I attend a lower ranked state school in New York state, and have taken a liking to the field of genomics. My computer science skills are weak, but I enjoy the field and would like to pursue it for a career. I am attempting a B.S in biology and hope to graduate in the next year, may 2016.

How would I go about this? I assume building up a portfolio of work would be appropriate, but is genomics even a field that is hiring at the moment, especially unproven students? I have heard that only computer science in the STEM fields have good employment opportunities, and after flunking out of computer science, and maxing out loans and fin. aid, approaching a dual degree would be hard.

I guess my main question is: How would I build myself up to be employable in genomics / bioinformatics as a biology student(undergrad).

  • Would you clarify "employable" in Academia or industry? Also, I always thought biology is part of life science which is one of STEM fields. – scaaahu May 9 '15 at 4:29
  • @scaaahu Employable meaning non teaching based jobs. I heard through a post on thus sub forum that i can not remember, that only computer science jobs were "hiring" actively, and that "Life sciences" are harder to find employment in within the STEM field. – Ro Siv May 9 '15 at 4:35
  • 1
    Please clarify non teaching based jobs in where? Academia or industry? – scaaahu May 9 '15 at 4:39
  • @scaaahu Uhhh, to be honest i am not sure. I do not know much about genomics or bioinformatic, but I enjoyed the class very much, and am planning on doing undergrad research on the topic. I would like to be employed in the field, but teaching seems boring in either academia or industry. I feel like being a "Work horse" would be nice, considering if I could actually do the work. – Ro Siv May 9 '15 at 4:57
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seeks advice about how to land a non-academic job as an undergraduate. – Mad Jack Jun 19 '15 at 23:50

Everything I finally made my publications from (as a "programming biologist") has been written in C++ or Java.

My advice - learn real programming languages (C, Java, C# may be good now), real programming technologies (databases, batch frameworks) and real programming methods (tests, version control).

An real software for bioinformatician is easy to recognize by the two invariable criteria:

  • It is a command line tool waiting to be added to your pipeline.

  • You can build it yourself from the source code provided.

Knowledge about such pieces of software is very valuable. Know them, and be ready to use. Such tools are called BLAST, BioConductor, TopHat, Weka and others, to name a few.

Somebody may say to you there are also tools like BioPython, BioJava, BioRuby and the like. These are written to convert already easy tasks (like calling BLAST and parsing the output) into just pure pleasure, but at the price of making true science, really difficult things even more difficult, as they are outside the nice envelope of the expected functionality. Beware.

Biologists may not always need a programmer in they circles, but it really happened for me several times that an otherwise experimental laboratory was not able to finish an interesting project without the person of my kind joining the team. These cases are, however, rare and may be difficult to find. Good luck.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.