Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

“In a bit of a rut right now”: Students struggle to find computer science jobs

In high school, many students were told that becoming a computer science major was a path that guaranteed a six-figure salary straight out of undergrad. Computer science was seen as a field with explosive job growth — the perfect blend of job security and benefits.

For Bricen Raynold, a senior computer science major at Miami University, that path is looking more like a pipe dream.

“I’ve put in between 45 and 60 applications so far, somewhere in that range,” Raynold said. “I’ve only had two serious inquiries and a couple of coding assessments.”

Coding assessments are meant to serve as pre-interview challenges that evaluate an applicant’s coding skills with increasingly more difficult tests as the application process moves forward. Raynold said that so far he has only gotten generic assessments and hasn’t advanced to further stages of the application process.

Bill Hutson, another senior majoring in computer science, applied to 50 jobs this spring and has also only gotten two interviews. He said the struggle to find a job isn’t unique to him or Raynold.

“I know that there’s a lot of people who have submitted hundreds, literally hundreds of job applications to different companies,” Hutson said. “And yet, they’re receiving very few responses and fewer interviews. So, a common trend that we see is that we often get ghosted.”

Hutson said the struggles in finding a job could stem from the big tech layoffs that have happened for the past few years. Despite these challenges, Hutson doesn’t think that the job market is in permanent decline.

“Five or six years ago, everybody was saying, ‘You need to learn how to code,’” Hutson said. “Well now people do know how to code and they’re all looking for a job. I think we’re just in a bit of a rut right now, and [the job market] will eventually rebound.”

Eric Bachmann, the chair of the department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, wrote in an email to The Miami Student that Miami students have more or less succeeded at getting jobs after graduation.

“Based on senior exit interview data, we are continuing to see virtually 100% placement for CSE graduates,” Bachmann wrote. “However, my sense is that the job search has become more difficult and is taking longer than in the recent past.”

Bachmann also emphasized how the computer science job market has always experienced ups and downs. After the industry experiences drop-offs, he said, it later comes back stronger.

Although the consensus is that the job market will improve in the future, some students still have reservations. Ben Zazycki, a first-year computer science major, is planning to look for an internship next year after being unsuccessful this spring.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

“Next year I plan to start [internship applications] basically as soon as the semester starts,” Zazycki said. “I am a little anxious about being able to find one, though ... an employer I talked to for a job I applied at said that they have received more applications for this summer than ever before.”

Zazycki said even his friends joke about the perceived loss in value of computer science degrees.

“My friends in other majors always talk about jokes on the internet that are talking about how devalued computer science degrees are,” Zazycki said. “They’re just joking, but I think there’s an ounce of truth in it. The notion that [it’s a] degree where you go in and it’s an easy path to one specific job … that notion is kind of dead.”

Raynold agreed that the idea of what a computer science major leads to is generally not the reality.

“When you’re in high school, a lot of people who just don’t know what they want to do are going to go into computer science,” Raynold said. “And secondly, a lot of people really bought into the idea that you’re going to go major in computer science and come out with a $120K entry salary … and that is just not there.”

So, how do students make sure they can get a job by the time they graduate? Norm Krumpe, the lead departmental adviser for computer science and software engineering, said the key is casting a wide net as early as possible.

“Always start early and leave no stone unturned,” Krumpe said. “You have to go the extra mile and look everywhere. The students who get the most internships and are the most successful are the ones who go beyond in most of their classes, internships, research or projects.”

Krumpe, who helped start an “internship night” where students could network with other students who had already done internships, said the department was continually changing its curriculum in order to respond to new trends in the computer science world. Over the next year, he expects the department to offer more course offerings focused on deep learning and generative AI, and the university recently added a cybersecurity major.

For seniors about to graduate without a job lined up, the answer may be more school.

“I actually already got accepted into graduate school,” Hutson said. “I think that if a computer science graduate can’t find work right now, graduate school can let them gather more skills, network and maybe get more internships while in school, which I think could boost their chances of getting a full time job in the future.”