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B.sci major - Comp sci or math?

Discussion in 'Programming & Software Development' started by Littledragon, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    Hi everyone,

    This question is ideally directed to people who actually hire people in the software industry - or failing that, people who just work in the software industry.

    I've been studying an electrical eng major but I've recently decided it's not my thing - and also if I majored in comp science or mathematics I would finish quicker and be in significantly less debt. I've just done a subject in C programming, and I quite 'enjoy' it, or at least find it satisfying and I think i'd be happy to program as a job. Problem is I also like studying mathematics and think I would really quite like to study an applied math major, with the goal of working in 'automation'/data science, or designing the code for such types of programs (more math modelling orientated). I've gone online and looked for such jobs and noticed there isn't too many at the moment, at least in Australia. There are some but I suppose not a huge glut, at least on seek.com.au.

    There are however a TON of software engineering jobs, mainly to do with Java, SQL, things like this. Often these adverts will state a 'bachelor's degree in comp science, engineering, IT or related discipline' is required, as well as experience in different things. My question is, if I studied applied math, and picked up 3-4 comp science subjects, would I get hired in these software roles? Or is more really about having strong knowledge skills in coding, that you'd get more from a comp science major/practicing more code. I'd essentially start applying for these roles if I couldn't get into that data science type of role.

    For me, 'related discipline' would include math, but i've got to ask hah!

    Thanks for any responses!
     
  2. jamesl33t

    jamesl33t Member

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    Great question. I think it really depends on the role you want to go for. If you want to go down the 'data science' path (keep in mind that most of the advertisements for these roles list a MS/PhD as a requirement), then either degree would be fine. If you want to secure a software engineering position at a top software company (or similar), then you'll get an interview with either degree (assuming that the rest of your resume is up to scratch). When applying and interviewing for these positions, things like personal software projects (ie what you do in your spare time) are often considered more important than what you studied at university. However if you want to secure a generic coding role at a lesser-known company then maybe a cs/se degree would be a safer option -- I imagine that these companies could see a degree in cs/se as more relevant.

    Regardless, check THIS guide out. Most of what you would study in a CS degree is not pre-requisite knowledge for securing a software engineering job. I am a software engineer, studied CS (and a b math for a while), and have interviewed at most of the big software companies both here and in the US. Feel free to PM me -- I have certainly found myself in the same boat before.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    Thanks! that website is really good :) i'll pm you.
     
  4. dr1fta

    dr1fta Member

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    I hire a stack of developers, however, what we do is not 'Computer Science' programming, but more so 'Business Programming'

    The way I separate the two is

    Computer Science programmers are often looking at Big Data / Statistics / Algorithmic Programming. Essentially, they come up with mathematical solutions and happen to be able to program the solution. Maths is a big part of these roles, programming not as much.

    Business programmers are often making a SaaS product or similar and the programming issues they are facing are relatively easy to understand (although often difficult to solve). In this area, I would look at someone who understands programming, maths knowledge isn't really required.


    There are plenty of 'Business Programmer' jobs around, and they often pay well. But for some, it would be like being a talented classical music composer who is asked to write a song for Justin Beiber
     
  5. dakiller

    dakiller (Oscillating & Impeding)

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    You'll get a job as a software dev with maths comp-sci degree.

    The most important part of becoming a good software dev is understanding the software dev methodologies, modelling and design patterns that go into writing good code.

    A collegue is a software dev who has been around a bit, and he said that one place he worked at had quite a few people who had PhD's in Physics and coding was their fallback as they couldn't get work as physicists.

    Coding doesn't require a whole lot of education, it requires developing a strong logical mindset and building a toolbox of programming languages and development frameworks to use.
     
  6. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Outside of "program to solve business problems" type responses, the need for competent security-minded people with a good head for crypto is exploding right now. Security within computer science is the next high demand job, and it's already a problem now.

    Unlike the CS boom of the late 90s, the difference is that good CS/crypto people don't grow on trees, and it's not a job "any idiot" can do. If you've got the combined CS/maths credentials, you can write your own ticket.
     
  7. OP
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    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    sounds like maths ticks many boxes so far, particularly the development of logical mindset one. Elvis you bring up an interesting point, with the ubiquity of data I would imagine security of data is needed. It seems everyday you hear about more 'hackings', and i'm sure there's the other 90% that aren't reported. How would you go about getting into that industry?
     
  8. waltermitty

    waltermitty Member

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    Lrn2crack, read some reverse engineering books, read exploit writeups (project zero and every other hackerone report), learn kali/tails, read OWASP guidelines, learn disassembly and other reverse engineering techniques, understand what happens in a web request, read some RFCs, learn a million techniques for exploiting stuff. Read up on elliptic curve cryptography and other DJB tricks, opsec startups are hiring guys with ECC experience no risk.

    Most of all, write good, sensible, bounds checked code. Fuzz in your tests. Trust no-one.
     
  9. Kurgan

    Kurgan Member

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    Can you not do a double major? Or some major/minor combination?
     
  10. OP
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    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    Ummm unfortunately not at my university. I think if I did 4 subjects in comp science though anyway it would be a type of unofficial minor.
     
  11. Kurgan

    Kurgan Member

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    No open science degrees? thats a bit limiting.
     
  12. OP
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    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    welcome to unimelb. To be fair they are 'open' in that you can choose whatever science electives you want; they just aren't going to give you the piece of paper that states you minored in x. Just that you majored in y.
     
  13. metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    Ultimately work experience triumphs over qualifications, but it depends what job you want to do. Aim for that, and pick the degree that's most likely to get you into the entry-level position. University-learning only gives you the basics.
     
  14. Munki

    Munki Member

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    The maths degree will probably give you more flexibility so you could choose to become a Statistician or Data Scientist.
     
  15. GumbyNoTalent

    GumbyNoTalent Member

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    ^^^ statistical mathematics degree with software electives.
     
  16. emberjelly

    emberjelly Member

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    I think the maths degree would be fine, but only if you are a really top tier student. From my experience, a CS degree offers easier entry into what is now a hyper-competitive job market. I did an elec-eng and CS double major, and had a much easier time finding jobs than my friend who has an elec eng and math double major, and he fell back on his elec eng degree for almost every interview he went for. I feel like maths is a strong backing to another degree, but unless you have a masters, or better a phd, it just doesn't offer the same hands on practicality companies usually look.
     
  17. OP
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    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    Yep thanks. This is what i'm ending up doing. I'm going to major in statistics with some data science software subjects on the side; maybe try and get an internship next summer at a data science firm.
     
  18. Quadbox

    Quadbox Member

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    Which uni? If it's at UQ, the summer industry program at least this year had relatively few applicants per job from what I heard, so it's probably worth a look at. I rather thought they advertised it poorly compared to the summer research program. Most of the available positions I saw were at least vaguely of a mathematical analysis/data science bent

    If QUT or Griffith, I imagine they have something similar
     
  19. OP
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    Littledragon

    Littledragon Member

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    Ahh i'm actually living in Melbourne, studying at UniMelb. Just haven't updated the location details :) I'll definitely be having a look at the internship program. I was/am deciding on whether to study at UQ or unimelb, but I was looking at relevant jobs (on seek) in the capital cities and it seems Brisbane is really far behind Sydney and Melbourne regarding software/tech opportunities? I imagine that would tighten up in around 5 years time though, but hard to know.
     
  20. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    Definitely Comp Sci. Way more jobs.
     

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