How I Became a Software Engineer

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My Journey to Becoming a Software Engineer

Becoming a Software Engineer begins from when I was a kid. Growing up I had a love for electronics, and computers. My father had remote control boats, planes, and cars. Growing up in the 90’s we always had a computer around home. My father used flight simulators to practice his flying while in flight school. I would spend hours playing computer games, that for whatever reason my parents had bought. I have found memories of playing with these small electronic remote control cars, and our home computer.

One summer when I was in 6th grade my mom threatened to cut the power cable to our computer, because I wouldn’t go outside and play with my friends. Oh, some things don’t change. The reason I am taking you down a bit of memory lane is not just for nostalgic reasons on my part, but it gives a glimpse of how I became interested in electronics, computers, and helped pave the way for my career in to the Information Technology field.

Starting College

Starting College can be quite a stressful time in a young person’s life. Heck, before even getting into college the stress can be very real. A student needs to make sure they are doing everything they can during High school to help aid their chance into getting into a school of their choice. Then when they get accepted to get scholarships, and grants to help pay for all that education. This can be a lot to handle for young students. At least this was my experience here in the United States getting ready to go to college. During this entire time, you are also trying to figure out what Degree you want to pursue. I had no idea. So, the logical thing I thought, “Well, let’s go into the Health field. They make a lot of money right?” First off this was wrong thinking on my part. Money shouldn’t being the only motivation for the field you go into for the rest of your life. Now, don’t get me wrong money can be a big factor in choosing your field of study, but shouldn’t be your main driving force.

This was learned the hard way. I didn’t really have a passion for the medical field. It is common knowledge that you could make a lot of money doing it. I wasted almost two years of college till I realized, I was wasting my time. The classes bored me. My advisors, well let’s just say they weren’t really advising me. One told me and might have been right. “You will never make it in this field, you just don’t have what it takes.” First of all, rude! Second of all. If I wanted to I would have made it just fine. Luckily I decided it wasn’t for me. This is where the technology part comes back into play.

First Job in Information Technology

During my first two years at school, I had found a job working as a technician for the University’s IT Department. This job was very exciting to me. I got to work with technology that I otherwise hadn’t before. Computers, servers, automation equipment, and software. It was a great job I was always motivated to come to work.

One day I was work, when I was expressing to one of my co-workers that I had always thought it would be cool to make an Android App. This co-worker was a Master’s student studying Electrical Engineering. I was a little naive at the time, and thought that because he knew some programming that he knew all programming. So I asked him, “What would it take for me to program an Android App? I am willing to do almost anything to learn.”

Switching Majors

He very bluntly told me, “Well, you would have to switch your major.” To which I thought, “Well this medical thing isn’t really working out for me. Ok, yeah I will switch my major.” That’s what I did. That very next week, I went and met with my Health science advisor, and told them I wanted to switch to Computer Science. Honestly, I think my advisor was relieved. Yet, they helped me switch.

Thinking about this in retrospect, I am really grateful that I went through that experience of not knowing exactly what I wanted to do when I first started college. I think suffering through those first few years of school to realize I wasn’t in the right area of study was good for me. It helped me appreciate my computer science classes a lot more.

Introduction to Raspberry Pi

That first job in IT was also my first introduction to single board computers, including the raspberry pi. After I had switched majors, some of the technicians found out, and found out that I was interested in learning to program. Of course with all of them studying Electrical Engineering, and I being the only one studying Computer Science. They wanted to share how they learned how to program, and in our University that was with Single Board Computers.

One day another coworker and I were talking about my switch, and how I was enjoying my first computer science classes. He asked, “Have you used a Raspberry Pi yet?”

At first I was confused, “Food?”

He then said, “No it’s this little computer that you can program to make it do things. Like a little robot computer.”

Immediately I googled, “Raspberry Pi Computer”. I couldn’t believe what results I found. I couldn’t believe there was a credit card computer that cost $25, which possessed enough power that it could be its own little desktop computer. With it also having GPIO pins, which at the time I had no idea what those where. But I learned you could interface with real things. I just thought this was the coolest thing. At this point in my classes everything I programmed was digital. Yet, with this little computer I could program real world things. This was so exciting to me.

Became a Software Engineer

This was sometime in 2012, so the Raspberry Pi Foundation only had model A, and B+. I was so overly excited to get my hands on one. When I finally did, I got a Raspberry pi Model B+. I couldn’t believe this thing. That little computer is what led me to start my YouTube channel, and this website. I wanted to create a place to document my learnings, and also share my enthusiasm of it with others. So much has come to me because of this little computer. I got my real first programming job programming a Minnow Board. Which then lead to me getting a much better job as a Software Engineer. I doubt I would have gotten that job if it wasn’t for my first real programming job. Which I owe getting that job, to all the hours I spent learning, and playing with my raspberry pi’s.

Raspberry Pi Has Been a Great Learning Tool

I am grateful to the Raspberry Pi foundation, and the work they have put into making such a wonderful platform for learning, and creating technology. If it wasn’t for the Raspberry Pi I honestly I have no idea where I would be today. It really has helped shape my future in technology, and as a professional. The raspberry pi has taught me so many skills applicable to become a software engineer. Here are some. These have really helped me develop skills which have influenced me professionally.

My hope is that electronics, technology, and single board computers like the Raspberry Pi have been as influential to you as it has been for me. I am so grateful to be a part of this community.

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