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At a job fair I was talking to a recruiting agent and he asked what I am getting my degree in. I said computer science with a specialization in networking and communications. He asked what made me go into that specialization.

The reason is I was already in the computer science program and had taken some networking courses and done well in them and found them enjoyable. I basically already had taken 90% of the courses required for the specialization so in a sense it happened organically. What would be a good answer? It seems like the general answer to such a question would be "because I enjoy it and am good at it" but this wouldn't win many points.

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    why wouldn't "i enjoy it and am good at it" win many points? – bharal Feb 24 '15 at 18:43
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    I see nothing wrong with "I took some networking courses and did well in them and found them enjoyable" - there's no need to point out that this somehow made your specialization easier. Chances are this answer will lead to a followup asking what you found enjoyable about them, so you could just include that in the first answer if it's short. – Kate Gregory Feb 24 '15 at 18:49
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    What points are you winning? Who's keeping score? There's no magic answer. Just be honest and direct. Win. – Joel Etherton Feb 24 '15 at 19:29
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    I got my first job because I answered "digital circuits are easy!" Employers want you to be good at what you're doing :) – Voxwoman Feb 24 '15 at 19:56
  • I guess I thought this was a bad answer because doesn't everyone get the degree in something they enjoy or are good at? – Jimmy Bauther Feb 25 '15 at 3:54
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You said:

I basically already had taken 90% of the courses required for the specialization so in a sense it happened organically.

This is your answer. It's honest, it's admirable, and it's pretty well put apart from the jumbling of the first four words.

You say your answer would be "because I enjoy it, and am good at it", but the above quote already covers that implicitly and obviously. At the same time it conveys that the field seems to genuinely be one of your talents, and it does so without even a whiff of bragging.

I should be asking you for tips.

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    I would argue it may be worth while to add in "It's also something I enjoy." Depending on the recruiter, some value people with a passion for what they do. The question doesn't sound overly formal, so I would treat it as an insight on OP's interests/talents. – Joe Feb 24 '15 at 18:39
  • To me the way I stated it sounds passive in that I just happened to let something I was good at become my specialization. This doesn't demonstrate good decision making skills. Do you see it differently? – Jimmy Bauther Feb 25 '15 at 3:53
  • @JimmyBauther - You can easily debunk the idea that you did it out of laziness, by saying that the choice allowed you to delve deeper into the subject. I mean, your intention wasn't to have as few classes as possible, right? The fact that you already had a foothold into the specialization, would have meant that you could take classes that were more advanced. At least this is what I hope you did. – Alec Feb 25 '15 at 6:52
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    @JimmyBauther When you chose the 90% of courses that "happen to be" in your now specialization, didn't you choose those courses for a reason. It's not like you accidentally went to class, studied for exams, did assignments and projects, etc. Sounds like you chose those courses because they were interesting and then saw that they were eligible for that specialization. – Brandin Feb 25 '15 at 7:09
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Actually, "because I enjoy it and am good at it" isn't a bad place to start, but you can build that out more. As you studied this area more you realized that you really enjoyed it and were good at it, which led you to take more courses and ultimately to specialize. That shows that it's an ongoing interest, while "because I'd done 90% of it already" sounds more "opportunistic" -- you did this because it was there, but it might not be something you'll want to be doing in a year or two.

You don't say if you're an undergraduate or graduate student, but undergrads especially have very little to distinguish themselves in coursework -- you're all taking mostly the same courses along the same trajectory. Pursuing a specialization is good, but when we interview students what I and my peers (technical people, not HR people) are mostly looking for, after basic qualifications, is that passion and enthusiasm that tells us that you actually want to be doing this. That turns out to be a pretty good predictor for success.

While it's not exactly your situation, I've used a similar approach to explain a career shift. When asked about it I say something like: "I was a perfectly capable X, but as I spent more time doing Y I found that I was really good at it and really enjoyed it, so instead of being a capable X I set out to be an excellent Y."

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