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What do we mean when we talk about the “Digital Sciences”?
The Digital Sciences are the areas of study and experience that include competencies and skills focused on using digital technologies to solve problems. Digital technologies include web development, program and design functions such as social media sites, smartphone apps creation, basic programming or scripting, website design or cloud-computing. The Digital Sciences encompass technology skills, understanding how users interact with technology, and leveraging technology to facilitate collaboration and easy to use workflows. Every business in every industry incorporates some aspect of the Digital Sciences.
There are many kinds of digital tech careers, and some may appeal more than others. Digital careers range from engineering a social networking site to using that same site to create marketing materials and outreach. They include careers with backend work, such as coding and scripting to user interface details, such as designing the look and feel of a website.
There are novice to expert level points of entry. Some examples include creating surveys for data entry and inspection to leveraging this data to analyze a target audience, as well as building the programs for data collection and interpretation. Another field of digital science is project design and management, where understanding technology and building skills in collaboration and communication are key components. As you can see, digital sciences offer an enormous menu of options for you to choose from that should fit virtually any interest, level, and industry.
Start with the Essentials
The introductory “Digital Sciences Essentials” program guides learners in their understanding of the digital sciences and is intended to help you find the best match between your interests, abilities, and future goals. The Essentials program provides exposure to a full range of potential careers to help learners find their place, their strengths and their passion.
Those with previous and relevant experience in the profession may elect to bypass the introductory “Essentials” program and move right into a next-level “Fundamentals” program that will help them prepare for the next stage of their career. The Fundamentals programs focus on four career groups: development, interaction, analysis, and management.
Learners capture their learning process and products through a digital portfolio that provides insights beyond a cover letter and resume. After successfully demonstrating mastery of employer-defined learning outcomes, learners receive certificates of completion (micro-certificate). In addition to the traditional learning within the Academy, learners are then eligible to meet with employers at UNE Academy Roundtables, including many of the same employers who defined learning outcomes for Academy programs.
Finding and Exploring Your Career Group
What are the Fundamental Programs?
The UNE Academy has been working with data from regional and national employers to identify four career groups that cover diverse areas of current need in industry. We have developed four Fundamentals programs to meet these needs. These four arenas are not industry specific; rather, they can be applied to any business. Currently, Maine is experiencing great demand for employees that are knowledgeable in the digital sciences.
1. Development and Programming
Do you like to solve problems by building things? Do you have a high attention to detail? Do you have an aptitude for the technical side of computers and technology?
Computer programmers and developers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They are the people on a team that write the code that makes software work. They solve problems, test scenarios and create new functionality all by writing code. People often refer to this as “backend” work, where you are developing the architecture necessary to make things function properly and smoothly.
2. Interaction and Interface
Are you a visual problem solver? Do you enjoy changing how something looks or works so that it’s easier to use? Does making a basic version of something and having people test it sound interesting to you?
User experience and user interface designers are team members that work on the bridge between software and consumer. They are work with market research and develop systems that allow people to successfully use a company’s product. The UX and UI designers on a team also help implement a design that might have been programmed by someone else. How a user interacts with any product or site is critical to the success of any product and business. This path often incorporates aspects of understanding how people think and react.
3. Analysis and Data
Are you data driven and enjoy organizing information ? Do you read reviews and statistics before making an important decision? Are you comfortable with spreadsheets and reports? Do you have an affinity for making connections and seeing trends or progressions?
Business, systems, and data analysts collect data and interpret it so that it can be used to inform decisions. Great data analysts are both “number crunchers” and communicators. They are the members of a team that helps companies figure out what new customers to target, which problems to focus on, which software and services to integrate, all seeking the best investment of time and money.
4. Project Management
Do you find yourself naturally leading groups of people? Do you tend to make a detailed, thoughtful plan and then act on it? Are you able to communicate effectively to both highly technical and non-technical people? Are you goal oriented?
Project, program, and product managers plan, initiate and maintain digital tech initiatives within a company or organization. They are the members of a team that both lead and guide the technical staff, as well as work with the business staff. They make sure that goals are accomplished, standards are met, and the team is working effectively. Managers and strategic analysts are knowledgeable about technology, know how to inspire and lead a team, maintain clear long term vision and goals, and understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork.