How to Set the Path for a Successful Career in Computer Science

Computer science is an extremely vast field with lots of options. It’s also very competitive. You’ll likely be able to get a job once you graduate, but the type of job and salary you’ll have access to will largely depend on the choices you’ve made. There are some things that you can do before, during, and after your studies to make sure that you get noticed by top employers or get a chance to move up the ladder. Let’s take a look at a few ways to prepare for a successful career in computer science.

Determine what a Career in Computer Science Looks Like for You

Some people may imagine themselves putting down fires and working on disaster situations in huge data centers. Others may want to work on hardware specifically. In other cases, you might work actively on software and app development, or even video games.

The point here is that there are so many paths in this field, and you need to have a clear idea now of what computer science means to you. Why did you get into computer science? When was the first time you had an interest in the field and what triggered it? Was it a documentary on how Apple was created, or maybe it was a robotics class you had in high school? Narrowing down your interests will allow you to know in which areas you could specialize and start researching what it takes to make it into your desired field.

Choose the Right Program

When choosing a program, you have to start with one that focuses on employability. Some are more practical than others and will have you perform more hands-on work which will prepare you better for the marketplace. 

Make sure that you check the employment numbers for any program. This should be your main focus at the beginning if you want to start working as soon as possible and gain experience. Employability is often the best way to judge the quality of a program, so if the graduates are hired at a high rate, you probably have a winner.

Get a Good Foundation

But, before you jump into a program head first, it would be wise to get a solid foundation. This will not only allow you to prepare, but make sure that you’re cut out for it. If you want to know how you can get a head start, MOOCs are a great option. These offer a flexible way to acquire skills, and some high-ranked universities allow students to earn credits from them, which shows how legitimate those can be. Khan Academy and edX both offer great computer science MOOCs that will give you the basic skills and knowledge needed to not feel left behind.

Complete Internships During Your Studies

Another thing you should do if you want to increase your chances of getting employed is to get relevant work experience during your studies. Here, we would suggest you look at both paid and free internships. 

Some universities will allow you to complete long-term internships with companies in your area. This is a great chance to understand the sector better, sharpen up your skills, and add some meat to your resume. Not to mention that the company you decide to do your internship with might decide to hire you.

Always Look for Advancement

There is probably no field that evolves at the rate of computer science, so you must always work on continuing your education and get as much expertise as you can after you get your bachelor’s. One of the best things you could do is pursue a master’s degree in computer science. Doing this could allow you to find better work, and give you a chance to work on research as well. Computer and information research jobs are expected to grow at a 4% higher rate than other computer science careers leading into 2028. They pay much more on average too.

If you think getting a computer science masters once you’ve entered the workforce will be tough, know that there are ways to make things easier for you. One would be to look at online degrees. You have universities like Baylor that have great online computer science masters and their computer science program is very highly respected. You’ll get all the pedigree of going to a top-ranked university while getting your degree from the comfort of your home.

Acquire Important Soft Skills

If you thought technical skills only would take you far in this business, think again. IT professionals do not operate in silos and interpersonal skills are extremely important in this field. One of the most important skills to master is communication, but more specifically, vulgarization. You will routinely work with people who have absolutely no idea of how IT works. It doesn’t help that IT is such a vast subject. Still, you will need to be able to teach clients or shareholders about complex issues and concepts in simple terms everyone in the room can understand. That’s not something that’s given to everyone.

Interpersonal skills will also be very important when working as part of a team. Since you’ll routinely be working with interdisciplinary teams or contractors, you will have to be able to adjust your communication style with each. As well as this, you will need to learn how to frame your communications to get what you want without being too assertive or abrasive.

This is why you should check if the program you were thinking of enrolling in would give you any opportunities to develop teamwork and communication skills. You should also look for other skills that are in very high demand in the current workforce, like agile project management, for instance.

If you want to increase your chances of having a long and fruitful computer science career, follow these few tips. This should help you find the right field for you and position yourself as a perfect candidate for any job that you want.