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On Computer Science

Jun 27, 2011 | 4 minutes read

Tags: blog

*Museum Building Want a job? Not just a job, but a guaranteed job? A career you really enjoy? Free recruitment holidays, and competitive pay? Computer Science. tbh.*

Think Computer Science, and what do you think? Long haired, socially inept geeks? Board games, black clothes and a peculiar aversion to natural light? Heavy metal, anime and glasses? Thankfully these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.
Computer Scientists are handsome, bubbling socialites,

Actually, no. That’s a lie.

Truthfully? The balance lies somewhere in the middle. The stereotypes exist, but thankfully in my experience do not make up the majority of a class.
The reality is a discipline which has seen a huge drop in intake, with a huge rise in the demand for graduates.

The typical Computer Science course has quite a low points requirement. This is a reflection of the low demand for technology courses, and bears no reflection on course content – a mistake which typically leads to high dropout rates in the first year.
Make it to the finish line, however, and expect a rather unique recruitment environment seen by no other graduate in Ireland today.

Which College?

***The choice of college is hugely varied. Depending on financial circumstances, chose something within commuting distance of home, or move further afield as I did.
There are very few
bad *courses, just make sure the essential principles of Software Engineering are covered along with one of the major programming languages (C, C++, Java, C#).

It’s with pointing out the two distinct teaching philosophies that exist:

  1. Teach as much theory & grounding as possible – cover a vast spectrum, possibly sacrificing some Industry relevance in the hope the skills acquired will allow the student to adapt.
    2) Let course content be driven by industry requirements, learning to use modern and relevant technology. Often includes work experience, and leads to a highly employable graduate.

Typically, the former 1) is the approach taken by many established universities (e.g. TCD- from experience) whereas the latter 2) is the approach taken by newer universities/IT’s (UL, DCU, …). Both approaches achieve a similar result, there is no clear winner.

*Aside – Trinity: The only curriculum I have first hand experience with. *I chose Trinity because of it’s Dublin city center location and vibrant campus. It just so happened Trinity took a very solidly academic ((1) above) approach to teaching – I’d have preferred something industry driven. In TCD’s favor, however, not many Computer Science departments can lay claim to a Technical Oscar Winner (Dr. Anil Kokaram), a globally successful physics engine spinout (Havok) and a university known worldwide. I certainly don’t regret my choice.

What to expect?

Expect a reasonably challenging but highly engaging course, often very practical and industry focused. Expect to spend four years obtaining an honors degree course. Expect pandemic procrastination. Expect ‘oh, you do Computer Science, can you fix my emails?’. Expect late night assignment hacking and last minute exam study.

But best of all – expect a job.

Even though Ireland is in the depths of the worst recession seen since the birth of the Irish Free State, jobs are still plentiful in technology.

Let me share my experience: My primary goal when recruiting was to obtain employment in the US. The motivation to emigrate was born out of an interest in living in the US, and not financial. As a result, I initially applied for jobs on the west coast of the United States, and nowhere else.
Google expressed an initial interest, and after a series of phone interviews decided they would like me to come to Mountain View. I had reservations – the cost of me travelling to Mountain View would have been immense, and I shared this with my recruiting contact.
At this point, I learned Google were in fact willing to fly me over, all expenses paid – and that’s exactly what they did! At 22, I was flown halfway across the world, given a rental car, put up in a 4 star hotel and had all my expenses (food, fuel, tourist attractions) covered for the duration of my trip.
I later repeated this experience with a trip to Seattle. Computer Science rocks!
By the time my Final exams were approaching, the outcome of my Google interview was a disappointing no-hire, and the remainder of my US prospects were roles that simply were not for me.
I decided to turn to Ireland. I applied for 4 roles, and was called to 4 interviews. I attended 2, and received 2 job offers. Computer science rocks!

The beauty of a technology orientated degree is not only can you expect a job, but the opportunity exists to handpick a role which interests you.
If I drew up a list of technologies I wanted to work with, my current role fulfills every one.

Enjoying what you do is a unique privilege not enjoyed by many industries. If you enjoy working with technology, the web, or computers in general, choose Computer Science – you won’t regret it.