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 BS in CS after law school? Better/any career prospects? 
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Joined: 2013-07-12 23:09:49
Posts: 1
Like most of my graduating class, I have been desperately trying to find work for the past year. Unfortunately, I have been very unsuccessful in getting any response to any of the applications I've submitted across the country. It's incredibly frustrating but as the student loans have come due, the pressure is really on to find something or do something. Since I have had no luck with finding anything, I'm considering a move back to undergrad to get a second bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

Please hear me out before you think I'm insane. My undergrad degree is in chemical engineering and I have minors in petroleum engineering, chemistry, and French. I was an examiner at the USPTO for 2.5 years, left to go to law school, and got out with my JD/MBA. I'm a registered patent agent and am taking the PA bar exam (for the first time). While I was in law/B-school, I did a bunch of internships/clerkships all focused on IP and expanded my tech background to include biomedical devices and mechanical engineering arts as well as business methods. The only tech area where I am lacking in experience is in electrical and computer technology. My grades are so-so (GPA is above 3.0, but nothing stellar) and I spent my time networking and working rather than writing on journals.

My networking has paid off in that these folks have all tried to help me find work. Seriously, EVERYONE has tried to help, from employers to professors to judges to my sister's pediatrician to the embalmer who works at my uncle's funeral home and who knows everyone. The problem, however, is that there are no jobs. And even when one pops up and someone in my network tries to push my resume forward, the firms have hired laterals with 5 years of experience for the entry level job that was advertised. I tried to get back in with the USPTO again but even though I was put on the "best-qualified" list, I haven't heard anything except that the CoE and EE folks were the ones being called for interviews. I have not had an interview and know they were held last month, so I'm sure I'm not headed back there.

My applications are routinely rejected with a "Sorry, your qualifications are great but we are only accepting EE and CS applicants at this time" message. I've received a few dozen of these messages over the course of my job search. It appears that EE and CS are the hot degrees to have at the moment and since I can't get the job that I want without one, perhaps it is time to get one.

There is a state school nearby that will transfer 90 credits from my undergrad/grad degrees, leaving me with only 30 credits to earn before I graduate with a BS in Applied Computer Science. The program is not stellar, but it is accredited and cheap ($9k per year) and it looks like I could wrap up the program in one year.

What do you folks think? Do you think it could make a difference in at least getting interviews? I've had my resume/cover letters checked by literally a dozen "important" attorneys (e.g. partners at big firms here, 2 judges) and have gotten feedback from the HR folks at non-legal job fairs I've gone to; the resume is great, everyone likes it, etc. From what they've all said, I just keep getting tossed aside because of the lack of EE/CS experience. Is it worth investing another year and another few grand into trying to land a job, or should I just keep doing what I'm doing and hope that I'm lucky to find a non-EE/CS job?

2013-07-12 23:46:43

Joined: 2012-01-30 01:41:51
Posts: 22
WOW things are tough out there (but I guess you already know this!) First, my heartfelt sympathies-- you've worked hard and if the world was fair, you'd have your choice of 6 positions. But, as we all know, the world isn't fair. :evil:

I suppose that if you can start in the fall, there is no harm in continuing your search and beginning the studies. (I guess this would put about $4500 at risk when the fates decree that the day after the deadline to get a tuition refund passes, you'll get a job. :twisted: ) But if you can absorb this, it should help improve your resume.

Good luck.

2013-07-15 00:34:03

Joined: 2013-07-17 05:11:07
Posts: 1
Hi there

I'm doing some soul-searching tonight on almost exactly the same subject, so it was very interesting to read your well-written post from just a few days ago.

I was an Applied Math undergrad who followed up with a MS in ME (oops!) and then a law degree. I too came to find that these degrees were a big yawn to recruiters. You and I sound similar in many ways. My universities were all top-20, but my law school grades were just above 3.0. Some firms were impressed enough by my diploma collection to merit an interview. They were ultimately never willing to give me a chance without a EE degree. I passed the patent bar and have been running a very small, very part-time practice for local small businesses and garage inventors. I'm not even close to making a living. It seems pretty clear to me that outside of computing or biotech, everything else is small-time inventors and small-time lawyers. I'm not going to find a job in ME (all I studied in that degree was math anyway). I wouldn't advise you to hold your breath looking for a chemistry-related job either. Ironically, about half the patents I get in my office now are software ideas. I have filed one simple internet application, and a very complex provisional one, with several flowcharts and algorithms and actual math. I have a feeling this is what most CS patent work would be like, and I've DONE it, but still, without that degree, nobody cares.

Finally I thought, "I can either groan about how life is unfair, or I can just go ahead and get the degree." This summer, I registered with a local state college to start a MS / EE program in the Fall. I guess I'm just hoping that it will be as easy to get attention with this degree as it is hard to get attention without it! I feel that computer skills are going to be crucial for just about any good job opportunity anyway -- some alternatives would include straight-up engineering / programming, or finance.

Tonight I'm looking at job listings, blogs, and forums to get a sense of today's job market. I get mixed signals. I am seeing listings for EE patent attorneys, but they generally require industry experience or more prosecution experience than I have. The consensus on jobs in general seems to be that "entry level job" is an oxymoron -- if it's entry level, then it's unpaid. But that's probably because it's only us bitter frustrated job-seekers who come here to vent online. :lol: One thing I'm curious about is the CS vs. EE demand. Historically, I've heard that EE applicants are preferred. But it seems that all the innovation these days is in software -- apps, user interfaces, crowdsourcing, cloud computing, etc. etc.

Please keep me posted on your findings!

2013-07-17 06:08:38

Joined: 2014-08-05 16:28:02
Posts: 1
Any updates to this thread? I am also in the same boat. I'm considering a BA in CS, and hoping to take the Patent Bar to improve my job prospects.

2014-08-05 16:29:48
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