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What should high school students start thinking about when they're interested in computer science but not sure what career they want in the future?


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Matt’s Answer

I wouldn't worry too much about a specific career outcome at this point. Computer science is all about learning how to solve problems, and in taking on new projects you'll gain experience, confidence, and skills that will translate to additional projects. The field of computer science--and the variety of careers--is broad. Perhaps you'll want to specialize in the future, but for now I'd recommend getting experience in anything that interests you, as that will help you decide what areas you want to delve even more deeply. Additionally, things in the tech world change fast. The career you find for yourself may not even exist yet.

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Kyle’s Answer

Hi Danielle! If you are interested in computer science, I would recommend coming up with a small scale project to work on. For me, learning to code involved a lot of exploration and I found that I learned the most when I had a targeted problem that I was trying to solve. It doesn't have to be complex, it just has to be something that matters to you! If you possible, I second Nicole's recommendation to connect with folks who are already in the field. The saying that "you don't know what you don't know" really is true with respect to choosing a career, so gaining exposure to the field can be really helpful.

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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Danielle L. Thanks for this awesome question!!

I think some of the best tools you can put in your toolkit as you are thinking about whether or not computer science should be in your career path is A)reading about it, B)talking to people who do it and C) using online spaces to learn more.

There is no shortage of easy to read material on what computer science is, does, benefits, challenges. Because the use of computer science is practically everywhere, it isn't hard to find places where you can take a few minutes, maybe once per week, to read more in-depth material about the field. If you don't have direct access to talk to a person in the field, use online tools to hear from people who are in the field. I think you will be surprised to see how many computer scientists are willing to share what they know.

I think that taking in bite-sized pieces of learning about this field could be a helpful way to helping you think about whether or not computer science could have (and keep) your interests.

Hope you find this answer helpful and best of luck to you in your journey!

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Kenny’s Answer

Hi Danielle!

I wouldn't worry too much about what specific career you would want in the future yet. You can do many things with a computer science degree and some jobs might not even require you to code much, but having that technical background will still be helpful.

What I would do as a high school student who is interested in computer science is to just start learning and doing. Some people might prefer structure to their learning so you could sign up for an online course (edx.org, coursera.org and tons of other free resources out there) or see if your high school offers a computer science class. Others might have their own learning style and might just immediately jump into creating their own projects. I'd recommend a course to learn the basics of computer science first and from there, see if there are any personal projects/ideas that might interest you. Taking a course is nice as it is structured and guided, can have premade exercises to practice your skills and just get you familiar with programming. Sometimes there can be almost too much information out there and you never get started. A course narrows this information down and keeps it structured.

As far as creating your own project, this could be anything from wanting to create an an ios/android app, building a website, writing a bot, automating something you do manually, code something in minecraft etc. The important thing here is to not get too bogged down on "what" you want to do, but to just do anything. You don't need to have the next big idea. You first app might even be making tic-tac-toe. Whatever it is, just get started.

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Melissa’s Answer

I think the most valuable thing you can do as a high school student who is interested in Computer Science is practice Computer Science! Take any CS classes your high school offers. If there are none, it may be worth looking into community college or extension classes available in your area.
Does your school have CS-related clubs you could join to get some hands-on experience? Are there personal programming projects you'd be interested in diving into in your spare time, or open-source projects you're familiar with that you could make contributions to? Any of these things could help you learn more about CS and whether you find it fun, interesting and rewarding.

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Carl’s Answer

As a high school student, you shouldn't stress over knowing what career you will want in the future. Focus on continuing your education in a field that you find interesting, like computer science. You will figure out the career part much later. As you go through college, you will learn about careers that you don't even know exist today.

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