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Computer science college graduates do-over?

For those working in technology, is there anything you wish you took the time to learn in college now that you have graduated that you believe would have helped you now that you are working in your field. Like a non required classes or a minor or something?

#college-minor #college-classes #college
#computer-science #technology

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Daniel’s Answer

Writing. Better writing is useful, and the structure in a college course can be good to improve yourself there.

Anything technical that you really need to know, you can spend time to learn after school anyways. Sort of the nice thing about comp sci, everything is changing, there's always tons to learn. Another thing to keep in mind is that both the breadth and depth available in undergraduate degree programs is actually quite small compared to what you learn on the job. It's more about foundation.

Just take hard classes and learn how to learn a bunch. Program a lot.

Oh yea take some statistics if it's not required. Even if it is required, consider taking some more.

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Hagen’s Answer

Hello Brian,

It is a wise question you raise. I believe there are at least two answers: answer one is related to how advance your career and answer two is how to find greater happiness in your career and life?

The good news is I believe you can have and to some degree you need both. Although it's possible to compartmentalize your life into work and play, generally you'll find you don't have time to indulge in one or the other independently the way you imagine. Therefore, if one of your personal goals is to travel, then getting a job that allows for and even enables traveling would be a win win personally and in your career. If you're interested in community service securing a job that has a 'greater good' policy or initiative would allow you to do good while you work or at least in association with work.

That said, it's important to understand companies pay you to accomplish some task for which they receive revenue. If you work for a plumbing firm and you install a toilet and a water heater, the relationship between the task you performed and company revenue is pretty clear. If you're a programmer and your performing bug fixes, it's a little less direct, but the thinking is better software product quality translates to improved customer satisfaction and ultimately greater sales.

Assuming the tasks you know how to perform are in demand, the more complex and specialized your competencies are, the more your company can charge for your skills and the more you will get compensated. Much of the time, that complexity and specialization is related to domain knowledge not better programming skills. For example, knowing about the retail or the banking business will allow you to communicate more effectively with your retail or banking users and allow you to create more valuable products. Therefore, if you get excited about the stock market or online stores, then developing expertise in that kind of business will make you a more valuable programmer and, presumably, increase your engagement and satisfaction at work.

Education doesn't end with college, so rather than try and cram as much training as you can in college, it's probably more important to have a long term strategy that marries your technical skills to a specific business, government or non-profit domain about which you care. In the beginning, you'll probably be pushed enough just learning to program the way your company wants you to program. However, in time, that won't seem so challenging and, assuming it would be fun for you to learn about a domain that interests you, then that blending should yield a better balance in your overall skill set.

In short, understanding yourself enough to know the things that matter most to you and which, in doing, bring you pleasure lays the foundation for integrating your CompSci skills with that lifestyle. If approached in the right way, instead of competing for your personal time, your CompSci skills will open doors to doing things you want to do and care about (e.g. travel, social causes, learning about life). So if you want to minor in a field, I would recommend that decision is based more on your curiosities or interests so you can begin to develop domain expertise to compliment your technical expertise.

Hagen recommends the following next steps:

It's a long dense book but Eric Evan's Domain Driven Design makes a very strong case for developing an understanding of the organizations for which you are programming.
Make a list of things you want to do in your life and make sure the job you're seeking enables at least some of those goals.
If you're passionate about a cause or social movement, don't shy away from figuring out how to integrate your technical skills with your passion.

Excellent question. If I could go back, it would be to take more programing classes. For non-required classes it would have been finance or a general business class. I did go back for my MBA due to the mixture of engineering and business that I do in my position. So technically, I did have to do my do-over. My advice look at something you love because you will enjoy the classes and being in that field in the future. Katie Nelson