6 Replies - 1466 Views - Last Post: 27 July 2013 - 06:15 PM

#1 EllenS  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 0
  • View blog
  • Posts: 5
  • Joined: 24-July 13

Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:41 PM

Hello all,

I'm going to be a junior at Stanford next year. Like many people at my school, I started my Freshman year wanting to do something completely different (biology research) but fell in love with CS. I've recently come to realize that I may not be cut out for research at all and I might be better suited as some kind of (?) programmer/software developer- though I haven't really defined what field or job I might be interested in.

So far I've only taken 3 programming classes (java/C++/C) and 2 theory classes in CS. I have never programmed standalone product that other people would find useful. Basically I feel like Silicon Valley is full of talented geniuses who have been coding since they were 4.
My question for you is, would I have a chance to get a decent tech job if I switched to CS this late in the game?

Here's what I would have:
-Coterm (BS + masters) in CS biocomputation track from Stanford. (definitely too late to do any other track besides biocomp.) If I can't get into the coterm program, then just a BS.
-irrelevant summer research project from 2013, slightly relevant bioinformatics research from 2013, possibly something relevant in the next 1-2 summers
-lots of irrelevant classes in Freshman/sophomore year that might make employers realize CS is my second choice.
-Java, C++, C, perl, R; whatever I learn in the next 3 years
-obligations to biology research colleagues to keep working with them next year

Here's what I would not have:
-years and years of experience coding
-many advanced programming classes (I have a lot of requirements to fulfill yet)
-several summer internships at Silicon Valley tech companies
-sophisticated, extensive portfolio
-as many programming languages as people who've coded 3x as long as me
-basically anything that would make me stand out
-outstanding management/communication skills

I have put a lot of effort into learning how to do bioinformatics research and networking in the field. I don't want to give up on it unless I have a chance as a computer scientist. What do you think?

Is This A Good Question/Topic? 0
  • +

Replies To: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

#2 DarenR  Icon User is online

  • D.I.C Lover

Reputation: 498
  • View blog
  • Posts: 3,316
  • Joined: 12-January 10

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:47 PM

I think a degree in the biosciences leaning toward programming is a great way to go. Think of the medical field and how many computers are used daily there.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#3 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

  • Self-Trained Economist
  • member icon




Reputation: 10809
  • View blog
  • Posts: 40,288
  • Joined: 27-December 08

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:54 PM

Quote

-several summer internships at Silicon Valley tech companies
-sophisticated, extensive portfolio-basically anything that would make me stand out
-outstanding management/communication skills
-basically anything that would make me stand out

And whose fault is this? If you enjoy programming, why aren't you working on fun coding projects in your free time? Why aren't you building up your portfolio? Stop making excuses and make it happen. That's what employers look for. It sounds like you're passionate about bioinformatics. Surely you write extensive code for your projects there. That's experience. You want more than the classroom.

And internships don't have to be at Google or IBM. An internship with a local company doing IT work is great. Get out there. Go to job fairs, interview, go to the career resource center, etc. Stop being passive and start taking ownership and responsibility for your success. Remember that success happens because of you.

Quote

I have put a lot of effort into learning how to do bioinformatics research and networking in the field. I don't want to give up on it unless I have a chance as a computer scientist. What do you think?

This is exactly the type of thing that makes you stand out! Showcase this on resumes and interviews. Be the bioinformatics person.
Was This Post Helpful? 2
  • +
  • -

#4 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

  • #include "soul.h"
  • member icon

Reputation: 1199
  • View blog
  • Posts: 7,309
  • Joined: 07-September 06

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:55 PM

Sure, you have a chance. I didn't worry about getting an internship until the summer between junior and senior year (and before then I hadn't had any).

That said, you still have a year until I would suggest looking for an internship. A lot can happen in a year, especially if you put your mind to it. First, I would suggest learning 2 or so programming languages well. I would suggest Java and perhaps PHP (Java for desktop development since it seems big in that area at the moment (though I prefer C++), and PHP for web development so you get a taste of it). The PHP side of things will require looking at HTML, CSS, and Javascript (though Javascript isn't strictly necessary). If you can get those two down well then you will have 2 or 3 languages under your belt along with a markup language and stylesheets. Second, become active on a programming board like DreamInCode. Asking questions and trying is where you will need to start, but as you learn you can move over to helping others. This will help you stand out (in my interviews every single one of them asked me about what DreamInCode was and what my role with the site is). Third, find something sporty to do. I don't mean join the football team here, but find something like ultimate frisbee that you enjoy (or golf, karate, biking, etc.) and stick with it. People like to see you aren't one-dimensional. Fourth, make sure you can answer programming related questions and know the syntax. Most interviews will have at least 1 question related to technical aspects, and the more you know about the syntax the more you will be able to answer quickly and concisely. If you can find additional syntax errors in the examples beyond what they are expecting that will also be a help. Fifth, don't be overly-confident. People can stand an ass from time to time, but if they have the choice between an ass and someone who is slightly less knowledgeable and a pleasure to be around they will weight the nice person higher. Sixth, take some advanced classes. You want to ensure that you will enjoy CS, and it is better to learn that earlier than later. I would strongly suggest taking at least one advanced class a semester and testing the waters. Try going out for something like Algorithms; it shouldn't be too high of level (was only a 3000 -- junior -- level class at my university, so assuming you have the introduction to computing and the basic data structures class done, and some math under your belt it shouldn't be outside of realistic to assume you can handle the load).

Hope that helps.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#5 raspinudo  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Head
  • member icon

Reputation: 61
  • View blog
  • Posts: 232
  • Joined: 19-September 11

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 25 July 2013 - 11:09 PM

I work in the Silicon Valley. Honestly, the Stanford brand name will help you at least get a phone interview with some places. If I could give one piece of advice for making yourself stand out: projects. Just make stuff you find fun or interesting, and do it a lot. Solid projects not only show an employer initiative, they also give them real samples of your work outside of the often limited samples created during classes. Perhaps more importantly, these projects will also increase your knowledge base and your coding skills. You should look into Martyr2's Project List if you need ideas to help you get starter. Once you start creating this stuff, make a blog or website to catalog this. Giving a potential employer a simple way to view samples of your work is important.

I'd also like to comment on what mac said. I agree completely, I don't work at a large silicon valley firm, yet I work on cutting edge technology, play an important role in the engineering process and am payed reasonably well. So don't limit your options so much. Especially if your skills are quite limited at this point, remember that the big places like google have their choice of coders.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#6 EllenS  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 0
  • View blog
  • Posts: 5
  • Joined: 24-July 13

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:29 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll keep it in mind, and hopefully start working on some independent projects soon!
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#7 raspinudo  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Head
  • member icon

Reputation: 61
  • View blog
  • Posts: 232
  • Joined: 19-September 11

Re: Do I have a chance? (trying to figure out what to do with my life)

Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:15 PM

Posted Image
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

Page 1 of 1