Forum:What are benefits of Pursuing Bioinformatics over Software Engineering?
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5.7 years ago
graff1994 ▴ 10

Hey All,

I am currently a senior finishing up a Bachelors in Bioinformatics, I was wondering what the benefits of pursuing the field as compare to Software Engineering? Is it worth going further in debt to get a Master in Bioinformatics even though I'm  not likely to make more and have more job opportunities as a Software Engineer?

 

career Forum • 2.1k views
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Asking Biostars if you should continue working in Bioinformatics, is like asking Donald Trump if comb-overs are cool.

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It's more fun.

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It is not solved yet.

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5.7 years ago

Look, you'll be in demand, have decent jobs, and make a good living in either bioinformatics or software engineering. The questions you really need to be asking are: What do I want to work on? What kind of job will be fulfilling to me?

I've asked a lot of people what they'd do if they had a billion dollars. A lot of regular folks say they'd quit their job, travel the world, etc.  When I ask this question of scientists (including bioinformaticians), it's striking that almost none of them say they'd retire from research. Change positions, maybe. Be better funded - sure. But the people I know in science believe that what they do is amazingly interesting and has the potential to change the world for the better.

Personally, I wouldn't find that kind of fulfillment in being a cog in an advertising machine, or selling crappy smartphone games. Maybe you would ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Science isn't for everyone, but if you're up for the challenge, it can be incredibly rewarding.

 

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Once I've got the following answer

what they'd do if they had a billion dollars?

Ans: I will establish my own lab and don't waste time searching for funding.

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5.7 years ago

Through my job I am curing disease, improving agricultural yield to feed the world's population, maintaining biodiversity and the environment, and lots more. Can you do that as a software engineer?

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Yes, by enabling you to do your job, by building better software that empowers you a la UNIX pipes. As someone that has been on both sides, both careers are incredibly rewarding if you're in the right place. 

Once you spend >1 year in software with freedom to explore solutions, you develop the vision to see the architecture behind algorithms and that's when you transcend mere software programming/coding to the realm of modeling solutions and designing strategies. 

I got to that stage in around 15 months. What I learnt in 30 months of my career as a software developer/educator/data specialist has enabled me deal with problem solving in a much better way than if I'd stuck to just bioinformatics - I might not have gotten past basic implementations. Not to mention that my pals, who stuck to the software career and made the right choices (like investing time in the right emerging technology) have gone on to become extremely valuable players in the mainstream market.

So yes, we have incredibly rewarding jobs. Unless you're thinking of code monkeys, software engineers have an amazing life too. Like Chris said, it depends on what you want your life to be about. Do you wish to be closer to life sciences, or would you like your contributions more abstract?

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