So you want to study Computing…

Do you want to build a program? It doesn’t have to be a program…

Choosing what you want to do for a degree can be painfully difficult. With the investment of £9,000 a year in a subject, you have to be really sure what you want to study. So here, I’ll be blogging about the things you need to know before applying/accepting an offer for a degree in Computing/Computer Science.

{ Programmning Experience }

Do you need loads of programming experience? Not really, but it is recommended; how do you know that it will be something that you enjoy without giving it a go?

Personally, I would suggest getting an account on Codecademy, and giving a few of the courses a go. I would suggest ‘Make a Website’, ‘Learn SQL’ and ‘Learn Java’. You don’t have to complete all of them, but get a few lessons in to get a feel of whether or not you enjoy it. You can check out my profile here. I still use it sometimes when I want to learn something new!

{ The Gender Gap }

Did you know, that most of the first programmers were women? Is it a stereotype that computing is full of men? Yes. Does this mean that it will not change? Of course not!  The course at my University when I started was around 60:7 males to females.

But should this put you off as a woman? If you really love something, you shouldn’t let the Gender Gap stand in your way. I have a great mix of female and male friends on my course, and the thing is, if you’re somebody who likes to socialise, then you will end up joining societies and sports clubs where you will meet all kinds of people.

But should this put you off as a man? Come on, you’re not doing a computing degree to meet women, are you? You’re doing it to code kick-ass things, and hopefully make a difference. And like I said to the ladies, f you’re somebody who likes to socialise, then you will meet lots of people at societies and clubs. Plus, there will normally be a few women on the course you could befriend.

{ Difficulty }

Alas, computer science is no easy feat. There will be caffeine fuelled all-nighters where the birds will be singing before you have submitted your coursework. There will be library tantrums when your code doesn’t work but I-swear-it-was-working-a-minute-ago. But, there will be textbooks and lectures and online tutorials. There will be that clever kid in your class that got rich at the age of 16 for making their own software that will probably lend you a hand if you’re lucky. And you’ll have your friends. Course friends will get you through. You can cry together and celebrate triumph together. It will be okay.

{ Employability }

One of the main reasons that people join CS is the big £ that are involved – and it’s true, if you’re good at what you do, you can earn quite a large salary. The main problem that people find, is that it’s quite a competitive market to get into, so you have to find your niche. But after 3 or 4 years of the degree, I’m sure that you will have found your speciality. There are lots of different career paths that you can get into, which leads me to…

{ Variety }

Will you spend your entire career in front of a screen? Despite having mixed feelings about this personally, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is probably yes in this field. But as long as you’re doing something that you enjoy, then it won’t be that bad. There are lots of career paths you can get into:

I like finding creative solutions to difficult problems: software development, algorithm designing, information security, software testing

I like to be free and creative with what I do: front-end web development, software development

I like to work on long projects with lots of depth: back-end web development, software development, artificial intelligence, database administration

I like to work with something that makes me feel like I’m doing something good for the world: designing websites software for charities or government organisations, creating a start-up web solution, image processing for medical computing, teaching computing in secondary schools/college

I like to work for a big corporation and be a small part of something huge: working in development for companies like IBM, Google etc

I like hardware: computer networking, computer logic, hardware engineering

I like to manage teams: project management for IT or software companies

I like to learn and discover: computing research, further education (masters, doctorate)

The list goes on. These were just a few I had to hand!

Hopefully this will give you an idea of what a Computing degree is like! Drop me any questions that you have in the comments!

Dan x



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