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Sunday, 21 October 2018

7 Ways to Prepare for Computer Science Careers | Top Universities by MD

Want to make a strong start to your computer science career? There’s a lot to consider, from choosing a computer science degree that will nurture a range of technical and soft skills, to gaining professional experience and building up your CV. To help you launch your computer science career on a solid foundation, here are seven factors to keep in mind.

1. Choose a degree with a focus on employability 

Unless you’re planning to follow an academic career path, you’ll want to seek out computer science degrees with a strong focus on practical and applied approaches to learning. At the UK’s University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), for example, all computer science students complete a series of practical projects, including opportunities to work on real-life briefs for clients. This focus on applied learning ensures students emerge ready for the workplace, having gained valuable hands-on experience and feedback from employers.

2. Complete placements as part of your studies

As well as completing practical projects, there is no better way to prepare for computer science careers than by undertaking relevant work experience. At UCLan, all computer science students have the chance to complete a one-year paid and assessed work placement as part of their course, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Most placements are with local employers, but there is also the opportunity to complete this year in industry at an English-speaking employer elsewhere in Europe. This immersive period of work experience allows students to further develop their skills and understanding of the sector, while adding significant value to their CVs, and in some cases the placement even leads directly to a job offer.

3. Get a strong foundation before you specialize 

You may already have a clear idea of the area of computer science you want to specialize in, and it can be tempting to dive straight into a highly specialized course. But don’t go too fast! You don’t want to waste time following a specialization which you later decide to change, or risk skipping past some of the essential elements which underlie all computer science careers. At UCLan, all undergraduate students start with an introduction to the core computer science topics, before deciding on a specialized pathway. Starting from a broad skills base allows students to select a specialization with more confidence, and also means a wider range of careers are open to them.

4. Check the accreditations of your course

Before deciding on a computer science degree, you may also want to find out whether it is accredited by any professional bodies. For instance, UCLan’s computer science programs are accredited by the British Computer Society. This ensures high standards of course development and delivery are adhered to, with the department undergoing regular external assessment. It’s also an effective way for graduates to prove to employers that they are workplace-ready, as many companies will want to know students have studied a program with professional accreditation.
Of course you’ll also want to know what other students think about the course, perhaps by seeking out the results of student satisfaction surveys. In the 2015 National Student Survey, UCLan was rated first in North West England for its computer science faculty, and 13th nationally (out of 105).

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