Hello, at the moment I have been debating between a computer science or animation degree. For most of my school time I focused on school but in terms of my own goals I planned to become an animator and from there slowly learn the technology used for Animation & live action film and the underlying science that makes the technology possible. However I have been having doubts about whether I will be prepared and since my parents are insistent on having a degree for the sake of opportunity, the computer science degree seems better. However I know of no computer science programs that prepare students specifically for the film technology niche, nor have I found animation programs that let their students learn computer graphics and underlying software and even hardware engineering, and I know with my 4 years focusing solely on getting my degree I will not immediately be competitive as an animator or a generalist programmer, nor am I necessarily interested in diving out of this niche right now.
So I wanted to ask, what is the worst case scenario coming out of a computer science degree completely unprepared for any job? What part time jobs can you get after graduation in the meantime to fund further education?
How do you find time to create your own opportunity if you can’t find your field niche in school? At this point all I am working on is the idea that a computer science degree may be able to access more doors than a digital animation degree.
What is the worst that could happen and how do I avoid it?
The single worse case scenario for getting a degree is:
Pay a lot for school, gather large amounts of student debt
Find the degree offers no help with getting any kind of job, or requires you to go back to school (Computer Science/Tech and engineering degrees don’t have this problem)
Expect school alone will get you the job
Be unable or unwilling to work outside of what you went to school for
If you fall into all 4 of these, then you fall into the “worse case scenario” of going to college. Its possible you fall into only parts, which might not help, but wont be the worse case scenario.
However if you haven’t done anything yet, then you aren’t in the worse case scenario, or even close.
I’m lucky, as I live in LA so there are actually opportunities for these sorts of programs, primarily due to all the big name video animation companies existing within the area. (Pixar, Dreamworks, etc)
However, the specific niche your looking for has a cross roads between being the animator and the computer scientist building the tools for the animator. You can hear stories of the early days of Pixar where animators were just as much programmers when they where debugging and fighting their own animation tools and hardware.
I’m not sure if these “two in one” roles exist as much, even at the time you were looking more at a programmer who just so happened to be building technology that didn’t exactly exist at the time.
As a bare minimum computer science major graduate you should at least get some feedback for possible entry level jobs. You don’t need to go back to schooling to get a well paying job like other majors. However, its worth mentioning that like any college student you get more if you leverage the schools extracurricular, such as job fairs, clubs, and faculty.
There are plenty of “IT focused” part-time jobs you could take if you wanted, but its more up to you if you want to go into less developer focused work right out of college, or try your hand at getting into a role for actual software.
Yes and no, I don’t know much about digital animation, but I do know there are limited opportunities there. As I mentioned I live in LA, where a vast majority of the world’s leading animators live and work, but outside of this location I’m not sure what sort of opportunities are there. This isn’t to say having a CS degree wouldn’t help you get this sort of job, but I’m not sure what you could do to get into animation in the first place if there aren’t many jobs in your area for that role.
That said, a CS degree is usually highly sought out because its flexible and tech is everywhere. Every industry, and company has software at some level, so being technical is a massive advantage and can provide you a lot of options today and tomorrow. Yes you wont be 3D animating things, but you probably get a solid job that can support that as a hobby.
Hopefully that helps a little, keep learning, keep building