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Is a CS degree necessary for a CS job?

publishedabout 2 months ago
2 min read

Quite some time ago, I talked about the usefulness of degrees in getting an engineering job in a Twitter space. My stance has always been clear on this subject - computer science degrees do not help one get a job.

I was asked a great counter-question.

"Did you never benefit from your IT degree?"

This newsletter issue is based on my answer to the question.

Does a degree help?

Let me talk about the subject of Networking. You do not need to know Networking to build or run a web app. Someone who has never studied Networking can learn how to build a web app. When the time comes to finetune the performance of the web app, then you might need the knowledge of Networking.

Suppose a packet travels at the speed of light to the US and takes some seconds. Even at the speed of light, there is still some distance to be traveled. If your major user base lies in India, it makes more sense for you to keep your servers in India, and not the US.

This is an example of optimization where the knowledge of a subject like Networking comes to aid.

But who learns from a degree?

Being as honest and straightforward as I can be, how many of us study in college? So many of you have completed four years of engineering. How many can tell me the exact process with which a packet gets transferred when someone types "google.com" in their browsers?

The number is so small that this is a Google interview question. When you know how each node is connected to the network, you will be able to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. If you don't have enough depth of knowledge to answer this Networking question, you might not stand a chance.

However, that doesn't mean you will never get a chance to get a job at Google or any such company. Does Google mention that you need to gain this knowledge through and only through a degree? Absolutely not.

Knowledge >>>> Degree

So what should you do?

The motivation to write this issue came from Tech Twitter. I observe so many freshers get their first jobs and spend all their time and money on gadgets and traveling. Didn't have a CS degree, still got the job, now it's time to have fun.

You need to keep learning despite landing a job. Even if you don't know about OS, networks, or databases, take the first step. You will become a better engineer when you will build your own database or OS and troubleshoot it.

It is true, and I still stand by my statement that you don't need a CS degree to land a job. But you need to build a career. You can't do that if you don't have a grasp of these topics.

Degree isn't necessary, appreciation of your craft is.

Learn enough to get an engineering job, whether you have a degree or not. That's how you get a job.

Then focus on gaining depth of knowledge of the subject and build an appreciation for the same. That's how you build a successful career in tech.

Till next time

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