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   Value of a second BS?
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   Author  Topic: Value of a second BS?  (Read 2408 times)
confused_programmer
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Value of a second BS?
« on: Nov 9th, 2005, 9:33am »
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Here's the scoop:
 
I have a BS in computer science from UChicago, worked as a programmer for a number of years and am currently near the top of my law school class(Tier 2). I also have absolutely no job prosepects for this summer and I graduate next December. Maybe I'm worrying too much, but this one has me starting to lose sleep.
 
From the few attorneys I've talked to, it seems like firms are only really looking for patent folk with pharma, EE or ME backgrounds. I was even told by someone that the majority view is that an EE person can also handle software, so CS is really a nich market. Is this true? I worked with a number of EE guys in my old job and never once considered the two functions similar at all - is the perception in the legal field that different?
 
One of the options I'm weighing right now is going back for a second bachelor's in EE at the local state school. Financially, it'd probably cost less for the whole thing than one semester of law school and I figure I can get it done in 1-2 years. Do firms look favorably upon a second bachelor's or care where it's from?  
 
Any input would be appreciated.
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ChemE
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Re: Value of a second BS?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 9th, 2005, 2:35pm »
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I would very much like to hear opinions on this to as I'm also considering going back for an EE degree (for the same reasons as you).
« Last Edit: Nov 9th, 2005, 2:35pm by ChemE » IP Logged
Isaac
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Re: Value of a second BS?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 9th, 2005, 9:39pm »
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EE covers a huge range of stuff.  At some schools there is a electrical and computer engineering department.   The course work can overlap significantly with the course work in the computer science department with electrical engineers taking course in operating systems, compiler design, etc.
 
EEs cannot do everything a CS person can do, but the novelty of many of software based inventions often does not involve the computer science end of things.    
 
That said, I suspect that CS are more employable than you suggest.   I'd suggest doing a little more homework before concluding that you need a EE degree.    
 
I have no idea what the job market is for chemical engineers, but I sometimes see job postings of positions for chemists/chemical engineers.    Make real sure you cannot find work in your current technical area before you decide to retrain.
 
 
 
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Isaac
larkas
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Re: Value of a second BS?
« Reply #3 on: Nov 10th, 2005, 10:08am »
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confused_programmer,
 
What is your ideal patent job? prosecuting patents? transactional patent work (due diligence, opinions, etc)?or litigating?  
 
Assumning that it is prosecuting, there is a real difference between EEs and CS. With software, there are special ways to claim the invention. EEs, who only do a few, do not get to master it. Moreover, you can tell when a EE wrote a software application; those application tend to go into details for example about exactly how the data is sent over the network when the transmission is not part of the novelty. They also talk more about the possible pieces of hardware that the software could be implemented on instead of just saying that it could be implemented in hardware.
 
However, for most firms, there is not enough software work to hire a CS attorney  (and see the big caveat below); there is definitely a lot more EE work to go around. Therefore, ask yourself if you are in a situation in which you can move to the big CS (software) markets (Seattle, San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, or Washington DC)? If you can, there are jobs for you.
 
Software work has boomed over the last few months. I was in a similiar situation to you and did consider going back and getting a EE degree. I graduated from a law school in May in Chicago and did not have a job at all after sending out many resumes and felt hopeless. However, in the middle of August I couldn't schedule phone interviews fast enough and eventually had 3 job offers. All the firm I spoke to where planning on hiring multiple people. Private message me if you want some possible job leads. Seattle is red hot currently as is the Valley.
 
With that said, there is a caveat. The USPTO does have technical degree requirements for becoming a patent agent or patent attorney. CS does not automatically qualify you except at some schools and this is a reason why EEs are favored over CS. You will want to review the requirements closely and see if you qualify. If you do not, then I would suggest that you go back and get the coursework to qualify or get anther degree.  If you do, then I would higlight that on your resume by, for example, taking or at least getting approval to take the patent bar.
 
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Isaac
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Re: Value of a second BS?
« Reply #4 on: Nov 10th, 2005, 11:19am »
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on Nov 10th, 2005, 10:08am, larkas wrote:
confused_programmer,
 
With software, there are special ways to claim the invention. EEs, who only do a few, do not get to master it. Moreover, you can tell when a EE wrote a software application; those application tend to go into details for example about exactly how the data is sent over the network when the transmission is not part of the novelty.

 
I think this characterization is an overgeneralization.   Neither CS majors nor EEs are born knowing how to write a patent application or knowing how to claim an invention.   While I would agree that claiming a software invention is a specialized skill, I don't think there are any technical obstacles to an EE learning the proper drafting and claiming techniques.   Whether or not the EE does a good job of understanding the subject matter is another issue altogether.
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Isaac
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