Programmers for scientific software? - How do I start?

John G. Gilligan sleepguy at att.net
Wed Feb 10 21:23:19 EST 1999


Hi,

I would like to know if anyone can give me any hints as to how to break into 
the field of computer programming for scientific software?

I just got my masters degree in Cell Biology (on top of a BS in Chemistry) and 
I've taken courses (no work experience) in C++, Visual C++ and Visual Basic 
(which seem to be the languages of choice these days).  (I know that I need to 
work on UNIX and SQL, but first things first).

I've worked in labs as a researcher all through my educational career and I 
have skills that could get me a fairly good position as a lab tech, but I 
don't want to be stuck behind a lab bench for the rest of my life.  
Therefore, since I like working with computers, I want to write software for 
scientific programs - like those that search DNA databases, do structural 
modeling, etc...

I know that most programmers enter the financial field (where there is more 
money to be made) or have a strong math/computer science background.  I feel 
that my science background makes me a better programmer because I can speak 
the language of science and I can better design software for the "end user"?

I've applied for a number of positions as a programmer, but most places want 
3-4 years worth of programming experience before they even look at your 
resume...

Does anybody have any helpful hints?  Any companies that will train and mentor 
willing students?

Should I look at pharmaceutical firms or purely software companies?

I live in the NYC area, but I would be willing to relocate - since I've seen 
that most of these jobs cluster in Silicon Valley, CA!

Thanks in advance!!!




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