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Ask Slashdot: What's The Best Job For This Recent CS Grad? 261

One year away from graduating with a CS degree, an anonymous reader wants some insights from the Slashdot community: [My] curriculum is rather broad, ranging from systems programming on a Raspberry Pi to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C, Java, JPA, Python, Go, Node.js, software design patterns, basic network stuff (mostly Cisco) and various database technologies... I'm working already part-time as a system administrator for two small companies, but don't want to stay there forever because it's basically a dead-end position. Enjoying the job, though... With these skills under my belt, what career path should I pursue?
There's different positions as well as different fields, and the submission explains simply that "I'm looking for satisfying and rewarding work," adding that "pay is not that important." So leave your suggestions in the comments. What's the best job for this recent CS grad?
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Ask Slashdot: What's The Best Job For This Recent CS Grad?

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  • Security. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnnys ( 592333 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:35AM (#53632527)
    Security is a growth industry.
    • Security is a growth industry.

      It will be, but only as long as the cost of mitigating is worth it to organizations. Once the cost exceeds that of insurance offerings, companies will simply mitigate with the latter.

      The old mantra was "it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

      The new mantra is "it's not a matter of when, it's a matter of how often and how much."

      Also, Security depends on your ability to manage frustration, since it's often a losing battle. A fruitful career due to the income potential (for now), but the shine wears

      • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

        Insurance (risk transference) is one method of risk mitigation. However, insurance companies are, by and large, extremely good at risk analysis (they have to be to stay in business). The likelihood of an insurer paying out on a breach where the insured party can't show that they performed any sort of other risk mitigation is going to be extremely low.

        Otherwise, I agree with you and your comment fits my experience to a T.

        • Insurance (risk transference) is one method of risk mitigation. However, insurance companies are, by and large, extremely good at risk analysis (they have to be to stay in business). The likelihood of an insurer paying out on a breach where the insured party can't show that they performed any sort of other risk mitigation is going to be extremely low.

          Otherwise, I agree with you and your comment fits my experience to a T.

          Of course there will be ways to reduce insurance premiums, such as firewalls, IDS/IPS, etc. in order to reduce risk to qualify/justify an insurance plan and develop acceptable situations for payouts that have demonstrated some level of mitigation.

          That said, it is the expensive human that will likely ultimately be replace to justify the insurance plan to begin with. There is a reason Security was recommended in this particular discussion, and it isn't because Security professionals are paid poorly. The man

          • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

            Much like the transition to cloud, most of the "eyes on glas" type jobs will be in MSSPs, and they'll have staff reduction sue to AI and workflow automation just like almost everything else. I have a really good sub niche right now that has low
            Competition and goes widely unnoticed but pays a whole lot. I plan on milking it as long as I can, which is a lot longer than I was going to live with the stress from security "operations," that's for sure.

      • Also, Security depends on your ability to manage frustration, since it's often a losing battle.

        The opposite end of the spectrum is boredom (i.e., watching paint dry). From my experience in IT support roles, the best jobs are the most boring jobs that no one else wants to do. When I did a PC refresh project for a local hospital, I relocated my desk into a storage closet that no one had seen the floor in eight years and spent six weeks in between tickets to sort, toss or recycle old IT equipment to reclaim 600-sqf of useable space. Boring as heck but someone had to do it.

      • Insurance companies created the fire code, Underwriters Laboratories (UL listed), and many other organisations and standards to reduce their risk. As insurance companies become involved in information security, they may well insist that to be covered companies need to comply with various standards, they may offer a rate discount if all of your developers take continuing education on security, etc. So the involvement of security companies will likely mean that companies will spend less dealing with security

    • by Minupla ( 62455 )

      I'll second this. Weaknesses I've observed in the current crop of SEs currently in the market place are:

      1) Lack of security understanding and related defensive programming skills - If I have to tell you I found a XSS vulnerability in your code, you should be embarrassed, because you should have caught it way before I found it in QA.

      2) A lack of understanding of the world outside your box. I don't expect that you'll be able to configure a cisco router, but I DO expect you to be able to tell me what ports y

    • This. Security is about the only thing that is not only growing but also one of the few things companies don't want to outsource because ... well, it's one thing if they steal the IP but another if they keep the door open so they can do it at will.

      I am in IT security and we're hiring. Actually, rather, we would be hiring if we could find people. We're at the point where juniors get salaries comparable with seniors in other areas and trainees with little to no security experience get junior level salaries. W

      • If you're interested in security and want to do something useful, and profitable, code "preventative/predictive" software that does for the user what the IT department preaches to the users:

        1.) Don't click on phishing links in emails. You and I know what that means; usually an executable (.exe, .com, .bat, .scr, .whatever) wrapped in a ,zip.

        Start raising flags. Block forward progress until a systems analyst arrives.

        2.) Use something like Web of Trust [mywot.com] to provide first-flag and even then (and this is importan

    • Get a job in the electrical trade, recession proof and they can't outsource your job. In the Union you can easily make $75K USD a year with little effort. As a man with a truck and a license you can make far in excess of $100K a year and work less than 40 a week in a decent sized city.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A job is what pays your bills, so you can go and do things you like. You've got this one in the bag; so what are your hobbies, interests? Go pursue those. In the end, we're all worm-food, so make every day count.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "A job is what pays your bills, so you can go and do things you like."

      Some people are able to find jobs where they're able do things they like. Win-win!
    • This I agree with. My advice when my younger sister went to college: whatever you do for a living you'll eventually learn to hate, because nothing is fun when you HAVE to do it all day every day. All you do when you pick something you love for a career is make a perfectly good hobby not fun anymore.

      In the end - pick something that you're good at and that pays well. That money will allow you to enjoy life outside of your job, which is where the better parts of your life happen anyways.

      And lean towards gov

      • by gwolf ( 26339 )

        I had this mindset for some time, around twenty years ago. I wanted to get a job at something *not* related to computers, because I didn't want to hate my hobby. I am not formally educated (I'm now a university professor, but because I formalized my "knowledge equivalence" after ~15 years of professional experience; I never went to college as a student). I am Mexican... So my outlook at age 18 was somewhat bleak. Maybe work as a store clerk? That'd be a sure way to have enough money for food and leave my mi

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      A job is what pays your bills, so you can go and do things you like. [...] In the end, we're all worm-food, so make every day count.

      It's interesting that you talk about making every day count but discount the impact he can make with what is likely going to be his most meaningful contribution to society outside of his potential future family. I'd say if you want to make every day count, don't waste 8-9 hours of each day doing something that doesn't count, or doesn't count as much as it could if you put more effort in.

      Just working for the weekends seams like a waste of 70% of the week to me.

  • or more
  • gardener (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Lots of growth potential there!

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      They're better off picking up a trade. At least then in 5 years, they won't have to worry about their job being outsourced.

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:56AM (#53632605)

    the submission explains simply that "I'm looking for satisfying and rewarding work,"

    What people consider satisfying and rewarding is entirely subjective. What works for me, helping people without them realizing it was me, would leave most other people feeling unappreciated. The submitter is going to have to decide for him/her self what would they would find satisfying and rewarding.

    • I agree with this. Along with everything else, if you work for a small company, you may end up working with big companies as clients, partners, or suppliers. Having experience in the inner workings of big companies can be immensely helpful in understanding how to deal with them.
    • I really don't know where the submitter is coming from but neglecting pay speaks to someone who doesn't quite understand how the world works. Of course, being a recent college grad they probably have certain idealistic visions of how the world should work. Let us debase them, gently, of some of them.

      In terms of salary, by not going for at least industry average, you're setting yourself up for future financial troubles.

      Don't be afraid of getting paid. Never be afraid of asking for more money. Money is not th

  • Big - Small (Score:5, Insightful)

    by utahjazz ( 177190 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:57AM (#53632617)

    Start at a big company. A big software company. After a while, start looking to leave there and go to a small company.

    Why: If you start at a small company, you will confuse the freedom for chaos. You will not appreciate how easy it is to get things done. If you start at a big company, you will learn some big company processes. A few of them are good, most of them are bad, and you will probably have a very constrained job. Then move to a small company where you can actually do stuff.

    A prof once put it this way: Work at a big company to learn stuff, then work at a small company to apply what you've learned.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      I started at a big company. Parent's comment is dead on. Any advice how to convince yourself that you can go to a small company after a stint in the corporate world? Feels like at big corps individuals end up very specialized, and small companies usually want people who can fill multiple roles.
      • Build good relationships at the big company. Almost every job I've ever gotten was because someone I'd worked with before pinged me about an opening at their new company.

    • Working for a big company also gives you opportunities. Within the company itself you may have the opportunity to try various things in different roles, so you can find out what you enjoy doing best. If you work as a consultant, working for a big firm will open doors that most likely remain closed to you as a freelancer or in a small firm. In my experience, clients are much more willing to look past small "shortcomings" (i.e. lack of bullcrap certificates) and hire you, if you have a big company behind y
    • by Hulfs ( 588819 )

      The downside of this is that at a big company, you're likely to work the single role you were hired for and not much else. You're just the junior QA guy or the just the junior front end dev, etc. Unless you enrich your learning on your own time, you're can possibly get stuck siloing yourself off from a lot of career paths.

      At a small company, you WILL out of sheer lack of numbers to fill every job responsibility have to fill a ton of different roles - application support, development, infrustructure, QA, d

  • Embedded software? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:00AM (#53632633)

    I think the best way to answer the question would be to select some areas where you'd like to live and then spend some time searching for jobs in those areas.

    I was searching for employment ~18 months ago, mostly in the Northeast USA. It definitely seemed like I was seeing a lot of jobs for embedded software developers. So many that I was toying with the idea of going back to school and acquiring some of the requisite skills.

    • It definitely seemed like I was seeing a lot of jobs for embedded software developers.

      - Must have dark skin and speak with a Punjabi accent?
      No seriously embedded development is something that is easily outsourced and the development easily copied into low cost products. Also the vast majority of end users don't care about slickness, speed or security.

      Embedded device security on the other hand would be a great field to start specialising in very soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:02AM (#53632651)

    Later on, with spouse, children mortgage repayments you won't necessarily want / be able to:

    - Do some IT support for expeditions going to exotic locations
    - Do some contracting someplace like the South Pole
    - The oil exploration or production rigs pay well (although not as much as before)
    - Cruise ships are pretty much nonstop partying; bring plenty of aspirins and condoms
    - Holiday villages, ski resorts: see above
    - Voluntary work, either at home or abroad. Can be very depressing but also rewarding
    - Joing the military on a fixed-term deal

    I've done a few of the above; provided amazing experiences (many good, some bad) and it'll make your CV stand out from the crowd too.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:09AM (#53632681) Journal
    So, in this CS degree, did you learn any actual computer science, or did you just pick up specific technologies that will be obsolete in a decade? From that list of things, it sounds like you got a software engineering qualification from a trade school, not a computer science degree.
  • by heck ( 609097 ) <deadaccount@nobodyhere.com> on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:09AM (#53632683)

    We don't know what you find interesting or challenging. you may not know either until you bounce through some place.

    go find a company where you like the people; you've got the skill set that most companies are looking for. And figure out what you like. While happiness does in part come from not having a soul sucking job, having a not sucking job that pays enough to not have worries and be able to do the other things in life is just as important.

    Despite what they tell you, a job is still just a means to make money to be able to afford to live. You can be paid to do that which you enjoy (shh, don't tell them) - and it is still a job. And before someone says "but but but" I am not saying take a job that sucks your soul out through your eye balls; I am saying I accept the fact that while I love cooking, and I also recognize that when I am done I have to clean the kitchen and if I don't clean the kitchen I suck as a person who shares that kitchen with others. Cleaning the kitchen is fun (and meaning it) said no one ever. (So as much as I do enjoy my job, it comes with some responsibilities that I have to suck it up, realize this is what I accept money for, and go do them. Much like everything in life. No parent ever said they love emptying the diaper pail either, but the end result has been worth it)

    back to the first paragraph - a lot of us have bounced through companies and jobs. Our interests have changed. Our skill sets have changed. The job market has changed. When I started, the Web didn't exist. FORTRAN and C were king. I bounced through CAD/CAM, through two small startups (one still exists, and the other long since swallowed by another startup), to contracting, to a large financial company (where we're playing with Angular and such - you'd be surprised what Fortune 100 companies actually do - but also the job stability is through the roof and I have a kid about to start college, which ties back to I have a job to make the rest of life better)

    Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to tie an onion to my belt and go yell at clouds. That last paragraph made me feel very old.

    • I agree with everything said here and want to add something else:

      Give some serious thought to what it is you really enjoy doing and find a job that best matches that.

      I wanted to get into game design and development, it's what I spent a majority of my undergrad and masters taking classes for. I then realized that the game industry is insanely competitive and can be feast-or-famine with the bringing in of temp labor for the 3-6 months of crunch time before a release. Add in the "death march" of 60+ hour w
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Look at what is happening with the university IT jobs in California getting outsourced and understand the lesson: If someone can do your job cheaper, you will eventually lose it.

    Several options to consider that guard against that:

    1) IT Security - a very in demand skill and one that is less likely (right now) to be outsourced
    2) Big Data - data is the new black gold - learn how to mine it and you'll do fine.
    3) Defense Contracting - if you can get a security clearance, there is abundant work where defense cont

    • 3) Defense Contracting - if you can get a security clearance, there is abundant work where defense contracts are strong (around DC and military installations.)

      This is a really fun option. Generally in the defense industry there's a sliding scale between stable/boring production projects and unstable/exciting R&D projects. Get on the R&D (like real "make something new" R&D, not "we're going to make a minor improvement on an existing product" R&D) side in a big company and you'll never be bored.

  • Can't be outsourced to H-1B's.

    • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:39AM (#53632823)

      Can't be outsourced to H-1B's.

      While this is true, you have to be careful that you don't let yourself get pigeon holed into old and obsolete technology. I was doing defense work when they shut down the shuttle program at Cape Canaveral and I tell you, I have never see so many resumes from brilliant people who had almost zero chance of finding a new job without brushing up their skills. A lot of them had been at NASA and the Cape for 20+ years and we interviewed them out of professional courtesy, and to help them brush up on their interview skills and point them in the right direction on skills that were useful. But even my company was a solid 10 years behind modern industry in so many different ways.

      • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

        Even though they usually are the same companies doing the work and there is a bit of overlap (say when NASA launches a DOD satellite), NASA and DOD work are totally different animals.

        • Even though they usually are the same companies doing the work and there is a bit of overlap (say when NASA launches a DOD satellite), NASA and DOD work are totally different animals.

          This is entirely true that the work is different, but the problem is that both industries tend to stay behind the technology curve by a significant margin. If you get stuck working with an old technology on a project that gets canned then you'll quickly find yourself without a job and will have difficulty finding a new one. I personally loved the defense work I was doing. It was challenging, interesting, and I got to "blow shit up" when I was testing my work. It's just not always dependable. I had the

          • I had the good fortune of being able to work on the most interesting parts of our projects and to participate in business development. That gave me the advantage of knowing what contracts we were hoping to win and what technology I needed to know to keep myself employed.

            That part is key. I've been doing defense contracting for a while now and as much as I hate all of the business and management stuff (I just want to build things and then blow them up) I've always had an ear out for the business development side and it's served me well. Knowing what's coming up next not only allows me to build skills in that direction, but it also allows me to look for places where work I'm doing on one project can also be used on an upcoming project with minimal modification.

  • The university of California
  • Easy answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:36AM (#53632809)
    Plumbing, welding, electrician, A&P, etc. All jobs that are in high and constant demand, offer a chance for pretty good earning potential, and can't be offshored. Depending on which one you choose you even have the option of starting your own business down the line.
  • We IT experts are, compared to the rest of the ordinary crowd, in the extremely fortunate position that we can basically do whatever we like to do in our field and earn either decent or obscene amounts of cash while doing so. There is just about no other industry today where that is possible.

    Do whatever you want. If you don't know what you want, try things out. Keep looking. ... Steve Jobs was right on this one.

    Think you have the great new app / service up your sleeve? Build that.
    Want to learn Oracle/SAP/Wh

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:57AM (#53632931)

    Here's some advice: You're the new out-of-college-kid-on-the-block. Just because you scratced-the-surface on all those languages, network and sys-admin tech in college, doesn't mean you're even CLOSE to an expert and haven't done it in a professional setting at all where you need to give a shit about 10,000 other things besides 'getting it done and working'.

    Just because something seems dead end to you doesn't mean you don't learn, and it also doesn't mean you STOP learning there because you've made that mental decision that it's dead-end. There's tons of skills to learn where you're at --- but there's also tons of what-not-to-do to learn as well. No place I've ever worked at did everything right; there is always things that got me to the next level at places, then there were things I absolutely despised that I had zero control or muscle-to-flex to change because it really did need addressing.

    Regardless if you're going to sling code for a living or be a sys/network admin, they are two completely different worlds in terms of professionalism and attack. My 'sys-admin' code/scripts/software I write for automation, jobs, tasks, gluing stuff together, ect. is COMPLETELY different from doing serious code development in any shop that it's bottom line is: your code makes us money or provides us a vehicle for revenue. My fundamentals might be the same in terms of development style (e.g. 90's waterfall vs. agile), but I still use a CVS of some type and practice secure development, but it's a far cry from writing a web/mobile/client-server app for users that maybe supports a business model or creates business revenue --- then you need to know your shit not just writing 'hello world' in college 50 times with 50 languages.

    Keep doing what you're doing and you'll know what you want to be. Don't just pick a field because it's some hot topic of the day in the IT world. Figure out what you want vs. what's giving a slightly bigger paycheck at the end of the week. People will pay you what you're worth, trust me. But if you don't learn the skills and what-not-to-do's and gleen as much off the smarter-than-you folks, you'll just be chasing your tail.

    • Just because you scratced-the-surface on all those languages, network and sys-admin tech in college, doesn't mean you're even CLOSE to an expert and haven't done it in a professional setting at all where you need to give a shit about 10,000 other things besides 'getting it done and working'.

      This. If you think that the biggest challenges in your career will be technical rather than political/organizational, you're gonna have a bad time.

  • Most answers here are right to some degree, yet highly context-dependent, such as better or worse regions for IT professionals or a high personal bias on whats's better or worse for them, and what their connections say about company X or Y.

    My own personal bias favors big data and the finance/security/energy consulting sectors as the most prolific, salary-wise, but I am inclined to say the place where you will get he most satisfaction is one where you do what you like making what you need. For instance, star

  • Go to grad school.
  • what does he want to do: 1) Programming 2) Consulting and advising 3) Sales 4) Managing ?
  • I just don't know if it's realistic to want "satisfying and rewarding work". This is something I see a lot of millennials say and believe me we all get this, but I just don't know if it's realistic. To me this is kind of like people saying that if you don't love your job you should quit it and find one you do love. The sad reality is that there just aren't enough "jobs you love" to go around for everybody to have one. If you go home at the end of the day and you're not stressed out from work and you're
  • Consider looking into embedded software positions. In these kind of industries you're focused on programming a processor to control something physical: a radio, an elevator, a microwave, car subsystems, robots. This industry doesn't always use the sexiest of programming languages and tools (you'll likely be doing some flavor of assembly, C, or C++ on crappy vendor-specific compilers and IDEs), but you it's very rewarding to see your code have physical effect. I definitely preferred that over writing website
  • If you can become an expert in the stuff the old guys who are retiring and dying are great at, you will be paid YUGE money and have lots of job security.
  • The answer is...

    Call Center Level 1 Tech Support.

  • The tips will be great. Ok, they'll be ok. Well, you'll get tipped every now and then.

    Also you can work on your real estate license. One day you'll be a broker.

    Did you get that CS degree framed? If so you'll have trouble digging glass shards out of your ass when you wipe.

    E

  • forklift driving comes to mind
  • You've got a lot of opportunity. I can't really tell you what a "good job" is, without knowing you. The question I would ask you, if we were sitting face to face, is "what do you like to do?" And then we would go from there.

    I would probably tell you that fields like machine learning and information security are good, but competitive. I would tell you to avoid the gaming industry, unless you know someone who can get you into one of the big studios. This is more likely if you live in a city where there is a b

  • See if you can turn that part time position into a full time position. Everyone I've ever met has had a crappy first job. You are lucky in that you at least like yours. Once you get some kind of work experience, you have a much easier time finding the second job that you really like. Even if the current job is a dead end, you can easily find hackathons, programming contests, and meetups to learn new skills. This is a habit you'll need to pick up anyway, so start doing it now while you're not important to be
  • Transfer or buy their hardware and setup your own cloud company.

  • [My] curriculum is rather broad, ranging from systems programming on a Raspberry Pi to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C, Java, JPA, Python, Go, Node.js, software design patterns, basic network stuff (mostly Cisco) and various database technologies... ... With these skills under my belt, what career path should I pursue?

    That fact that you even think it's relevant to mention any of that after completing a CS degree tells us you went to a school where you degree is worth less than it's weight in toilet paper.

    Tho
    • Also, while you're on your breaks in your burger flipping job, start reading Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming". It might help you at least understand what CS actually is and where you went wrong.
  • I got married to someone pursuing her PhD. I have lived in 6 different cities, following her from job-to-job. Each time we moved, I was unemployed for a short period of time. I have worked 10 different jobs in that time. I have worked in power generation, telecommunications, national defense, state gov, been a college instructor, banking, investments, digital libraries, voice automation, search engines, city gov and for the school district. Each job has had its pluses and minuses, I have learned to "take it
  • Being young with no responsibilities is a great time to do something fulfilling regardless of pay, but you WILL find pay to be important later. If you make good money now, you won't have to worry so much about it later. And fulfilling work and work that pays well are not things that are mutually exclusive.

    Don't get complacent with pay, and make sure that you are well aware of what someone at your experience level can expect to make. As someone in IT--especially with software engineering skills--you shoul

  • With so much lieing of H1B Visas, its got to be a gold mine at world class levels.
  • If you are geographically limited, like I have been many times, do not bother with head-hunters or job sites.

    I have found the best way to find a job in a particular city is to go to Wikipedia and find the page of something like "Top 500 employers in Des Moines".

    Then read through all of the employers, go to each of their web sites, find the "careers", "jobs" or "employment" links on those web sites.

    Apply DIRECTLY to the employer for the job that is the best fit for you. This method has always been bett

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