My Journey

My mom once told me to not go into software. She, who worked in software, was frustrated because someone had changed her code without telling her. Welp, here I am. Sorry mom.

I showed an aptitude for technology as a kid. I built a gaming PC at 14 and enjoyed troubleshooting it when problems arose. I played a lot of video games on my GTX 770 (wow, what a GPU that was!), but it also became a coping mechanism for me. See, my mom was fighting breast cancer at the time and my parent’s marriage was falling apart. My mom died a year and a half later when I was 15. I remember looking back at the sheer volume of hours I spent playing video games when I could have been spending time with her, and regret filled me. That joy of technology that used to fuel me became a source of shame and pain.

I forsook my interest in computers and gaming in favor of more “valuable” pursuits, or, at least things I thought were more valuable. By the time I got to college, I didn’t know exactly what to study. I landed on accounting, mostly because I knew whatever I did, that it’d probably be good to know a thing or two about money. But by the end of my sophomore year, I knew I didn’t want to do accounting for the rest of my life. Guess it was back the drawing board.

I had some friends in computer science, and a few conversations with them piqued my interest. I started taking computer science classes my junior year, and, honestly, I loved them. It was the first time in my academic career I wanted to spend MORE time working on assignments. I couldn’t get enough!

That first semester (Fall 2019) I couldn’t fit the intro CS course in my schedule, so I tried to test out of it. Unfortunately, I failed the placement test, but, fortunately, the head of the CS department still let me into a 300 level database course! The next semester (Spring 2020), I found out I could take two CS courses: the intro to CS course and a senior level web development course. Well, what was the worst that could happen?

In short, I got a 39% on the first test in the web development course and scraped out a 70% on the first program. I worked as hard as I could and sought tutoring to understand the concepts I was not prepared to handle. Somehow, I managed to pull out a B in the course! This course especially showed me how much I wanted to be a developer and lit a fire in me to grow.

Unfortunately, even taking as many CS classes as I could fit into my schedule, I couldn’t switch majors at that point without adding years to my undergraduate career. I also got a job with PwC (a big 4 accounting firm) that same year (set to start in fall 2021 after I graduated), so I decided to go forward with that while developing my computer science skillset on the side.

Accounting for me never quite felt right. In the two years I worked in the industry, I had an insatiable desire to leave the field and pivot to software instead. I looked at multiple CS programs but couldn’t find one that fit my life and schedule. By God’s grace, I somehow landed a job doing accounting for crypto and blockchain companies in 2022. While at this company, I ended up implementing a blockchain accounting software called Bitwave, a niche software I had never considered, but I absolutely loved working with it. I immediately knew I wanted to work for this company, so I developed a relationship with the team there while working on the project.

In the summer of 2023, I found the Oregon State University postbacc in computer science program. This also came at the same time that my former company was planning to shift my role away from my blockchain focus, so I decided to go full time at OSU to expedite the CS journey I had been desiring for the last 4 years. As I have gone through the program, I kept up with Bitwave, and now I’m actually interning for them!

This has been a journey of healing from shame, fighting imposter syndrome, and finding out I actually can enjoy work. It’s been so weird, yet it’s also such a blessing to see the pieces fall into place. I wake up wanting to contribute at my internship, and I actually see a path forward in computer science. I don’t know exactly what my mom would say, but I like to think she’d be proud. At the very least, we could share in our frustrations of other people changing our code.