It's starting to look like majoring in computer science isn't the road to the promised land of money and job security after all

 Joel Wong remembers looking through the graduate employment survey by Singapore's education ministry six years ago. At the time, he was in junior college, the equivalent of the last two years of high school in the US. The survey, which is done on an annual basis, provides the employment rate and average salaries for different college majors in Singapore.

He chose computer science.

Wong, 24, is now in his senior year at the National University of Singapore. He told Insider he picked his major because he was interested in technology — and also because of the industry's salaries.

"Even back then, the salaries for computer science graduates already were among the highest," Wong said. "So that definitely contributed to me studying computer science."

But that was then, and this is now. The tech industry is in turmoil. Tech giants like Facebook and Google have laid off tens of thousands of employees.

And for college students like Wong, job hunting has become a lot tougher.

"A lot of the tech companies in Singapore that used to hire a lot of the computer science majors from local universities are no longer hiring," Wong said. Wong told Insider last month that he's applied to 17 jobs and has heard back from five companies. None of those responses has turned into a job offer.

And it's not just jobs: Internships are proving elusive, too.

Bryan Ho, a 23-year-old junior studying computer science at the National University of Singapore, told Insider he's applied for roughly 100 internships.

"I think it's definitely become harder because if so many companies are cutting jobs, they will not take as many interns," said Ho.

Out of his 100 applications, Ho said he received four offers.

Bryan Ho, 22.
Bryan Ho, 22, told Insider that he has applied for roughly 100 internships and received four offers. 
Bryan Ho

Too many students chasing the same jobs

Ethan Ang is the CEO and co-founder of NodeFlair, a job board for tech professionals in Asia. The Singapore-based startup has about 40 employees across Southeast Asia. Ang told Insider that today's slump appears outsized because of tech companies' hiring sprees during the pandemic.

"When it comes to recruiting, there is always this demand and supply question. In 2021, the demand was sky-high and there were just not enough people. So that drives up the salary and the demand," Ang said. "People were getting five offers on the table at one go."

"Right now, the demand has died down. Companies are extremely cautious and what you have left behind is this surplus of talent," Ang continued. "You have to apply for jobs now. It isn't like in the past when you received multiple invitations from companies." 

Ang said these conditions have dampened the hiring demand for fresh graduates at tech companies. 

"Everyone is playing the short-term game right now. Everyone is trying to hold cash," Ang said. "Hiring fresh graduates isn't the best strategy because you need time to train them up." 

Ben Leong, an associate professor of computer science at the National University of Singapore, told Insider it isn't so much a job shortage as it is an increase in students in Singapore who are qualified for computing jobs.

According to enrollment statistics from the National University of Singapore, the number of freshmen opting for computing degrees in 2022 was 1,042 students. That's a 57% increase from 664 students in 2018.

Leong said students today need to be realistic about what tech employers are expecting.

"The fact is that it's a hard job and getting a degree doesn't mean you get a job," Leong said, adding that being a skilled software engineer is no different from being a lawyer or doctor.

"Lawyering and doctoring are professional skills. Unfortunately, computer science will be the same, whereby there are people who will major in it but cannot do the job and they probably have to find other jobs. So that's the reality," Leong continued.

Not just Singapore

It's not just Singapore. In the US, some students and recent graduates with computer science or engineering degrees say they have lost faith in the industry following the deluge of Big Tech layoffs.

"It's the worst time to be a junior engineer since 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst," Aline Lerner, the founder and CEO of, an interview training platform for software engineers, told Insider's Kali Hays in May. 

Dimmer job prospects have also resulted in reduced interest in the subject. The number of computer science graduates at MIT, for example, dropped by 12% in 2022 to 260 students, down from 297 students in 2020.    

Ho, a junior from the National University of Singapore, said he was considering taking a leave of absence from school to pursue additional internships. This, he says, could put him in a stronger position when he starts applying for full-time roles later on.

"I can delay my graduation a little and hopefully by that time, it'll be easier to find a job with high pay," Ho said. 

But NodeFlair's Ang is less optimistic. He said the high salaries of the pandemic tech boom are unlikely to return.

"Other than the generic year-on-year increase in salaries all across the board, I don't think we are going to see anything like in 2021 again," Ang said.

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