Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Job Search

As a senior one of the things I have started conducting is the painful job search. Many companies are hiring and some have even reached out to me for interviews. It's actually fascinating hearing about some companies I never would have otherwise and learning about all kinds of work being done in the world. However, and partly due to this study, one thing I have to wonder is the variety of jobs available to me. Specifically, I have not spoken with one company that has been interested in interviewing me for anything besides a software engineering position.

In a world where computer science is so loosely defined I have to wonder how this happens. Lots of people confuses Computer Science with any number of disciplines related to computers. Software engineering, Information Systems, Information Technology, all could probably be filled by a Computer Science major but there is no job title computer scientist. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind fulfilling a software engineering position as I find developing software to be quite interesting but I can't help but wonder about the numerous computer scientists that don't consider themselves software engineers. Is academia the only refuge for a computer scientist who isn't a software engineer? Is graduate school the only place I could continue to be a "computer scientist" without becoming a "software engineer."

I fear this is one of the most significant reasons that computer science is becoming equivalent to programming. Once you enter industry how many people escape being labeled as software engineers? It's definitely better than being labeled a programmer but I still don't feel it's enough. One of my battle cries throughout it all has been "you can perform computer science without even working on a computer." However, how many computer scientists in industry are doing so? Are you CS job options really just software engineer or grad school? Sometimes it's worth it to wonder if it's not academia that is responsible for all the change but industry to understand that computer scientists are more than software engineers.

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