I am currently a student. I have high interests in the areas of Physics, Neurology, Software Engineering, and Computer Engineering. In my eyes, they are similar in as many ways as they are different.

As I research careers, I see that I cannot incorporate all of my interests into one job without specializing to the point where it will be nearly impossible to find a job. I don't want this at all.

So, how can I incorporate my interests into my career, without over-specializing to the point of doom?


4 Answers 4


I am currently a college student working as a software developer and I literally have this exact same problem myself (same subjects and everything). As noted above, the great thing about the increasingly ubiquitous nature of computers is that a computer scientist/engineer can really participate in any field they like.

Lately I have been reading anything and everything on combining these subjects and have found some pretty awesome stuff. Here's what I would suggest to you:

  • read On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. He's the guy who invented the palm pilot, but basically got bored and went to go compile a theory of how the brain operates and ultimately figure out how to mimic it. If you like that, go read about the research his neuroscience center is conducting and see what you can do to get on board.
  • read The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. He was the inventor of the first commercially available voice recognition system and is recognized as one of the greatest american inventors of all time. Where Hawkins is trying to understand the brain as it is, Kurzweil is trying to imagine the brain as it could be one day: supplemented with technology in order to create the next species in our evolutionary line (my personal favorite). He is also a founder of Singularity University, which is kind of a summer graduate school program focused on current and future issues (seriously check this one out).
  • check out Planetary Resources.. I know this is a little off the neurology topic, but I'm assuming you might like other things that I do given the previous similarities. This little start-up is only the first ever proposed mother-freaking asteroid mining company backed by billionaire software developers and astronautics pioneers. Sorry that may have been a little much, but that's honestly the first thing in my life that I have ever considered "science fiction". Regardless of my emotion, it is an incredibly interesting (and surprisingly lucrative) new field and you should check that out if you are at all interested in space exploration.

I would say that the thing you'll have to figure out here is whether your interest is more science or engineering. In Software/Computer Engineering the focus is building/designing/verifying something that is being created for some purpose. Most careers are focused on either creating something or keeping it running. Physics/Neurology most often focus on studying something - creating a hypothesis and verifying it, collecting information, producing conclusions. There's certainly some roles for physicists in the realm of creating things, but I haven't seen it often - at least not in the computer world.

Apart from the fun of learning these things - it's important to see what style of work might make you happier. Also what environments might suit you best. For example, most research work has an academic setting or a research lab that comes pretty close to academic culture. Computer development can have a very different vibe.

There's a lot of places some of these overlap - but you probably won't find all 4 in a single job - you may end up switching focus here and there to accomodate all your interests. I'd say best bet is a smaller company, since there's more need for a jack of all trades who can pick up a number of different areas.


First off realize that these days it's hard to find a career that does not involve computers in some fashion, and if you have an aptitude and interest in computer software or hardware you're likely going to find ways to utilize it regardless of what you study.

In my current job, which is full of highly skilled computer folks, the educational backgrounds of my co-workers span the full spectrum. Two are linguists, one studied music, a bunch are various types of engineers. I'm an aerospace engineer originally. So this is to say, your choices today aren't going to pigeonhole you into a specific career. Indeed, you may well not know what career you're going to end up in, until you're out of school and through one or two jobs.

Second, who says you're going to have only one career? Pick one of the things you're most passionate about right now, and delve into it. 5-10 years of working experience later, maybe you decide that you don't actually like abstract research and want to get to something more hands on (or vice versa).

But one thing you might want to consider right now is, how much education do you want to get? For software engineering a simple 4-year bachelor degree is likely going to be quite sufficient, but for neurology and especially physics some post-graduate education might be necessary. Will the difference in salary, type of work, or etc. be worth the time and money for getting the additional education?

Finally, I should think that the particular combination of neurology, physics, computer software, and computer engineering do indeed meld into a specific career field: Robotics. This is a very active field these days, both academically and commercially. Check out if your university has any robotics hobby groups that'd let you dip your toes in to see what the field's like.


Sure, just get a job a CERN as the psych doctor that implements new technology.

But seriously. Try to find which you enjoy the most personally. Which is most fun? To avoid the issue of over-specializing I would probably tend more towards Software Engineering & Computer Engineering as this field is huge and just growing bigger all the time and the demand is massive and the pay is good too. Mind you, I'm a programmer.

Physics and Neurology are likely to be more limiting in terms of career options. You may have a lot less choice in location and pay. You may also be more at the whim of government funding (or not). You're longer term career may also be negatively impacted by technology development.

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