With computer science jobs being so in demand, a lot of students ask about what type of job opportunities they could have in the field. In this section, we’ll discuss the wide variety of fascinating and rewarding careers that are possible for CS students!
Thanks for posting this topic Maggie! This is something we chat about often on our webinars and calls with schools.
One of my favorite examples of a really cool career students can pursue after learning to code is to become a surfer and web programmer! I love this example because it displays a truly lovely reality about engineering jobs - if you get good enough, you can work from anywhere!
What else? What’s the most inspiring job in tech that you’ve heard of recently?
It’s always changing! Even though tech jobs change all the time, the good part is - web programming/ object oriented programming - is still a the core of any tech job whether you are a designer, programmer or business person.
I can post a couple “Job Spotlights” here! The first is computer programmer.
Watch: How computer science and computer programmers are changing every industry - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvyTEx1wyOY
Discuss: What do computer programmers make? How does coding change agriculture, energy and education, or other industries? How do computer programmers fit into that?
Role Model: Lauren Reeves, computer scientist
Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer
Digital Marketers organize and run marketing campaigns to help companies reach people online. They use Google Search Optimization, social media like Twitter and Facebook and mobile ads. Sometimes they run campaigns that involve releasing e-books or writing blog posts. They use data about people’s behavior online to make informed decisions.
How Digital Marketers Use Code:
- Marketers can write programs to analyze data from their campaigns
- Make data visualisations - the presentation of information in a graphical format, usually a chart, sometimes a pictorial representation. They enable decision makers to see analytics visually and draw conclusions at a glance. Data visualisation is also useful for content marketing, if you want to create a graphic to illustrate an argument, and making dynamic reports for information sources where that isn’t already provided for you.
Discuss: How could you use what you code today in a digital marketing campaign? What sort of campaign would you run - what is your product? How does coding help?
Role Model: Manpreet Kaur Kalra, founder and digital marketer - Learn to Code: My Journey as a Digital Marketer
Job Spotlight: AR (Augmented Reality) Developer/Artist/Designer
AR Developers, Artists and Designers create apps that live in augmented reality. That means that they’re accessible through phones, glasses or tablets, and show things that live in and interact with the real world. You’ve seen augmented reality on Snapchat lenses - like when Snapchat adds a hotdog to the real world. They use code to build and prototype (build a sample of a project that might not work exactly how you want) projects that you can interact with digitally in the real world.
Watch: What is augmented reality?
Discuss: What would you want to create that could live on top of the real world? What devices would people use to see and interact with it? What would it look like or do? Make a list of companies or apps you use, how could they add augmented reality to make something easier for more engaging?
Role Model: Nancy Baker Cahill
Job Spotlight: Mobile App Developers
Mobile developers code apps for phones, tablets, smart watches, and all other kinds of wearable devices.
Discuss: How can mobile apps have an impact beyond web apps or other kinds of software? Who can these apps reach? How can they use data that only a phone or smart watch would have access to?
Role Models: EPA Chica Squad (video)
Job Spotlight: Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
QA Engineers work with developers and project managers to test code and find bugs. They make sure that new products work before they are released to the public.
How QA Engineers use code:
- Many “software tests” are actually written with code - they run and see if everything’s working like it’s supposed to
- QA Engineers use code to add features to products that make it easier for developers to write code without breaking anything
- Understanding the codebase helps QA Engineers know where bugs might occur
Discuss: Why is a QA or Test Engineer important to have in the production or hardware or software? How does code help someone test software? What sorts of products do you use that may have been tested? When was the last time you found a bug online - what happened and what did you do?
Role Model: Jasmin Rosales, QA Engineer
Job Spotlight: Video Game Designer
Video game designers often work as part of a team to create video games. They come up with the games’ concepts, characters, setting, story, and game play.
How Video Game Designers use code:
- There are so many environments to make games in - but coding helps! With coding, you can customize your game’s physics, add complex character interactions and make anything you can imagine!
Discuss: What video games have you played? What do you feel strongly about - what sorts of video games are best to share that message? How can a video game increase empathy or offer a different way to communicate? Think about what you’ve done with Vidcode - what would you need to add to make something a ‘game’?
Role Model: Ciara Burkett, Video Game Creator
This is such a neat job and very in demand today! It’s also cool because you can teach yourself many of the skills to be a great digital marketer by learning some code, metrics for campaigns and how to build analytics platforms.
A great example of a career where code is involved but doesn’t take center stage so to speak.
Job Spotlight: Musician
Musicians write and perform music. They can use computer programs, instruments, their voice or code!
How Musicians use code:
- Use programming environments like Sonic Pi and languages like Ruby to code music live for “algorave” events
- Write generative music - or a song that plays differently every time
Discuss: How could you make a project with Vidcode that would go along with music you like? What ways could you make music interactive? What new instrument would you make?
Role Model: Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo, Artist and Musician
Job Spotlight: Scientist
Scientists work in every field imaginable, large and small companies will hire scientists to work on products and research projects. The ultimate goal is to always add knowledge and insight to the larger scientific community, as well as to help ignite new discoveries for the future.
How Scientists use code:
- Create custom graphs out of their data sets using programming languages like R or MATLAB
- Organize and see patterns in data that would be difficult to see otherwise
- Automate repetitive tasks
Discuss: How could you turn the project you’re working on today into a weather simulation? How could you use outside data to make other simulations? How can computer programming help scientists explore data?
Role Model: Noelle Bowlin, Marine Biologist
Job Spotlight: Dancer
Dancing and programming can work together to create beautiful artworks that transcend just one medium.
Discuss: How can you use what you’re learning with loops to create a music video? How can the effects you code tie in with a dance project? How can a dancer interact with what you’re creating with code? How can your code effects interact with a dance?
Role Model: Miral Kotb, Dancer and I-luminate founder
Job Spotlight: Technical Director
Technical directors in companies like Disney or Pixar work on movie effects on both the software and production side. Think the ice castles in Frozen - those had to be both animated and coded! Technical Directors are responsible for providing support to artist teams in a variety of areas including writing tools to facilitate the CG animation process, acting as a liaison to the software developers, and front-line artist support.
Discuss: Why is it important that there’s a job that connects departments, like video production and special effects / software development? Why is it important that someone with a job like that understands how to code?
Role Model: Kelsey Hurley
Job Spotlight: User Experience (UX) Designer
A user experience designer is different than a graphic designer - they don’t focus on visual design or graphics. Instead, a user experience designer tries to understand challenges people face, how they’re feeling, and how to make something that fits their life and that they can use. This involves research, interviews with users, and user testing wireframes, or very low fidelity designs.
How UX Designers use code:
- Code design prototypes that they can watch future users interact with
- Communicate clearly and effectively with developers working on projects
- Have a deeper understanding of the technological solutions that are available to solve the problems you’re working on. If a UX designer has programmed a voice Alexa project before, they’ll be more likely to think of a solution that uses that technology.
Watch: Meet UX Designers at Google
Discuss: What steps would you take to make sure a design is working for your particular challenge or for a particular user? What questions would you ask someone before you started designing to make sure you’re solving their specific problems?
Role Model: Jill Dasilva, Head of UX Strategy & Co-Founder at Digital Karma
Job Spotlight: Graphic Designer
Graphic designers make design guidelines, logos, graphics, posters and websites. A graphic designer’s ultimate goal is to blend form and function, according to graphic designer Pablo Solomon. “As in any good design, you want to accomplish your practical goal in the most visually pleasing and impacting way,” he explains. “Where musicians use music, poets use words and dancers use their movements to communicate feelings, designers use their images.”
How Graphic Designers use code:
- They can code their own websites
- Understanding code helps graphic designers pass off designs to developers, and design in a way that works for the web. They can also work closely with developers to customize designs with CSS.
- Designers can explore graphic creation with coding libraries such as p5.js
- You can make designs interactive
Watch: Graphic Designer at Google
Discuss: How can a design represent something or make an impact? How can coding be used to expand the impact of a design or message?
Role Model: Jessica Walsh, Artistic Director - Interview on her process and how she started with coding websites
Wow, thanks for that list Leandra! I’ll also add that even if you don’t get a full-time job in coding or a field that uses it, code is still a super powerful tool that will definitely come in handy. You can use it to automate busywork at your job, to figure out why your favorite website isn’t working, or to make sure you get tickets to your favorite artist’s show. Coding is a tool, and you don’t need to use it 24/7 to use it sometimes!
As someone who does not have a CS background but is surrounded by programmers and developers all the time (i.e. boyfriend, friends, family), I can honestly say that I am constantly amazed by just how adaptable and eager to learn students of CS really are. More than anyone else I know, they are able to shift with the times, problem-solve, and autonomously seek out new ways to improve themselves. It’s so inspiring!