Hello to you from across the screen. Sometimes I forget how amazing this world is. I’m not sure where you are, but right now, we are two people communicating across this large world. Two people out of 7.9 billion people. Well, it’s actually a bit one sided, but thank you for visiting this blog.
You’re probably wondering what this blog is going to be about. This blog will be about my journey into the software and coding world. It definitely isn’t a straight forward story as I had to switch careers. I also wanted to emphasize my experience with the online computer science post-baccalaureate program at Oregon State University. I’ll also talk about a course I’m taking right now as part of this program and the main project from it.
When writing a blog, it’s said you have to consider your tone and audience. For my tone, I’ve decided to go with how I am and try to be honest as possible. For my audience, you could possibly be a high school student, a college student, a working professional, a TA or professor that has to mark this for some reason. However, you’re more than welcome here and I hope that my writing doesn’t get too boring along the way.
Let’s start with my first experience with computers. This is somewhere in the early 2000s, but my dad had bought our first computer. The only thing I can remember about this computer is that the monitor was massive and weighed a ton. I remember taking it downstairs to throw out and how it took three of us. We’re talking about something like this:
Along the way, I got hooked to playing online browser games. We’re talking about sites like Armour games and MoFunZone. Then I got interested in online forums, modding games, and a browser game called Tribal Wars. I eventually met a family friend that was a software engineer. I remember watching him fix our old computer and I was amazed at how it worked. Time passed and then I took computer science in high school as I was interested in it. Then … I went to university where I majored in biology and psychology. That last part doesn’t really match up with the rest of this story.
However, I didn’t take a single course in computer science when I was doing my first bachelor degree. Looking back, there are some regrets. I really enjoyed learning about biology though and research was something I wanted to do at the time. Then came reality. Upon graduating, I learned my bachelor degree in biology wasn’t really worth anything. If I wanted to get into meaningful research, I was looking at another 6 to 8 years with low pay and it would still be challenging to get into academia. Disillusioned with this, I thought I could hit the work force. However, my degree wasn’t much better there. I didn’t have a lot of experience with labs and should have planned better for this. To put this into context, I’m from Canada. I graduated from our highest ranked university, but a bachelor degree isn’t really special when everyone has one. For some proof, Canada is the most educated country based on OECD criteria and data for 2018. So, I started my first job as a reservation agent for a large hotel chain in 2019. Getting that first job was difficult as well and nobody really prepares you for that.
I worked at this job for about a year while wondering if I should get a masters in public health. I decided against it and tried to find another job. My second job was as a claims advisor for property insurance at a large company. I worked there for 1.5 years. I always found it funny that I ended up in jobs with a lot of customer interactions while being an extreme introvert. Those jobs did help bring me out of my shell and I’m thankful for both experiences.
While working as a claims advisor, I came across a reddit post about an online program at Oregon State University. It was a post bachelor program where you would end up with a bachelor in computer science without having to take any general distribution requirements like humanity courses. As a result, this program could be completed within two years. It’s weird to think that my current career projection is based on a reddit post, but this program has a solid subreddit and it kind of makes sense now. I was really interested in transitioning to a computer science career. I’m going to be honest about why. I thought I was somewhat good at coding, that the work environment suited me better, and that this career could result in a good salary. I also loved problem solving and I hoped I wouldn’t have as much customer interaction.
Still, it was scary to do another bachelor program after how my first one went. It would cost me about $30,000 USD dollars or about $37,500 CAD dollars. I remember researching at the time and worrying if I should do it or not. If I could afford it or not? I remember wondering if I should do a boot camp instead. The reason I went with this program is because I wanted to have a solid foundation in computer science and I needed a structured program. I also thought that not having a degree could be a problem in the future. Another positive was that a lot of people seemed to have succeeded with this program as well. This program was also really flexible and I was able to do a couple of part time semesters while working full-time.
This program isn’t perfect by any measure. For CS 344 (operating systems), I thought I was going to fail at one point and that was that most challenging semester I’ve had due to a lot of issues. Overall, I think the program is solid though. You start with learning how to code with Python and some basic coding rules. Then you learn a bit about web development, databases, structures, and algorithms. You have a few group projects where you can develop products to put on a resume.
Now, I’m on my last semester as a full-time student. It looks like I will be completing this program in under two years. I’m doing really well in the program, but it’s financially tough. At the end of the day, I remind myself that I invested in myself and I hope it pays off. If you’re in the same position and are wondering if you should do this program, all I can recommend is researching as much as you can to see it fits for you. You can message or comment below if you have any questions for me.
This post has gotten really long. If you’re still here, thanks for reading all the way. I promise to try to have shorter posts for next time. For my next discussion, I’ll be talking about the capstone course for this program and the group project I’m working on.