Selling an Unusual Skillset

I have degrees in Aerospace Engineering (B.S.) and Astronomy (M.S.) but these days I make my living as a software engineer (at an astronomy institution). I like programming and I plan to make a career out of it in one way or another. During my visit to Toronto multiple people asked me: if I had time traveling powers, would I go back and get a computer science education instead?

The answer is, I guess, yes. Especially for my undergraduate education I wish now that I had taken computer science. I feel a bit encumbered on the job market because I don’t have a CS degree. Going to school to get a CS degree is still an option but I’m not sure whether my career development effort would be best spent there, on contributing to open source projects (like AstroPy), or even contributing to something like Software Carpentry. (To work on my education in the meantime I have taken the AI Class and CS373 from Udacity. CS253 starts April 16.)

Though software is my passion, I like science and if I could make a good living combining the two that would be ideal. Maybe it’ll happen! But I’m not a computer scientist, and I’m not a PhD scientist, so how am I going to sell myself the next time I’m looking for a job? I think I have a few things to offer:

Adaptable: I’m comfortable working outside of a set comfort zone.

Versatile: I can communicate easily with a lot of different groups and handle a lot of different tasks. Physics, calculus, data, stats, plots? I can do that.

I Can Learn: I’m more or less a self taught software engineer and I can learn new skills in a hurry, without a lot of help. (Though I love working with someone.)

I Can Teach: Grad school means being a TA and I always got high marks from my students. Plus, I actually enjoy it.

I Can Code: If I couldn’t, why would anyone hire me?

Selling an Unusual Skillset