Where can I go with Computer Science? (Part 1)
Even as an offer holder, I didn’t quite understand what Computer Science was. I knew that it involved algorithms, maths, and learning how a computer works. And of course, it involved programming.
As such, I was under the impression that most Computer Scientists tend to become software developers. End of. A standard career path.
As it turns out, it’s not as simple as that! The more I’ve explored, the more opportunities I find – with plenty of surprises.
Some key findings:
- Studying CS is less about learning particular programming languages, and more about developing skills: problem-solving, adaptability, numerical, analytical, etc.
- There is a wide range of careers in various industries suited to CS students beyond software development, using the skills mentioned above – both technical and non-technical
- ‘Software development’ is very broad – there are so many types of technologies to work with, and they are rapidly evolving.
I went from being an assured first-year student to a confused second-year student, as I realised the magnitude of options available to me.
Ultimately, there are two options after a degree: further studies or getting into work. While it’s not possible to describe all the options in terms of work – after all, digital technology and software are used everywhere, from banks to hospitality to medicine to entertainment – I’ve picked a few I’ve considered myself.
In terms of higher education, it generally goes like this:
Bachelors -> Masters -> (MPhil) -> PhD
While I could just finish a BSc in Computer Science and head straight into work, I’m planning to do a Masters for the following reasons:
- To delve further into learning about areas I’m interested in
- To improve my employment prospects
- Give my future self the option to pursue a PhD – I might do this if I want to be at the cutting edge of CS research or teach at uni.
I’m currently on the MEng Computer Science course offered by DCS, which is a 4-year integrated Masters course.
The first three years of the MEng are almost exactly the same as the BSc, which means that there isn’t much of a distinction between the two. It’s therefore really easy to switch between the courses.
The fourth year of the MEng provides the opportunity to dive in-depth into CS and get further experience of working on a team software project that makes a real contribution to the field/industry.
Getting Into Work
I like careers fairs. Not only are there freebies (PENS!), but they’re also a really useful way of getting information that beats Google Search. And how often can someone say that?
My CS department careers fairs are perhaps the most relevant, but I’ve also learnt a lot from going to sector-specific careers fairs and the general university-wide fairs. I would really recommend going to these fairs, even if it’s just to float around.
Examples: Google, Cisco, Apple
Obviously, a career option for a techy person is to work in a tech company – these companies are the tech creators and service providers. From what I’ve gathered, the appeal of working in the tech industry is:
- The sense of innovation, and working with various – potentially cutting-edge – technologies
- There’s a lot of focus on having a good work culture (see Google offices, for example!), including work flexibility
- Always learning!
We’ve had a number of tech companies come to our department careers fairs, which has been really useful in understanding more about their work and internship/graduate opportunities. Google’s presence is a particular highlight – they’re very generous with freebies! 😀
Examples: Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America
I think it’s a Warwick thing that banks are a major presence in our CS careers fairs – a great opportunity to hear about the internship/graduate schemes offered by them and to also get a better understanding of the role of tech in finance.
From what I’ve gathered, the appeal of working in finance is:
- Working with fintech (financial technology)
- It’s a fast-paced environment, working in real-time
- … good pay 😉
As part of our software engineering module, we were given a specification by Deutsche Bank for a system that monitors derivative trade data. Based on this specification we built web apps that use machine learning, which we pitched to people from the bank. It provided a fantastic insight into the technical challenges banks face.
This is not the end! There are a few more options that I’ve covered in Part 2.