Before stating at Oregon State’s computer science program, I had only been programming for about 6 months. Before that I had vastly different careers and jobs. So there was something I noticed with programming that I had never used before. I’m still not sure if it because writing code is different than the other things I had done, or if I was just lacking in this aspect.
And that is: paying attention to details.
Previously, if there was some detail or concept that I didn’t fully understand, I would just breeze over it. It will figure itself out on its own later. And it usually did. An example is a word I didn’t recognize or a topic I didn’t quite understand. I would do this all the time in high school. It always worked out in the end. Either it was not that impactful or it eventually worked its way back.
In sports, it was almost important to ignore details. Because sports was literally a physical movement, sometimes knowing the details was detrimental. If an athlete had too many thoughts in his or her mind, it would actually hinder the movement. A clear mind was more important because it allowed the physical movement to be more flowing and more confident. Leave the details to the coach.
When it comes to programming, it is very important to understand every concept and every word before moving on. Since starting at Oregon State I have definitely got into the habit of stopping and doing research when I see something I don’t understand. Some examples are: semantics, methods, callbacks, initialization, etc. Obviously, now these are trivial to me. But try talking about these things to someone who knows nothing about computer programming. You would probably have to stop multiple times in order to explain words in just a single concept. Even the other day, I had to use GraphQL, and had to stop and research what exactly it is. The old me would assume it is similar to SQL or NoSQL. So good thing I made sure I knew what it was before moving on.
Paying more attention to details is a good thing, because it makes my knowledge base grow in any subject. It also makes me look at other topics in life with a more systematic approach. I am glad that learning code did this. At first I changed to adapt to learning programming. But now that change has led to improvement in life.
Growing up, I was always taught to follow my dreams. Little did I know that I was allowed to follow my dreams as long as its within everyone else’s expectation of you.
Let me explain.
My first dream was to play golf professionally. In order to pursue that, I moved overseas for a number of years. Well that was not okay with friends and family, so I got a lot of criticism. However, those were the most rewarding years of my life and I would not trade them for anything. After that I ended up moving to Seattle for a job. Again, friends and family were not okay with the move. Why didn’t I just move back home like the rest of them? However, moving to Seattle was the best decision in my life. I bought a house, was introduced to the tech industry and my girlfriend got a great job. Three years ago, I decided to go back to school to be a software developer at Oregon State. According to my friends and family, I did not have the brains for this career. Why would I go back to school at 30 years old? I am now a quarter away from graduating, have a 3.8 GPA, and have a software engineering job lined up. The same people that were against me are now looking into computer science as a recommended career.
What I have learned from life, is that most people are not motivated to do anything. Most people are satisfied or comfortable with their situation. The problem is that they think everyone else should also be the same. On the other hand, I am always motivated to stretch towards my goals. I want to be a software developer because I know it is the right thing to do. I want a career in which I can make a living off of the technical skills in my brain. I knew that this field is growing, there is opportunity, and it was where I could see myself in 5 years. Yes, it was completely different from any other pursuit I have had in my life, but I know that I am motivated and can do anything I put my mind to.
The moral of my story is to follow your heart. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
For my first post, I would like to talk about how I ended up here. The road that led me to today is not a very straight path. I am starting a new career as a software engineer this summer (thanks to my degree at OSU). However, this is already my 3rd of 4th career change.
When I was a kid, I played a lot of sports; and I was good at it. I always dreamed of playing professionally. In high school I focused on golf and eventually lived overseas for 3 years playing competitively. I was heartbroken when I had to quit golf and get a ‘real job’. Before that, the first time I went to college, I got a degree in Kinesiology. At the time, I had the intention of being some sort of physical therapist. But thanks to some internships and the overall desire to have more freedom as a 22-year-old, that never went anywhere. After golf, I worked for delivery company. By then I was already 28 years old, and this was the first time I had heard about a career in computer sciences. After a few injuries on the delivery job, lots of research, and talking to many people in the tech industry, I felt it was time to dive into a career that would last. Three years later, here I am writing my blog post for the capstone class.
What is the point of all of this? Some people see my life so far as a random grab for something to work. Other’s see it as an inspiring story from giving up on my dream job to working hard to find another. I see it just as my journey in life, going at the pace that I need. All the experiences I have had in life doing totally different jobs shaped who I am today. Living overseas allowed me to see people’s lives and cultures outside of the US. Working delivery gave me great insight into how businesses operated. Studying computers and software really gives me an idea of what the future looks like (and of course a job).
What is the point of all of this? The point is that I can look back on all the mistakes and disappointments I have made in life, or I can look back on all the experiences and lessons I have learned that shaped who I am. Since starting at OSU, I have learned so much, have already had an internship in the industry, and now have an exciting job waiting for me this summer. This may not be the last career in my life, but I am excited to learn from it and make the best of it.