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Software Engineers; What was the first indicator you remember that made you seriously consider this job?

I'm researching the career for a class of mine and I was wondering when you realized that this job would be right for you. Was it something gradual or was it pretty obvious that you wanted to do this.

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Arash’s Answer

Hi David,

I just came across your question and thought I'd share how I ended up taking the path of studying Computer Science and Software Development.

Truthfully, I did not own a computer until I got into college, but during my Junior year in high school, my family moved to a different city and county. I had to start from scratch with everything, including new elective courses. I did not like anything that was being offered in the new-to-me school. I only knew that I was excellent at math, physics, general science, and mechanical aptitude. My family did not have any experience in engineering backgrounds either. So they did not have any suggestions for me. I simply ended up taking Computer Science not because it sounded interesting to me (it sounded boring) but because there were hardly any other technical electives available in my school. Nothing sounded interesting. . .
Back on point here. . .after forcing myself to take the Computer Science course, I realized that it's very easy to make a computer to do whatever I want it to do and it was quite fun. I had a great teacher who also happened to be the same teacher for my math class. Now the question is, did I decide to pursue Computer Science as a degree after that? The answer is no. I actually wanted to become an automotive engineer and was accepted into my university in the field of Mechanical Engineering. What led me to switch to Computer Science is that I was required to also take a FORTRAN course. In that class, I was the only student who already knew how to program and it was extremely easy for me to complete my assignments. Afterwards I decided to minor in Computer Science. During my Junior year, I decided that I was much more interested in Computer Science than Mechanical Engineering and my grades were reflecting it. Logical thinking is a strong suit of mine. That makes it very easy to develop nearly flawless algorithms. So I switched to Computer Science and have never regretted it.

By the way, I never ended up having to develop applications in any of my jobs because there are so many related opportunities that open up when you have the knowledge and technical experience of software development and a Computer Science degree.

If you're interested in learning Computer Science for free, you can check out some of the pre-recorded classes from popular universities. There are many sites that teach you how to code online for free such as https://coursera.com

I hope this is helpful and I wish you good luck.

Arash recommends the following next steps:

https://online.stanford.edu/courses/soe-ycscs101-computer-science-101
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Heather’s Answer

The process was gradual for me: I played around with HTML and styling in high school. It was fun but I didn't think about it as a career. I took a class in college that required a bit of light programming. The teaching assistant recommended additional programming courses if we wanted to continue in the field. That was when I thought "THIS is what I should be doing!" but it was my last semester so I didn't pursue it. I then worked at a school supporting students who were taking technical courses and I enjoyed seeing the course content and how creative some of the student projects were. I started taking programming classes and eventually transferred to the department that added our courses to our online learning platform and grew from there.
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Scott’s Answer

We strive for a balance between a well-paying profession and one that we actually enjoy. Too far one way or another and we're either starving artists or disliking our professions. The good news is that software development is generally considered to be a well-paying profession with a bright future.

So the question remains, do we enjoy the profession? Given that nowadays we can easily download and experience various environments and languages for free, we should be able to answer that question even without any formal classes.

For example, a recommendation is to download and install GoLang or Python, or many others and work through their examples. Did you "enjoy" that experience and did that make you want to learn more?

We also want to keep in mind that, like every profession, there will be tasks we're assigned that are not so enjoyable. But, if on the overall, we enjoy what we do, that profession has the potential to achieve a good balance for us.

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Gurpreet’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi David,

I'm not a software engineer but I noticed you hadn't received a response yet so I wanted to chime in. The answer really depends on each individual person. For some, they had engineers in their family which gave them exposure to the field and helped them realize it was the right path for them. For most, it happened through taking classes and exploring different opportunities. For example, I recently asked a student what got him interested in engineering and he said that he took an introductory class during his freshman year of college and something just clicked for him. For some, it was an introspective journey of figuring out what types of activities brought them joy in the past and then focusing on those.

Although I'm not an engineer, I can share my story of how I knew my path was right for me. I didn't always know what I wanted to do (and some days, I still don't) but when I was in high school/college, I did a lot of volunteer work with all sorts of non-profits. Most of my work involved working with youth in some way. When I graduated and started looking for my first job, I was totally lost and had no idea what path to go down but after doing some introspection and assessing what was important to me, I realized that non-profit work that focused on youth was the place I would feel the most fulfilled.

A similar question was asked a few years ago and Id encourage you to look at responses. Spruce's (an engineer!) answer looks particularly helpful in answering your question: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/83097/when-and-how-did-you-know-that-the-career-youre-pursuing-is-for-you
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Michael’s Answer

I worked in the operations part of the IT world for about 20 years before moving over to what would be considered the business side of IT (software management). Both worlds are lots of fun! The need for greater flexibility in time, more time with the family, and the itch to try something new pushed me to the business side of IT (software management). In software engineering you can work a Monday-Friday day job that in the operations side of IT is far from the norm.
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