MS in US Career Opportunities For Computer Science / ECE Students

This post is written by our guest author: Ameya Kanitkar

Ameya holds master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently he works as a Software Engineer at a startup in Silicon Valley, California.

Computer Science Jobs: Google, Facebook, Apple, MicrosoftIf there is one industry which is booming in US, it’s the technology industry. If you hold an engineering degree in Computer Science/ Computer Engineering/ Information Systems/ ECE, you should strongly consider pursuing your postgraduate degree in the US. Here in the valley, companies are fighting for top tech talent – and the scenario is going crazy: entry-level software engineer salaries have already crossed $100,000/year mark. But when we say Computer Science there is more to it. This post is attempt to dive into various branches and see how various opportunities are stacking up in the US in general.

Web Technologies – Typically these are front end technologies. It starts with something simple like CSS/HTML, and starts getting more and more complex with MVC frameworks, and JavaScript. Do not underestimate JavaScript. People are writing full stack in JavaScript. Check out node.js or backbone.js to get a better idea. There are plenty of jobs in web technologies. Most of these jobs are concentrated in the Silicon Valley (San Francisco) area. If you are interested in this, pick up some nice web language/framework like Ruby on Rails, learn JQuery, and start your own website. That’s what I did when I started FurlanGo a couple of years ago.

Mobile Technologies – Mobile apps are hot. If you can write nice iPhone/iPad/android apps you are in business. Pick up Objective C. If that’s too much, at least start writing android apps; you can write the app in your favorite Java. Developers are building some really cool apps. Check this out. Again there are plenty of jobs in Mobile space. This is something you can do in your free time as well, and would definitely put you ahead of the competition to get the job.

Large Scale Data Processing/ Distributed Systems – This is what I work on so, I can talk about this with bit more authority. As internet companies are amassing huge piles of data, companies need a piece of infrastructure to process all this data. Technologies here are very open-source oriented. A good way to understand this in a bit more detail, is read the Big Table paper by Google, or the Dynamo paper by Amazon. Big data was further democratized by Yahoo, when it open sourced Hadoop. There are more jobs in this area than there are qualified people available. Typically all large internet companies are hiring in this area: Google, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon to name a few. How can you crack in if you are a fresh graduate? Try reading those above papers. Learn Hadoop on your own. You can fire up your own cluster in EC2 and do something interesting with this data. And yes, keep your basics in Distributed Systems up to date.

Algorithms/ Machine Learning – If you are good at Statistics and Maths consider pursuing a career in Machine Learning. Engineers in this field are highly paid and highly sought after. One advantage of this option is that you can get jobs in both Silicon Valley companies as well as Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Lot of on campus hiring on east coast schools happens for banks. Keep your basics in Data Structures, Statistics and Computers Science fresh to land these jobs. After the slump in 2009-2010, these jobs are coming back: yes, the market is back up to 13,000 levels

Compiler/ Storage/ Virtualization – A lot of ECE folks end up with the jobs in this area. These are more system-level fields. Companies like Apple, Intel, Cisco, VMware, EMC are active recruiters for students with this concentration. If you like ‘C’ and OS-level system level stuff then chose this area.

Enterprise Software – Most jobs in Indian IT companies, like Infosys, TCS, are in Enterprise Software. According to me this is boring compared to work in the fields above, but what the heck, they are jobs. If you have worked in India in Enterprise Software (Like SAP, Oracle etc) you may have an upper hand here.

Business Analyst/ Technology Consultants – If you are not from a 100% Computer Science background, but did something like Masters in Information Systems etc, you have a good shot at one of these jobs. I found it lot harder to land a job as a Business Analyst job than as a Technology Consultant.

Of course, there are more areas than those I have mentioned above, but the ones given above are the representative ones. Now decide which one you like. If you are already in US pursuing your masters in CS, then see which one you like and do a side project in your spare time. This will greatly increase your chances of getting into the top tech companies. If you are in India, deciding on a school to attend, see what you like the most and choose a school which is good at what you would like to do. Some schools like Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, are pretty good at all of the above, but make sure your school selection is consistent with what you want to do. Finally, if you are confused, don’t worry. Follow your heart, and eventually you will figure it out! Good luck.

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