I love your column in The Jewish Press. You make me excited about technology.
I graduated high school in June and I’m starting college in September. I’m thinking of majoring in Computer Science, but I’m not exactly sure what long-term career options are available and which would be the best fit for a religious woman who wants to build a family. Do you have any advice?
Girl Starting College Soon
Dear Girl Starting College Soon,
First, it’s okay not to know what you want to do yet! You have plenty of time to discover your passions. As you become more exposed to STEM on a college level, you will gain a better understanding of your interests and learn what makes you feel fulfilled as a person.
I’m a big proponent of #WomenInStem. Since you specifically mentioned tech, I’ll give you a quick rundown on some of the more common careers in this field:
Software Architect: A Software Architect designs and develops software systems and applications. Essentially, he or she makes the crucial decisions – even before the project begins – on technical standards, such as which coding language, tools, and platforms to use. In other words, a Software Architect maps out the entire project to ensure it is solid from a technical standpoint.
Backend Developer: A Backend Developer is the person who builds the base of the server, website, application, or database.
Frontend Developer: A Frontend Developer is the person who develops the part of the website that users interact with directly.
You can think of it like building a home. The Software Architect creates the blueprint, the Backend Developer builds the foundation, and the Frontend Developer focuses on the parts of the home that the inhabitants can see – namely the walls, ceilings, and interior design.
Backend and Frontend Developers use different coding languages. Full Stack Developers can code on both the backend and the frontend.
Mobile Developer: A Mobile Developer develops mobile applications for Android and Apple. Mobile Developers use different languages than Website Developers.
Tech Lead: A Tech Lead is the person who leads the project from a technical standpoint. Oftentimes, the Software Architect will leave after mapping the project. It is up to the Tech Lead to manage the technical aspects of the project throughout the project’s duration.
Project Manager: Every tech project requires a Project Manager who will oversee the entire project and be involved in every aspect of it – from planning to coordination to execution. A Project Manager doesn’t have to be a technical expert since he or she doesn’t write code.
Of course, not everyone working on a website, software system, or mobile application is required to have a background in coding or development – although someone who has will obviously be a more desirable hire. Two positions that do not need this background but are still highly in demand for most tech platforms are:
1) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Expert: This person understand and implements strategies, techniques, and tactics to increase traffic to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine;
2) UXUI Designer: This person is a specialized designer who utilizes research and psychology to understand how people think and what motivates them. The aim is to create the best user experience.
Although I’ve touched upon some of the more common and general tech positions, there is a lot of specialization in tech. For example, Security Engineers – people who protect computer and network systems from potential hackers and cyber attacks – are in high demand, especially for platforms that host private and sensitive information, such as financial and governmental apps and websites.
Many religious women are starting to go into software development – and for good reason. It pays well, doesn’t require an exorbitant amount of schooling, and allows a certain level of workplace flexibility. It thus can be an ideal choice for someone who is looking for a career, enjoys learning and innovating, and is willing to put the time and energy into advancing in the workforce.
That being said, if you’re not looking at it as a career and just want the benefits associated with it, you might want to think twice before pursuing this path. As with other high-paying professions, it is very much skill-based and, in order to succeed in the workplace, you need to keep updating your skills and make doing so a priority.
It is important to approach your studies with an open mind. Obviously having a specific focus is integral to success. Equally important, however, is being open to new opportunities. You may enjoy something that you didn’t expect to enjoy and you may not feel that what you originally had in mind is quite the right fit for you.
Good luck in this new chapter of your life!