Why Computer Science?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love being a computer science major, and you should really consider it.  I’m going to break it down for you, first with my own life, and then the general statistics.

Firstly, jobs.  You WILL get a job.  I am a sophomore.  I am currently, from SPAIN, on my 3rd internship!!  I will be working for Microsoft in the summer!  What’s great about comp. sci. is that I can work remotely, because as long as there’s internet, you can code/design/do anything and people will be able to go over it with you.

Secondly, it’s FUN.  Imagine being able to make absolutely ANYTHING you want for the computer!  Hmmm, I want to make a game.  BOOM.  Huh, what about a word processor?  DONE.  A cool website?  BAM.  I’ve made all kinds of things from scripts that organize my files on my computer to a text editor to games to websites to pranks on my friends.  Once you know the basic concepts of computer science, you can apply them to every aspect of the field!  Which brings me to how many different aspects of the field there are.  TONS.

In 2010, Money Magazine published the 100 best jobs in America.  Note:

Best Jobs in America
1 Software Architect
7 Database Administrator
17 Information Systems Security Engineer
18 Software Engineering / Development Director
20 Information Technology Manager
21 Telecommunications Network Engineer
24 Network Operations Project Manager
26 Information Technology Business Analyst
28 Information Technology Consultant
30 Test Software Development Engineer
31 Information Technology Network Engineer
33 Information Technology Program Manager
35 Computer and Information Scientist
37 Programmer Analyst
38 Applications Engineer
49 Systems Engineer
60 Information Technology Specialist
66 Systems Administrator
67 Web Developer
70 Technical Services Manager
77 Information Technology Systems Manager
79 Information Technology Training Specialist
88 Technical Writer
95 Information Technology Project Coordinator
96 Web Project Manager
97 Geographic Information Systems Analyst

Interesting… if you’ll notice, over 25% of the top 100 jobs are computer-related!  And look at this,  National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) published a list of the “Top-Paid Majors Among College Class of 2010″.  Four of the top ten were computer science-related majors.

Top-Paid Majors
Among College Class of 2010
4. Computer Science
5. Computer Engineering
6. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering
10. Information Sciences and Systems

Yeah.  It’s exciting.  I’ve had articles written about me because there are so many opportunities in computer science.  I traveled to Milwaukee, Kansas City, Portland, and Seattle last semester for job opportunities.  Between you and me, this is what one of the companies told me (I won’t say their name, but they’re big, trust me):  By 2016, they expect to have 75% of their current computing staff RETIRE.  That’s right, 75%!!  Many computer scientists now are from the “baby boomer” generation, and they’re all starting to retire.  Computer Scientists, Software Engineers, and Computer Engineers are desperately needed in today’s workplace!

A lot of people hesitate about it on a few points.  Firstly, the one that I hear the most out of ANYTHING, is “I’m terrible at computers.”  That doesn’t mean you can’t do computer science!  Computer science is about problem solving, you just happen to use a computer to do it.  For example, I had a problem the other day where all of my music files were encrypted on my computer, and I couldn’t add then to iTunes.  Boom:  I wrote an easy script (honestly it was so easy that I learned the new programming language in a week), and it renamed all of my hundreds of files and organized them for me!  Honestly, computers are stupid creatures.  It takes a computer scientist to make it smart.  Another point that I tend to hear is that computer scientists are all boys who live in their parents’ basements and don’t have any social skillz.  WELL.  Though there are certainly some stereotypical people out there, there’s one in every major.  You’re thinking of someone now.  Good.  Yes, we don’t have many girls in the program.  Ladies, that means more jobs for you.  Cake.  And living in their parents’ basements?  Incorrect, my friend!  Computer scientists are the 2nd highest paying jobs in the country.  I just Googled it, the average starting salary for 2011 grads was $63k (Source).  Just among some of my graduating friends, I know at least 3 who had starting salaries over $80k!  Now, does someone with that kind of money live in their parents’ basement?  Unlikely.

So, why NOT computer science?  Well… I don’t have any reasons for you.  It’s great.  Iowa State has an awesome program for it.  Our academic adviser is the best in the school, I honestly believe that.  We get jobs.  We get paid a lot.  One of my favorite things about it is that when I am talking about internships with my computer science friends, I don’t ask, “Do you have an internship?”, I ask, “Where are you interning?”

If you have any questions about it, please contact me, our academic adviser Gloria Cain (gcain@iastate.edu), or the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences webpage about it (who’s that chick in the video?  Hmm she seems pretty great…)!

There’s all kinds of websites out there that can get you started if you just want to think about computer science, just to try it out.  It’s honestly not that hard.  My 8-year-old cousin can program now because of these, you can do it!
http://www.codecademy.com/
http://codeyear.com/
http://rubymonk.com/
http://codingbat.com/
http://howtostartprogramming.com/
http://musicforprogramming.net/

I hope you take me up on everything I’ve said, I promise you won’t regret it!

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