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For computer scientists, what does your work day look like, how does it impact other fields and the environment, and what were some education?

Hello I was wondering if someone could answer some questions I have for a school assignment pertaining to post-secondary opportunities in the field of computer science. I would really appreciate it if someone provided some answers to the following questions:

-What does a typical day look like for you?

-How do you believe their field of work impacts the environment (i.e. e-waste generation, lowering usage of resources, etc.)? What about other industries?

-What schooling did they complete in order to do your job? Were there any special skills you needed?

Once again I would really appreciate it if you answered these questions. Thank you in advance

technology computer-science computer-software information-technology

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3 answers

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Chirag R.’s Answer

-What does a typical day look like for you?

--> I am in the Cybersecurity arena and work with my clients to help with integrating security products with enterprise applications. These products and technologies are key in ensuring end users (general public and internal employees ) are able to securely access systems in most secure manner. I am in meetings discussing architecture design, product features and how it can help business owners achieve value from them.

-How do you believe their field of work impacts the environment (i.e. e-waste generation, lowering usage of resources, etc.)? What about other industries?

-->I believe rise in technology is allowing lot of tasks and people to do and see things in much more greener and efficient ways.

Whether it is a webex meeting with client in London, working virtually for a company based in Silicon valley etc.

-What schooling did they complete in order to do your job? Were there any special skills you needed?

--> I got an engineering degree with major in CS. Some of the core CS subjects (OS, Data Structures, Networking etc) and ofcourse programming subjects helped lay my foundations before entering the industry.

Words of wisdom :-) -- The key skill though is to NOT be RIGID. Be flexible with your choices and what you learn (even later in life) ..Gone are those days were you can say .."I have been an Oracle DBA" for twenty years ...Always keep learning via people and technology.

Wishing you the best of future ahead ! Good Luck !

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Rani’s Answer

Computer Science is a broad field. There are a lot of different areas in this field - whether it is software or hardware
-What does a typical day look like for you?
I started as a developer , then got interested in DBA and them Program / Project Management and Architecture. I've done a lot of Data analysis as well. A typical day as an Architect(IT) depends on projects I'm working on. It may be updating architecture plans or identifying the source of issues (root cause analysis) and recommending solutions. I may have to write-up business cases to secure funding , do presentations to my leadership or peers to share findings. Mostly meetings to gather information or share information.
-How do you believe their field of work impacts the environment (i.e. e-waste generation, lowering usage of resources, etc.)? What about other industries?
In IT - on of the ways I've lowered usage of resources is by recommending IT solutions to prevent in-person visit(Truck-roll) to resolve customer issues. The pandemic has proved that we don't need to travel across states for presentations/meetings or training - so we are reducing our carbon footprint via online/webex/MS Teams/Zoom etc

-What schooling did they complete in order to do your job? Were there any special skills you needed?
I did my Bachelors in Electronics and Communication engineering , Masters in Computer Science and MBA. I continue to enhance my skills by doing nano-degrees or certifications in the areas of my interest - like Program Management, Enterprise Architecture, Data Analysis etc. The point is to continue learning and keep up your skills to meet the needs of the business in the areas that interest you.
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Michael’s Answer

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

I'm a web developer, which means that I work with many software programs running on different computers which talk to each other through the internet. I would say that my job comes down to four main tasks. I may not do all of these every day, but I'm usually doing some combination of them. All of these skills will develop over time, and other developers with more experience will help you grow when you are just starting out.

  1. PLANNING: Software development is a pretty specific skill, so other people at the company where I work rely on me to help them understand how I can use code to help them solve their problems. I spend a lot of time figuring out what me and my team should work on during the next week, month or year. I work with business people to turn their "big picture" goals into daily tasks for me. I work with graphic designers to decide what a website should look like. I work with project managers to figure out what order we should do things and how long it should take. I work with other software developers to decide how to organize the code we write. I put this task first to dispel the myth that computer programmers work alone in a dark room. Software development is a group activity and people skills are just as important as programming skills. It is easy to teach someone to a new programming language – it's much more difficult to teach them how to work well with other people.
  2. WORKING WITH CODE: I write computer programs using one or more programming languages, based on the plans we made above to make the computers "do stuff". Computers are not very smart, and people often make mistakes (which is fine!), so I also read through code that others write to make sure it is correct and will work as expected. Other people also review code that I write. You may have heard the phrase "the map is not the territory" – we can make great plans about how to do something, but we inevitably run into unexpected situations and have to make decisions along the way. Working with code is an "iterative" process, something we do over and over again. We write and rewrite computer programs, much like an essay, until we decide collectively that it has a high level of quality and is ready to release to the world.
  3. WORKING WITH COMPUTERS: Code is great, but it lives in a text file. We also have to send it to computers living out there in the internet (the "cloud") where it can do its thing! Sometimes, "bugs" or errors will happen while it's running, we have to understand why problems are happening and fix them. If too many people are using our website at the same time and we can't handle all the traffic, we might have to tell more computers to run our programs in order to serve all of them. We might have to move our programs or data from one group of computers to another. If you're running a website, you have to be able to do all of these tasks without turning the website off. These kinds of problems are tricky but rewarding puzzles to solve.
  4. WRITING DOCUMENTATION: Code is for computers, but you also need to be able to tell your coworkers what code you wrote and why you made the decisions you made. I spend a lot of time documenting plans, the code I write, and problems that we had while the code was running. I may work on some code and then not revisit it for a long time, and understanding what I was thinking three months or a year ago can be really helpful.

Q: How do you believe their field of work impacts the environment (i.e. e-waste generation, lowering usage of resources, etc.)? What about other industries?

This is a tough question to answer and it depends on a lot of factors. Computers use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat which contributes to climate change. At the time of writing, blockchain programs and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin consume as much electricity as the country of Ireland, and that consumption is only growing. So I would avoid that field of computing if you're environmentally conscious.

On the other hand computers can make it easier to do things that would traditionally use a lot of energy. For example, I worked at my web development job from home for several years, and this was possible because we could coordinate over the internet using video chat and online collaboration tools. Working from home meant that I was able to avoid commuting by car.

Note about blockchain: I am sure that by calling this out, I am inviting someone who works in that industry to jump in here to defend themselves. To the student who asked this question, I encourage you to read the news and make up your own mind.

Q: What schooling did they complete in order to do your job? Were there any special skills you needed?

I went through a computer science and digital media program at an engineering university. This is not the only path to becoming a computer programmer, though it is pretty straightforward and you can get started in the field right out of college. I've worked with art history majors, English majors, and graphic designers who all transitioned to programming later in their careers.

I was also interested in programming before college, so it may sound nerdy, but I attended a "computer camp" a couple of summers where I learned programming skills. In high school I took AP classes: computer science, calculus, statistics, physics. This is not the only path to a programming job – there are now so many more resources available for free on the internet than when I was in high school, nearly 20 years ago.

Finally, it's important to be well-rounded. The people who are successful in this industry are naturally curious and have "learned how to learn". It may sound boring, but I paint, I play an instrument, I work in the garden, and all of these skills help me solve problems at my day job. Don't pursue programming to the exclusion of all else.

Michael recommends the following next steps:

Check out a free online programming course like Codecademy
See if there are any after-school programs near where you live that work with students on computing projects