Do you feel like the weird edge case pictured in Figure 9.1? Do typical graduate destinations such as large multi-national corporations, not really make you want to Shake Your Thang? (Isley, Isley, and Isley 1988) Perhaps you want to:
- use your technical skills responsibly and ethically to make the world a better place?
- start your own business and make money for yourself, rather than other people?
- work in computing in roles beyond software engineering?
Broadening your initial job search described in chapter 8 will open up more opportunities on your horizon. This chapter will broaden those horizons and get you to think about some of the less obvious options, because I love weird edge cases and you should too. 😻
Many technology jobs exist outside of technology companies, (Assay 2020) because a lot of software is written to be used rather than sold. Consequently, many employers create bespoke software to fit the needs of their business. The people who build it are often employees, rather than people employed by a technology company. In the United States for example, ninety percent of IT jobs are outside the traditional tech industry. Technical jobs outside the technology sector often have the advantage of being more accessible than those within a very competitive technology sector. (Markow, Coutinho, and Bundy 2019)
- Describe the less obvious careers that computer science can lead to, besides software engineering, including:
- Starting a business or joining a startup
- Working outside of the technology sector
- Working outside of the private sector (governments, non-profits etc)
- Roles allied to software engineering that require you to be a conversational programmer
- Recognise the social responsibility accompanying the power held by computer scientists
- Match and critically evaluate the values of an employer with your own values and ethics
The phrase software engineering has been around since Margaret Hamilton (figure 9.2) wrote code for NASA’s Apollo program in the sixties. However, the practice of software engineering has been around even longer right back to Ada Lovelace in the nineteenth century.
Software engineers (or software developers if you prefer) are one of the most popular roles for graduates (see e.g. figure 6.6) but there are plenty of affiliated roles that computer scientists go into besides software engineering.
- Data scientist
- Product manager or owner, liaises with customers, management and engineers to define what a product does
- Project / delivery manager
- Software architect
- Business analyst see prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/business-analyst
- Scrum Master
- Agile Coach
- Technical writer, see section 4.4.2
- Technical sales and marketing
- Test engineer (QA) see prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/software-tester
- Research software engineer
- Usability engineer (any Human–computer interaction HCI)
- Security engineer, penetration testing see prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/penetration-tester
- DevOps, sysadmin and site reliability engineering
- Patent attorney, see prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/patent-attorney
- Consultant, see prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/it-consultant
What do these roles entail?
There are plenty of roles in computing working in research, either in computer science, or working alongside natural scientists, such as Physicists at CERN or . There are also roles in research software engineering, using software engineering practices in research applications. Some examples from the UK and Europe:
- CERN, see careers.cern and careers.cern/join-us/students
- The Crick crick.ac.uk see e.g. crick.ac.uk/careers-study/students/sandwich-students
- The Daresbury Laboratory, see stfccareers.co.uk/students/ under Computing
- Diamond Light Source diamond.ac.uk see diamond.ac.uk/Careers/Students/Year-in-Industry.html
- European Bioinformatics Institute ebi.ac.uk see ebi.ac.uk/careers
- The Earlham Institute earlham.ac.uk e.g. earlham.ac.uk/year-industry
- ISIS Neutron and Muon source see isis.stfc.ac.uk/Pages/Students.aspx and stfccareers.co.uk/students/ under Computing
- Jodrell Bank Observatory jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk
- The metoffice.gov.uk, see metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/careers/apprentices-graduates-and-placements
- Plymouth Marine Laboratory pml.ac.uk see careers.pml.ac.uk
- Rutherford Appleton Laboratory RAL see stfccareers.co.uk/students/ under Computing
- Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) sanger.ac.uk
- More like this at jobs.ac.uk
Many Universities and research institutes have summer internships for computer science students working alongside researchers, for example, at the University of Manchester these are advertised each year around May. Speak to the head of a research lab in your department. Ask them if they have plans to take on summer students.
If you’re thinking of doing postgraduate study, see chapter 13. Commercial experience gained on a summer internship or placement year is valued by all employers (not just commercial ones) so doing an internship or placement during your undergraduate degree.
Computer scientists wield tremendous power in the twenty first century. We know that:
- With great power comes great responsibility (Parker 1962)
- With great code comes great responsibility (Goldman and Schlesinger 2018)
Given the growing power of computing in the twenty-first century, computer scientists have a duty to society to use that power responsibly and justly. How can they do so? Do computer scientists need to sell their soul to the highest bidder?
You will sometimes hear people saying you need to sell your soul to get a job, shown in figure 9.4. See for example:
- Soul sold for less than £12 (Malham 2002)
- Am I Selling My Soul to Work for My Company? (Bell 2021)
So when you’re searching for jobs and researching potential employers, one of the first things you need to find out is what the values and ethical principles of an employer are, see section 8.3. This is a quick way to evaluate what makes an organisation who they are. Most employers publish their values and ethics openly, here’s a small selection to give you a flavour:
- Amazon amazon.jobs/en/principles
- Microsoft microsoft.com/en-us/about/corporate-values
- Apple apple.com/compliance
- Google ai.google/principles
- Morgan Stanley morganstanley.com/about-us/morgan-stanley-core-values
Let’s look at Morgan Stanley (figure 9.5) as an example, I’ve chosen these values because they are brief and self-explanatory. Morgan Stanley’s values are to:
- Do the right thing: act with integrity
- Put clients first: listen to what the client is saying and needs
- Lead with exceptional ideas: win by breaking new ground
- Commit to Diversity and Inclusion: value individual and cultural differences
- Give back: serve communities generously with expertise, time and money
Look at these values carefully, or choose the values of another employer you’re interested in. What do they mean to you?
Let’s pause here. Insert a breakpoint in your
code and slowly step through it so we can examine the current values of your variables and parameters.
* PAUSE ⏸️
- How closely do a given employers values align with your own? You may need to revisit section 2.3.
- You might not get a 100% match but you’re unlikely to enjoy working for an employer where your values don’t match very well at all
- Are the stated values of an employer the whole story?
- Are there any unwritten or unspoken rules?
- Is there anything missing?
- Are there any unwritten rules? What an employers says and does may be contradictory. Actions speak louder than words.
* RESUME ▶️
Once you’ve thought about these questions, you stand a much better chance of working out if a given employer is a good match for you. So do you have to sell your soul as shown in figure 9.6? It depends on what you value and if an employer shares those values with you.