A CS Journey- How Python helped me overcome my fear of C.

MY CS journey started in the year 2001, when I was in 7th grade. In 2001 there was no YouTube, or the vast array of programming resources that are available on the internet today. The fastest internet connection I could get was dial up and internet speeds were super slow. I was given a C programming book by my dad and told to work through it. I remember getting to pointers and then getting completely lost, I spent days on programming forums asking questions. I eventually just gave up on C and programming in general. It all seemed so tedious to spend so much time writing many lines of code to implement basic features. As the metaphor goes, I was not able to see the forest for the trees. What I mean is that by getting stuck on pointers and not being able to write larger, more meaningful programs I was losing interest in programming and in some sense developing a fear of C because it seemed so hard.

            I spent the next 10 years attending college, getting a degree in political science and Management Information Systems. I got married, divorced, married again, and got two Persian cats (Coco and Zoe) along the way. After graduating college, I got a job as a DevOps Engineer, mainly writing automation scripts for minor tasks in PowerShell. But it always bothered me that I gave up on C programming and I dreamed of transitioning to a development role in the future. But I associated development roles with knowledge and proficiency with C. I once again tried to learn C using a Udemy course and quickly lost interest. A coworker suggested python as an intro to programming and so I picked up a book on python programming. I combined the lessons from the book with tutorials on YouTube to quickly ramp up. After a month I put together my first python-based hangman game. After completing the game, it felt like this barrier of self-doubt and fear that existed in my mind for all these years just evaporated.

            It took me a few more years of programming in python, to realize I needed a more structured environment to complete my CS education. I applied to the OSU CS Post Baccalaureate program and this is my last quarter before graduation. I completed CS 340 which is intro to OS programming with C and I was very successful. I realize now that it wasn’t so much that C is hard that stopped my progress initially when I was in 7th grade. But that I didn’t have an end goal and that forced me to get bogged in learning C and programming in general. I think everyone learns differently and for me being successful with python allowed me to build the confidence and interest in learning C. I think it is important to have many ways of introducing young people to programming. It shouldn’t start with C because you want to build interest by having them write quick functional programs that build’s interest in programming.

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