This article is published in the May 2021 issue.

Computing Professionals Share What Prepared Them Most for Their Current Position

A table of what current computing professionals thought prepared them most for their current position, based on the setting they work in. The contents of the table are discussed in the main text of this post.

Throughout a student’s time in a computing program, they receive many valuable opportunities to gain preparation for their future careers. In the 2019 Data Buddies Survey, the CERP team asked current computing professionals to “Rate the degree to which you disagree or agree that the following helped prepare you for your current position.” A total of 2,135 computing professionals responded to the question, providing their ratings for each of the following ten items: Courses taken for my degree program; Courses taken outside of my degree program; Workshops or other trainings; Independent projects or research; Formal research experiences; Teaching experience; Internships; Previous employment; Student or professional groups; Guidance from mentors/advisors.

In this same survey, respondents also provided the setting in which they currently work (Academia (n = 394), Industry (n = 1,484), Government (n = 214), Something else (n = 133)), allowing CERP to understand what computing professionals thought most prepared them for their current work setting. Any item that received an average rating of 4.0 (“Somewhat agree”) or higher is included in the graphic above. Across all items and settings, the minimum average rating was 3.27, indicating that for each work setting, all ten items generally provided some amount of helpful preparation for computing professionals’ current positions.

Across the three specified work settings of Academia, Industry, and Government, “Courses taken for my degree program” and “Independent projects or research” are shared across each setting. Unique to Academia were “Formal research experiences”, “Teaching experience”, and “Guidance from mentors/advisors”, while Industry and Government shared “Internships” and “Previous employment”. “Previous employment” also provides preparation for those who work in other settings (“Something else”).

While each employment situation requires its own unique preparation, this analysis broadly reveals the types of preparation that computing professionals rated most highly in their particular work settings. As recent and future graduates enter the job market, these types of preparation may be useful for departments to keep in mind as they support students in their career development

The survey data analyzed for this infographic were collected by Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline via The Data Buddies Project in 2019. Each of the items analyzed in this analysis used a 1-5 Likert scale, with the choices of “Strongly disagree”, “Somewhat disagree”, “Neither agree nor disagree”, “Somewhat agree”, and “Strongly Agree”. All of the items here were presented only to computing professionals via the non-student path of the Data Buddies Survey.

horizontal CERP logoThis analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. Subscribe to the CERP newsletter here. Volunteer for Data Buddies here.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers CNS-1246649, DUE-1431112, and/or DUE-1821136. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.