Career Change Advice

I graduated from college with a degree in computer science about a year ago, just as the tech bubble was in the process of spewing its guts all over the economy. I’ve been picking through the rubble ever since, looking for a company dumb enough to hire me for my virtually useless skill set. No luck so far.

It doesn’t help that I live in Oregon, where the ratio of out-of-work programmers to computer jobs is about 60 trillion to one. A wet-behind-the-ears college grad with no experience like myself can’t compete with a seasoned programmer who’s been coding for 5+ years in the industry. And since both of us will work for peanuts, it looks like I’m out of luck.

So I’ve decided to throw in the towel, go back to college, and find a new career while I’m still footloose and fancy-free.

I was never very hot on becoming a programmer anyway. I chose the major for two reasons: 1) everybody seemed to be making loads of money at it :rolleyes: and 2) I had to pick something in order to graduate.

So now that I’m ready to start over again with a clean slate, what field should I pursue? I want a degree that will make it easy for me to find a steady, dependable, well-paying job. I don’t want my CS degree to be completely wasted, so I’m thinking I should pick a field that would be nicely complemented by a background in CS.

I’m fairly technical-minded. I like science, especially the life sciences like biology or anthropology. Math is probably my weakest subject although I can hold my own in the advanced stuff like calculus if I set my mind to it. I don’t seem to have a single strong subject – I’m competent at almost everything I do.

I’m not a people person. I’m on the shy side and I’m not good at asserting myself, selling stuff, getting people to do my bidding, or socializing. I don’t fancy myself as a lawyer, salesman, businessman, or politician.

I’m not very ambitious and I don’t relish the idea of spending many years in school and falling deeply into debt to become a doctor. The idea of helping people appeals to me, but I don’t think I’ve got the stomach or the balls to survive medical school, much less practice medicine in the real world.

Does anybody have any suggestions, anecdotes, or advice that would help me come to a decision?

Thanks a lot!


Wow, DP, you just described my life. (Well, change 1 year ago to 2, and Oregon to N.C., and switch Bio and math. More or less my life, anyway.) What makes it worse is that I somehow managed to get a CS degree without obtaining any marketable skills, just a bunch of math and theory, half of which I’ve forgotten by now. I’ve been playing around with the idea of grad school, maybe in a more business-oriented program than straight Computer Science, but I’m not sure it would help much. I haven’t really considered pursuing a different BS degree, because I have no idea what I would choose or what I would do with it.

I sure hope somebody out there can help us!

Thanks, everybody,

I’m in my second year at college, trying to get a computer science major. Like everybody else, I found that there were no jobs available this summer. And people who are graduating this years are having trouble getting into grad school because there are about three times as many applicants as usual to all the good schools. What my professors and other advisors have been telling me is that while the market may be flooded with jobs, there are still certain fields within CS that don’t have enough talented people, so they’re encouraging me to specialize in a field such as security, graphics, or robotics. I’ve also been told to study networking, as there’s supposedly a shortage of people who really understand the system of routers and switches by which the internet actually “runs”. Fortunately, I still have a while to decide before I apply for grad school.

Good luck!

Are you sure you want to use those criteria for choosing your life’s work? You might stop and try to figure out what your passion is, what you can consider doing every day for the next 30 years without having the overwhelming urge to drown yourself. It may seem like there’s nothing you truly love to do that someone will actually pay you to do, but you might be surprised. It’s good to be practical when planning your future, but this is your life you’re talking about. Happiness in your work can sometimes be worth more than money.

If you’re willing to relocate, you might also be able to find work with the degree you have. I know that tech work is getting hard to find in your area, but in New Mexico the field is still going strong.

IL is dead on. Figure out what you want to do. Then do it. You may not get exactly what you want, but you’re bound to find something close enough to enjoy and to thrive in.

Listen to InternetLegend, but look at careers in the health industry. You don’t have to become a doctor, there are a lot of tech jobs, some of which will only require maybe another year and a half in school. The health industry is begging for workers right now.


Follow your passion, it may not make you Bill-Gates-rich but there is so much to be said for doing a job you love, or at least like. And, the medical field is one “sure” thing - people are always going to need medical care. But do what you want, medical or otherwise. Good Luck!

I’ll second ITR champion with the network thing. Cisco has a certification program & you don’t have to go to school. The books are around $50 and the tests are $100. The first level (CCNA) only takes one test, but it isn’t worth much. The second level (CCNP) takes 4 tests. The top level (CCIE) is extremely hard to get. Only 1 test but then there is a 2 day lab portion you have to take in San Jose. Kinda expensive for the lab too.

From what I’ve heard, CCIE’s make a minimum of $100k any where in the country. Add in your CS degree and we’re probably talkin’ pretty good coin.

Thanks for the advice, guys. I wish I had a clear-cut passion that I could pursue with confidence. I’ve always been envious of people with concrete dreams like my cousin, who’s wanted to be a marine biologist since grammar school (he’ll be enrolling in college next year and I wish him the best of luck). If only I could find my calling so easily!

Frankly, I don’t know what I want to do for a living. I never have.

I drifted aimlessly through most of my schooling. I got terrific grades but I never latched on to a subject that sparked my interest. I have no idea what kind of job I would enjoy. Would I like programming? Engineering? Accounting? Maybe. There’s only one way to find out.

What I do know is that I desire security and stability. I don’t want to have to worry about money. I’d like a house someday. I’d like to raise a family. I want to retire with enough of a nest egg to keep me happy until I kick the bucket.

I guess those are the basics of life that most people desire, but for now it’s all I have to go by. I’ve always been somewhat of a stranger to ambition. :rolleyes:

**C_carol **, it’s good to know that others are in the same boat. Looking back on my college days I wish I would’ve paid more attention to the internships and job opportunities that would’ve given me more experience to put on my resume, but at the time it didn’t seem necessary, since graduates were being snatched up left and right by recruiters regardless their level of experience. I got my degree one year too late!

Best of luck to you.