Working in technology is a great opportunity for students with a broad range of interests and talents. Many students enter the technology industry via software engineering following a computer science degree. However, all students with strong analytical skills and an interest in the industry should explore the opportunities available to them. Colby students have gone on to work in a variety of capacities at companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Meta, Amazon, Square, Tesla, Wayfair, Strava, Blue Origin, and many more.
Contrary to passé pop culture, technologists work in highly collaborative and communication-focused environments. Working in software does not mean being confined to a keyboard and monitor. In fact, many technology companies are often lauded for having best-in-class company culture and employee experience. Business decisions are increasingly driven by tech teams, and developers have more impact now than ever.
If you are passionate about breaking big ideas into smaller functional pieces and are committed to detail-oriented work, then software engineering could be for you. Ideating, implementing, and maintaining software products calls for creativity, critical thought, collaboration, and perseverance when faced with technical challenges. Software engineers get to be closest to the action at incredible organizations and do rewarding work with often immediate tangible results.
If software engineers are the ones building a train, infrastructure engineers are those who put it on tracks, couple the cars, drive the train, and operate the railroad switches and signals. As software becomes increasingly complex and resource intensive, infrastructure engineers work with software engineers to devise clever ways to deploy their code and make use of the latest cloud technologies. If you are interested in working with the latest cloud technology and architecting systems, all while ensuring availability, uptime, and security, infrastructure may be for you.
Product managers sit at the intersection of business and technology. They balance the needs of customers and stakeholders with the capacity and abilities of software developers. Good product managers break down work into clear and actionable steps, keeping track of the big picture along the way—such that software engineers can spend more time doing and less time researching, organizing, and arguing. Many product managers get their start in engineering or customer success roles. However, more companies are beginning to offer internships in product management and associate product manager (APM) programs.
As technology becomes evermore embedded in business, organizations are tasked with making sense of vast amounts of data in order to become better competitors in their markets. If you are driven by curiosity and can back it up with clear and systematic analysis, analytics and data science are excellent opportunities. The very best in this field are strong statisticians, mathematicians, and philosophical minds who understand the biases of their analysis.
If designing technology was left exclusively to software engineers, today’s software would not be as accessible, intuitive, and usable as it presently is. Good design requires empathy, a strong understanding of the intended audience, and an unrelenting desire to improve and simplify the user’s experience. If you have a keen eye for aesthetics and intend to test every assumption about the use of a product, UX or UI design could be right for you.
Tech moves fast. Staying up to date with trends, understanding recent developments in the industry, and speaking the ‘lingo’ used by tech companies are all important whether you are eyeing a technical or nontechnical role. There is no shortage of blogs, news outlets, or podcasts to pick from. Consider the following:
The best way to build skills is to work on real projects, big or small. Dream up something you might like to build and identify the skills and tools you will need to get there. If you’re looking for some formalized educational content, head over to LinkedIn Learning (free for Colby students). Find tutorials and walk-throughs on Medium and YouTube, read issues on relevant GitHub repositories, and don’t forget to read the documentation for the tools you are working with. For some inspiration, browse the GitHub repositories below.
If you’re seeking technical roles, you will need to spend time preparing for technical interviews. In the past, technical interviews were often whiteboard problem-solving and algorithms exercises. These days, you should expect both take-home and live coding challenges, which may be administered by a third-party service provider. Preparing for these interviews includes practicing technical problems, studying up on data structures and algorithms, and polishing your communications skills. Beyond working with your DavisConnects advisor, there are many online resources to help you get ready.
Once you’ve built some projects, you may want to share them with the world. Polish up your repositories and make them public on GitHub. Share your latest UI mockups on Dribbble. Consider making a personal website using GitHub Pages or host one on Vercel.
Showing others what you’re working on is a tenet of the software community. If you know someone else is going to be reading your code or admiring your designs, you might feel tempted to clean up or refactor your code, write some documentation, or reconsider the user-flow of your product. Getting feedback from your peers, be they your classmates or other folks on the internet, is a great way to continually self-improve.