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Advice for a Computer Science Major?

Hey! I'm going to be majoring in computer science very soon, and I've received a lot of mixed messages from people- either they're begging me to turn around and never look back because it's awful, or that majoring in this field was the greatest decision of their lives, with very little in between. I obviously am not turning back now, but am still a little nervous. Do you have any small tips and tricks or hacks for me with the major of computer science? #computer-science #computer #technology #computer-engineering

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Patrick’s Answer

There are many different jobs that you might end up with a CS degree, and many reasons why you might love or hate that job. . Systems administrators typically spend time doing an on-call rotation. They have to do maintenance work when their changes are least-impactful on the business. This often means evening and weekend work. Some people despise this aspect of the sysadmin role. But you get to work with awesome equipment and you get to build cool things.


Some people end up being computer programmers. You have unreasonable deadlines, constantly changing requirements, and the stress of a ridiculous number of new tools and techniques appearing every week. But you get to build cool things.


At the end of the day, if you find that you love building those things, then you're in the right major.


The question I'd pose to you is: Do you love making your computer work? Do you love tinkering around and making your machine do exactly what you want it to do? Do you work on your computer even if you're not doing a class assignment? If you're into programming, do you find yourself using free time to write code? Are you doing your own personal development? Many of the people I've encountered who love their jobs in IT started off with a love of computers and grew up playing with them - changing out components, upgrading them, etc. Other people don't discover computer science until college but then fall in love with CS.


If you have a love for technology, you tend to focus on the good aspects of your job and focus less on the stuff that makes other people call the job awful.

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Wael’s Answer

Your career is what YOU turn it into. My brother is a computer science major and he loves it. He worked in research for a couple of years and now he is taking his master again in computer science. Regarding job security, the world is only going to be more dependent on you guys. As long as you enjoy what you do you are going to be fine.

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Ahmed’s Answer

Wael is right ! Is it what you really want to do ? If yes, you will be immune to setbacks in the future: because there will be setbacks, like in every other area in business or in your life. It's your ability to pick up the pieces and carrying on that will make the difference. If I have a piece of advice to give you in general, persevere, no matter what. Of course, take the time to weigh the upsides and downsides beforehand, but when you make your decision, trust your instincts.
As for your question specifically, I just replied to your other question regarding the laptop choice: so who do you think will be designing it, repairing it, making programs that work on it....it will be you guys CS Majors.
Another great opportunity for you is that, right now, Computer Science is at a major turning point in technology, with 3 major fields fastly growing: Robotics, Virtual Reality and Big Data. When you will major, there will be a lot of options for you to choose from, specially if you orient yourself in one of those fields.
The latter but not the least, if you have the creative soul, you can just create programs, apps...where you can just express yourself, like a certain Elon Musk (read his biopic), Jack Dorsey or the early life of a certain Mark Zuckerberg ;-)


Best of luck

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Hanish’s Answer

I would suggest getting a ton of help from your seniors and keep your gpa high. But most importantly focus in your data structures and algo class and make sure you master it. after you graduate and start applying for jobs, your ability to solve complex problems will be crucial.
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Carlos’s Answer

Agree with all the points above. I'd also add that your major is just your starting point. You'll probably go with many career transitions throughout your life and these are not limited by your major. So don't stress too much about it :)


To give you an example, I majored in Physics. But I was always doing programming on my free time and even got a part time programming job during college. So around graduation time I realized I wanted to pursue CS. I ended up joining Microsoft as a software engineer and have been doing that for the last 18 years (although I now work at Facebook). I haven't touched Physics since, although the math has come in handy.


The job market for software engineers (and CS professionals in general) is really good right now and it's likely to stay that way with the developments in all the areas Ahmed mentions. You just need to figure out what you enjoy doing and don't worry too much if it takes time. I highly recommend doing internships as a way of testing the waters.


Hope this helps, happy to follow up if you have any other questions. If you respond with some specifics about what you like and what you value we might be able to provide more concrete advise.


Carlos recommends the following next steps:

Browse jobs on LinkedIn. Do any sound exciting?
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