I can't decide my career in computer science field | Coursera Community
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I can't decide my career in computer science field

  • 8 September 2019
  • 4 replies

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I'm a 3nd year CS major from Egypt and i can't decide right which field i want to work in it i found Android developing nice but when i see any of machine learning application or videos on how ML engineers work i feel like "sure, i should learn ML and get job in AI field" but i when i learn any thing related to AI my mind get rid of motivation and start thinking in those points.
1 - You hate Math stop doing that.
2 - NO low jobs opportunities related to AI in Egypt and you need money to life.
3 - Android has jobs opportunities and no Math go for Android.
now i feel like lost and i can't decide what should i learn and sometimes i decide to learn Android to get money and still learning AI to get my dream job what do you think guys.

4 replies

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Hello mohamd_zezo,

Career direction is always a tough decision, one of which I am sure many could give you a plethora of way to proceed with. I struggled for years with this same decision myself, and in the end what worked best with me was to pick the field I had the most interest in.
Once I knew the industry I wanted I went for the first job I could get in it, this will expose you to what the career can be like, what is required in the daily aspect of the career. This will start over time to help you understand the industry and if you like it or not.
With any luck you should start to form an idea, a direction that you want to go, based on your own personal experiences.
This being said researching the various roles and talking to fellow Computer Scientist in the industry, will over time be your best approach. You will build connections (the most powerful tool in any career), those same people can shed some light into what a career role can require and its day to day task, pay, etc.
So start looking for meetups and gatherings, join social sites for careers like LinkedIn.com, make those connections. Apply for entry level jobs, start getting some experience.
Most importantly don't give up. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Good luck to you friend.
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Hello @mohamd_zezo,

I can tell you simply to trust yourself and keep passionate and motivated, and try to continue your learning path with the fields that you are interested in, and it's not true that if you hate something then you should stop learning it, just rely on your strategic goals, and then you will find things easy.

Thanks @xRickx for your helpful share!
hmmm - what makes you want to go into AI or ML?

As a professional software engineer, you're going to have to be at least aware of the emerging trends in the general field, including AI/ML - similar to other growing software fields to consider as well, like cybersecurity and block-chain. Software is diverse enough that you can, and probably will need to, get into more than one field. But that doesn't mean that you can't try one and then shift later - though admittedly there will be a cost, but it's not nearly as bad as some professions... medicine as an example. In fact, in software, it pays to have a diverse background that allows you think in many different terms.

In terms of the math - it's a prerequisite to understanding how the technology works. I'm not sure anyone revels in doing math (I know I don't. I think that was part of the reason computers were made), but having a deep appreciation for the mathematical mechanics gives you an edge over those that have a surface understanding of a technology (which is waaaay more prevalent than it should be, and results in a lot of bad code). Once you've understood the math once, it's unlikely you will be using it alot again at a low level - many of the AI/ML libraries are optimally crafted by geniuses in the field and you will rarely tinker with the innards of the libraries (though my point is that you will know how they work, when they are appropriately applicable, and their strengths and weaknesses).

I'd suggest that, if you like AI/ML, and get good at it, and are presented with opportunities - do it. If there is a hard part to them (IE the math), then decide if you want to pay that price, and move forward. Again - I think you are going to have to understand, at least a little bit, emerging tech like AI/ML, security, and blockchain anyway to be relevant - even if you just code for Android devices. Beware that no matter what you do, it will take time for you to gain real expertise and capability in that field.

Cal Newport has a very good philosophy in his book - "So Good They Can't Ignore You" - become really good at something valuable (either of your interest or close to it), then as you gain market "value", trade your value for perks and positioning for interesting work or work you want. Something Stefan Molyneux suggests is to "show how to be a profit to a company, and show a story with a trajectory". I think both of those strategies help suggest means forward for those starting out. But be ready to shift as you gain more personal insight.

And believe me - no matter what you choose - it will be hard at times.

There is a caveat to Cal's approach - Po Bronson in "What Should I Do With My Life" coined it perfectly as the "putting your passion in a box" to work for money as something you don't like, so that once you make your fortune you can "retire" into your real profession. Sadly, it never happens - human nature is such that once you are used to a lifestyle, only one in a million will ever leave their cash-cow.

Some concepts and questions to help you direct your career over the long term - the japanese Ikigai and Covey's 4 questions + another:
Do you like AI/ML?
Are you good at AI/ML?
Are you driven by your conscience to do AI/ML?
Does the world need AI/ML?
Do you think, and do you think others think, working in that field is cool?

Substitute anything else for AI/ML. Beware the of the mythical passion-driven-hero though - The Bezos, Gates, Jobs of the world all expose the "passion" ideal - do what you really love - and it's really easy to fall in love with that. But it comes with a lot of risk, can be extremely costly, and it is highly coincidencidental. It's likely the reality for a lot of struggling startup founders - For that route, I'd suggest to Paul Graham's work, specifically "Raman Profitable" is one that is highly recommended. Startups are a great form of self-job creating, but come with a whole bunch of risk and other non-technical tasks that most people do not care for (IE administration, accounting, customer discovery, etc). If you can't let your passion go (and some can't) then consider Stephen Pressfield's mindset from "War of Art" and just do the work, keeping it professional, and be zen with however it turns out.

Also consider Coelho's story "The Alchemist" - there is some magic there about how to change yourself in terms of your calling. Probably you won't get it the first time through - read it again. Parts will start to resonate.

Also talk to as many people in the industries you are interested in as you can.

Career choice is hard. I am constantly shocked that we leave it to our youngest selves.

Personally - I'd suggest take the AI/ML courses regardless. And other emerging tech courses. If you find a good paying Android job you think you'll like, take it. Get good, really good, at the work. Simultaneously explore other areas. Find ways to bet small (IE do work or find out more about the work) with some of them. Capitalize on bets that work out.

Hope that helps - I've been in the industry for 25+ years, half as a coder and half as a manager, and I wish someone had given me this kind of guidance. I only recommend the books and references because they have resonated a truth to what I experienced and observed in my career, but articulate it more deeply that I could in a few words. Also, that you can take what they say and interpret it in your own way, rather than rely on my interpretation.

No one has a single "silver bullet" answer for career - it's a complicated navigation that relies a great deal on luck - but you do have a means to help direct it. And you can experiment and change direction as you gain more insight to yourself, the work, and to the fields.

PS Get good financial advice - Read "Your Money or Your Life" and take away the basic premise. Nothing substitutes for the financial freedom that gives you the ability to choose how you want to spend your life and efforts.

PSS Consider the "Design You Life" - it's a wholistic approach to both your life and career.

I believe you already answered your own question, but f you don't like math, stay away from ML/DL/AI for the time being. There is a lot of demand for app and web developers. Data Science and AI are both huge trends right now drawing a lot of people for the wrong reasons (money and buzz), but if you aren't passionate you'll burn out quick.


Ask yourself - what have you truly enjoyed doing over the past three years? What project were you excited about?