Economics and Computer Science Double Major Career Plans

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George O
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Economics and Computer Science Double Major Career Plans

Postby George O » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:33 pm UTC

Hi everyone, this subforum seemed the most appropriate place to ask this question, but feel free to correct me.

I'm currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Economics and Computer Science, and I firmly believe this is my final choice as far as majors go. I went through four introductory bio and chem courses (1 and 2 for each subject) in my freshman year, and I've taken Arabic every semester as well. I started Econ this semester and I start my CS classes next semester, but I have been teaching myself Python in order to skip a recommended pre-req.

My query is this: where can I go with this major? My school offers a guaranteed internship program which I fully intend to utilize once I progress into the CS classes more, as I intend to intern in that field. After school though, I'm not quite sure what to do. One path I've been considering is law school; I feel as though the increasingly large field of tech companies as well as current tech debates (net neutrality and digital copyright, for example) offer a lot of potential for me to be able to do something truly important.

Another idea that I've been thinking about is grad school for computer science. Since I was a little kid I've loved the idea of AI and simulating different aspects of reality, such as water, space, or Dwarves. The problem here is that, to my knowledge, job opportunities are scant in the first place, and the fact that my school isn't necessarily well-known for CS doesn't help either.

I ask this here because A.) diversity in opinions is always welcome and B.) because I don't actually know that much about what my world will look like when I'm searching for a job. As I mentioned before, I go to the University of Pittsburgh. How much does that name matter? Will the fact that I lack an MIT education prevent me from finding a job I enjoy? The more material side of things matters as well; am I going to work at Starbucks for 5 years after school? If I fail to get a decent internship, should I be looking at volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps to round out a resume? (Looking back, that's a surprisingly soulless statement, but I don't mean to say that I'll go to the Peace Corps and half-ass it) I've spoken at length with a few school advisers but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask here either.

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Re: Economics and Computer Science Double Major Career Plans

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:28 pm UTC

Here's a random assortment of thoughts for you to consider. They are not categorized in any way.

-With a CS degree from a decent enough university, I doubt you'll have trouble finding work as long as you have some decent skills to show for it and aren't terrible in interviews. Don't be surprised if you have to do a cross-country move though. A good internship, and/or having some good code to show off always helps.

-Based on your majors, quantitative finance seems like a logical choice. Before I read what you actually posted, that's pretty much what I assumed you were going to be asking about. I don't know that much about the field, other than that it is very lucrative, and so-called "quants" do tend to be in fairly high demand, AFAIK. You just have to be okay with the idea that you might cause another global financial crisis ;) But it does fit well with your majors.

-Someone with a CS background and fluent in Arabic, provided you have appropriate citizenship and a clean criminal record, would probably be greatly desired in the intelligence community. Whether or not you're interested in jumping through the many hurdles required to get a Secret/Top Secret clearance would be the question. There are also, naturally, some ethical concerns with working in this field (though quantitative finance arguably has some too), and you pretty much need to be willing to spent that portion of your career unable to tell anybody anything about what you do for work. But there's definitely some demand, AFAIK.

-I would think very, very, carefully about precisely what you want to do before you go into a graduate program in CS. Some companies might give your resume a second look with a Master's over a Bachelor's, but honestly, I suspect that 2-3 years of work experience in your field would probably be better value than a 2-3 year Master's. A PhD is almost certainly not worth it in terms of pure value for money. But you're in Econ, so you know all about opportunity costs ;) As far as graduate programs go, getting a Master's in Economics, Math, Statistics, or an MBA might be better value rather than a CS one. I'd figure out what you want to do first, and then figure out if you need to upgrade your qualifications. Can't comment on Law as I have no experience with it. Note that you don't have to do your Master's at the same college that you did your undergrad, and may be able to get into one with better name recognition.

-Have you considered your own start-up? This obviously isn't for everyone, but CS is definitely one of the fields where you should always at least think about it.

-Have you done much programming on the side, beyond your coursework? This is where you can really stand out.

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Re: Economics and Computer Science Double Major Career Plans

Postby douglasm » Sat Dec 12, 2015 6:39 am UTC

That combination of majors suggests a career in financial software development to me. Banking or investment management programs, for example. My brother worked at a hedge fund company for a while, helping build software to automatically apply carefully chosen stock investment strategies.

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Re: Economics and Computer Science Double Major Career Plans

Postby doogly » Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:02 pm UTC

Consulting is also very much an option.
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