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Student Blog: Building my Career in IT and Computing

‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’ 
– Steve JOBS

After being stuck in a career that I didn’t enjoy, and wasn’t making a lot of money at, I decided to look back and see where I had “failed.” I was a very good student at university, and got a BA(Hons) in American literature and Cultural Studies, and then started studying for a Master’s in American Literature…2 months into the first semester I decided I was bored with basically studying the same things from a different perspective again. Fresh out of school, I didn’t have a lot of money. Rent was due, credit card payments were due, and worst of all I didn’t know what career path I wanted to pursue. So, I started doing odd jobs to pay the bills. Just like everybody else I wanted a stable income and decided to get an ESL teaching licence. Got that and started working as a corporate teacher, literally the following day I quit my Master’s program. Back then I was making good money, teaching General Managers, Department managers, and engineering teams on how to speak and write better at their jobs. But within 2 years I decided that this wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I got envious of my students; they were going on business trips overseas, using the latest technology at work, going to big global conventions, and earning quite a decent income.

I had been bitten by the bug! I wanted that career… I wanted a job like that. I was smart enough, I was hard-working enough and I spoke more languages than they did! I was a perfect match for a STEM career on a global scale, or so I thought. I lacked the technical skills and credentials. I started researching schools and my options to change careers, but it’s never that easy. I would have to quit my job if I wanted to go back to university full-time and tuition fees were so expensive. I had been making the same excuses for 7 years!!!

Then finally, while I was on lunchbreak at work, I went to Starbucks and grabbed myself a chair. On the next table, there were two software guys with their laptops. They were discussing code and things like how to proceed, what to change, options, possibilities, creativity, innovation. I was eavesdropping and I must confess I enjoyed every second of it. I had this overwhelming feeling that I really wanted to be like them. They were using keywords that I have always enjoyed such as: change, possibilities, creativity, innovation, improvement!  I wanted to be in that world and do what they were doing! I had made up my mind!

After my teaching job, I went home and started doing research on coding and computer science. I found a few HTML and CSS courses online and worked on them and I was amazed at how easy it was! A few late nights later, I had put together a basic website and had even inserted some JavaScript effects! I loved it! I needed more. I started writing ‘Hello World’ in Pascal (programming language). I loved every minute of it. I knew I had found my calling. Immediately, I started talking to friends, asking them what they knew about computer science, programming schools, people who worked in software development etc. anything that I could think of to gather information to make my next move. Eventually, I was led to a career college, that had a 12-month full-time Web and Android App Development programme. The college was extremely expensive but there was no turning back. I was determined to study full-time and work 30 hours a week to change my life. I knew that one year would fly by.

Within a month, there I was, sitting in front of a Mac, coding websites with an instructor, and 4 other students from around the world. It was fun! It was creative! I enjoyed every single day of it and went to my teaching job with a smile. Eventually, the course got harder, but I did my best, keeping a job, paying the bills, and studying full-time. 12 months later I was done. But did I feel ready to become a true software developer? No, I knew wasn’t ready. I needed to learn more and improve.

I couldn’t afford to go to school full-time anymore, as it had been just too expensive and draining, both physically and mentally. I started to consider distance learning, and found Online Business School. After emailing OBS and asking questions, and comparing their fees to other online schools, I decided to enrol on the Level 4 IT and Computing diploma programme which I have loved so far. I have been doing well, I have been studying hard and soon I am going to move on to Computing Level 5, and eventually hope to top up my diploma to a full BSc (Hons) in Computing – online as well!

In conclusion, I have realised that learning in computer science never stops. Technology and requirements change constantly and swiftly; a single learning resource is not enough to stay up to date in this industry. I am learning from various sources to improve my mobile development and general computing skills. My final words of wisdom: always keep in mind that it’s not the credential you own that will write great code – it is you! The credential is always good to have (if not a must-have). Keep studying and keep improving if you want to be a part of the IT and Computing world! Good luck everyone!

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