To Do or NOT: IT

It is well understood that reading, writing, and arithmetic are considered basic skills to make one a literate person. Along with these three skills, it is increasingly becoming important to have computing as a necessary skill to succeed in the 21st century. Computing skills encompass broadly computational thinking, programming and ability to use some of the computing tools. Just as a massive construction project requires hundreds or thousands of masons (apart from a few civil engineers and architects), massive computerisation (or digitalisation) requires hundreds and thousands of programmers.

Cashing in on this demand, colleges are starting programs like BSc (IT), BSc (CS), BCA, MCA on the one hand, and BE/BTech (IT), BE/BTech (CS), BE/BTech (AI, Machine Learning, Data Science) on the other hand. This article tries to demystify these programs in a question-answer format and offer some perspective for a student trying to choose a career.

Do I really need to get a computing degree to acquire the so-called computing skills?

Certainly NOT. There are a number of training institutes and online courses through which one can acquire the necessary skills within a few months. A deeper knowledge of these requires more practice and experience. In fact, there are several computer savvy experts who do not have computer science degrees (Microsoft CEO, for example).

What if I am starting a college degree? Can I acquire these skills through courses in college?

Yes, many degree programs offer a minor in computer science or even allow you to take a few computer science courses as electives, even if you are specializing in some other discipline.

But most companies coming for placement primarily take computer science graduates?

Yes, as we mentioned in our opening paragraph, there is a huge demand for programmers and students with similar(computing) skills. Companies with such demand, when they come to campuses, take the easy way out of choosing the CS degree holders first (with the hope that they would have been trained in computing skills – this may not always be the case, see the answer to the next question) before trying others.

So to have a successful career in IT, is a computer science degree necessary then?

Not necessarily. As we said in the answer to our previous question, while companies coming to campuses may prefer CS students, there is an increasing realisation that a “computer science” degree should not be confused with skills. That is why one can see thousands of computer science students (who may have the degree, but not the relevant skills) unemployed. Moreover, campus placement is NOT the only route to get jobs. There are several web portals and websites for programming competitions through which companies spot talented students with relevant skill set despite being a non-CS graduate.

So should I choose a CS degree or not?

If you have sound mathematical and analytical abilities and interest in computer science, and if you get an opportunity to do your degree in one of the top institutions, by all means, pursue a CS degree. If you invest time and energy to acquire the basic computing skills, sky is the limit on how far you can go.

But if you did not get into a good institution, there are still plenty of options, and read on to know more.

How do I know those good institutions?

NIRF ranking ( can be a high level guide. But note that NIRF ranks mostly the entire institution and there may be variations in specific programs. While placement can be an indicator, it certainly need not be the only indicator. You can get information from the seniors. Choose an institution which encourages broad exposure, has a constant stream of external experts visiting and has well qualified teachers willing to work with the students. We at AllCareerGuru can help. Please set up a session with our experts by visiting our website.

If I choose a non CS degree for my under graduation, is it possible to switch to computer science during Masters?

Yes, there are many universities that offer Master’s programs in computer science for those who obtained an undergraduate degree in other engineering or science subjects.

What if I am not interested in computer science?

Congratulations for not trying to follow the herd. In a growing economy like ours, there are not just opportunities, but high demand for experts in many domains including law, mathematics, physics, journalism, design or even other branches of engineering including civil, chemical, electrical or aerospace. It is important to pursue your passion, and obtain a broad set of skill sets during your undergraduate program. In previous editions of our newsletter, we have discussed these opportunities by interviewing successful individuals who have pursued a less travelled path. We at can help you in those fields too.

But remember that a degree and job are not the only important thing, especially when you are in college. Develop a network of good friends and interesting hobbies, join multiple clubs in the campus and learn as many things as possible.

If I am interested in computer science, should I choose a specialisation like AI or Machine Learning or Data Science or Cyber Security? What are the differences between various BSc (IT/CS) or BCA degrees?

Often colleges create these programs to increase their enrollment. Obviously the subjects you learn in a four year program will be more than what you do in a three year program. We do not encourage you to specialise in your undergraduate degree. It is important to acquire expertise in a broad set of foundational subjects before you specialise. Again remember that regardless of the degree, the institution where you pursue these degrees matter.

I heard about ChatGPT and generative AI. Is it going to change the way we learn?

Yes, a company called OpenAI recently released ChatGPT which has taken the world by storm. While google may have organised the information all across the internet to enable us to search for data in these websites efficiently, OpenAI can not only reproduce the information but can make logical deductions and develop new conclusions and offer them to you in your language. Yes, it can give a recipe you are searching for or generate your program. You can just use it as your mentor to teach you whatever you want to learn. However note that learning is still your responsibility and you still have to have the basic concepts to prompt the tool, called prompt engineering(an upcoming field), and understand the answers it gives. If you use it to cheat in your course projects, note that you miss the opportunity to learn and you will be the ultimate loser. Educationists all over are still figuring out its impact.

I am finishing up my engineering degree. My friends suggest pursuing an MBA degree after engineering. Should I?

Just as computing skills are becoming important, a certain amount of managerial skills are also becoming important in the corporate world for mid-level managers to manage customer relations, large teams, and various other aspects. We believe that these are also skills one can acquire when the need arises through online resources or executive programs. Our suggestion is to stick to technical domains and acquire deeper knowledge at least for a few years after you graduate.

I hear about salary packages in the order of crores; are they real?

In the internet era, certain jobs can be performed sitting anywhere in the world. Because of this, multinational companies hire talents for their offices elsewhere offering sometimes international salaries. If you mod out the living costs in such regions and account for the variable pay in the package, one sees that these CTCs (cost to company) are often inflated. Besides, these are offered to one or two from top institutes, while the average salaries tend to be much much lower. Also the corporate world goes through cycles of economic ups and downs, thus you should not be carried away by these numbers. Most important is to focus on companies where you have active learning possibilities with a stable long term career. Moreover, you should develop skills to manage the ups and downs, not just in the corporate world, but in life in general.