For this issue of ComputingEdge, we asked Andy Pavlo—assistant professor of databaseology in Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Department—about career opportunities in emerging technology fields involving databases and data science. Pavlo’s research interests are database management systems—specifically main memory, nonrelational, and transaction-processing systems—and large-scale data analytics. He authored the article “Emerging Hardware Trends in Large-Scale Transaction Processing” in IEEE Internet Computing’s May/June 2015 issue.
ComputingEdge: What careers in emerging technologies in your field will see the most growth in the next several years?
Pavlo: Artificial intelligence, more specifically machine learning, will continue to be the hot growth area for the foreseeable future in database- and data-science-related fields. Developers who can design high-performance systems to support complex, data-intensive applications will surely be in demand for several years.
ComputingEdge: What would you advise college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
Pavlo: No company or organization starts a new software project from scratch. Thus, it’s good to have is the ability to work on existing code bases with little or no guidance or documentation. The most ideal employees are those who can start quickly on a project that consists of a large amount of existing code they didn’t write. The good way to learn this skill is through practice.
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give people changing careers midstream?
Pavlo: You must always work hard. And you have to stay up to date with the latest database systems, machine-learning tools, and data-analysis frameworks. Luckily, we live in an era where everyone is open-sourcing their software, so it is easier for people to try things out at home. The best way to pick up new skills is to pick a hobby project and then build it out using a new piece of software that you want to learn more about.
ComputingEdge: What do you consider to be the best strategies for professional networking?
Pavlo: You need to be visible. Making a LinkedIn page isn’t enough. You must advertise what you have to offer. This means you should write a blog, build out your GitHub portfolio, contribute to open source projects, attend and give talks at meet-ups, and/or volunteer for hackathons. All of this shows potential employers that you are enthusiastic about computers and technology. Every little bit helps.
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for emerging-technology jobs?
Pavlo: The field is moving fast, but having a good computer-science foundation will serve you well no matter what the current technology trend is.
About the Author
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Pavlo for this article. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to a future ComputingEdge articles.