Learning

As I come to the end of my academic journey at OSU and start to look back at the career transition I’ve slowly been making, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on how I ended up here.

I’ve always been interested in technology and felt that everything related to computers came naturally to me. However, my start with programming was the complete opposite. In High School I took my first computer science class – AP Computer Science. I had an extremely hard time grasping the concepts in the course and ultimately ended up dropping out.

During my first bachelor’s degree while majoring in business, I ended up taking two programming classes as electives. One focused on Python and the other C++. Both of the classes also turned out to be difficult for me, but I stuck with it. Once I made progress, I found the work to be extremely rewarding. It was so satisfying to put in the hours in a project and come out with something that compiled and ran successfully. Funny enough, I ended up spending more time and effort in those classes then I ever did in my business classes.

After those classes, I considered taking additional computer science classes to earn a minor in the subject. With graduation and internships fast approaching though, it wasn’t in the cards for me at that time. It wasn’t until after graduation while I was working in a business analyst role that I started to pick up programming again. One of my tasks involved manipulating large amounts of data in an excel spreadsheet. I absolutely despise manual, menial tasks and desperately tried to think of a more efficient way to get the job done.

I thought back to my experience in class with Python and manipulating text data. After going down a Google rabbit hole, I found that yes, this was my answer. One resource I found was Automating the Boring Stuff with Python. There could not have been a more perfectly titled book for someone in my position.  It ended up containing exactly the information I needed – how to manipulate excel files with Python. It took me a while, but I started to recall bits and pieces of what we had learned in class – logic, control statements, data structures – and it started to make sense. I was able to apply that knowledge in a functional way and come up with something that made my job a lot easier.

I had a lot of fun with this and started to look for opportunities anywhere I could to automate pieces of my job. I built little apps and scripts whenever I could. To be honest, a lot of this was code was pretty sloppy and if I could look back it now, I’m sure I would laugh. But I learned a lot by applying this knowledge in a practical setting.  

Eventually the Python scripts turned into web development and JavaScript. I was eager to understand and learn as much as I could about software engineering. It was at this point, while I was also frustrated with my current career path, that I decided I was going to take computer science seriously and I enrolled in the program at OSU.

Even when I first started taking the first introductory Python courses at OSU, I was able to reflect on my experience so far. I had learned so much building projects on my own, that the concepts I had first struggled with in earlier programming courses were all starting to make sense. Now, it’s crazy to even think about the questions that confused me when I first started. I remember reading forever on Google trying to figure out how a web app could be made from Python. After making my first Node.js app, it bewildered me that someone could make a webpage that updated results without having to submit the page again (JavaScript and client-side requests, of course!). It’s amazing how much you can learn.

I guess all of this to say that it can be a long process when trying to make a career transition or learn a topic like computer science. And the funny part is, the more experience I gain, the more I discover that I have still yet to learn.

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