Any serious programmer can tell that I am a complete novice by the title of my post. However, we all have to start somewhere.
I have always been fascinated by computers and programming. I vividly remember my first interaction with an Apple computer and a PC. These events happened on the same day thanks to the coordination between my family and our neighbors— collectively the coolest people on the block.
It was the fall of 1998 and school had just started. The computers were meant for the pursuit of higher education and in their infancy were used for just that purpose. Only games and programs like Jumpstart Learning, Math Blaster!, and Paint were allowed when it came to recreational computer time.
Here’s a quick hit of nostalgia:
As time went on, computers became more powerful and accessible. That last part is incredibly important because I come from a low-income neighborhood. Those computers I mentioned earlier were true luxury items, but worth the expense according to my mom and neighbors. They had always been early-adopters and believed in technology and innovation as a means for bettering one’s life. And that belief was certainly passed on.
When it came time for university and finalizing my major, I could hear my mom’s voice saying, “Mijo, you should study computer sciences.” But I decided to study Economics and Business Administration instead. Truthfully I was intimidated by the idea of studying “Computer Sciences” and Freakanomics had just made Economists the new rockstars (or so I thought)!
I would later come to realize “Computer Sciences”, much like Economics was multi-faceted and encompassed many different disciplines. And if I could tackle Econometrics and SQL then I could have tackled an academic schedule of theoretical and practical computer science courses. But I digress…
During this time I never abandoned my love of technology. Apps had just taken off and my close friends and I were always brainstorming on new “app ideas” or ways we could bring a new technology to an antiquated industry. It was a lot of fun, but we always ran into the obstacle of programming. Looking back on it we should have befriend a ComSci major, but hindsight is 2020 (please hurry and stop your nonsense 2020).
That long-held belief in technology and innovation not only guided my college pursuits but eventually led me to work within the innovation space. At one point, it was the perfect intersection of all my passions, but eventually the start-up charm wears off and you realize your place. As an Innovations & Partnerships expert I was nothing more than a well-informed subject-matter expert with ideas and no technical expertise. It gets old after a while and eventually I started to feel frustrated with my career. I knew in order to be competitive in the long-run I needed to level up my technical skill set. Enter Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Program.
This is what brought me to take my first step down the life-long road of software engineering. I am looking forward to where it will lead and some beginner’s advice, from a man who knew not a computer, for all those looking to excel in programming…