The topics of the master’s thesis are, of course, more complex than those of the bachelor’s. I will remind you that the aim of the master’s thesis is not to create something final product, but novelty (improvement of something, improvement, creation of a more efficient solution) by using partially or fully functioning product (algorithm, system, skeleton, etc.). What is more, one of the highlights of the Master’s thesis is the research, which is aimed at proving the goodness of one’s decision, comparing it with existing solutions. Some examples of topics include: a better image recognition algorithm, a faster architecture of distributed systems, and a combination of encryption algorithms or solutions that have never been tried before for better results. It may sound very abstract, but the subject names always reflect something you plan to improve or introduce as an innovation.
Master’s theses also include projects created by students themselves or on their own, but they were less visible compared to bachelor’s theses. This is where the importance of the Master’s thesis supervisor is highlighted. If you have an idea or are already working on an interesting project, but do not know how to turn it into a master’s thesis, a supervisor will help. The most difficult task is usually the development of the scientific side – without the supervisor it is difficult for the students to do it, so communicating with the supervisor during the master’s thesis is often necessary and desirable. Therefore, if bachelor theses are more often invented by students themselves, master theses are more often proposed by the supervisor.
Towards a dream job
Probably the most important reason why KTU Faculty of Informatics attracts a large number of students each year is their desire to acquire informatics knowledge and to associate their future with this profession. There are, of course, some who come to study only for the so-called “paper” (diploma), but in hindsight I will say that there are much easier ways to get a diploma (eg social studies, college studies).
Although there are many articles and books written about how to reach the top in my field, I will share with my colleagues a few thoughts and practical tips that have been most relevant to me while studying at faculty.
First of all, keep an eye out for extra. Perhaps one of the most important things and the biggest misunderstanding is that prospective and existing students often expect the university to provide all the knowledge they may need at work. However, the science of informatics (like any other) is infinitely broad, so the aim of the university (at least in UK) is to acquaint more with the directions inside science, not to prepare eg. a skilled programmer. Don’t be frightened – there is no shortage of practical things at university, but you will have to “smooth” your skills. In a nutshell, if you feel that you like something more, take the time to do so and not just focus on the lecture material. For example, I was attracted to programming for the web (PHP, JS, etc.) quite early on, and so far my interest has not gone away due to my work-free pages.
Also actively create. Whether it’s web sites, 3D models, or primitive mobile gadgets, these mini-projects help you master the knowledge you have gained and then become a great portfolio of jobs for potential employers. Believe me, any “extra-curricular” initiative, sometimes even more than a diploma, is highly valued by firms. By the way, keep an eye out – at least at KTU University, lecturers consistently form various project groups that will give birth to future start-ups or projects worthy of the winner of various competitions.
Remember to specialize. As I said, the science of computer science is infinitely broad, but the business world is most interested in professionals. The sooner you find an interesting direction for you, the sooner you can begin to delve into it, and maybe even in the middle or at the end of your studies you will be extremely attractive to employers. And the longer you work in your field, the higher your salary 🙂 The only trouble is how to discover that specialization? Perhaps this picture will help you decide?
Communicate as much as possible. If you successfully enroll in computer science, you will most likely be “boiling in one boiler” with a lot of like-minded people for 4 years. I mean not only your classmates – I am sure you will meet both junior and senior informatics in one way or another. This will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your future, as it is your generation that will gradually change the old generation. And good acquaintances and friends will sooner or later tell you about a vacant or warm job, maybe recommend it to your supervisors, or they will be the one to welcome you. And yet, if you are already opting for an informatics path, be sure to sign up for LinkedIn, a social network that will serve as an informal but extremely useful, publicly visible CV.
Maybe a little repetition, but be sure to connect with like-minded people, even if you are not (already) studying. Various forums, specialized LinkedIn or Facebook groups (I personally quite like web professionals), informal events and meetings (just come to mind the famous “No trolls allowed”) or just other, diverse forms of community will help you find out what the programming community is all about. In some cases, this will also be a great place to ask for advice if you have a specific problem.
Remember to keep in touch with employers. Here at KTU University, there is a very good section called “KTU Career Center” (short for KC), which basically acts as an “embattled” student labor exchange. It is through this department that employers look for employees, and students can expect to get an enticing job offer from the very first days upon registering in the MCC information system. Don’t miss out on the Career Days organized by KC in the spring, where you can talk directly (live) to the many employers who come to university.
Do not rely on the first impression and interest in the companies, maybe even set the goal to get a job in one company or another. Not long ago, I saw the results of a survey in which top 10 coveted IT companies boasted titles that experienced IT professionals often like to mock. By the way, I learned this by interacting with my colleagues (I’ll remind you again – communicate!;). Working in big firms may not always be fun or exciting (even if the brand name is tempting), while smaller companies can often offer much more prospects than they may seem at first glance.
I will also remember that the flashing articles in the press about the ever-growing demand for IT staff is absolutely true (just a wonderful 2016 survey just confirms this). Nowadays, companies are not only graduating, but also studying, that they give the impression that not only those who do not want to work. Every month, KTU Faculty of Informatics is attacked by representatives of various firms, asking for both employees and trainees, while those who register in the KC Database and LinkedIn are not denied job offers. As far as talking with those already employed, not much slower is also the “head hunters”, offering from one third to twice the salary for switching to a competing firm. So that I can confidently say that informatics are in high demand and that you will not starve after choosing this part 🙂
I will also share another observation, which is often unduly forgotten in articles about choosing a profession. Life is infinitely fun and choosing one life path can lead you to a different life than you originally planned. When you tell someone about it, it’s strange to everyone that undergraduate informatics unexpectedly choose a master’s in economics, psychology or design. And I don’t see anything strange, because I know that the university is changing people and there’s nothing wrong with it. Only when you are curious, diverse, interesting and expanding your horizons will you discover your true calling, no matter what.
So, for example, just after I got into university, I was already trying to imagine myself working for a serious firm and working on big projects in C ++ or Java. After two years of studying, I couldn’t think of anything other than creating web pages. At the end of my undergraduate studies, I was just crazy (well, so far I’m easily;) about photography and journalism. Well, after a couple of years of trying this and that and working on a variety of jobs, I realized that I really enjoy working with people and “accidentally” enrolled in a PhD. At least now I feel pretty good about being a doctor of computer science and working as a lecturer, but I really don’t know what tomorrow will bring …
Finally, I would like to take a look at one long (believe me worth it) discussion of a career in IT and another interesting presentation (in English) about what has fundamentally changed my approach to university and my dream job.