The Challenges of Landing a Tech Job: A Computer Science Student’s Perspective

25 December 2023

Navigating the Competitive Landscape and Evolving Industry

When Bryan Ho graduated from high school in 2018, he was unsure about his college major. However, the emergence of computer science as a promising field, coupled with the allure of high starting salaries, piqued his interest. In this as-told-to essay, Ho, a 23-year-old junior studying computer science at the National University of Singapore, shares his experiences and insights into the challenges of landing a tech job in today’s competitive market.

Studying computer science was never a shoo-in for employment

Ho acknowledges that he was well aware of the competition and the difficulty of securing a job as a computer science major even before entering college. He had heard stories of individuals dedicating significant time to solving coding puzzles and meticulously polishing their resumes just to land a job. Despite the high demand for tech professionals, Ho understood that success in the field would require dedication and perseverance.

But my recent internship hunt was tougher than expected

During his sophomore year, Ho faced the challenge of securing an internship amidst industry-wide layoffs. He noticed hiring freezes at tech companies and became increasingly worried about his prospects. Despite applying to numerous companies, he found it incredibly difficult to receive an offer. Many companies would only interview him for a few rounds before rejecting him. This experience was not unique to Ho; his peers studying computer science also struggled to secure internships, leading to demoralization and self-doubt.

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This year’s internship search was harder

Ho found that this year’s internship search was even more challenging than the previous year. He attributes this difficulty to the overall slowdown in the tech industry, which resulted in rescinded job offers. Additionally, he noticed that the online assessments in this year’s applications were more difficult, with questions covering a broader range of topics beyond data structures and algorithms. Ho highlights the importance of having knowledge beyond the standard computer science curriculum, as companies are interested in how technology can be applied in real-world projects.

Honing my skills

In light of the competitive job market, Ho recognizes the need to continuously improve his skillset. He plans to use his internships as opportunities to explore different areas of tech, having already completed stints in data engineering and full-stack engineering. For his next summer internship, he aims to gain experience in cloud engineering. Despite the decrease in tech salaries, Ho believes that there are still pockets of opportunity for those with in-demand skills, such as AI, which has seen significant investment from Big Tech companies.

You probably shouldn’t do tech for the money

Reflecting on his experiences, Ho advises aspiring computer science students to abandon the notion that landing a high-paying tech job is easy. He emphasizes that intrinsic curiosity and a genuine interest in understanding how technology works should be the driving force behind pursuing a computer science major. Without this motivation, the journey will be an uphill battle, as the pursuit of money alone is not a sustainable or fulfilling path.

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Conclusion: Bryan Ho’s journey as a computer science student sheds light on the challenges faced by aspiring tech professionals in today’s competitive job market. Despite the difficulties, Ho remains optimistic and committed to honing his skills and exploring different areas of tech. His advice to future computer science students serves as a reminder that true success lies in a genuine passion for the field, rather than solely chasing financial rewards.

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