Since entering college and even after being in Ireland for about a month now, this question has been asked to me over hundreds of times. If I had ten cents for each time I was asked this question I could probably pay for a full semester at college. It took me until the end of my sophomore year and trying out different classes to figure out what I wanted to major in. Eventually, I came to the decision to be a computer science major. It took many nights of critically thinking of what I enjoy doing and what I can continue to grow in without losing passion for the subject. I decided on computer science as my major once I realized the iceberg of knowledge that digital technology holds.
Even though I am not taking computer science classes abroad in Ireland, it doesn’t mean that the knowledge I am learning from class now and the knowledge I hold from my past computer science classes isn’t being used. Fortunately, I have had the amazing opportunity to intern at BrandX, a local marketing, advertising, and gaming company, during my time in Dublin for the next few months. While I do help with assignments that are directly related to my major, future career goals and technical background, I have learned while being abroad that it is very typical for an individual to wear more than one hat, especially in smaller companies. They often don’t use titles or positions as no one is bound to only doing one type of work and only that type of work.
Studying abroad as a Computer Science student has helped me to continue to develop my soft skills like teamwork, adaptability, creativity and most importantly communication. When most people think of computer science they think of Information Technology or (IT), which is a part of computer science, but only the tip of the iceberg. While having technical skills like knowing multiple programming languages and different software is definitely a huge part of my career, it isn’t the only set of skills or knowledge that a future employer is going to look for. Anyone can teach you a certain software or programming language. However, soft skills are developed more internally through experiences and a lot of self-reflection.
“People with highly transferable skills may be specialists in certain areas, but they’re also incredible generalists – something businesses that want to grow need.”– Leah Busque (American Entrepreneur and founder of Task Rabbit.
Since arriving in Ireland about a month ago, I have already had a lot of opportunities and challenges to develop my soft skills. These experiences have come in the form of working with new classmates that have completely different backgrounds, values, traditions and cultures than myself. I often find myself having to take a step back, breathe and try to open my mind to why someone is saying something or how they are feeling. This moment of reflection has especially allowed me to see how other people use digital technology in their daily life and how it has changed their mindset or skill set. Digital technology is an ever-expanding field that no one will ever know everything about it. While the depth of digital technology can be a rabbit hole and be a bit daunting at times, this challenge has been one of the main reasons I picked computer science as my major.
Helping other people abroad with IT-related issues or discussing with others how they use technology differently in their daily lives has been helpful to my career. These experiences have allowed me to see how other individuals and cultures view technology with a fresh pair of eyes. Conversing with others, even those outside of my major, has allowed me to further build upon the soft skills I came abroad with that will one day help me land that dream job.