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I’m a deferred entry student set to start my undergraduate degree in CS at Cambridge in 2024. Besides other activities in my gap year, I am starting to think about future career options, including potentially changing my course, although this may not be possible.

To summarise, I want to find a career which is both intellectually satisfying and helps society and people at large. The second point is equally important to me. Through my(rather, naive) searches on LinkedIn, I see several people with good credentials from my program going into Quant Research or consultancy fields. I have limited knowledge of the field, but I feel that although it may be intellectually satisfying, it seems like a shallow job to me. I am considering a career either in academia or entrepreneurship in deep tech.

Although I have taken only introductory courses, I feel the fields of biotechnology, neuroscience, materials science, nanotechnology, quantum computing, AI in healthcare etc. may be good fields satisfying the criteria. I’m not interested in gaining significant financial wealth, but I do want to live comfortably with mental ease. Also, I want to prefer fields which have more practical applications in the real world. Finally, although I have limited knowledge of academia, some answers on this site make me anxious. I understand pursuing any research field has no guarantees, but I want to preferably go into a field with lesser risk and shorter feedback loops.

To summarise, I have the following questions:-

  1. Is it possible to go from a bachelors degree in CS to any of the aforementioned fields? If yes, what could be some challenges?
  2. Does entrepreneurship give the possibility of innovating in the aforementioned fields or is it just commercialisation of existing research/technology?
  3. Are there significant challenges that people face in academia in the aforementioned fields? What are some of the main challenges? Are there significant pressures involved which take your focus and interest away from the field?
  4. Do the aforementioned fields satisfy the criteria I mentioned earlier? Do you recommend any fields which would be a good fit for me considering the criteria I mentioned earlier?

Please also let me know of any other relevant advice.

Thank you for your help.

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    Please limit your post to one question at a time.
    – Sursula
    Sep 23, 2023 at 8:14

1 Answer 1

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I have answered a similar question "Changing fields from Computer Science to Physics or Mathematics". You may want to check my answer here.

I understand pursuing any research field has no guarantees, but I want to preferably go into a field with lesser risk and shorter feedback loops.

If I were in your shoes I would find a Master's program in Computational Sciences. You get the chance to explore other fields you're interested in, and the time commitment is not as long as a PhD program. By the time you've finished your Master's you'll have better insights to your questions 2-4. Those questions are tough to answer now—most likely the best answers would be the ones shaped by your own experiences. I suggest to start getting your feet wet and reflect on your questions as you gain more experience.

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    (+1) for "Master's program in Computational Sciences". Whether this makes sense for the OP, it's definitely an interesting possibility to consider. My feeling is that for someone who has not yet begun university, worrying about something this far in the future is probably not very productive. I've known many people who thought they were interested in X, then changed to Y, and finally ended up in Z. Here X, Y, Z could all be during undergraduate years or X=Bachelors, Y=Masters, Z=Doctorial or some other educational path. ("although this may not be possible" might restrict the possibilities) Sep 23, 2023 at 13:19
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    "worrying about something this far in the future is probably not very productive" - spot on. One can realize this futility if they imagine the past version of themselves being able to predict where they are now. Still I think it's valuable to reflect on future prospects (I do this all the time), as long as one continuously tries to do something and does not get stuck into analysis-paralysis. For me as long as my next step is better than the previous and closer to my goal then it's good enough :)
    – prigor
    Sep 23, 2023 at 15:36

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