Journey from Financial Analyst to Software Engineer

My name is Nirav Sheth and I am going to become a software engineer at 30 years old. It is a really odd and interesting feeling to change your career at this age, but I am happy that is is finally about to happen. It’s been about 3 years since I started at Oregon State University and I am on track to be graduating with a software engineer position starting in June 2023. And this is my journey.

My journey to this stage was nothing but nerve racking with myself filled with doubt at every step of the way. However, it is nothing new for me to change my career since I have always not known what I wanted to do. When I started my first degree in 2011, I changed from biomedical engineering to biology to finally graduating with a finance and accounting degree with a math and economics minors and a Global Energy Management Professional program. Some people would look at this and think that I am a very determined person, but my plethora of degrees and minors occurred happened because I was very unsure of what I wanted for my future. My main goal at the time was the become financially independent, so I just wanted to graduate with a good paying job.

After graduating, I picked the job offer that paid me the most which was a Business Performance Analyst (aka financial analyst) for Royal Dutch Shell (or Shell as they are known now). However, I learned quickly that this is not what I wanted to do. The company seemed to reward people who network more than people who did actual work. Even though I accomplished a lot in this role, I felt that it was extremely unfair and decided to move on to another role. Looking back, the project that I accomplished at Shell laid the foundation for the path I decided to take.

As I tried to jump out of Shell, I learned that the skills that they need from me require someone with high technical skills, which I did not have. I knew Excel with the back of my hands, but it seemed like every company transitioned to Tableau/Python/SQL after I graduated. The world was changing fast, and I was not new to picking up new degrees/skills. So I decided to enroll in a data science boot camp thinking that it could propel me into the next stage of my career. I learned quickly that it propelled me into a lateral position and it was another situation where I was going nowhere fast.

However, I learned from this position that I enjoyed using technologies to solve various types of problems. I was working on problems that was being viewed from all across the company. And I knew that I could continue to work on these type of projects in a formal setting as a software engineer. So right before the pandemic hit, I enrolled in Oregon State University in 2020, and I have been working on this degree ever since. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but based on my previous experiences, it could be another path to another journey that I might need to take.

Currently, the entire industry is going through a massive layoffs and re-organization, and it is extremely difficult to find a role. If I would tell me 2020-self about this future, I wonder if I would have gone down this path because it was not easy. With that said, I am going to do what I do best which is keep on moving forward. I hope that my future career becomes more clear as a software engineer, but my previous experience is telling me that this is only the beginning.

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