Although many a tech pro is largely self-taught when it comes to programming languages and software development, a formal degree in computer science often helps in securing a full-time job. And it’s not just tech companies that want candidates who majored in CS; thanks to an increased focus on data analytics and mobile apps as pathways to boosting corporate revenue and productivity, many industries are now looking for software pros to join their ranks.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a computer-science degree, here are some tips for getting the most out of the experience:
Pair It With Something Else
If you’re good at time management, and can afford the credits, consider pairing your computer-science degree with another, equally practical one, such as business. Whatever you do after you graduate, a double major in CS and some other discipline can greatly expand your opportunities, whether you want to found a startup, engage in research, or end up on a management track.
Get As Much Work Experience As Possible
Seek out internship opportunities and part-time work in whatever CS specialty strikes your fancy; that way, you can augment your coursework with practical experience in something that interests you. Added bonus: Many employers give as much weight to your hands-on experience as they do your classroom record.
Start Building a Network
Career fairs and campus meet-and-greets might seem like a waste of time, especially on afternoons and nights when you have homework, but it’s still in your interest to attend at least some of those events. By establishing contacts early with recruiters and executives, you position yourself to field at least some job offers by the time you leave school.
Think About Your Track From the Outset
Chances are pretty good that your CS program will ask you to specialize at some point, so start thinking early about what interests you. And remember to keep exploring—many people enter into a CS program with an interest in, say, security, only to find themselves attracted to something completely different (like game design).