There is incredibly strong industry demand for job seekers with technical and quantitative skills. From software engineering and web or app development, to data science and analytics, these exponentially growing functions offer opportunities across a wide spectrum of industries and fields. Some examples of technical functional areas include cloud computing, mobile development, artificial intelligence and machine/deep learning, programming, product management, and user interaction and experience. While students often pursue opportunities in larger or established companies (e.g. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft), startups are increasing in appeal and offer broad exposure to technical fields. Cyber security is also experiencing a surge in growth with technical opportunities in both the public and private sectors (e.g. government agencies, defense, aerospace, insurance, and banking) for specialists who can help battle cybercrime. For tips on preparing for a technical interview, view this presentation by the author of Cracking the Coding Interview.
Employers are seeking candidates with strong technical skills, which you may develop through your coursework or through independent learning projects. Larger "name brand" organizations often prefer candidates in their junior year, but many have freshmen and sophomore programs to introduce students to technology career paths.
For technical positions, employers seek candidates with a strong, proven technical skillset. Knowledge of operating systems and software or programming skills—for example, writing code in particular languages, is required and will be assessed in the interview process. Certain job functions (such as data science) often require specific skills, like the ability to code in Python and R or use Hadoop to process and analyze data. There are also many options to join technology companies in non-technical roles, such as marketing, human resources (or people operations), and business development.
Graduate and Professional Programs
Deciding whether to pursue a research-based Ph.D. program versus a professional master's degree can be difficult and hinges on your ultimate goals. Pursuing graduate school is certainly necessary for a research or academic career, though less so for general technology industry pathways. Those interested in fields like data science or cyber security should plan to pursue a focused master's or Ph.D. degree to learn specialized knowledge and abilities applicable to those fields. In addition to speaking with an adviser at OCS, discuss this decision with trusted members of the faculty who have advised or taught you in a related discipline. Faculty are often in the best position to describe the academic and research components of graduate education and may even connect you to their colleagues in departments and schools across the country for further information.