Changes and Challenges

The first time I heard of Holberton I was browsing the news on my way to class. The ZDNet article caught my interest, proclaiming a shortage in talent and supply of software engineers. Curious for more knowledge about the future of the job market for software engineers, I opened up the article. But as I continued to read, I felt excitement, anticipation, and resonance with the ideals and vision of the school. The idea of learning by doing, learning from one’s own mistakes, and to be able to adapt to an ever changing industry is exactly how I believe I learn best. I think that allowing students to apply their skills first, allows for the opportunity to explore problems and challenges and learn in a way that has real-world applications, which leads to longer-term retention of skills and concepts.

I entered the world of computer science recently, switching majors in my 4th year of college just a year ago. I was stuck in a closed mindset, from a young age I had believed in order to be successful, I should pursue a career in health sciences. I trudged through endless biology and chemistry courses, memorizing things like chemical structures, bond lengths, and Latin names for muscles and body parts. Rarely did I ever apply any knowledge I learned, I would just make and memorize note cards and regurgitate information on to tests. Even as I volunteered in hospitals, and worked as a pharmacy technician, the work I did and saw my superiors doing was mundane. Entering prescription information into computers, counting pills, and spending hours on the phone with insurance, I saw a bleak and boring future for myself. I came to realization that I had no interest in doing pharmacy for the rest of my life. I was left feeling unfulfilled, empty, and longing for something more. I was lost, I felt like I had wasted 3 years of my college education chasing a career path that I had absolutely no interest in.

I became interested in computer science through interactions with some friends. In particular, I had one friend who would always have a spiel whenever he came home during breaks on how coding was the best industry to get into, how tech was rapidly taking control of our lives, and how he couldn’t understand why anyone would ever do anything with their lives apart from pursuing a career in tech. Interest piqued, and partially looking for something fulfilling, I took up my friend’s challenge. I started to teach myself online, and enrolled in a class at my university. Whenever I got stuck, I always had friends to reach out to for aid, and I feel I learned a great deal from them despite the light jabs that accompanied their advice. I was captivated, and having more fun learning something than I had in all my years of college.

There’s a feeling you get when you see something you’ve built from scratch turn into a tangible object. The feeling is akin to watching a seed transform from a patch of dirt into a blossoming flower; it’s something magical. The feeling wasn’t there at first, and it didn’t suddenly hit me, like a revelation. It wasn’t as if learning to output “Hello World” to console was what inspired me . It slowly crept up on me, as I saw my code turn into web pages, reassembled parts of the Gettysburg address from string fragments, and created my first iPhone app. I would sit down and begin a project and before I had realized it, hours had gone past, the sun had set, and I would still be feverishly working.

I realized I loved coding when I hit my first roadblock, it was a feeling that I had never felt before in my struggle to meet the expectations of my peers and family in academia. There’s something about the challenge and frustration when you feel when you get stuck, to struggle and claw to find a solution. The feeling I’m bashing my head against an unmovable wall, and no matter what I try, my code won’t properly work and I’m frustrated out of my mind. And then, whether it’s through the help of a peer, or I go to the gym and an epiphany hits me in the middle of my workout, I just know what I need to do. In that moment of relief and joy, when everything comes together, I feel satisfied. But there’s also a desire to improve. A desire to come to this conclusion, to fix the bug, or to push myself to think outside of the box for a different approach faster the next time. The challenge is a thrill, and every time I desire to be better than the last time, to be faster, smarter, and more efficient. Before I knew it, I was throwing myself into assignment after assignment, hungry for more knowledge, for another challenge, and hungry to improve.

I don’t like do things halfway, and perhaps that is a flaw. Perhaps at times I need to step back and examine things from a different perspective, but my stubbornness and persistence make overcoming these challenges all the better for me. And up until I had to compose this essay I hadn’t realized my own feelings toward this field of study. Until I was forced to put everything I felt into words, I was so caught up in the moment that I hadn’t realized yet that I’ve never felt such a burning, a passion for anything like this before. But now more than ever I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be a software engineer, I want to be a part of, no matter how small, the revolution that’s sweeping the world. Tech and computers are here to stay and they are quickly dominating our lives. I want to be a part of that history being made, whether it’s designing web apps or mobile apps, I want to see my own work become a part of something revolutionary and life changing.

I believe that Holberton School will be able to push me, guide me, and help me improve my current abilities to greater heights. This opportunity had my heart racing when I read about it, an eagerness and desire I didn’t know I still had in me. The ability to learn through my own progress and failures, without having to first learn material that I won’t use. To be able to learn first by working on projects, rather than learning theory and then applying a fraction of it. To work with some of the greatest minds in the industry, like Rudy Rigot who helped make Apple components and tools work in different languages, Sylvain Kalache who’s co-created Skynet and co-founded while42 and TechMeAbroad, or Julien Barbier who has been a part of founding NoteTonEnterprise, Eurisko, and has been at the head of Docker, one of the possibly fastest growing products for developers. It would be a honor to be among like-minded individuals, and to be able to focus on the thing that drives me most. This is a life changing opportunity, and I hope the Holberton School will give me the pleasure and privilege to be part of this precedent setting venture.