What Types of Skills Are Best for a Computer Science Major?

If the idea of writing code and coming up with creative tech solutions appeals to you, then becoming a computer science major might just be for you. What’s the best way to thrive as a computer science major and set yourself up for success? It starts with having the right skill set.

Here are the top five skills the most successful computer science majors possess.

Analytical skills

Being a computer science major involves identifying a problem and coming up with a technological solution to address it. This requires having strong analytical skills that will enable you to understand the issue you’re dealing with and evaluate different solutions in order to find the one that best fits your needs.

Problem-solving skills

One of the other key skills for computer science majors is the ability to solve complex problems in a systematic and logical way. This is because most of the projects you’ll be working on will require you to take a concept and turn it into a reality. In order to do this, you’ll need to be able to think about the best way to execute the project and then outline the steps needed to get it done.

Creativity

Creativity goes hand in hand with problem solving and it’s one of the other key skills you’ll need as a computer science major. Since coming up with solutions to problems is almost never a straightforward process, out-of-the-box thinking is often required in order to ensure that you’re delivering the most innovative and effective solutions.

Critical-thinking skills

Critical thinking is an important skill to have in any major, but it’s especially important when it comes to computer science. This is because you’re going to be working on a variety of projects and using a variety of methodologies, so knowing which methodologies to use (and when to use them) is an essential part of getting the job done. By thinking critically, you’ll also be able to assess why certain solutions might not work and to save time in coming up with the right approach.

Resilience

One of the key tenets of programming (at any level) is understanding that you’re most likely going to fail before you succeed. This has nothing to do with your programming abilities and everything to do with the process itself. Programming involves trying out different elements of code until you find the best solution and learning to be resilient, determined and humble in the face of multiple failures is part of the process.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 10 Things You Should Look For in a Company.

Do I Need Coding Bootcamp to Become a Software Developer?

In recent years, coding bootcamps have become increasingly popular in tech-centric cities like New York and San Francisco. This is largely because these bootcamps are designed around the idea that anyone can learn how to code, an idea that is very appealing to many recent grads who don’t have a traditional engineering background. If you’re interested in becoming a software developer, then you might be wondering whether you need a coding bootcamp to get started. Will a bootcamp help you develop your skills and get you job ready as quickly as possible? It depends.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to sign up for a coding bootcamp.

What are your current skills and professional goals?

One of the keys to understanding how close you are to landing the job you want is being able to assess your current skill set and your professional goals. For example, if you’re a computer science major with some coding experience and basic knowledge of programming languages like Python and Javascript, then you’re already well on your way to becoming a developer and would likely benefit more from an internship than a bootcamp. On the other hand, if you’re just becoming interested in programming and are eager to learn a lot very quickly, then a structured program like a bootcamp might be a good fit for you.

Pro Tip: Since most bootcamps offer intensive courses over a period of eight to 12 weeks, figuring out how much you want to learn (and how quickly) will likely play a big part in your decision. A key thing to note is that because of the intense nature of these programs, most bootcamp students aren’t able to complete them while also having a job, so if you decide to do a bootcamp, you’ll need to commit to it fully.

What can you learn on your own?

With so many options for self-study out there, including free online classes from Codecademy and Khan Academy, there’s a lot you can do to teach yourself about coding and to figure out where your programming interests lie. If you’re comfortable taking a less structured approach (or developing your own curriculum), then teaching yourself how to code can be something you do in your spare time, even while you’re still in school.

Added bonus: Since many coding bootcamps charge upwards of $10,000 for a full training course, being able to design your own program will allow you to potentially save quite a bit of money.

How can a coding bootcamp help to fill remaining gaps in your knowledge?

Once you’ve assessed your skills, goals and what you’re able to learn on your own, it’s important to figure out whether there are any knowledge gaps that a coding bootcamp can help to fill. For example, if you’re interested in learning how to program in Python in order to improve your job prospects, then a coding bootcamp could potentially be a good way to supplement your existing knowledge.

Deciding whether to sign up for a bootcamp involves assessing a lot of factors such as your financial circumstances, professional goals and time commitments. In order to make an informed decision, it’s important to figure out what your needs are and to determine whether a bootcamp is the best way to meet them. And if you want more hands-on experience without going the bootcamp route, an internship could be a great option for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Software Developer and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?

Types of Internships for Computer Science Majors

If you’re majoring in computer science, an internship is one of the best ways to explore career paths in the tech industry. In addition to learning on-the-job responsibilities, you’ll also discover what types of team dynamics best fit your style of working. As an intern, you’ll usually be paired with a more experienced engineer who will act as your mentor, giving you guidance on the technical aspects of your project as well as helping you to manage and execute it. While you don’t have to go into engineering just because you’re a computer science major, an internship will offer you the opportunity to see what the field is like and whether it’s a good fit for you. And because computer science majors are very in demand among employers, the internship is also likely to be very well compensated.

Here are the most common types of internships for computer science majors.

Front-End Engineering Intern

As a front-end engineering intern, you’ll gain real-world experience working on the user-facing portion of a website or application. In addition to writing code in HTML, CSS and Javascript, you’ll also be testing and debugging that code to ensure that the user experience is as smooth and immersive as possible. During your internship, you’ll get hands-on experience executing challenging projects and helping to build incredible products.

Back-End Engineering Intern

As a back-end engineering intern, you’ll be working with the data that powers a website or application and using programming languages like Python, Ruby and Java to connect the server, application and database. Similar to a front-end developer, your responsibilities will include writing code pertaining to your project and testing the code to ensure a robust finished product. You’ll also be responsible for debugging and figuring out which parts of your product are not working properly. In addition, you’ll most likely go through code reviews to make sure that you develop best practices and that you learn to work in an agile development environment.

Full-Stack Software Engineering Intern

As a full-stack engineering intern, you’ll be combining the best of both worlds by working on both front-end and back-end technologies, seeing how data flows through the application and how it’s transferred and displayed. By being actively involved with the technological components the customer sees and with the back-end data that powers the site, you’ll quickly develop an understanding of the different technologies and you’ll be able to implement optimizations to enhance performance. This is a great internship for anyone who wants to understand how to build a feature end-to-end.

Information Security Intern

Security is what protects every company’s confidential information. During this type of internship, you’ll be able to see the security challenges that companies face on a daily basis and to understand how to react in such situations. This type of internship is especially common in the healthcare and finance industries where information security is used to protect patient records and sensitive financial materials.

Mobile Engineering Intern

As a mobile engineering intern, you’ll be working with one or more types of mobile technologies to develop user-facing applications. Depending on what type of mobile technology you’re working with (iOS vs. Android), you’ll be using different types of code and potentially getting both front-end and back-end development experience.

iOS Engineering Intern

As an iOS engineering intern, you’ll gain hands-on experience developing apps that are specific to Apple. You’ll be using XCode, Swift and maybe even React Native to work on both front-end and back-end components of the app, thereby getting full-stack experience. Patience will be necessary as you learn the process of publishing to the App Store, which includes provisioning profiles, getting developer certificates and submitting apps once they’re developed.

Android Engineering Intern

As an Android engineering intern, you’ll work with a team to design and build advanced applications for the Android platform. Communication will be very important as you collaborate with cross-functional teams to define, design and ship new features. You’ll also assist with technical planning, development and systems integration on client engagements from the definition phase all the way to implementation. Critical thinking is essential in this internship since you’ll be analyzing requirements, wireframing and listing capabilities of related systems to propose appropriate solutions.

Product Management Intern

An increasingly popular type of internship for computer science majors is a product management internship. This involves working with a team of engineers to develop the strategy and roadmap of a specific product as well as to QA test the product. As a product management intern, you’ll also act as a bridge between the engineering and marketing teams, helping to do market research and come up with effective marketing strategies for your product.

Data Scientist Intern

If developing statistical modeling, segmentation, quantitative analyses and customer profiling sounds exciting to you, then you may want to intern as a data scientist. During this internship, you’ll learn how to build and deploy complex statistical models to generate powerful insights and predictions useful to the business. Part of your job will also be to discover new insights in order to best understand your customers by performing advanced statistical analysis and modeling.

Data Engineering Intern

As a data engineering intern, you’ll be collecting, storing and processing data and creating a system that will allow others (particularly data scientists) to analyze that data. Combining coding skills with an understanding of data science, data engineers create infrastructure for processing huge amounts of data, enabling data scientists to do their job more effectively.

Whether you’re considering a summer internship or an internship during the school year, taking on an internship will give you the experience you need to pursue a career in the technology industry after graduation.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

* This article was written in partnership with the team at Outco.

Top 5 Careers in Supply Chain Management

If you’re interested in supply chain management, then you know that it’s an exciting field with plenty of career opportunities. In fact, from manufacturing to data analysis, there are very few areas of business that supply chain management doesn’t touch upon. With so many roles and career paths, finding a position that matches your interests and experience might seem a bit overwhelming. But with a little bit of research and a clear understanding of the field, it’s possible to find a role that will be a great fit for you.

Here are the top five careers in supply chain management.

1. Manufacturing

Since supply chains begin with the process of manufacturing and end with getting the product into the hands of the consumer, manufacturing jobs are among the most important in the field. One of the most popular roles within manufacturing is a production manager, a position that oversees the manufacture of products in a plant. Among other duties, production managers are responsible for coordinating production schedules, determining how long the manufacturing process of a product will take and keeping track of the inventory of finished products. In addition to more senior roles like this one, manufacturing also has great entry-level opportunities such as that of a materials analyst who keeps track of inventory or a materials scheduler who coordinating materials with productions schedules.

2. Data analysis

Data management is another key component in supply chains and being able to analyze and understand this data helps supply chains work efficiently. “If you like playing with data, you could be a data analyst, data acquisition engineer, data manager, data administrator or statistician,” explains Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, the president of Process & Strategy Solutions and an expert on supply chains. In fact, according to Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky, data analysis and management is one of the most popular career options within supply chain management since all of the processes involved in serving consumers have to be data-driven to be effective.

3. Procurement

Another supply chain career path with a lot of opportunities is procurement. Focusing primarily on identifying and purchasing the raw materials needed to create products, procurement is a key part of what keeps supply chains going. Among the entry-level opportunities in procurement are positions like procurement analyst and procurement officer, roles that focus on one specific aspect of purchasing. At the more senior level, there are purchasing managers who oversee the purchasing decisions for an entire organization.

4. Transportation

Getting products into the hands of consumers is the main goal of a supply chain. And meeting that goal would not be possible without transportation. As a result, there are many exciting career opportunities related to transportation including entry-level roles like a transportation analyst or logistics analyst and more senior roles like being a transportation manager. Although there is certainly some variation in the responsibilities of these positions, they all have one primary focus: getting products from the factory to the consumer.

5. Customer service

Last but not least is customer service. Always a crucial part of any interaction between a business and a consumer, customer service positions ensure that customers are satisfied with the products they receive. Like with other supply chain fields, there are many career opportunities within customer service including entry-level roles like being an account specialist at a logistics firm, working to coordinate product shipments and resolve customer issues. At the more senior level, customer service career opportunities include being a customer service manager and overseeing the satisfaction of a company’s entire client base.

Supply chains are an integral part the American economy and new supply chains and processes are being created every day. As a result, there are a lot of job opportunities available in each of the five major fields (and beyond). Not sure how to determine which opportunity is right for you? “Pick an area of supply chain that interests you and read up on it,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky advises. And once you’ve done that, consider taking on an internship to get a hands-on feel for what supply chain management really looks like.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 7 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Do You Want to Work Here?

How to Start a Supply Chain Management Career

If you’re interested in logistics and operations, chances are you’ve come across the concept of a supply chain. What is a supply chain? It’s a series of processes that takes a product from the manufacturing plant to the consumer. This can apply to anything from clothing to electronics. In order for supply chains to function properly, they require management and operational support. To find out more about supply chain management and how to start a supply chain management career, we sat down with Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, the president of Process & Strategy Solutions.

Here’s what you need to know to start a career in supply chain management.

Pick an area of supply chain management that interests you.

Because supply chains involve so many moving pieces, being able to focus in on one specific element of the supply chain is key to finding a position that will be a good fit for you. “Pick an area of supply chain that interests you and begin to read up on it,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky suggests. This will give a feel for that particular area, while also helping you to determine whether it’s something that you want to pursue.

Do your research.

Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, do some research on your chosen area. “Read blogs, take classes and engage in discussions in person as well as online,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky says. Getting a full picture of the work involved while also building your communication skills will go a long way towards making you a competitive candidate in the field.

Find your niche.

Although knowing the ins and outs of the field you want to enter is a crucial part of starting a career in supply chain management, it’s also important to figure out your niche and work on carving out a position for yourself. “Dig to figure out what is valued,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky explains. “Figure out how you can fill a niche, and go for it.” By determining what gaps you can fill, you’ll be more likely to show potential employers that you’ve thought carefully about your chosen career and that you’re looking to add value to an organization.

Demonstrate your value.

Once you’ve figured out your niche, the next step is to demonstrate your value. This is one of the keys to getting hired in any industry but it’s especially important in an industry like supply chain which relies heavily on strategy. What’s the best way to demonstrate value? By showing that you have what it takes to get the job done. “Managers often hope to find those who can a) communicate with other professionals effectively, b) make decisions using data analysis, and c) understand the ‘big’ picture,” Dr. Kalina-Kaminsky explains. In fact, by being able to show that you have a clear understanding of the processes required to keep the supply chain functioning and suggesting ways that those processes can be tweaked to improve operations, you’ll be able to convince potential hiring managers that you can face challenges head-on and be a valuable asset to an organization.

Supply chain management is an exciting field with plenty of opportunities for recent grads who are interested in logistics and operations. And because of its broad scope, there are many areas that could fit your interests. In order to figure out if a supply chain management career is right for you, it’s important to find an area that interests you and to find a way to stand out from the crowd. By doing your research and demonstrating your value, you’ll be sure to impress potential employers and find a role that fits you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.

Types of Entry-Level Jobs for Computer Science Majors

If you’re a computer science major who is interested in pursuing a tech-based career, you might be wondering about the best options for entry-level jobs. Depending on your interests and familiarity with the various industry verticals, there are many options to choose from and each one involves a combination of challenging and exciting projects.

Here are the various roles you can pursue to kickstart your career.

Front-End Engineer

Front-End engineers make the interfaces we all love and use daily. If you like to see immediate, “tangible” results from your code and have a flair for design, then being a front-end engineer may be the role for you. As a front-end engineer, you’ll typically be working on the very front of the page. In a nutshell, you’ll be taking mockups given to you by the designer and turning them into web pages; implementing designs, prototyping and writing code that translates directly into what users see on the screen. The code you’ll be writing for this job is almost exclusively HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and it requires a strong ability to write cleanly in order to ensure long-term maintainability and future fast iterating. Deep knowledge of CSS and other front-end frameworks such as jQuery are a must.

Back-End Engineer

If you enjoy learning how to optimize read times on large data sets, crafting large data structures like an architect would a building, or making sure that your app has the best search function around, you may have a calling in back-end development. Back-end engineers are most concerned with what goes on behind the scenes — the business logic, data storage and retrieval, and key features that happen on the server. Knowing your SQL commands and relationships, familiarity with appropriate back-end languages such as Java, C++, Ruby, Python or JavaScript, knowledge of systems architecture and understanding of the hurdles of building applications at scale are helpful for this role.

Full-Stack Engineer

Being a full-stack engineer involves working with a combination of both front-end and back-end technologies, and it’s the perfect role for someone who likes building complete products or features. In addition to being able to develop back-end processes to connect servers and databases, you’ll also be working on the user-facing application to ensure that the product delivers seamless experience from end to end. However, it’s important to note that given the scope of this position, many full-stack engineers are “jacks of all trades but masters of none,” so it’s worth considering whether you want to be an expert in a particular discipline or whether you’re more comfortable when you’re constantly learning new things.

Mobile Engineer

Due to the rising use of apps, mobile engineers are in great demand right now. And since pretty much everyone uses either an iPhone or Android device these days, being familiar with their respective development platforms is a great way to secure your spot for this role.
The best way to show that you have what it takes is by being able to show off some apps that you’ve built on your own. If you already know Java, Android may be the best place for you to start, but if you prefer the iOS ecosystem, you’ll need to start learning Swift and XCode.

DevOps Engineer

The role of a DevOps engineer often differs from company to company, but at its core, DevOps engineers are responsible for the system infrastructure and “keeping the lights on.” If you’re fascinated by networking, intrigued by how the various tools and languages your team uses work and love setting up new servers, DevOps may be for you. The DevOps movement expands on the traditional responsibilities of system administrators to bring as much automation to the job as possible, so DevOps engineers are actually a hybrid of programmers and sysadmins.

Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer

Building scalable software requires that many levels of quality be considered. The first component is that the software must work, but it also must be written according to best practices and in a fashion that will not break other components of the program being developed. As a QA Engineer, you’ll be writing tests and testing suites while also running tests. Familiarity with software best practices and writing comprehensive tests that cover all edge cases will help you land your first QA job.

Product Manager

An increasingly popular role for computer science majors, being a product manager involves identifying opportunities for new products and working with an engineering team to design and execute them. As a product manager, you’ll be responsible for creating a roadmap of the product as well as market testing the product and launching it. This is a great role for someone who is interested in working on the strategy side of product development and someone who is passionate about the user experience.

Being a computer science major opens up a lot of exciting doors and offers you the opportunity to continue building your skill set as a programmer and beyond. The best way to figure out which opportunity is best for you is by pursuing an internship and figuring out which career path most closely aligns with your interests.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Is a Computer Science Major and Is It Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 5 Technology Trends You Need to Know to Work in Any Industry.

* This article was written in partnership with the team at Outco.

Entry-Level Software Engineer Job Guide

“Entry-Level Software Engineer” is a broad term. It’s often one used by larger employers to recruit computer science majors and other student seeking software development positions. During the interview process many of these employers will ask candidates to think about what specialization they’d like to focus on (e.g. front-end, back-end, etc.). These engineers spend most of their day writing code to make products and services function. The vast majority of employed entry-level software engineers work for large technology companies or startups.

Entry-Level Software Engineer Job Guide

Specialization under the software engineering is particularly common in an entry-level role. Most teams are composed of several specializations of engineers. Here are the most common types of software engineering roles:

  1. Back-end engineers spend much of their time writing services, algorithms, and architecting the core bits and pieces of a system and the way it works.
  2. Front-end engineers make the services that the back-end engineers are writing accessible to the end user through a UI. It’s not uncommon for front-end engineers to have some experience with UI design or partner often with a designer at the company.
  3. Operations engineers are responsible for ensuring the infrastructure that supports a product or service is reliable and stays up and running. Another primary responsibility is ensuring a system’s scalability.
  4. QA or test engineers are responsible for building systems that test the code that the other engineers are writing to ensure it’s stable and reliable.
  5. Full-stack engineers do everything (back-end, front-end, operations, testing). These are less common as entry-level roles unless they work at a small startup.

Common Responsibilities of Entry-Level software engineers

The tasks that software engineers perform vary greatly depending on their specialization. Here are a few examples of what they do:

  1. Building an RESTFUL API for consumption by another team at the company or a 3rd party. (Back-end)
  2. Constructing an interface in HTML, CSS, and Javascript that accesses the API and allows users to perform tasks. (Front-end)
  3. Spinning up infrastructure to support a new mobile app that the company is building, paying careful attention to how it might scale if the app takes off ala Pokemon Go.
  4. Writing tests that automatically ensure that the new app remains reliable and can handle a large load of traffic.

Types of Entry-Level software engineer Jobs

As you know by now, specialization is important. However, when searching for entry-level jobs, it’s even more important to become familiar with all of the different verbiage that an employer might use to describe their position. If you know what terms to search by, you’ll be far more likely to be able to find all of the available positions and narrow them down to the ones you’re most interested in.

Another great search strategy is to use software languages as keywords. Employers are often working on a Java or C stack and need engineers that can work in those languages.

Here are a few search terms you could use to search for entry-level software engineering postions:

Salary Expectations

The median salary for entry-level software engineers is $75,275.

The range is $54,084 – $110,908.

The higher end of this range is quite high and is often skewed significantly by the larger tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) and the competitiveness for their entry-level positions. They’ve been known to give $500,000 signing bonuses to the best recent grads. Crazy!

Location is one the largest factors in calculating salary, so it’s particularly helpful to consider the entire salary range.

The Bureau of Labor expects the number of software engineer jobs to grow by 17% over the next 10 years. That’s incredible growth. It’s no secret that software development is one of the most promising career choices.

Who Typically Gets These Jobs

Every year, we survey over 20,000 students and recent grads in an effort to understand the internship and entry-level job market. Based on the results of our State of Hiring report, the students or recent graduates that apply to these entry-level jobs have several things in common:

  • While many students are willing to look at jobs unrelated to their major, computer science majors are not. 72% of them only want to consider software development jobs.
  • San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle are the most popular destination for computer science grads.
  • Surprisingly enough, 75% of graduating computer science majors have worked a paid side job. Employers see this as a major benefit, as one of their primary concerns with engineers is how they will fair in a post-college work environment.
  • Only 28% of graduating seniors majoring in software engineer have no internship experience.
  • Most computer science students will not have any student debt when they graduate.
  • Almost 56% of seniors majoring in computer science have taken an online course related to their major.

Related Entry-Level Fields

Despite it being somewhat rare that software engineer majors seek jobs outside of their immediate major, it does happen. When they do go outside, here are the areas they’re most likely to look at:

  1. Electrical Engineering
  2. UX Design
  3. Product Management
  4. UI Design
  5. Analyst

Additional Resources

  1. It never hurts to brush up on a few software engineer topics. You can take a few online courses to get back in the swing of things.
  2. For more salary information, head over to Payscale.
  3. For more advice on starting your entry-level job search, check out our guide!
  4. And finally, to prepare for an entry-level job interview, prepare for the top 20 entry-level job interview questions.

Search for Entry-Level Software Engineering Jobs Now

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell me about yourself.