Thoughts on CIS major? (Computer Information Systems)
July 11, 2014 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Is CIS a reliable major for future careers in NY?

I decided it'd be in my best interests to return to college. After looking at the list of possible majors at my college, I'm thinking about CIS (BBA). Unfortunately, I don't think I can transfer to another college either. I've had a troubled past which I asked questions about here and appreciated the answers.

Right now after dealing with my existential crisis for a few months, I finally feel clear-headed enough to consider a direction. I did read the guidelines and course list on the main site but I'm interested if anyone has any advice for a newcomer on CIS. I have a handful of intro/reqs courses completed that transferred from my 1st college and some completed work in my current place.

I think I'm just looking for a major that'll somehow help me for a practical job in the future. I'll be 23 years old at the end of year and I still haven't graduated college due to my medical issues. Many, many of my friends have moved on with their lives and/or careers. I'm feeling the pressure to focus on one topic and move on from college.

I know no major is a *guaranteed* to a get job but right now I'd feel more assured if I had a backup plan.

Any comments or advice about the CIS major would be appreciated. Thanks.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It seems like a perfectly fine major if you have no strong preference for anything else. My advice to you is to do as many internships/co-ops/job placements as you possibly can, regardless of your major. I would even go so far as to recommend that you seek out a major that offers you lots of opportunities for internships, etc. If you can graduate college with even a small amount of proven work experience in the kind of setting you'd like to work in that's going to matter a lot more to potential employers than your actual major.

Don't worry about your high school/earlier college friends - plenty of them will be getting started on their second careers as you get started on your first. (I'm in my mid-thirties and I just started my third.)
posted by mskyle at 10:02 AM on July 11, 2014

The people I know who have succeeded with this major are those who leveraged the major into term-time and summer internships that turned into full time jobs after graduation in markets with active economies. It is helpful, but like many majors requires a keen eye towards career planning while still and undergrad.

Basically, if you're doing this at CUNY, I would highly advise getting an internship/coop at one of the major banks or financial services companies in the city.
posted by deanc at 10:30 AM on July 11, 2014

I can all but guarantee that you will never be out of a job with a CIS degree. All you need to do is...motivate.

I've been in the tech industry for 20 years and currently work at a large company based in Palo Alto. We can't hire enough people and are always looking for intelligent, motivated technologists.

Go for it and work your ass off! Spend nights and weekends reading all you can. Tinker with computers, rip 'em apart and see what makes them tick. Get online and start teaching yourself how to code in Python or You need to get experience under your belt asap so look for P\T jobs, internships anything that you can use to build experience.

Once you graduate you'll need to decide what you want to focus on for a career track but you certainly won't be married to that path for life. I've shifted focus a lot and it has been beneficial.

Also, hone your public speaking skills. Join a local ToastMasters or similar. Being able to address an audience and effectively communicate your message cannot be understated.

Lastly, consider combining your CIS degree with business school or courses. It's a killer combination.

Put the blinders on and focus. Don't pay attention to anyone or anything in your periphery.
posted by uncleGarage at 9:43 PM on July 11, 2014

Thanks everyone for the advice and support. The CIS program is a part of the Business program at my college and hopefully I will find some internships or p/t from the city.

I know the topic is kinda specific, but I've always been interested in computers/tech but I'm only a "competent" math student from my past exp. I have a friend who studied CS for college and he mentioned about the high academic requirements so I was felt uncertain if I would be capable enough.

For example, I don't need to take any math courses but I still need to take a few intro BUS courses along with statistics. For my minor, I am considering Information Studies too.

TBH, I'm feeling anxious because I'm older than my peers and I realize this is my last chance at college.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2014

I saw your update and thought I'd chime in.

I looked at the link you posted and looked at what the coursework entailed. I don't think it should be incredibly overwhelming. It looks quite a bit different than a regular CS curriculum, where some of your prerequisites include Calculus and a course on Discrete Math (lots of mathematical proofs). I guess a way to think about your curriculum would be "Applied Computer Science" maybe? All your courses seem pretty tailored to a practical/business context so your friend's comments about the toughness of the coursework probably won't apply. You really don't need to know much past algebra/possibly trigonometry for practical purposes (from what I have seen and heard), but being able to think logically and sequentially is a requirement. Definitely brush up on any prerequisites, though, if it has been a while. Being underprepared is the quickest way to sink your own ship.

I am a returning student in CS myself, will be 23 in a few months, and I am also older than my peers. I am interning in an IT context this summer and my fellow interns are all between 19-21. It is a little weird; I feel very "non-traditional" as there a bit of a life-experience gap, but I have felt like the odd one out most of my life so I just chuckle and go about my business. I guess I wouldn't go into it with the expectation that you'll have a really active social life or make lots of lifelong friends before you're done, but you'll have your coursework/ambitions in common so there is at least something to chit-chat about.

(On second thought, your school doesn't appear to be a traditional/residential college, unlike mine, and, being in a major city like NYC, you'll probably have a lot of fellow students of different ages. IT/CS classes also tend to have more "non-traditional" students than other majors, from what I've seen, likely as getting a degree in the subject is a pretty well-defined path to a solid career.)

So, my advice to you is: don't be nervous, be prepared instead. Ask yourself if you're just nervous or are there truly gaps in the required knowledge that you know you should have filled in by now. And if you're not prepared now, do yourself a favor and don't go back to school until you are. (It may even be beneficial as you should be classed as an independent student for financial aid purposes in the next academic year). As uncleGarage stated above, being focused is really imperative, even when it gets tough. Also, you're probably doing a disservice to yourself by thinking of it as "this is my last chance at college." There are many roads to ending up with a degree and it is probably not the best to psych yourself out about possibly not finishing/taking a long time to finish from the get-go (ask me how I know). Best of luck to you in your future studies! You can do it!
posted by sevenofspades at 10:52 AM on July 12, 2014

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