A Computer Scientist who doesn’t want to Code

“Am I in the wrong major?”


You (and some others) may not like what I’m about to say, but you asked for it, so here goes…

In all the years I’ve been in technology, it has typically taken me about 28 seconds to determine if another person was “fluent” more than one or two levels below the surface.

Those that were were almost always programmers, engineers, or technicians at one time or another. Everyone else was at best managers and business people, or at worst, administrators or posers.

I know some might disagree with me, but a Computer Science major who doesn’t want to code is like a dental student who doesn’t want to look into anyone’s mouth.

To get good in technology, and I mean really good, you must get under the hood, deeply and often. The best and most logical way to do this is by programming. And you will have to do this intensely and for long hours, so “you have to love it”.

The single biggest difference I’ve seen between great programmers and everyone else is a pure love for what they do. Intelligence matters, work habits matter, ability to work with other people matters, but make no mistake about it, there is no substitute for passion.

Great technologists love what they do so much, they can’t wait to get back to it. They have to check on their work after dinner. They have to review their notes at bed time. They are often the first in the office in the morning and just as often the last to leave. They read and learn voraciously and can’t wait to apply their skills to new problems. They’re so busy doing what they love, they don’t even think of it as “working 9 to 5”.

By your own description, you do not sound like this. So do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and find something you love and major in that. If, on the other hand, it’s too late or it doesn’t make sense to switch majors, then go ahead and finish your CS major, but please find a direction to follow that puts you in work you love. Be forewarned, though. Unless you’re a programmer first, you probably won’t make a very good sales engineer or project manager. You may want to consider sales or even (dare I say) proceeding on to business school for your MBA.