Are you wondering how to be successful as your pursue a degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field? Take it step-by-step and before you know it, you’ll be wielding that diploma!
- Find out what kind of degree you need
It’s easy to assume that the higher your degree, the more likely you are to be hired for any position. This isn’t always true, however. Some professions do have fairly cut-and-dry stipulations about how much schooling you need to get hired. For example, if you want to be a computer and information research scientist, you are almost certainly going to have to get a PhD in computer science (unless you work for the government). If you want to be a database administrator, you’ll have to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. But other jobs, including computer programmers, support specialists, customer service agents, network and computer systems administrators, and computer systems analysts have more flexible terms for hiring. You can get any of these jobs with an associate’s degree and related work experience. In some cases, on the other hand, the question is between an associate’s degree and something less, like an industry certification. There is no one right answer here. The key is to have both essential components – work experience and some college education. What will get you hired will depend on your employer and their preferences, or the demands of the position.
- Take placement tests whenever possible
Although taking tests is not at the top of anybody’s list of fun activities, taking placement tests can pay off in the long run. They might be required by your school, but even if they aren’t, prepare for them and try your best so that you can get high scores. Doing so can help you place out of certain classes so that you can meet your requirements more quickly. This is especially applicable for computer science majors who will often be required to reach a high level of math in order to take the higher level computer classes and graduate with their intended degree.
- Work while you are in school
If you haven’t figured it out from tip #1, you’re going to need to get some professional experience working with computers and networks if you want a decent job out of college. One of the benefits of an associate’s degree or certificate program is that you can work full time while you’re in school and you can still graduate in a relatively short period of time. You can often get hired as a computer support specialist or customer service agent with limited college experience. This will allow you to hone your skills, learn more than you would with school alone, and build your resume. Some schools do provide the opportunity for you to participate in an internship before you graduate, but this is not a guarantee. If you are given the chance, doing an internship can help you gain work experience with a company that might ultimately hire you, which would make your transition out of school much smoother. Plus, you are often given credit at school for working with a company instead of going to class! On the downside, a lot of internships aren’t paid, but if you hunt long enough you could find a company that will at least offer something in the way of compensation.