Computer science majors future not as grim

Lindsay Sainlar

Though the downward turn in the economy has caused many college graduates to scramble for jobs, the job market isn’t as grim for those in the computer science field.

According to a list on the America’s Career InfoNet Web site, computer-related jobs currently hold eight of the top ten fastest growing occupations for the 2000-2010 time period. Some of the jobs listed were systems analysts, software engineers and database administrators.

Art Shindhelm, Computer Science department head, said more uses for computers allows for more job opportunities.

“Computers are becoming the staple of the world,” he said.

But computer science and computer information system majors still face some struggles, said Becky Bennett, career preparations specialist for Career Services.

“As the dot.coms shut down, it puts many technology people out of business who have considerable experience,” Bennett said.

Since companies are hiring fewer people, those with more experience have to take many of the entry to mid-level computer-related positions that are available, leaving fewer jobs available for college graduates, Bennett said.

Shindhelm said there has been a decline nationwide of computer science majors at universities due to the decreasing job opportunities.

“It has a bright outlook,” said Shindhelm. “But students who graduate in May need a job in May.”

But the job market is slow for all majors, Bennett said.

“It’s not just a situation faced by a few graduates any longer,” Bennett said. “Many people graduating will have to be creative and open-minded about where they look and how they look for jobs.”

Shindhelm said that many computer science graduates will have to take jobs that are not directly in their field for a while.

He recommends that students get a broad educational background and be flexible in their requirements for a job.

But some computer science majors aren’t worried.

Julie Combs, a senior from Myrtle Beach, S.C., said businesses need people with computer knowledge.

Combs said that anyone can get on the Internet, type a job description into a computer science job database and find over 1,000 job openings.

She said students must be willing to relocate, though. She plans on using her German minor to get a job abroad.

Not only will Combs expand her widening job opportunities by going to Germany, but there are several opportunities she will see as a result of working abroad that include good pay, long vacations and a different business culture, she said.

John Miller, field office manager at the state employment office, said that, although he’s seen a downturn in the economy over the past year, there is still employment growth in the field.

If students are looking for a “safe haven,” Miller said computer-related fields and health services are the career paths to follow.

“The hard part is finding a job in the market you want,” Miller said. “You need flexibility with job location.”

Shindhelm agreed.

Students must be willing to move outside of a large city, because they will have a hard time finding a job within a 65 mile radius of Bowling Green, he said.

In an interview with Kentucky Living in the February 2003 edition, Shindhelm said computer programmers must enjoy solving problems and must be able to weather the frustration that not being able to solve a problem will bring.

“Computer science is big bucks, but it’s more important to do what you enjoy in life,” he said.

Reach Lindsay Sainlar at [email protected]