FAQs About Majoring in Software Engineering
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- How Can High Schoolers Search for Internships?
- What Are the Benefits of Majoring in Computer Science vs. Software Engineering?
- Besides Internships, How Can I Increase My Chances of Working as a Software Engineer?
- What If I Am Interested in Academia or Graduate School?
- How Important Are Coding Extracurriculars to Getting Software Engineering Jobs?
How Can High Schoolers Search for Internships?
In general, any internship related to software engineering will need a certain level of computer science skills. If you don’t have any experience, look into an educational program like the one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the California Institute of Technology, or other online boot camp options. When you are looking for internships, ask yourself what kinds of problems you want to solve and the kinds of fields that you want to enter.
From there, reach out to local companies and businesses asking if they need help. If you are interested in computer science and the arts, for example, you can reach out to local theaters interested in growing their radius or base of interested patrons. Updating their website will give them a better outreach and be a great opportunity for you to hone your skills. This is something that you could pitch to a theater if you are interested in working with them.
What Are the Benefits of Majoring in Computer Science vs. Software Engineering?
Many students wonder if there is a difference between majoring in computer science or software engineering. Going into the industry, it doesn’t matter if you majored in computer science or software engineering as long as you’ve majored in something related to the field that you’re interested in. You could even major in computer science and then go to law school to become a legal expert for tech and cybersecurity law. With a software engineering major, you can go into academia and teach computer science or software engineering courses. There are many different ways that you can use your major and apply it to whatever industry you want to go into.
Keep in mind the industry or specialized field that you hope to enter when you choose summer internships and jobs throughout your college career. Your work experience is where you hone your skills and demonstrate to companies that you are a valuable asset. If you gain work experience in the industry or subfield that you want to enter as a career, you will demonstrate that you’re competent and increase your chances of being hired.
Besides Internships, How Can I Increase My Chances of Working as a Software Engineer?
Networking is a key aspect of being a successful computer scientist and software engineer, and it will help you land jobs. In college, you should be networking with your peers, professors, and any professionals who come to your school for developmental workshops or events.
This will help you get involved in interesting projects and opportunities and prepare you for job hunting. Internships and jobs can come from networking, but you also gain valuable experience and insights by speaking to professionals in your desired industry. When it’s time for interviews, you will go in better prepared.
What If I Am Interested in Academia or Graduate School?
If you intend on going to graduate school for either a master’s or Ph.D. program, make sure you are keeping your GPA high. This is especially true for any classes related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or computer science. Your desire to attend graduate school should lead to courses that won’t overload you. This way, you will have the time and ability to focus on achieving the highest grades that you can.
Another thing to keep in mind when considering a school is if it has grade deflation in your department. Well-known schools that have grade deflation for computer science include the University of California, Berkeley; MIT; and Boston University. Of course, admissions officers for graduate programs are aware of grade deflation and will take this into account when evaluating your application, and it may lower your overall GPA.
How Important Are Coding Extracurriculars to Getting Software Engineering Jobs?
There is not going to be one make-or-break aspect of your applications. If you don’t have every piece of the puzzle when it comes time to apply for jobs, that’s fine.
That said, getting involved in programming extracurriculars or projects will be helpful when you are looking for a job. These are great ways to learn and practice different programming languages. If you are interested in entering a career that uses a specific language that is not taught in any of your classes, this is where extracurriculars become important. Participating in a competition that uses that language and then performing well will be a great thing to put on your resume to demonstrate skill.
Overall, software engineering is an extremely flexible career with so many different areas you could go into. There is no perfect path that will guarantee success. If you have room in your schedule for extracurriculars or competitions, that’s great. If you are more focused on GPA and work experience, that’s also fine. To become a successful software engineer, you must find the type of experience that works best for you. The important thing is being able to demonstrate your skills and knowledge.