The two careers in computing that I most contemplate are becoming a software engineer or an application developer, with the most appealing of the two being a software engineer.
Software engineers have a certain appeal to me for their visible results and focus on creativity. A quick Google search of the job tells you that a SE must “design, execute, assess, and troubleshoot software programs and applications.” Being a software engineer means being more than just a software engineer; instead, you must be an artist, a conceptualist, an efficient-ist. Companies like Google and Apple hire those who can do all of these well, and then the opportunity arises to make products that literally touch millions. A broader and more impactful role seems so much more fulfilling in my eyes.
And of course, the pay is good: $45,000 to $60,000 per year, and with added experience and knowledge, it can rise to $75,000 to $80,000 per year. With the only requirement being a BS in Computer Science and knowledge of languages such as C, C++, and Java, the ratio of debt to income is fairly low, which would lead to much desired financial security later in life. My job would also be more than a paycheck machine; I would love to work at Google where the office is also a playground, and the company works like a team. I would have many offices around the world to choose from, and if I needed a break – let’s say, in London – for a week, I could take it.
Being an app developer also has its slew of differences. First, instead of focusing on the C language of programming, I would need to learn a lot more about SQL and various web interfaces. Seeing as right now my education is already focusing on Java and the C family, it seems that this would be a more difficult route. Being an app developer would mean that I most likely lose a lot of the extra pluses that are not directly related to computing that being a software engineer would provide. Still, for the same BS in Computer Science, the average annual pay would start at $70,000. Despite this pay, I would have to work in an environment that I’m not sure I would like.
Philosophically, I feel like I am more of a worker who wants to have time to work on my own projects and take my abilities into many realms. I want to be able to make real projects that integrate into the company’s platform and the user’s experience. Being an app developer does not sound so freeing. Quick searches of the job yield phrases such as “analyze code optimizations,” “test data,” and “utilize databases.” Computer science is great, but diversity is the spice of life. Unless I could find a job as an app developer that offered for a lot of freedom to enter other domains, such as it seems software engineers are able to do, I would be willing to take a lower pay for a more enjoyable career path.
I guess I want to be able love everything, with computer science at the core. Maybe I am a Googler at heart.