Why a CS Degree

Why did the accountant cross the road? To get a CS degree.

At least that is how I can summarize my journey from being a full time accountant to the world of software. I did not grow up wishing to be an “accountant” but rather a “fireman”, a “pilot” or a “rockstar”. However like life always has other plans and can take you places you never intended to go.

I initially started my career in the real world as an accountant. I even studied and passed the CPA exam to become a licensed accountant by the state of California. For many accountants, passing the CPA exam is the “goal to reach” since it opens up a lot doors and adds a lot of value to your resume. It’s like the pilot’s licenses to a pilot. It is not simply a certificate you earn once and forget about since there are yearly continuing education requirements (80 units every two years!) so it is a big time investment.

However, there has always been a thorn on my side. When I was in college earning degree 1.0, I joined a few school clubs and I volunteered to be the webmaster for one of them. I had no idea what I was doing but I read up on a few websites about HTML and it seemed easy enough. I was actually surprised at the speed I was able to pick up my web dev skills despite the fact that I had never had access to a computer at home prior to college. I kept building my skills and by the end of the semester I had built a very impressive website for the club I was in. I even made different versions to provide a choice on which one we wanted to use.

However, as time went on, I had to figure out what I wanted to study and pick a major. My only guiding thought at the time was that I liked math, was good at it so I should try to find something that used math.

It is very unfortunate at the time that I did not know that you could make a career of being a web developer. I do remember hearing some people talk about the computer science major but it seemed so esoteric at the time that I was intimidated by even saying that major out loud. I had a few friend in other engineering fields and I would hear them whisper how computer science was one of the hardest engineering studies. I never really followed up on what computer science consisted of so I missed a big opportunity and decided to use my math skills as an accountant in the business world.

Fast forward about a decade and the spark that started my interest in web technologies was ignited all over again. I’m not sure exactly the sequence of events that ignited the flame again but I do remember being amazed at all of the new frameworks and tools available for web development. I was particularly intrigued of the concept of Git and the command line to work with web development. I was also intrigued by JQuery and all of the neat things you were able to do with it to make sites very interactive. This curiosity quickly sucked me down the deep rabbit hole of technology even though I already had built a solid foundation as an accountant deep in my career on a path to be a senior accountant (in fact, as of fall 2022, I was promoted to senior accountant).

So in the summer of 2018, I took a leap of faith and started a CS degree here at Oregon State University. I have slowly but surely grinded my way each quarter one class at a time while holding down a full time job and raising 2 small children.

But even now with one internship under my belt and another one lined up next year after I graduate, I know that I am making the right decision for myself. As for now, I am enjoying the learning process and I am glad that I have kept this spark alive.

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