The Knitting Developer

A knitting, development, and general geekery blog.

The Knitting Developer - A knitting, development, and general geekery blog.

Code Camp: How I Became a Computer Scientist

Despite growing up in a house full of computers, I did not always think I’d be a software developer. Sure, I played MMO’s and role-played in the Dragon Inn chat room. Also may have messed up a computer once or twice trying to erase a virus that I’d accidentally gotten after visiting some sketchy site….allegedly. I just didn’t have a clue about writing code, or developing anything.

My dad has always been a computer guy. I remember being real little and just watching him as he put together the next latest and greatest machine. I loved getting on our DOS machine and attempting to play Lemmings and MYST. Dad is also an avid gamer, I loved sitting in the corner of the room watching him play Doom, Half-Life, Warcraft, and just about any game that came out from Valve and Blizzard.

By the time I was a senior in high school, it never really occurred to me that I could be in the technology sphere. If anything, I figured I might do IT as a backup plan if nothing else worked. I was a poet, and a wanna be artist. I love the structure and design of buildings. I’d decided to try and be an architect. To me architecture was the best mix of art and engineering that I could be a part of. It was everything I thought I wanted in a career.

My second year out of high school I got into the University of Houston’s architecture program. It was intense, and a lot more art lessons than I realized. Despite trying my hardest, at the end of the first year my professor’s review of me could pretty much be summed up in her last words to me: “You should probably consider a different degree”.

I was crushed, but I knew she was right. I wasn’t naturally talented enough, and I didn’t quite have the same grit as other students. As I looked towards different degrees, I thought about business and decided against it. I also took an intro to Computer and Electrical engineering and realized that no matter how hard I tried, my grades were too poor to officially switch into the Engineering College.

The day I decided to switch over to Computer Science, I called my dad. I’ll never forget the joy in his voice as I asked “What would you think if I went into Computer Science?” and he said “I think you’d be great at it”. To this day, whenever we talk about a software development or systems administration (his profession), he gives me this I-told-you-so-grin.

Switching into Computer Science was the best decision for me and my career, and I love my job as a software developer. It’s everything I ever wanted in a profession: problem solving, bit of art, great design, and engineering. I took the long way round to get to where I am, but I’ve never been happier.

  • diadem says:

    Thanks for sharing! Our childhoods sound pretty similar – there is something awesome about having a dad in IT. Great blog.

    February 11, 2015 at 4:38 PM
    • Mary Hayes says:

      Absoultely! I count myself as a lucky person for having someone in my life that didn’t limit me to just “girly” things, and enjoyed teaching me everything I wanted to know about computers. In fact, having a dad in IT and a mom who was a strong business woman, gender roles were never a thing that mattered in our family. I know not everyone is as lucky, and try to do my best to be available and where I can provide opportunity.

      February 17, 2015 at 12:34 PM
  • Jim says:

    I knew an architorture student who would say “An architect has to be part artist, part engineer, and mostly crazy.”

    Like you, I came to software from a different field. I’m an electrical engineer, and I was hired to create radar simulations because I know both code and electromagic. But I got snagged by C and Unix, and have been creating software for most of my career – almost 30 years. These stories aren’t unique; over the years I’ve met a lot of software people, and *most* of them started off in some other field, but found they were good with software, liked it, and stuck with it.


    February 12, 2015 at 2:20 AM
    • Mary Hayes says:

      I love that quote. Putting that in my list of things to mention when talking to my architecture/industrial design friends.

      I’m right there with you. Computer Science seems to be a field that is an after thought for most people. Almost everyone I know who works as a developer comes from a different field. I think that the diversity of everyone’s backgrounds leads to a unique perspective on business problems, and helps contribute to a better environment when working in the field.

      Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

      February 17, 2015 at 12:29 PM

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