Computer scientists specialize in the coding and development of software and applications. Their work is used daily by billions of people around the planet, and their work is never-ending. With the ongoing threat of cyber threats and the issue of becoming outdated or obsolete, every computer scientist out there has a very stable and future-proofed career ahead of them.
There are also a lot more opportunities for talented computer scientists than there are specialists available, which automatically puts you in a position of power. Just because you are more likely to get a job right out of the gate than those in other positions, however, does not mean that you will automatically land the big, exciting jobs. You also won’t immediately earn exceptionally high wages.
To get the most out of your career you need to stand out and work on building your credentials and reputation from day one. To do that, you’ll want to follow this guide.
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Use Personal Projects to Showcase Your Skills
One tip that you will want to continuously use throughout your career is that personal projects are career development. Not only will they allow you to keep your skills sharp in the areas you are most interested in, but they can also even be the start of your own main or side business. Creating programs means creating working examples to wow potential employers both when you are actively job hunting and also passively, so long as the project is published under your name.
Personal projects are particularly useful at the start of your career, as they allow you to build your own working experience before you have a long list of employers on your resume.
Know When to Earn a Master’s in Computer Science
Most jobs will only require an undergraduate degree in computer science as a prerequisite. This means that a master’s needs to be chosen carefully and at the right time. One of the go-to reasons to earn a master’s specifically in computer science is if your undergraduate is in another STEM subject. For example, you could be an engineer or a mathematician and want to combine your skills with a master’s. This is doable. If you don’t have the undergraduate credits necessary, then earning a few extra credits is a lot easier than going for a full CS undergraduate degree.
The other instance is when you want to stand out from other computer scientists. An excellent computer science masters degree should help those with a background in computer science and programming to further their expertise and prop up their careers for managerial and executive-level roles. Just remember to use personal projects and to really hustle during the early years of your career to combine the benefits of your master’s with a high level of work experience.
Don’t Forget the Social Element to Your Career
One thing you can never forget about when working as a computer scientist is that the social element of your career cannot be emphasized enough. More often than not, the ability to network and communicate well is what you will need to really stand out. You are working for people who do not understand tech and programming, so being able to break down what you are saying for the layperson and also explain clearly and in simple terms why you are doing it is more valuable than you think.
If you need help communicating, then find coaches and practice. Learning the right beats and explaining doesn’t always come naturally, and when it doesn’t come naturally, learning and training are there for you.
Adopt a Lifelong Learning Approach
From soft skills to hard skills, you need to continue learning. New programming languages are being created and implemented all the time, and the languages that you currently use are updated often. You need to not only stay on top of the languages you specialize in, but you also need to commit to learning new languages again and again. If you spend a few hours every week after you graduate from your masters learning even more languages and practicing the ones you know but don’t use often, you will stand out throughout your career.
The skills you should learn need to expand beyond programming as well. From soft skills to learning about how to be more sensitive and considerate in the workplace, the amount you need to learn is considerable. However, you don’t need to learn it all at once, so try to create a routine that makes it easy to learn just a little every day, and you’ll go far.
Become a Thought and Industry Leader
Building a winning reputation is something that will really help you get the best jobs and exceptionally high pay. Getting paid the big bucks means more than working in the roles that statistically pay the highest, it also means being the best. Being the best is of course subjective, which is why building your reputation and making your name common in the right circles is so important.
Those working with programming and computer science can earn exceptionally high salaries as standard. Cloud/network architects can earn around $180,500 per year, for example, with many other roles earning between $100,000 to $150,000
However, if you want an example of how your reputation can help smash through that average, just look at Sergey Aleynikov. Though his story does lead to theft and ultimately jail, before that, he earned a base salary of $300,000 with a $700,000 bonus. So long as you continue to work within the fine print of your contract, you too could build up your reputation to the point where you out earn others in your field. Start by building up your reputation online. Write articles, publish talks, and so on. From there, it is a matter of working for increasingly reputable employers and using their satisfaction in your performance to find and negotiate higher and higher salaries.
It takes time, and the more personable you are, the better your results will be, but becoming a thought and industry leader is always the way to go to make your own opportunities.