers and services.”
Programming and development are two entirely different occupational fields, so determining which is preferable prior to graduation is essential. This will ensure that CS majors obtain the necessary skill-sets that allow for entry-level jobs with upward mobility.
There are also a variety of other occupational opportunities for computer science graduates. Some may choose to follow their entrepreneurial ambitions, while others will utilize generalized computer science skills in day-to-day technology management for businesses.
Which Programming Languages to Learn First
Given that most computer science majors learn at least one programming language, even those that do not pursue careers in programming should carefully consider which language is worth their time.
Whether a CS major is analyzing software or writing code from scratch, having an understanding of how one or more programming languages work is crucial. Ever-changing demands in the world of technology continue to transform which languages are most in-demand, but the most commonly-needed programming languages include:
- C & C++
What to Build? A Resume or a Portfolio?
Most college graduates focus on building their resumes through careful crafting, entry-level work experience, and intern opportunities. After all, a resume is the lifeblood of a worker’s pursuit of employment – without it, how else can an applicant demonstrate their skills?
As it turns out, computer science majors must also consider another element – portfolios. Portfolios showcase the skills that a computer science major has accumulated, but rather than just listing base accomplishments, a portfolio directly demonstrates this knowledge.
Portfolios can come in many shapes and sizes, including the following:
- Links to every project or task completed
- Contributions to open-source coding projects listed
However, the need for a resume as well cannot be understated. Those who have just graduated with a traditional or online computer science degree need to cultivate both portfolios and resumes to have a chance at snagging their preferred jobs post-graduation.
How to Communicate Knowledge to Co-Workers
Many computer science majors will inevitably find themselves working with individuals and in situations where an understanding of their skills is not inherent. Most people do not know how to program or develop software – yet these skills are crucial in many occupations.
To be a successful computer science major in a field with stable employment, how knowledge and skill-sets are communicated to the masses may make the difference between employment and job loss.
Technical communication is one of the most important skills for computer science graduates, according to Matt Might. He states that:
“In smaller companies, whether or not a programmer can communicate her ideas to management may make the difference between the company’s success and failure.”
In these post-graduation workplace scenarios, communicating the importance and day-to-day tasks of computer science professions in ways others can understand may not only save the employee’s job but the company as a whole.
Before and after earning a typical or online computer science degree, considering carefully the knowledge needed, the skills required, and forms of behavior mandated is needed. A college degree alone doesn’t guarantee success; computer science majors must determine which career specialty they prefer, accumulate as much knowledge and experience during their years at university, and ultimately jump head-first into the workforce ready to compete.