The story about how I got into software development isn't particularly exciting.
I didn't finding programming at an early age.
I didn't come out of the gate a 10x developer.
I like to think that I lucked into my career choice. I hadn't done any programming until I went to college. I went to school with a plan to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering, but even that was a bit of a loose aspiration stemming from what my parents wanted.
My mom suggested I go into medicine.
My dad knew medicine wasn't worth the time commitment unless it was your passion.
I liked math, so I figured biomedical engineering would be somewhat of a middle ground. It's got medical in the name, so mom's happy and it's got engineering in the name so there's the math side of things. Looking back though, I'm glad I didn't go that route.
There's nothing wrong with biomedical engineering. It's just not for me.
So how did I make the switch from biomedical engineering into software development?
When I got to school for my first semester, I still didn't have all my classes finalized. I can't remember exactly what the problem was, but I know I needed another class to fill out my schedule. I spent a while looking for a good class, but by that point the best options were completely full. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel.
I wasn't sure what to do.
I spoke to some friends and someone mentioned that it would still be possible to get into a fully booked class. It's at the discretion of the professor, so there would be nothing to lose by reaching out and asking. Great! But what class should I pick?
During my search, one class kept popping up.
Comp Sci 101.
I wasn't really that enthusiastic about the idea though. I had a vague understanding of what it meant to be a programmer, but wasn't sure if it'd be a good fit. I didn't have much choice and figured that worst case I'd hate it and move on.
I emailed the professor that day. The next day was the start of the semester, so I was hoping that I'd get lucky and get a response that night. I sat patiently waiting for an answer.
The next day I still didn't get a response.
It was the start of the semester, so I had to put it in the back of my mind and head to my first class. I kept checking my email throughout most of the day, but no response.
Not a great feeling. At that point, I figured I had nothing to lose. I fired up my laptop and decided to try emailing the head of the computer science department to see if he could help.
This time I got a response almost immediately. He seemed excited that a new student was showing interest in the department. He agreed to help and told me to attend the class and he would getting things sorted out.
Awesome! I made it.
I felt great until later that night when I got a response back from the professor.
She told me that she made exceptions for students that attend the first two classes. Makes sense. I think she was trying to weed out the people who only came for the first class and decided they didn't want to stay.
The problem is that the first class was on the first day of the semester. I didn't know about the rule, so I missed the class. It seemed like there was nothing I could do.
Back to square one.
Not wanting to give up, I emailed the head of the department. I explained the situation and once again asked for his help. He replied quickly and told me not to worry about it. He would reach out to the professor on my behalf.
Almost immediately after that I got an email from the professor.
She had already spoke to the head of the department and was planning to make an exception for me. It turns out there was some miscommunication and she didn't realize I was the student in question.
And that's it.
I went to the following class and have been programming ever since.
That single email to the department head established a relationship that helped me on several occasions. I never got to take one of his classes, but he played an important part in helping me get to where I am today.
I like to think that it was my initiative that got me into that Comp Sci 101 class. But, I realize not everyone would have had the same luck by reaching out to a department head.
All I can say is that if you don't try, you'll never know.