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So you want to work in Computer Science?

The computer science industry revolves around developing new systems, technologies and computer-based solutions. Computer scientists can work for private software publishers, government agencies, academic institutions or engineering firms. They are usually hired to solve computing problems or develop new products. Those hired by academic institutions are typically involved more in the theoretical side of computing issues and often use modeling and experimentation in their research.

Computer scientists often work as part of research teams with engineers, IT professionals and programmers. They can investigate things like robotics, virtual reality or artificial intelligence. The results of this kind of research often leads to the improved performance of existing computer software and systems as well as the development of new computing techniques and hardware. Most computer scientists hold a bachelor degree with a major in computer science, software engineering or IT. Many then go on to earn a Ph.D. in computer science or engineering. A career in this industry is most suitable for those who are detail-oriented and have strong maths skills.

Types of jobs in the Computer Science industry include:

  • Systems Administrator
  • Software Developer
  • Technical Support & IT
  • Web Development
  • Computer Hardware Engineer

Personal Skills

Five key skills that will help you score a job in the Computer Science industry:

  • A good foundation in logic which will help with algorithms and coding
  • Good maths ability
  • The ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • The ability to process large amounts of technical information quickly
  • Creativity and the ability to think outside the square

Interview and Job Hunting tips

  • In the interview, prepare to demonstrate your problem solving and critical thinking skills. You will often be asked questions like “How many buildings are there in Sydney”? They are not looking for the right answer, they want to see how you solve problems. Explain a process you might use to find this answer.
  • Be prepared and willing to defend your points. If you are asked what methodology or technology you would use in a particular situation be ready to clearly explain why that is the best way, don’t leave them thinking that it might be all you know. They are likely to be more interested in your reasons for the choice than the choice itself.
  • If you don’t know something, be upfront and honest about that, but then explain how you would find the answer, or how you would approach the situation based on what you know. Some interviewers will even ask a question that they know there is no answer for, just to make sure the candidate is upfront.
  • Create a portfolio of UI designs, code samples, blog posts, patents, papers, interesting problems you have solved etc. Basically just anything you can point to to show some of your skills.