• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Undergrad college and major for career in finance or software development

Hey I'm an undergrad currently confused with what to do. I love finance in general and computer science. I think I would be happy if I were successful in either of them, however on the low end of the spectrum, I would be absolutely miserable if I had to resort to becoming a Financial Advisor for my local Chase Bank branch, get my drift? I'm currently confused with a lot of things I'd like your advice on:

1. I applied as a CS major to Fordham, and I'm based in NY. Forgetting about debt, is this a mistake when I have Bing and Stony Brook near me?
2. On the finance side, there's Cornell AEM. I know nowhere guarantees success, but if I do choose Cornell, am I going to have an easier time getting a "fun" job in finance as opposed to a regular, state school finance degree? How easy would it be, in this economy, to get a job in finance that is considered "good" and not a FA position at my local branch?
3. What's the job outlook for software development/finance?
4. Is it better to major in CS undergrad in terms of job opportunities upon graduation/offers for a job rather than finance? How about starting careers for finance majors (coming out of Cornell, if that makes a difference?) I'm hearing jobs offering $80k + stock options for new CS grads, but nothing of the sort for finance grads, but I don't have a source for this.
5. What are the job opportunities currently available for newly-graduated CS students? Is the environment much more relaxed and "better" than the jobs available for newly-graduated finance students?

If finance is going to be a crap-shoot no matter where I come out, and I'm realistically looking at positions that will get me nowhere and have the same odds as making it to the NFL in Finance, I'm not sure that's the route I want to take. I'm considering the option because I would be coming out of Cornell, which I'm believing to have greater opportunities than working finances in a local hospital, if you know what I mean. I enjoy finance, but I don't enjoy cold-calling "Boiler Room" style for 12 hours a day, or having some a low-end retail broker going door-to-door with my Series 7 selling insurance to people. I'm not sure if I'll be in a long, uphill battle to a good career if I choose finance, or if the school-name will work wonders in the job market and have a solid chance at landing me a career that isn't mind-numbing and will have me regretting I ever majored in the field. Software Development fields are all lax and look very appealing with their high salaries and benefits (Google, namely) but is this indicative of the entire market, or only a select few firms where I'd need to be a student at Princeton/MIT to land a job there? Which career path has more REALISTIC opportunities to make a decent salary and be happy? Thank you!
 
I can only give you advice about #1.

I think CS at Fordham is something that should be avoided, for now. I don't think the problem is so much the department, but the student culture. Very few students engage in outside CS projects, which is a must if you want to find a good software job (i.e. google). I don't feel as if there is this sense of adventure and excitement when it comes to learning about the field.

On the upside, there has lately been a large increase in funding for student research lately, so this trend increase future student activity in outside CS projects. My advice would be go to Stony Brook or Bing instead if you want a good foundation in CS with opportunities to engage in endeavors of your interest with your peers.

My general advice is don't get too focused on finance. Explore your interests in college. Remember that few people pursue a career in finance for the excitement and the "warm feeling" you get from your work. Quite frankly, it can be a very boring and bland field.
CS is definitely a great place to start exploring because that is the future of our economy, and there are so many different aspects to it.

And yes, only become a FA if you love or are skilled at sales.
 
Informative, thanks! My other concern is how tough a CS major is. I've taken up to Calc 2 so far, so I'm unsure if this is a major for me. I've heard of people going into CS with no knowledge of it and dropping it within the next semester because it just moves so fast and you have to understand it or fall behind. Most of the students in the class have already learned a few languages before and there aren't a lot of brand new CS students, and it seems those who are usually have the hardest time. Can you elaborate on the difficulty of a CS major at a good school? Thanks!
 
I think the hardest thing about being a CS or a Math major is that you need to really spend time honing your problem solving and abstraction skills.
I myself am only a CS minor. But from what i have seen, those two skills are the things that make or break a CS student. Once you understand 1 language well, learning another is just a matter of memorizing syntax ( a very tedious task indeed ).
Taking a nice mix of CS and Math will definitely give you a leg up. Especially if you take some logic based math ( proof writing, number theory, real analysis, etc). But this might only be true for fordham.

I don't really know how it is at a good CS school. But based on what i have heard from friends, it is intense if your heart is not in it.
And these friends went on to find internships and jobs at top companies like Microsoft and Apple. So if you find that you love CS, put in the time, study hard, and i think good things will be waiting for you on the other side ( hopefully that is a low stress working environment).
 
Easy answer: CS

Right now there is huge demand for software developers (especially for mobile apps) and unless we enter into another dark ages, I don't see the demand for technology and software going down any time soon. And with a degree in CS you could do development in finance.

CS does require some math but obviously not as much as a math major. Stick out it and study extra hard for those few math courses.

1. Never heard of Fordham, but I believe Stony has a pretty decent CS program. Where are you going right now?
2. I think Cornell would be better over most state schools. While if you went into finance I don't think you would get stuck at the local bank branch, the days of walking into a top high paying job are gone.
3. I think the opportunities for software developers is great right now.
4. CS. It gives you more options as you could still go into finance with a CS major.
5. Yes. Have you heard about the lengths that Google and other tech companies go to to have a relaxed, college-campus-like environment?

Go to the best university you can get into and afford, get the best grades you can in everything, get to know your professors, and then get a masters.
 
Thanks. So you still think a "decent" undergrad major in CS will give me a better outcome than majoring in AEM at Cornell? More job opportunities and better pay, even though I'd be coming from a top business program? What if I'm not going for my master's? Strictly speaking undergrad for a good job, and not necessarily as a quant, despite the board haha. Thanks.
 
Cornell's AEM looks like a great program and will probably lead to a good job and great career. (Personally looking at it, I think I would have a really hard time deciding what to take as so many of the classes sound interesting/useful!) The finance specialization would probably get you a finance job but probably not quant finance.

CS vs. AEM? Can't really compare the 2 as they will lead you to different places, but I believe you will be able to get a job with either. Based on the market right now, I'd say that with CS you would/could get a higher starting salary but that AEM has a higher salary potential (unless you did finance with CS or a startup).

Because of the value of the Cornell name, you could do the AEM and once you have started look into minoring in CS or something. Website says you can only double major in AEM with another degree from life sciences department.

I think you need to decide what kind of job you want...
 
Top